Weekend Roundup: The First Year Juneteenth Is Honored As National Holiday

Milwaukee’s Juneteenth celebration is in person once again this year, after being held virtually in 2020. The city’s celebration dates back to 1971, making it one of the oldest in the United States.

Gov. Tony Evers signed an executive order to raise the Juneteenth flag over the State Capitol for the weekend, replacing the Pride flag temporarily. He signed a similar executive order in 2020.

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. On June 19, 1865, enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned of the end of the Civil War, and of enslavement. 

“Juneteenth is an oral tradition like no other that is shared across generations, and it shows how, in spite of what some people say, Black people have not lost hope in who we are,” Rob Smith, a Marquette University professor and historian, told the Journal Sentinel. “We have not lost hope in the U.S. democracy. It signifies that we are full citizens of this country.”

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on Thursday.

But some of the key opponents of the measure were two Wisconsin legislators who have staked out positions on the right wing of the Republican Party, reports WPR’s Rob Mentzer. 

The move to make Juneteenth a federal holiday also comes as various states pass laws that limit the teaching and studying of critical race theory

Wisconsin DHS: COVID-19 Weekly Recap

From June 14-17, there were 392 new cases of COVID-19 reported by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 612,048. Wisconsin has lost 7,235 total lives to the disease. 

Forty-five percent of Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated — 80.5 percent of people age 65 and older and 16.6 percent of children age 12-15.

On Thursday, DHS began tracking the number of COVID-19 cases caused by the B.1.617.2 variant, also called the delta variant, after it was designated a “variant of concern” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“Our sequencing data suggest that the new delta variant has been relatively rare in Wisconsin, but we saw it become the dominant variant in the U.K. very quickly,” said Thomas Friedrich, professor in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “The proportion of cases caused by the delta variant throughout the U.S. is increasing, so it’s only a matter of time before it becomes more common in Wisconsin, I expect.”

Research has indicated that the approved vaccines protect against COVID-19 variants, and Friedrich encouraged Wisconsinites to get their shots. 

Popular Social Justice Yard Signs Started In Madison

Many are familiar with the black yard signs that read the following in bright colors: “In this house, we believe: Black Lives Matter. Women’s rights are human rights. No human is illegal. Science is real. Love is love. Kindness is everything.”

But not many know that these yard signs, which were widely circulated following the election of former President Donald Trump, were first distributed in Wisconsin’s state capital of Madison. 

Read the Cap Times’ recap of the sign’s origin here, which begins with Kristin Garvey, a youth services librarian at the Fitchburg Public Library and mother of two. 

Pops On The Lake Makes Summer Debut

Think: ice cream truck. Now think: on a boat.

Pops on the Lake, owned by Nicolette Oberst, is a 1980s pontoon boat that houses a freezer to keep ice cream treats cool as it circles Waukesha County’s Okauchee Lake to serve lake-goers. 

The business made its debut last weekend.

“We had kayakers, paddleboarders, paddle boats, pontoons, ski boats. We had everything. Everybody was able to comfortably approach us and hold on to the boat or tie up for a minute while we did the transaction,” Oberst told the Journal Sentinel. 

8 Republicans Face Off In Assembly Special Election Primary

Eight Republicans are facing off in a special election primary for the right to run for an open state Assembly seat, according to the Associated Press.

Steve Kauffeld, Spencer Zimmerman, Jenifer Quimby, Nick Krueger, Cathy Ann Houchin, Nathan Pollnow, Jennifer Meinhardt and William Penterman are looking to advance through Tuesday’s primary in southeastern Wisconsin’s 37th Assembly District.

The survivor will face Democrat Pete Adams and independent Stephen Ratzlaff in a July 13 special general election.

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The 37th includes portions of Watertown, Waterloo and Columbus.

The seat came open after incumbent Republican John Jagler was elected to the Senate in April to fill former Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s seat. Fitzgerald won a congressional seat in November.

DNR’s State Natural Areas Program Celebrates 70th Anniversary

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ State Natural Areas Program is celebrating its 70th year. To mark the occasion, the DNR is offering new opportunities to “preserve, protect and appreciate” the state’s natural areas.

“Wisconsinites are very fortunate conservationists at the time had the foresight and commitment to save our natural heritage for future generations,” said Drew Feldkirchner, DNR natural heritage conservation director, in a press release. “The DNR, partner organizations and volunteers have worked hard over the past 70 years to identify, acquire and protect these areas.”

According to a press release, the state Legislature created the program in November 1951, responding to concerns that Wisconsin’s ecosystems were being threatened. The goal of the program was to maintain the variety of Wisconsin’s native landscape for education, research and for the long-term protection of Wisconsin’s biological diversity for future generations.

UW Doctor To Complete Country’s First OB-GYN Residency For Rural Areas

The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health started the first rural OB-GYN residency program in the U.S. in 2017 to address a shortage in the state.

Dr. Laura McDowell is set to graduate this month, making her the first person in the country to complete such a residency program.

According to a 2019 Wisconsin Office of Rural Health report, 11 rural hospitals stopped routinely delivering babies from 2010-2017, reports the Wisconsin State Journal. Roughly one third of Wisconsin counties have no OB-GYN.

U.S. Mint Launches American Women Quarters Program

The U.S. Mint has announced the new four-year program that exemplifies women’s accomplishments and contributions to U.S. development and history.

Under the American Women Quarters Program, the mint will issue up to five designs every year from 2022 to 2025.

Honorees for 2022 are:

  • Maya Angelou, celebrated poet and memoirist
  • Wilma Mankiller, the Cherokee Nation’s first female principal chief
  • Adelina Otero-Warren, a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement
  • Sally Ride, the first U.S. woman in space
  • Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American Hollywood film star