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Milwaukee celebrates Juneteenth amid historic upsurge of the Black liberation movement

By staff |
June 22, 2020
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Juneteenth marked in Milwaukee.
Juneteenth marked in Milwaukee. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Milwaukee, WI - Juneteenth or Jubilee Day is celebrated by people all across the country every year on June 19. It is a celebration of the day enslaved peoples in Texas found out they were free on June 19, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. This day is celebrated by Black Americans across the United States by gathering, drinking strawberry soda, and eating red velvet cake, red beans and rice, and watermelon.

Watermelons were one of the first fruits grown by newly freed people, who made a living by selling them, and strawberry soda was most likely one of the first drinks enjoyed by newly freed people who couldn’t have it while in bondage. Other red foods are eaten to represent the blood of the enslaved.

“Since the uprisings, due to police violence against Black people, this Juneteenth resonates deeper than before as we are fighting for our own freedoms against the modern day slavery we face due to over policing and the prison industrial complex," said Aminata Ngom, a member of the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. "Knowing our ancestors faced similar oppressive systems is heartbreaking and Juneteenth acts as a reminder of what we are fighting for and why the fight must continue."

Here in Milwaukee, the Black Wmnz Emancipation March was held starting at Sojourner Truth Peace Center and ending in Alice’s Garden for a block party with performances from local poets, speakers and musicians. The chants during the march were inclusive of all Black lives and led by Black trans women in the community.

The block party acted as a space to celebrate the day and take an emotional break from what has been, and continues to be, a very heavy summer. The majority of attendees were wearing masks and COVID-19 testing was encouraged by the organizers.