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Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz

A podcast about positive things happening in and around Washington County, Wisconsin

Juneteenth in Washington County with County Executive Schoemann, Jay Fisher, and Hadwat Sankari

15MWF - Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz podcast cover art for Season 3, Episode 37 titled ‘Juneteenth in Washington County.’ The background features names of various locations within Washington County, emphasizing the local focus of the podcast. The image includes two photos: on the left, two smiling men standing side by side, one giving a thumbs-up; on the right, a smiling woman with curly hair wearing a red top.

Juneteenth is coming up on Wednesday, June 19th, 2024. This week’s episode is a two-parter (all in one episode). In the first half, I speak with County Executive Josh Schoemann and Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Jay Fisher about Washington County’s 5th annual Juneteenth Day celebration. We delve into the significance of Juneteenth, the evolution of the event, and the collaboration between the county and the Boys & Girls Club.

In the second half of the episode, I am joined by Hadwat Sankari from Just Us of Washington County to discuss their Juneteenth Community Celebration which is coming up on Sunday, June 23rd at Pike Lake State Park in the North Shelter.

Find more information about each of these events below.

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  • Transcript
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    [00:00:00] Fuzz Martin: Hello, everybody, and thank you for tuning in to Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. My name is Fuzz Martin, and each week ish, we focus on the positive things happening in and around Washington County, Wisconsin. However, we’re on summer break schedule, so maybe not every single week. It’s more of a lackadaisical schedule, as We roll through the summer.

    You know, I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t get an episode out every single week. However, I felt it was important to get one out this week because there’s an important event that’s coming up very soon. And it’s an important date. And that date is Juneteenth day, which is coming up on Wednesday, June 19th.

    And this week I have three guests to talk about two events coming up in Washington County to celebrate Juneteenth day. So this episode will be split into two parts. The first will focus on Washington County’s Juneteenth Freedom Day celebration, which will be taking place at the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County in West Bend on Wednesday, June 19th at 11 a.

    m. At the Boys and Girls Club’s West Bend campus. The second half of the episode will be on Just Us of Washington County’s Community Celebration, which will be happening at Pike Lake State Park in Slinger, Wisconsin, on Sunday, June 23rd, at noon. So with that, we will start with County Executive Schoemann and Jay Fisher of the Boys and Girls Club for the first part of the episode, and then we will be joined by Hadwat Sankari of Just Us of Washington County.

    All to talk about both of these events, right here on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.

    County Executive Schoemann Jay Fisher. Mr. Fisher, so it’s more formal. Thank you both for Jay’s good. He’s like a teacher. Thank you both for joining me today. I’m going to start with a question for you both. So What does Juneteenth mean to each of you personally and why do you think it’s important to celebrate it here in Washington County?

    [00:02:09] Josh Schoemann: Well, I’d have to harken back to how this all started if I’m going to answer that question, honestly. And it really began five years ago, five years and a few months ago, actually. Uh, if you remember in the midst of the George Floyd riots and Black Lives Matter, we had a number of protests in Washington County, all across the county, in pretty much every municipality, village, and city we had.

    And I went to many of those and just talked to people to try and understand, you know, what is it that you’re trying to accomplish here? You can stand out on a corner with a sign for every day for the next several years and nothing’s going to happen, but what do you want to see out of this? And, the most impactful conversation for me was a, a black woman and her son, probably about 18, 19 he was, and, I just went up to him with a notebook and said, asked that question and she said, listen, I, you know, I moved out here to try to get away from MPS, you know, get my kids into a good school system in a good community.

    But the thing that really disappointed me and, and hurts the most is there’s no recognition of MLK Day, and there’s no recognition of my Independence Day, Juneteenth. And I did what you guys are doing, and I was nodding my head, and we finished the conversation. I walked away and went, the hell is Juneteenth?

    So I googled it and started reading about Juneteenth. You know, I use the term more often now than Juneteenth, Freedom Day, because that’s really what it is. It’s, you know, the day that, the Civil War was over and, the Civil War General goes to Texas, Galveston, Texas, and announces the Emancipation Proclamation is now in effect, the last state in the Union.

    And it is literally the freedom day for all the slaves in the last state in the union. And so, I mean, what, what an awesome thing to celebrate. There’s been an amazing celebration for many years in the city of Milwaukee. And really nothing out here. So for us, uh, in Washington County, in a community that’s almost, what I think, like 97 percent white.

    It’s really as much about educating people. Yeah. Um, because It’s Freedom Day. It’s, I think it’s Freedom Month from Memorial Day to the 4th of July. Armed Forces Day is in there. Flag Day is in there. Freedom Day is in there. What a great way to celebrate and recognize an important part of history for all of us.

    [00:04:23] Jay Fisher: Yeah, I agree with, I agree with Josh. Uh, Freedom Day is a good way of calling it and, , When you talk about all the kids that come to the Boys and Girls Clubs and the diversity we have at Boys and Girls are probably the most diverse place in Washington County. Sure, yeah. And we need to teach our kids Freedom Day.

    We need, freedom is important. Freedom is important for everybody, right? And so we take trips to South Dakota with kids. We took a history trip to Washington, D. C. the last couple of summers with kids. Teenagers lose that if you don’t teach them that. And you know, quite frankly, if the Boys and Girls Club doesn’t teach them that and teach our kids that, Whether it’s, Juneteenth Day, or history of our country, or take it to Washington, D.

    C. I’m not sure anyone’s going to, so that’s why it’s so important to , me and, and kids need to know the history of this country. They need to know Juneteenth Day. They need to know history about everybody.

    [00:05:12] Fuzz Martin: Absolutely. Now, Josh, this is the fifth annual celebration here in the county. How has the celebration as it’s done here evolved in those last five years?

    [00:05:23] Josh Schoemann: Well, probably the biggest thing was when we started this five years ago, there was not a national holiday. It was just a thing that we made up quite honestly in about six weeks time. We threw it together the first time around. And of course, now it’s a national holiday. Recognized all across America.

    Um, so that was a huge change. And, and the other major change is the county started it kind of on our own. We reached out and engaged a couple of community members, but it was pretty limited ’cause of the short turnaround and now having this partnership with the Boys and Girls Club, you know, I think it’s, I think it’s important to remember on the heels of.

    Yesterday as we’re recording this was, D Day, the 80th celebration of D Day, which of course for, for France especially, is a massive, day for them in celebrating their freedom. This is a different version of the same thing. And I think it’s important to have a partnership with, as Jay said, the Boys and Girls Club is probably the most diverse place in Washington County.

    And if you walk through there during any one of their busy days, and they are very busy, It warms your heart. It’s pretty awesome. And to be able to bring people together is what this has all been about. And the partnership between the county and nonprofits is, I think, the key to the future. And hopefully one day, the county is really more of a behind the scenes role and we have our nonprofit groups and churches taking it over all together.

    [00:06:42] Fuzz Martin: Let’s talk about that partnership. How did that come about with this partnership between the Boys and Girls Club and the county for this Juneteenth celebration? Let’s

    [00:06:50] Jay Fisher: Well, we were approached last year, and I, I thought it was a great idea. We had a golf outing that day, so we actually did it at Washington County Golf Course.

    [00:06:57] Fuzz Martin: And

    [00:06:58] Jay Fisher: we brought kids out there, and there was probably 200 people. It was well attended. It was out on their, porch area, and the ceremony was outstanding, and, We got a chance to have some of our kids, speak at it. And so obviously we have another golf outing this year, but June 19th, it’s not on June 19th.

    So I thought, you know, let’s, let’s bring it into the Boys and Girls Club. We can have 200, 300 kids are all at the Boys and Girls Club. We’re open from seven to five in the summer and all these kids, they need to see this. They need to hear this. And so let’s bring it to the Boys and Girls Club and we’re expecting a big crowd for it.

    And we’re inviting community members and, Again, I, I think any time we can put our kids, middle school, high school, in front of, people that can teach them something is, and certainly about freedom and, and things that they wouldn’t know, it’s very important to, celebrate Juneteenth Day, celebrate a lot of different holidays, but if we don’t put that in front of kids, it’ll be forgotten quickly.

    [00:07:55] Fuzz Martin: Now this is at the Prescott

    [00:07:56] Jay Fisher: Center,

    [00:07:56] Fuzz Martin: right? The one

    [00:07:56] Jay Fisher: in

    [00:07:57] Fuzz Martin: West

    [00:07:57] Jay Fisher: Bend? Yes, it’s that. Uh, the West Bend Boys and Girls Club Prescott Center, 925 North Silverbrook Drive. Okay, cause you have the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County, you have, is it five locations? Yeah, we have two in, well, six. Two in Kewaskum, two in Hartford, one in West Bend, and one in Jackson.

    Okay. So on a summer day, we’d have about 600 kids. So, we’re going to bring some kids from each of the clubs, so we’ll have a couple hundred kids there for that. Excellent.

    [00:08:22] Fuzz Martin: So, Josh, in the county’s press release, I talked about how this celebration is going to, helps to build connections and understandings, and you talked a bit about that, but can you elaborate more on some of the ways that, This event is going to achieve that here in Washington County.

    [00:08:36] Josh Schoemann: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s important to, and I mentioned this before, to acknowledge, you know, we’re, I think, almost a 97 percent white county. So, most people might think Juneteenth Day and think, what the heck are you people doing up there? But I think that’s even more of a reason for us to have this event and have an education, really, of folks.

    And let me, Let me just point to the very first one, because I think it illustrates the point. When we first did this, we, we hosted the first couple of them, actually, at the old courthouse, the, the, Veterans Plaza. And the reason we did that was because I think where, where the, our histories and our cultures meet, especially on a day like Juneteenth Day, celebrating freedom, from, from slavery in particular, I think where they meet is that one monument that has all the lists of the Civil War veterans from Washington County.

    You know, who literally put their lives on the line to protect that freedom. Of course, you could say the same thing just like we talked about with D Day, or World War II, or any other, uh, major conflict in American history. But in this one in particular, we have literally hundreds of veterans from Civil War who put their lives on the line to protect that freedom.

    And what a great day to celebrate the culture, and the freedom, of former slaves, and now all these generations later, you know, we’re, we’re one people. Yeah, e pluberis unum, right? And this is a great way to do that and bring people together to celebrate it.

    [00:09:58] Fuzz Martin: On Juneteenth, the eleven of the county’s buildings will be flying the Juneteenth flag.

    Can you talk about the significance of that?

    [00:10:07] Josh Schoemann: Yeah, absolutely. So you should all come to the Juneteenth celebration, June 19th at 11 a. m. at the Boys and Girls Club. But the reason you should do that is there’s a cool explanation of how the relevance of the flag itself. But for us, in putting it in each one of those locations, I think it’s an acknowledgement of the importance of Freedom Day.

    And I mentioned before, I think there should be Freedom Month. I think we should be celebrating from Memorial Day, celebrating the lives lost. For from all those conflicts that I’ve touched on all the way through Independence Day, which is all of our Independence Day. And, and I think we can do better at that, but this particular day is so important because, you know, as Abraham Lincoln used to say, you know, we were, or at least, suggested that the country was at the precipice of whether or not we were going to be a country founded on freedom, or it would perish forever.

    And really, the Civil War, and particularly Juneteenth Day, is the essence, is kind of the pinnacle of saving that freedom and perpetuating it for generations to come, and hopefully we can carry on that tradition and pass that torch to the next generation.

    [00:11:14] Fuzz Martin: Jay, you said there’s gonna be 300 kids there at the Boys and Girls Club, for this event.

    And some of the kids are gonna be participating. How are the kids going to participate in this event?

    [00:11:24] Jay Fisher: So we’re gonna have the kids front and center welcoming people. Also gonna sing the National Anthem, so they’ve been practicing that. We want the kids Not just to sit and watch, but be involved.

    And then also, they’re just going to be greeters and just, just feel the day and feel the different speakers and hear the different speakers and keep them involved. again, I think it’s so important for us to be able to do this and, and teach our kids the history, when freedom and all the people who have died for us, as we.

    Continue, and as the years go on, if we don’t continue to teach our kids this, or, or bring it up, it’s forgotten. And, that’s how I think a lot of times in this country, our kids, or adults even, you know, they’ll lose respect. They forget why we’re all

    [00:12:06] Fuzz Martin: here. Yeah, definitely. And, I know there’s a number of other things that are going on at this event, Noelle Braun from the Downtown West Bend Association is going to sing, uh, Lift Every Voice and Sing, which is the Black National Anthem, uh, right?

    And, uh, if you have not heard her sing that, or if you have not heard her sing period, you’re missing out. You’ll get goosebumps. I, Guarantee it, or your money back. What else can we expect at this year’s events?

    [00:12:32] Josh Schoemann: Well, I should touch on Lift Every Voice and Sing. Um, it’s a little bit controversial for some people, but, for those who don’t know much about it, you should just Google Andra Day, A N D R A.

    Day. That’s the name of the performer from the Super Bowl. I don’t know if you guys watched the Super Bowl this year, 2024, but she performed Lift Every Voice and Sing prior to the National Anthem, at the Super Bowl. And it was amazing. And Noelle has a beautiful, beautiful voice. She does a really, really nice job.

    But I think it really draws the meaning out of that song, out of, out of the day in general. And, you know, we, we certainly could do other things like God Bless America and America is Beautiful. But for this particular day, I think the relevance of the song is, is just awesome. And like you said, when she sings, Noelle’s got such a gorgeous voice, it does give you goosebumps.

    It’s outstanding.

    [00:13:24] Fuzz Martin: What are your hopes for the future of Juneteenth Day here in Washington County?

    [00:13:28] Josh Schoemann: Well, certainly, I hope those crowds grow year after year after year. And I, as, as Jay’s kind of alluding to, I think, The more you have the kids involved as time goes by and, and generations evolve, I think we’ll see just more and more people naturally come.

    What I’d really love to see in the, in hopefully in the next five years, the next half decade is that we’re able to bring in people, especially our, our neighbors from Milwaukee. Of course, their demographically, their population has a lot more of a black history than ours. So, I think it would be an awesome thing for us to be able to bring ourselves together, which, you know, that concrete barrier of I 41 always seems to be part of the problem.

    But if we could find a way to be able to do that, number one. And number two, you know, when I started this five years ago, I always talked to my team about, we need to bring in someone with national significance. National. Recognition that can really help elevate the day and show people why it’s so important for all of us together to celebrate this shared history.

    [00:14:27] Jay Fisher: And I think too, at the Boys and Girls Club, it’s not just that day. We have our teachers that are talking about Juneteenth Day, and they’re doing a mirror on there, for the whole month of June. I mean, they’re basically learning about Juneteenth Day. That’s not something we would do unless we’re partnered probably with the county and have the, have it at our place.

    And so I think that’s a huge deal too, not just that day, but leading up to that day and having kids learn about something that they wouldn’t necessarily learn about. Excellent.

    [00:14:52] Fuzz Martin: Well, I think this is great for the county, great for education here in our county. I think it’s, very important, for, Not just the kids, but the community at large.

    And it’s important to, I think, for the leadership for other counties surrounding us as well to see what we’re doing here and to be an example for them. So, I appreciate both of you for doing this. And again, that is on June 19th, which is a, which day of the week is that? Wednesday, June 19th. 11 a. m. 11 a.

    m. at the Boys and Girls Club right next to Regner Park here in West Bend. And, appreciate you guys coming in today. Thank you. Yeah, thank you.

    [00:15:28] Josh Schoemann: Hopefully 20 years from now, it’s, it’s like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July where we have to run all over the county and get to all these parades and there’s four or five of them and we’re all, we’re all sweaty from our, our parade activities.

    And And everybody’s drinking some strawberry soda and a red velvet cake. Those are traditions of Juneteenth all across Washington County that 20 years from now we’ll be talking on your show about that. Absolutely.

    [00:15:52] Fuzz Martin: Perfect. Well, we’ll, we’ll catch up with you again, in 20 years on that. Thanks for having us.

    All right. Thanks for coming on guys. All right. And now we transition over to Hadwat Sankari. of Just Us of Washington County. Hadwat, thank you for joining me today on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. I’m glad to have you back in the studio. It’s almost been two years, it’s been like 60 episodes since last time you were in the studio with Barseana to talk about Just Us of Washington County.

    To recap, can you give us a bit about the mission of Just Us of Washington County and what you do for the community?

    [00:16:28] Hadwat Sankari: Absolutely. Just Us of Washington County is a 501c3 organization that provides support and guidance to Black, Indigenous, and people of color populations, as well as LGBTQ plus individuals and families.

    We seek to help navigate and supply guidance for everyday experiences and challenges faced within Washington County, and we offer support and access to resources that directly impact the well being of others. Our vision is to foster an engaged community that provides a sense of belonging and welcome for those who have been historically excluded from resources and support. based off their race, gender, and sexuality.

    [00:17:03] Fuzz Martin: Excellent, so coming up on Sunday, June 23rd, Just Us of Washington County, and a few other organizations are teaming up, and you guys are putting on a Juneteenth community celebration at Pike Lake State Forest in the north shelter. So, First of all, what inspired Your organization and the others to hold the event on June 23rd instead of Um, the traditional June 19th.

    [00:17:28] Hadwat Sankari: Yeah, great question. So many of the nearby counties have great festivities that are already going on. So we didn’t want to take away from that, we actually wanted to add an additional day to celebrate Juneteenth. So we decided to make it a different day. So, Our hope is people can go out to as many of the festivities as they are interested in doing.

    [00:17:44] Fuzz Martin: Sure. Okay, great. And what are some of those key events and activities that you have planned for the celebration at Pike Lake?

    [00:17:52] Hadwat Sankari: Yeah, so we are going to have music, we have a DJ who’s going to be there, and then we also have a lot of family friendly crafts and activities. There will be food trucks, so local businesses selling food, and with it being at Pike Lake, we also have lots of trails obviously people can enjoy, and then there’s beach access. We’re not providing any beach sports, but whoever would like to do that, it’s readily available for them.

    [00:18:13] Fuzz Martin: Excellent.

    [00:18:13] Hadwat Sankari: Yeah.

    [00:18:14] Fuzz Martin: So there are some other organizations involved, as we mentioned. Who Juneteenth community celebration at Pike Lake?

    [00:18:21] Hadwat Sankari: Yeah, so Germantown Community Coalition. Friends, Inc. and Youth and Family Project have all been organizing this with us.


    [00:18:27] Fuzz Martin: very good. Obviously a great location right off Highway 60, Pike Lake. It is a state park, so typically you need a state park pass and sticker to get in or a daily pass. How can people get access to the park if they don’t have a sticker?

    [00:18:42] Hadwat Sankari: Yeah, so if people pre register on our website, which is justusofwashingtoncounty.

    org, Alright, They can actually sign up to get free parking, so we will cover the parking pass for you as long as you pre register.

    [00:18:53] Fuzz Martin: Okay, so you have to, how soon in advance do you have to register in order to get that?

    [00:18:57] Hadwat Sankari: So if you can register by June 16th, that would be great, then we can confirm that that will be available.

    [00:19:03] Fuzz Martin: Okay, and it’s basically putting your, like, driver’s license in, is that, or driver’s, license plate in that, or is that?

    [00:19:07] Hadwat Sankari: It’s actually, so there’s a Google form, and yeah, you You can fill out your information, you’re committing to being there, and then when you show up we’ll actually give you a pass to put into your, yep, you put it right on your dashboard.

    Okay. And so we just, we’ll cover the cost and then give you the pass yourself so you can even fill out all of your information ahead of time. Gotcha, that’s right.

    [00:19:21] Fuzz Martin: Yeah, the state daily passes are those, those paper passes, right? Exactly. That’s right, okay. So, you’re part of, you know, just of the Washington County, and you talked about the mission and how it supports those of color in our community and what does Juneteenth mean to you personally and why is it important to celebrate Juneteenth here in Washington County?

    [00:19:41] Hadwat Sankari: Yeah, absolutely. So Juneteenth is a holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. It’s also an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the culture and the achievements of the African American people. So it’s important for us to celebrate Juneteenth so we can acknowledge the work that still needs to be done around freedom and equality.

    We personally wanted to host a Juneteenth event in Washington County that would allow the community to come together and celebrate the historic day. So, just a way to have fun with each other.

    [00:20:10] Fuzz Martin: How do you hope that this celebration does impact that local community and helps promote cultural understanding and acceptance in our community?

    [00:20:19] Hadwat Sankari: Yeah. So Juneteenth is oftentimes viewed as being only an African American holiday, but really it should be important to all of us because it’s part of American culture, it’s part of our American history, so we should all be celebrating this. So our hope is people can come out, have fun, have a good time together.

    And also our community is growing and we want people from marginalized groups to feel welcome in Washington County. So representation and celebrating holidays such as Juneteenth is one way to make, one way to make Washington County more inclusive.

    [00:20:47] Fuzz Martin: For sure. How can listeners get involved or support Just Us of Washington County beyond just attending the Juneteenth celebration, if they want to get involved beyond that?

    [00:20:57] Hadwat Sankari: Yeah, so you can always come to our website, justusofwashingtoncounty. org. Just to learn more about us, to view our upcoming events, or to sign up to become a member. Okay. And if you’re interested or able to donate your time by volunteering or any monetary donations, you can also do that on the website as well.

    [00:21:14] Fuzz Martin: Again, Juneteenth, Washington County Community Celebration happening on Sunday, June 23rd, Pike Lake State Forest North Shelter. It’s free, right? Correct, free. Open to the public, starts at noon?

    [00:21:27] Hadwat Sankari: Starts at noon.

    [00:21:28] Fuzz Martin: How late is it going?

    [00:21:29] Hadwat Sankari: As long as people want to hang out, so we’re hoping to have a party all day long.


    [00:21:34] Fuzz Martin: And again, to get signed up to get that park pass, what’s the URL again?

    [00:21:39] Hadwat Sankari: So if you could go to justusofwashingtoncounty. org, and then you can go up on the right corner, you’ll see Juneteenth. As, as, a tab you can click on and it’ll show you a link to sign up for the free parking.

    [00:21:50] Fuzz Martin: Sure, I saw that you had in a number of places in the FAQs there as well.

    [00:21:53] Hadwat Sankari: Our FAQs have it all listed too. Yeah,

    [00:21:55] Fuzz Martin: so just click on there, fill out the Google form and try to do that by June 16th.

    [00:21:59] Hadwat Sankari: Yes, that would be great. Make sure you have a spot, so please come on out.

    [00:22:04] Fuzz Martin: Perfect. I hope you guys have an awesome time at Pike Lake and thanks for doing this for the community. It’s a great event and I hope you guys have a lot of fun.

    [00:22:12] Hadwat Sankari: Thank you. And hope you can come join us. I hope so.

    [00:22:14] Fuzz Martin: So thank you so much for joining me today.

    [00:22:16] Hadwat Sankari: All right. Thank you.

    [00:22:17] Fuzz Martin: Thank you again to Hadwat Sankari of Just Us of Washington County for joining me on this week’s episode of Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. And before that, County Executive Josh Schoemann and Jay Fisher of the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County.

    If you ever have an idea for Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz, if you have a guest that you think would be great to have on the show, please email me, 15withfuzz at gmail. com. You gotta write out the word FUZZ. 15, 15 with fuzz at gmail. com or go to fuzz. cc slash guest. Fill out the form and that will come to me and it’s even easier than sending an email.

    Okay. fuzz. cc slash guest. New episodes come out on Tuesdays. Again, it’s summertime, so they might not be out every Tuesday, but if you click follow in your podcast player or subscribe in your podcast player, you’ll get a notification when a new episode comes up. Maybe you’ll say, Hey. Cool, Fuzz has a new episode out.

    I’m going to click play and there you go. And you’ll get a nice little surprise here in your summertime and enjoy that. Okay. Thank you for listening so much. I really appreciate it. Love you. Bye.

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