Minnesota celebrates Juneteenth

A woman draws a mural
Artist Leeya Rose Jackson works on a group mural symbolizing Black futures during a University of Minnesota-sponsored Juneteenth Celebration in north Minneapolis on June 18, 2022.
Tim Evans for MPR News

From the Twin Ports to the Twin Cities, people gathered this weekend to celebrate Juneteenth.

It commemorates the day in 1865 when slaves in Galveston, Texas finally learned they were free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It became an official federal holiday last year. That holiday will be observed on Monday.

The YWCA of St. Paul hosted an event at Boyd Park. It featured artists, musicians and storytellers, as well as educational programs for kids. Juneteenth has special meaning for CEO Gaye Adams Massey, who grew up in Texas.

"To bring the community together to celebrate, and to be in Boyd Park, which is named after an African American Pullman Car porter, is really special. So we're happy everyone is coming out to enjoy,” Massey said.

Mayor Melvin Carter was among the speakers at the event. He told the crowd Juneteenth is also a celebration of hope.

“Freedom isn't just the absence of chains. Freedom is the existence of potential and possibilities in our lives,” Carter said. “So our celebration of freedom is about the work that it requires to make sure that every one of these children in this park truly has a horizon of infinite potential in front of them.”

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In Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota hosted its first Juneteenth celebration on Saturday. It was held in north Minneapolis, near the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) on Plymouth Avenue. The theme of the event was “Was. Is. Will Be: Black Past, Black Present, Black Future.” The event not only featured a block party, but also a march.

Meanwhile, people in the communities of Duluth and Superior joined together to celebrate Twin Ports Juneteenth at Barkers Island in Superior. It was the second year groups in both communities held a joint celebration.

“The reality is, that in Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin, we have a very small BIPOC community with less of 10% of the population being African American and so being able to bridge the two communities to show the strength that is here will has often been our goal,” said ChaQuana McEntyre, one of the event’s organizers.

Events continued on Sunday including a gospel brunch and the NAACP Annual Juneteenth Jubilee in Duluth.