‘Walked through the blood’: Faith, political leaders reflect on Juneteenth

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s legislative Black caucus, along with other political, faith and community leaders, gathered in the Capitol for nearly three hours on Friday to raise the Juneteenth flag and commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

“Freedom ain’t free, ya’ll,” U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-04) said. “It ain’t free.”

Juneteenth has been a state holiday in Wisconsin since 2009, but this week marks just the second time the flag has flown over the Capitol. Earlier this week, President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

“All across the state of Wisconsin, all across this country, continue to fight,” Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said during the event. “I’m so pleased to see that the next generation is so full of people committed to justice, committed to a brighter tomorrow.”

Gov. Evers signed an executive order to raise the flag over the Capitol, which will fly with the U.S. and Wisconsin state flag, and replace the Pride flag for the weekend. Last year was the first that the Juneteenth flag ever flew over the Capitol.

Celebrating the day in 1865 that slaves in Texas learned of the Emancipation Proclamation–nearly three years later–the day has been celebrated across the U.S. since 1866.

“We have walked through the blood of the slaughters to be able to have this day,” Rep. Moore said.

But while looking at the past, political leaders are urging the community to go further in the future.

“It feels like we are just dipping our toe in the water–and at least we’ve gotten to the water,” Barnes said. “Now it’s time to take that full dive.”

For the Record

In a panel airing on Sunday, June 20, after CBS Face the Nation, News 3 Now sits down with political and faith leaders to discuss the history of the holiday, the current moment, and its future in Wisconsin.

  • Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes
  • Wisconsin Rep. & chair of the legislative Black Caucus Rep. Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison)
  • Bishop Sedgwick Daniels of Holy Redeemer Institutional Church of God and Christ
  • Pastor Keith Evans, Greater Mt. Eagle Baptist Church