People around Minnesota gathered Friday to celebrate, protest, reflect and just be together for Juneteenth.
The holiday celebrates the day in 1865 that slaves in Texas received news of their freedom — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect. The holiday has gained greater meaning and attention in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by police in Minneapolis on May 25.
Marches, rallies and community celebrations took place all over the state on Friday. In Duluth, two groups — nearly 1,000 people in total — came together at City Hall to call for racial justice.
At the State Capitol in St. Paul, protesters called for legislation to defund and reform police, as Muslim activists gathered in prayer on the Capitol steps.
Community celebrations took place throughout the afternoon in Minneapolis, and a candlelight vigil at the “Say Their Names Cemetery” in south Minneapolis drew hundreds. People held candles in silence, marking the amount of time that former officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck. Relatives of Jamar Clark, and family members of other people killed in interactions with police, spoke to the crowd.
Near the memorial, fireworks lit up the sky into the night as people absorbed the memorial, passed out meals, danced, and had conversations about the meaning of Juneteenth.