YWCA Rock County and the Elite Ladies of Beloit’s annual Juneteenth Celebration returns to Telfer Park for the first time since 2019 on Saturday, June 18, noon-10 p.m.
“I’m so excited we can come together as a community, in person and be safe,” said Amiee Leavy, YWCA racial justice director.
The Juneteenth Celebration will feature Gospel performances from Rev. Elton Farr & Company, Worthy and The Exciting Holy Sons and R&B performances by Gifted Souls and Too Deep.
Tiffany Henry, who serves as the Milwaukee Office Director for U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, will give the keynote address. She also served as the president of the Milwaukee Urban League Young Professionals (MULYP) from 2017-2020.
“For us, it was an easy pick. Tiffany was born and raised in Beloit. I’ve known her for years,” Leavy said.
She also explained that YWCA Rock County and the Elite Ladies of Beloit are focused on hosting an intergenerational event. All of the vendors featured fit into four main categories; food, product, service and nonprofit vendors.
“Our main focus is the historical perspective of Juneteenth. Some people in our community are not aware of the preliminary emancipation Lincoln released in 1862,” Leavy said.
She also said that the Beloit Historical Society has provided information and historical facts about Beloit’s Black community. For example, the organization set up a display focused on the Great Migration a few years ago.
“A lot of people from the Beloit area have their roots in Mississippi; in Mantee, Pontotoc and Tupelo,” Leavy said.
Hundreds of African Americans arrived in Beloit in the 1910s as part of the first Great Migration. This migration pattern continued for several decades up to World War II. Some of the residents still have family members who live in areas of the South, including Leavy who still has relatives in Mantee.
Organizers have promised a day of learning, cultural events and fun while enjoying fellowship, good music, and great food. For this event, children will have access to free books from the United Way Blackhawk Region and the Stateline Community Foundation. The selection will include books both in English and Spanish.
“We’re going to have a goodie bag for all of our youth including a toothbrush, Frito Lay’s chips and a toy from PlayMonster,” Leavy said.
Blood pressure screening will also be available for adults. Other resource-based organizations will have stations at the event as well including Concerned Black Citizens of Beloit, Defy Domestic Abuse and the Sexual Assault and Justice Overcoming Borders (JOB).
“We’re always excited to partner with other nonprofits that share some of the same values and mission we do,” Leavey said.
YWCA Rock County has long-standing relationships or has worked with many of the nonprofits including in the event, some with greater frequency. Last year, YWCA Rock County partnered with Beloit Health System’s Cassandra Partlow-Martin for a virtual event.
“We weren’t able to be in person for last year’s Juneteenth Celebration but she came on. We did a small virtual event and talked about health concerns and health disparities that impact Black people more than others,” Leavy said. “She is a standing partner of the YWCA. We’re so excited to have her on board to provide health information for our community.”
This year’s program will also include an opening prayer from Rev. Elton Farr, a resolution by city council member Kevin Leavy, a presentation on the meaning of Juneteenth by Pastor O.J. Newburn, and, of course, the Black National Anthem. In addition, Leavy said there will be a Juneteenth Celebration softball tournament presentation as well.
“We definitely want to acknowledge those young athletes that worked so hard,” she said.