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Eau Claire’s Juneteenth celebration moves to new location

| Denise Olson

Photo caption: Juneteenth musical performances and other events on June 18 will take place indoors at Pablo Center at the Confluence. Food and other vendors will be set up on the riverfront Haymarket Plaza, weather permitting, with lobby space available in the event of rain.

In a move from its former location in Carson Park, Eau Claire's 2022 Juneteenth celebration is set for 1-6 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at Pablo Center at the Confluence. Through elements of music, history and discussion, organizers aim to bring together area residents in celebrating a shared commitment to a more united community enriched by its diversity.

Juneteenth 2022 is sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the city of Eau Claire and Pablo Center at the Confluence. All events of the day are free and open to the public.

While some reasons for moving the event to Pablo Center had to do with difficulty complying with continued pandemic-related food service restrictions in the previous location, Dr. Selika Ducksworth-Lawton — the event organizer and a professor of history at UW-Eau Claire — is thrilled with the new location for its sheer beauty and the significance of the center in the community, as well as its top-notch music and sound production facilities. 

“Setting up for our musical guests in Carson Park has always been a challenge,” Ducksworth-Lawton says. “And that’s without any potential for rain.

“We have this incredible space at Pablo. They were gracious enough to offer the Jamf Theatre, and the lobby is available for food service in the event of rain. It is a wonderful solution to several concerns.”     

This year’s musical guests will be Irie Sol, Naalia and Samatha Moon, and a selection of area food vendors will set up on the Haymarket Plaza outdoor space.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration marking the end of slavery in the U.S. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that the Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were to be freed. Today, the Juneteenth celebration commemorates African American freedom, celebrates culture, honors heritage and highlights African American achievements. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions join to acknowledge a period in U.S. history that shaped and continues to influence American society.

In addition to musical performances and community discussions, there will be information tables with up-to-date voting information for area residents. Pablo Center's Visit Eau Claire Experience Center will house an immersive historical experience presented by UW-Eau Claire students in two of Ducksworth-Lawton’s spring courses.  

“Students in two of my spring classes, History 201 and Honors 359, have created a story map of key pieces of African American and civil rights history,” says Ducksworth-Lawton, adding that members of the UW-Eau Claire history department will be available to assist with interactive digital displays, allowing viewers to see copies of the primary documents used to create the story map.

“This is the first year that Juneteenth is an official federal holiday,” Ducksworth-Lawton says. “We’re so pleased to see Pablo Center at the Confluence step up to host and sponsor this event; it’s wonderful to see the level of community excitement and involvement in planning for this important celebration.”

For more information, visit the EC Juneteenth Facebook page or contact Dr. Selika Ducksworth-Lawton at duckswsm@uwec.edu or 715-828-2019.