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Milwaukee Members Celebrate Juneteenth by Spreading Hope

Photo by Sumana Chattopadhyay.

by Sumana Chattopadhyay
Special to the Tribune   

MILWAUKEE—The sun was shining, the energy infectious, as hundreds of vendors showcased food, crafts and messages of hope at Milwaukee’s 52nd Juneteenth Street Festival. Juneteenth, also referred to as Freedom Day, commemorates June 19, 1865, when the last slaves in the South heard about their freedom two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed.

SGI-USA’s Milwaukee Chapter hosted a booth at the event, featuring the SGI-USA’s Victory Over Violence exhibition, which inspires young people to identify and counteract the root causes of violence in their lives. 

Theirs was a joy-filled day, the high life conditions of the Milwaukee members palpable, reflecting their vow to take concrete action for kosen-rufu by sharing Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with people in their community. 

A longtime member who worked behind the scenes to support the event, which included chanting hours of daimoku for the festival’s success, mentioned that she was there “to introduce the Buddha to the Buddha,” referring to the Lotus Sutra’s principle that all living beings possess the Buddha nature. 

Another member expressed his deep resolve to share Buddhism with others because “people are thirsting for a philosophy of hope.” 

In one such exchange, a young man walked up to the booth and opened up about his fear of failing in school. In response, an SGI member, who had been practicing Buddhism for 14 years, shared her journey of overcoming self-doubt through chanting and winning over academic obstacles.

Her story inspired the young man to learn how to chant. After saying Nam-myoho-renge-kyo a few times, the young man shared his contact information and left the booth with a card, a brochure and a resolve to give chanting a shot. 

Members left the festival with a renewed determination to make Milwaukee a Buddha land, filled with a spirit of freedom and hope, sparked by the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. 

July 14, 2023, World Tribune, p. 4

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