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Juneteenth commemorates the freeing of the last slaves on June 19th, 1865. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed January 1, 1863, the message of freedom did not reach the slaves of the Southwest until June 19, 1865, when Major General George Granger landed in Galveston, Texas, to issue the order freeing the 250,000 remaining slaves. Therefore June 19, or "Juneteenth" as it came to be called, became the special Independence Day celebrated by African Americans, especially those in the Southwest. Originally centered in family gatherings with special food, storytelling, sports and games, Juneteenth festivities evolved into more elaborate community festivals featuring parades, exhibits, music, speeches, games and fairs celebrating African-American heritage as well as independence.

In 1990, a group of Madison's Black community leaders collaborated with the Madison Inner City Council on Substance Abuse to implement the Juneteenth Celebration. From the beginning, Juneteenth Day has been a wholesome, drug- and alcohol-free event that children and families could enjoy. The Celebration's mission is to unite Madison's black community in a positive way and improve its quality of life through the positive reinforcement of its heritage, culture and accomplishments, as well as enhancing its ability to become an effective part of the greater Madison community. The goals of the Juneteenth Planning committee are as follows:

Madison's African-American community was divided geographically, economically and socially. Celebrating the common denominator of our history, cultural heritage and accomplishments helps unite the community.

We bring together the Black, Caribbean and African segments of the black community by featuring their shared African heritage through music, storytelling, dance, lectures, visual presentations, drama, poetry and food.

We provide information to educate the Black community on health and social issues that impact their lives and connect them with service providers that can meet their needs. This is especially helpful to newcomers to Madison, who can receive information on school districts, public transportation, parks and beaches, churches, job opportunities, night spots, restaurants, social service agencies, city and state agencies, and where to find a doctor or dentist who accepts medical assistance.

We seek to build relationships between the black community and the greater Madison community by partnering with a number of local businesses and agencies that provide funding or information booths, or participate in other ways to make the Juneteenth Celebration a success. In addition, we build bridges with the community by sharing our culture and heritage with non-black Madison residents through entertainment, food, educational booths and displays, and vendors of African and Black products and art items.

The Juneteenth entertainment program is designed to especially to showcase the talents of our young people in dance, music and dramatic presentation, and to promote in them a healthy sense of pride, confidence and accomplishment. We have worked with local churches, and other community groups and agencies to involve youth from their programs in the entertainment.

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25th Annual Juneteenth Day Celebration

Episode first aired on 6/27/2014

25th Annual Juneteenth Day Celebration
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24th Annual Celebration

Episode first aired on 6/22/2013

24th Annual Juneteenth Day Celebration at Penn Park.
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22nd Annual Celebration

Episode first aired on 6/22/2011

The 22nd Annual Juneteenth Day celebrates the culture of Black, Caribbean and African parts of the black community and unites their shared heritage through music, dance, storytelling, poetry and food. This year's Celebration theme is "Celebrating Our Contributions...Past Present and Future." The overall theme of the Madison Juneteenth Day Celebration is "Harambee" (pulling together).
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Celebration of 2010

Episode first aired on 6/25/2010

The 21st Annual Juneteenth Day Celebration was held at Penn Park. Among the events were presentations on significant historical legislation that provided for freedoms and rights through artistic expression. The Community Showcase featured Rick Flowers and the Juneteenth Band, a Tribute to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, Rob Deez and other community performers and spoken word artists, including Fabu, Madison's Poet Laureate.