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‘This fight is about us,’ Juneteenth flag flies in Madison as leaders push for equality

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MADISON (WKOW) -- For the first time, a flag will fly over the state Capitol and the Madison City-County Building together to celebrate Juneteenth.

Dane County officials raised the flag at their first-ever ceremony on Wednesday. The Juneteenth flag will also fly at the state Capitol on the holiday, which is Friday, June 19.

"That means that we have representation and I think that's been really important to everyone I've heard from, said state Rep. and Dane County Board Supervisor Shelia Stubbs. "Making sure our flag is flown at all levels of government, we're not forgotten, and it's very important that we are inclusive."

Stubbs led a socially-distant celebration and news conference to raise the flag, involving the city and county's black leaders.

Juneteenth celebrates the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas learned they were given freedom, but not yet equality.

"Some people say that the civil rights movement is over, but I say it never stopped because we have to continue to fight," said Madison Common Council President Sheri Carter. "But this time is different. The civil rights movement before was about us, but we also included everybody else because we wanted human rights. This fight is about us. This fight is for our survival. This fight is for us to live, thrive and achieve."

The leaders are urging that fight to include white allies, like Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

"We must not waste this moment," he said to the group. "We must move forward together and each in our own way to bring about the change our nation must achieve and the opportunity, peace and happiness our children deserve."

Dane County board members said they are committed to bringing meaningful change to end inequality. They are working on measures related to equity. Stubbs says she's introducing a new proposal at a meeting on Thursday, as they continue celebrating the positive message of the holiday.

"We celebrate and commemorate this day as an important step in African American history," said Supervisor Anthony Gray. "We celebrate ourselves as a people that expand and continue to expand those concepts of freedom and equality. This is who we are. This is our legacy and this is what we're here to honor today."

The city's traditional Juneteenth events had to be moved to virtual celebrations this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for more information. Meanwhile, a group of activists are planning an in person rally for Friday.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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