We Energies employees joined thousands of other people at Milwaukee’s Juneteenth festivities June 19 in the Northcott Neighborhood. Milwaukee’s Juneteenth celebration is the oldest known and longest running Juneteenth celebration in the United States.

We Energies’ participation in the festivities was led by employees and members of the company’s African American Business Resource Group (AABRG). The group showed off their community pride with a parade float marking the theme “Celebrating Culture Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: A Tribute to Dads — Father, Teacher, Protector and Hero.”

The We Energies float took top prize at the parade based on criteria of integration, creativity and appearance. It featured the red, black and green colors of the Pan-African Flag, along with signs that incorporated praise for teachers and dads.

The float also supported We Energies’ commitment to commemorating and celebrating the freedom Juneteenth symbolizes.

The AABRG was awarded prize money for the winning float. The group will use the money to support future community events, including the upcoming United Negro College Fund Walk for Education in Milwaukee.

AABRG nurtures an environment that supports African American professionals in their pursuit of professional excellence. The group focuses on raising diversity awareness and inclusiveness between leaders and colleagues, creating a cohesive relationship within the company workforce and the community, and making We Energies and its parent company, WEC Energy Group an employer of choice for African Americans while contributing to the success of the company.

Juneteenth signifies the end of slavery in the United States. In 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than 3 million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. It took more than two years for the proclamation to be enforced throughout the confederacy and the news to reach some African Americans living in Texas. When Union soldiers arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, many of the state’s enslaved people were finally freed.