UW-Madison campus observes Juneteenth holiday with first-ever flag raising

Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison

The Juneteenth flag will be displayed at Wisconsin Union buildings this Juneteenth holiday weekend in what is believed to be the first university-sponsored flying of the flag on the UW–Madison campus. The flag will be displayed from Friday, June 18, through Monday, June 21, as part of the annual celebration of freedom.

Students, faculty, and staff at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are encouraged to take advantage of the many virtual and in-person opportunities in Dane County this week in celebration of Juneteenth. The holiday commemorates when U.S. troops liberated nearly 200,000 Black Texans on June 19, 1865, bringing freedom to the last enslaved people in the former Confederacy more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. It’s a celebration of freedom and African American history, culture, and progress.

“Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom and marks an important moment in American history. We are proud to be a part of our community celebrations which promote unity, pride and awareness,” said Cheryl B. Gittens, UW–Madison interim deputy vice chancellor for diversity & inclusion and chief diversity officer. “I encourage everyone in the UW–Madison community to participate in the events being offered this week by the Kujichagulia Center and other community organizations as we come together to celebrate and reflect.”

The Juneteenth flag was created in 1997 by Ben Haith, founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation, and revised in 2000 and 2007 to become the flag that is displayed around the country today. The flag depicts a star surrounded by a nova in the red, white, and blue of the American flag, representing a new beginning and the true realization of the freedoms laid out in the Declaration of Independence.