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Local businesses celebrate Juneteenth, highlight local artists

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Local businesses celebrate Juneteenth
Ward Jolles - WKOW
Artwork from local artist Lilada Gee. Gee's work was showcased at Working Draft Brewing Company on Saturday in honor of Juneteenth.

MADISON (WKOW) -- Crowds around Madison continued Juneteenth celebrations on Saturday and many local businesses celebrated the holiday by putting on events.

Workers at Working Draft Brewing Company hosted three local black artists to showcase their work at the brewery — the first in-person event the business has put on since the pandemic.

"We're packed. It's crazy but it feels like this is a really awesome event in the midst of everything that happened in 2020 and 2021, to be able to host a Juneteenth gathering and celebration," said Wholesale and Social Media Manager Christian Tolbert.

Lilada Gee was one of the artists showcased at the event. She said she was humbled to be able to display her work.

"Because black women like me, ya know, just a hundred years before I was born had no voice, had no opportunity to express themselves," Gee said. "So to be able to create art that celebrates black women and black girls... It feels like a redemption for my foremothers."

Other local businesses also rejoiced on Saturday. For Mahamadou Tunkara, the holiday is a time to celebrate his own business, a restaurant called Kingdom in Madison.

Tunkara immigrated from Gambia to the United States in 1987.

"If you look at where I come from, Africa, that's where this whole thing started," Tunkara said. "And for me to be a part of that celebrating that in the United States of America, that's a big deal."

And while plenty of celebrations went on across the city, Gee says there's still plenty of progress to be made.

"Juneteenth is more than a day. We know that it's become a national holiday, but that doesn't change anything. People change things. And so we will change this world when we learn to love one another," Gee said.

Ward Jolles

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