'I am Juneteenth:' Milwaukee festival announces theme, looks ahead to 52nd year

’I am Juneteenth: ’ Milwaukee festival announces theme, looks ahead to 52nd year

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Organizers of one of the country's oldest and longest continuously running Juneteenth celebrations highlighted the event's 52nd edition and what people can expect to be new during a news conference Tuesday, May 23.

"Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom," Northcott Neighborhood House Executive Director Tony Kearney told reporters. "Not just of freedom of African Americans, but the freedom of America."

That idea is summed up in this year's theme of "I am Juneteenth."

Organizers hope to promote inclusivity by inviting people from all backgrounds to the event, as well as adding new spaces called the Senior Zone and Veteran Zone.

"Bringing in the Senior Zone, bringing in the Veteran Zone, we're trying to be more and more inclusive and bring everybody together," Kearney told CBS 58.

Those spaces join the Kids Zone and Teen Zone at the event held on Monday, June 19. On top of that, the event will feature 350 vendors as well as artists, music acts and more.

There's also the parade and the Miss and Mister Juneteenth pageants which award scholarships to young people. This year's silent auction includes items for the scholarships like memorabilia donated by Green Bay Packers great George Koonce.

"It's supporting their future growth, we're investing in them," Jacqueline Zeledon, the chair of the Freedom Ball Silent Auction, said in an interview. "So, it is more than just a scholarship, we're helping them reach their educational goals, their career goals, their leadership goals, service goals."

Organizers said they are proud of the event's growth and offered a renewed invitation to those who have not attended in a few years or at all.

"I'd say come on down, on Monday, June 19, and enjoy yourself, it's like a giant family reunion," Zeledon said.

Information on the Juneteenth event, as well as information for volunteers and vendors can be found here.

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