Penn Park is a beautiful, seven-acre park located in South Madison, the most racially diverse neighborhood in Madison. It is home to the Southside Raiders youth football and cheerleading team, and every June, with few exceptions, it is the designated home of the historic Juneteenth celebration.
Juneteenth is a historical celebration of freedom that began in 1865 when enslaved Africans in Texas needed a Union General to free them after slavery had officially ended in the U.S., but plantation owners in Galveston refused to end the system. Those newly freed people decided that June 19 would be their official celebration and so began an event that emphasized freedom, traditional food, faith and most importantly family.
Juneteenth 2021 is even more special because it is a hybrid celebration of both in-person activities and activities on-line. For those folks who are fully vaccinated, welcome to Penn Park for Juneteenth 2021. For those people who are not vaccinated and who care about exposing a vulnerable population to COVID-19, which is all African Americans, please celebrate Juneteenth via its on-line programs. There will be free vaccinations so people can also start the vaccination process.
The 32nd Annual Celebration of Juneteenth Celebration in Madison starts Wednesday June 16th through Saturday, June 19, 2021, the official day of Juneteenth. This year's theme is: “Black Resilience...Rising from the Ashes” and speaks directly to African American survival during the COVID-19 Pandemic, while it acknowledges the tragic death of 590,000 Americans. Juneteenth 2021 brings with it the hope that the pandemic is over and we can all experience the culture of African Americans through various forms of entertainment, lectures, visual presentation, food, and other activities.
Each day will have a different focus. Wednesday June 16th emphasizes children and youth with special presentations around self-empowerment, mapping out futures, and a virtual precollege/college fair. Thursday, June 17th emphasizes young adults with presentations on Voting, Social Justice and the Black Voice, as well as an open mic night for poets and performers. Friday, June 18th will emphasize the Black family. There will be a special Juneteenth Community Health Panel Presentation, a Community Prayer, and finally Our Family Dinner — a virtual cooking demonstration that includes delivered meal kits from Pasture and Plenty and Artemis Foods. The celebration close out on June 19th with an amazing, traditional parade and celebration of Black resilience fully expressed through many events in Penn Park.
For the first time, this year’s Madison Jazz Festival (formerly the Isthmus Jazz Festival) is partnering with the Juneteenth Celebration to present a live performance at Penn Park on Saturday, June 19 by the wonderful Milwaukee-based vocalist Donna Woodall. (This will be one of two events at Penn Park, another first for the Festival.) Donna is one of several top-notch African American jazz musicians who'll be performing during the Festival, including bands led by trumpeter Marquis Hill, saxophonist Isaiah Collier, drummer Nate Smith, multi-instrumentalists Roscoe Mitchell and Douglas Ewart, and vocalist Sarah M. Greer.
Juneteenth 2021 is excited this year to recognize Black, African American, and African First Responders during this year's parade. This is appreciation from the African American community to recognize all of these first responders’ hard work during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Happy Juneteenth 2021 and welcome to Penn Park for the safest Juneteenth ever.