Madison’s 30th Annual Juneteenth Festival, put on by the Kujichaguilia- Madison Center for Self Determination, kicked off Saturday with a parade, followed by the Juneteenth Outdoor Festival at Penn Park, and a week-long calendar of events surrounding this year’s theme of “Embracing Our Legacy of Resilience.” For more information about Juneteenth programming please visit www.kujimcsd.org.
A celebration of “a People of Resilience,” Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery in the United States. This celebration commemorates the events of June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers landed in Galveston Texas announcing the end of the Civil War and the freedom of the enslaved, over 2 years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863.
This year’s program describes Juneteenth as “a day of reflection, a day of renewal, and a pride-filled day. It is a moment in time taken to appreciate the African American experience. It is inclusive of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities, as nothing is more comforting than the hand of a friend.”
As a festival volunteer and witness to this year’s festivities, I am thankful for the opportunity to participate and was inspired by the community engagement, care, and pride that was on display and represented in the programs for this year’s Juneteenth events.
As one of the most educated and proudly liberal cities in the United States, Madison also holds some of the most shameful statistics surrounding income, education, and incarceration disparities along racial lines in the country. On this Juneteenth of 2019, let us reflect on the experiences of the African American members of our Madison community, and how we as neighbors can offer our hand to help improve that experience.
By Linda Chhath