A minute of silence was requested on Saturday at Penn Park in Madison following an invocation by Reverend Marcus Allen and the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” – often referred to as the Black National Anthem.
Celebrants of the Juneteenth event held red, green, yellow and black balloons, releasing them into a hot and sunny afternoon sky to honor those who have died from COVID-19.
“This balloon release was significant today as many members of the African American community have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” said Jackie Hunt, who helped organize the Juneteenth celebration in South Side Park since 1997. “This year we are so thankful and grateful that we can be … with people physically.
With the pandemic declining here, a diverse crowd of hundreds returned to Penn Park to celebrate African American culture, resilience, perseverance, history and freedom. Black business owners sold handcrafted jewelry, sage sticks, and other products. Long lines of people waited for jerk chicken, fried catfish and pizza puffs. Funk and gospel music floated out of two large tents.
Earlier in the day, a parade of black organizations and groups waved flags, tossed candy, honked and cheered as they made their way down South Park Street for Penn Park.
Robert Walker reclined on a lounge chair on the parade route, waiting to see his granddaughter and her dance troupe. The daughter of the 67-year-old retiree had previously taken part in the Juneteenth parade, but Saturday was the first time for her granddaughter.