Wausau Juneteenth returns June 18 at Whitewater Music Hall

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WAUSAU – Wausau Juneteenth returns for a second year in a smaller, more intimate way.

It will take place at Whitewater Music Hall, 130 First St., from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. There will be cupcakes, strawberry soda and food from Taste of Jamaica, said organizer Kayley McColley. An open mic will be available for most of the evening and a DJ will play music by black artists. The organizers will distribute buttons, bracelets and Juneteenth children’s books.

Last year’s Juneteenth celebration, which was the first public Juneteenth event in Wausau, was bigger with more kid-friendly activities. Organizer LaTanya Campbell said this year she focused on a smaller event aimed at teens and adults.

“It’s a little more discreet; it’s more about networking, building relationships, mingling and celebrating our successes,” Campbell said.

McColley and Campbell say they hope to have a bigger June 19 celebration next year.

June 19, also known as Black Independence Day, celebrates the day slaves were officially freed in every state. On June 19, 1865, a general came to Galveston, Texas and announced that all slaves were free and the Civil War was over. It was two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was announced, and Texas was the last state to end slavery.

Today, Juneteenth focuses on celebrating black community and culture. McColley said she looks forward to the open mic, especially after hearing poetry and stories from young black people last year.

“(Juneteenth) was an event that was really dedicated to raising their voices and their perspectives because the open mics were centered around the voices of the black community, especially black youth,” McColley said. “It’s really great when we can have spaces for marginalized communities to have a chance to speak up and feel celebrated.”

For more information and updates, check out the event page on Facebook.

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Contact Emalyn Muzzy at Emuzzy@gannett.com or follow her on Twitter @EmalynMuzzy.

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