Wausau preparing to celebrate Juneteenth holiday

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 5:36 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Wausau is holding a Juneteenth celebration at Whitewater Music Hall on Saturday. President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday on June 17.

For those who don’t know, Juneteenth celebrates the last slaves in Galveston Texas learning about their freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865.

“They announced to slaves under Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, they had been freed by that act,” UWSP U.S. History Professor Brett Barker said.

“This was a huge deal because it brings in that concept of not everyone is free until everyone is free,” Wausau Juneteenth event Coordinator Kayley McColley said.

Juneteenth is widely celebrated in southern states since the first anniversary of the Holiday in 1866.

“Just because some Northerners might now know about it doesn’t make it any less legitimate,” McColley said.

“While it is new for many white Americans. It’s a long time held tradition to many African American communities,” Barker said.

When African American families came to the northern states, they brought their celebrations with them. Even to the Badger State.

“Milwaukee has a long tradition of celebrating Juneteenth. It goes back many decades,” Barker said.

“Milwaukee has the longest continued celebration of Juneteenth,” McColley said.

Now, Kayley is excited to share the history and culture with the people of Wausau.

“People who weren’t aware of the celebration can see it and hopefully be a part of the fun we’re going to have tomorrow,” McColley said.

The event runs from 2pm-9pm.

There will also be a free vaccination clinic on site that will be open from 2pm-6pm. There are no appointments needed. The vaccines being given are Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer.

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