An historic Juneteenth was celebrated with a parade, cupcakes and the colors of freedom at both St. Ann Center campuses. Festivities were extra special this year, considering President Biden just signed into law a bill establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War was over and slavery in the United States was abolished. To commemorate the date, the children and adults at the Bucyrus Campus organized a parade around the grounds. Marchers carried signs and homemade posters with messages of African-American pride. The children in the Elephant classroom dressed the part, wearing hand-decorated Juneteenth T-shirts.
After reading Wisconsin Governor Tony Ever’s Juneteenth Day proclamation, Monica Yarn, director of adult day services, asked children and adults what June 19th means to them. “Freedom and togetherness,” client Doris affirmed. The summer camp kids summed it up with, “Black lives matter” and “everybody is somebody.”
At the Stein Campus, the children and adults came together in the atrium to learn about the history of slavery in the U.S. They also heard about how the Juneteenth Day celebration has evolved over the past 156 years.
For example, red foods are a mainstay at Juneteenth gatherings. The color is symbolic of the blood shed during slavery and of the collective resiliency of Black people in America. Following this tradition, St. Ann Center staff distributed red face masks and red velvet cupcakes to clients, caregivers and parents—connecting to generations of people who have come together to celebrate their freedom and affirm their humanity.