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Juneteenth Day celebrates freedom for Black Americans

Juneteenth Day is a traditional holiday widely celebrated in the United States and honoring the culture, history, and achievements of African-Americans. Now a federal holiday signed into law by President Joe Biden, Juneteenth Day honors those who were subjected to slavery, many of whom lost their families or their lives.

Juneteenth Day commemorates June 19, 1865, when Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that enslaved African-Americans were granted their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. General Granger’s announcement promoted the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln.

In 1866, one year after Granger’s announcements, the first official Juneteenth celebrations took place in Texas. In less than a decade, celebrations began to spread across the country, typically including family gatherings, prayer, educational events, and festivals with music, food, and dancing. The day is now observed outside the United States as well, celebrating the culture and achievements of African Americans.

Juneteenth DayMilwaukee will host its 50th annual Juneteenth Day observations this year. Northcott Neighborhood House is spearheading Juneteenth Day with a parade and activities. The parade will kick off at North 14th Street and West Atkinson Avenue and head toward West Burleigh Street and North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive starting at 8 A.M. on Saturday, June 19. The opening ceremonies and festival will take place on King Drive between West Burleigh Street and West North Avenue from 9:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Vendors, entertainment, community resources, and food will be available. Attendees are required to wear face masks.

Observe Juneteenth Day by taking part in a celebration or supporting a Black-owned restaurant or business. Visit MKE Black and check out its business directory to find great food, services, arts, resources, shops, and more. The Sherman Phoenix, home to small businesses and restaurants, is newly reopened—visit for hours and offerings.

Learn more about Juneteenth Day at and the National Public Radio website.


Earl Arms, Media Relations Manager

Shahree Douglas, Director Communications & Outreach

About Milwaukee Public Schools

Milwaukee Public Schools is committed to accelerating student achievement, building positive relationships between youth and adults and cultivating leadership at all levels. The district’s commitment to improvement continues to show results:

  • Ninety percent of 2019-20 budget dollars go directly to classrooms;
  • The MPS Class of 2018 earned $86.2 million in scholarships; and
  • MPS is home to five of the state and nation's top high schools according to U.S. News and World Report.

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