Juneteenth flag
The Juneteenth Flag flew for the first time over the Capitol on June 19, 2020 after a proclamation by Gov. Tony Evers that the state would mark the anniversary of the end of enslavement in the United States. (Photo © Andy Manis)

For only the second time in history, the entire country will celebrate the newest federal holiday. This is the third year the Juneteenth flag will fly above the Wisconsin state capitol.

These days, we have access to news as it’s happening. But in the mid-1800’s, it took 899 days—nearly two-and-a-half years—for news of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to reach the country’s last enslaved people in Galveston, Texas. 

Lincoln signed the executive order that legally freed more than 3.5 million enslaved people on January 1, 1863, but it wasn’t until June 19, 1865—two months after Lincoln was assassinated—that Union soldiers arrived to enforce the new law in what was then the country’s largest state.

That’s why the end of slavery and the celebration of freedom known as Juneteenth has its rightful place on the national calendar of holidays. President Joe Biden signed the bill creating the holiday last year. Because June 19 falls on a Sunday this year, the federal holiday will be marked on Monday.

Wisconsin plays a small role in the holiday’s history. The Badger state was the first in the north to celebrate Juneteenth with a parade and festival, held every year in Milwaukee, starting in 1971. Gov. Tony Evers proclaimed in 2020 that the Juneteenth flag would fly for a day above the state Capitol.

One suggestion being made to bolster the occasion is to seek out and support local BIPOC communities, especially entrepreneurs, by searching for and shopping at them. Yelp reports more than 45,000 businesses have registered as Black-owned, making them easier to find.

Travel Wisconsin has a webpage dedicated to lists of the state’s most established and emerging Black-owned businesses.

Happy Juneteenth!

Note: UpNorthNews will be on a holiday schedule and will not publish a newsletter on Monday.