Communities across Minnesota are marking Juneteenth — the country’s soon-to-be newest federal holiday — this weekend.
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is celebrated on June 19 to mark the end of people being enslaved in the United States. On June 19, 1865, enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were told they were free following the end of the Civil War a few months before, which put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation that President Abraham Lincoln signed into law on Jan. 1, 1863.
African Americans have celebrated Juneteenth since the 1800s but in recent years — thanks in part to nationwide protests over racial injustices and the police killings of Black people — cities and states have begun marking the occasion, declaring local holidays and hosting events.
And this year, Juneteenth is a federal holiday. U.S. Congress this week approved legislation to make June 19 the 12th federal holiday — the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in the 1980s. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law on Thursday, and federal employees have been given Friday off because Juneteenth falls on a Saturday this year. (The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as Hennepin County are among the local government entities that are closed Friday due to the locally established holiday.)
“The end of slavery in this country is a critical milestone in our history, and Juneteenth should be commemorated nationwide as a day of celebration, reflection, and rededication to the cause of racial justice in this country,” U.S. Sen. Smith, D-Minnesota, said on the Senate floor on June 15. “I am forever grateful to the generations of activists who made this possible. In particular, I want to thank Ms. Opal Lee, who at 89 years old, walked halfway across this country to raise support for Juneteenth as a federal holiday.”
Here in Minnesota, there are dozens of events planned to mark the freeing of enslaved African Americans. Among them:
— The Free to Be – Celebrating Freedom with the Black Community is being held from 1-3:30 p.m. at North River Hills Park in Burnsville. It’ll feature guest speakers, entertainment, a dance party and food available for purchase.
— The Duluth chapter of the NAACP will host Twin Ports Annual Juneteenth: Celebrating Black Joy from 1-5 p.m. at Central Hillside Park in Duluth. The event will include free food, a DJ, door prizes, Black vendors, a youth talent show and a basketball game.
— From 3-5 p.m. at the Trailhead at Theodore Wirth Park in Golden Valley there will be the Juneteenth Revolutionary BlackOut Bike Ride hosted by Free Black Dirt. You can register for the free gathering here. There will be food, music and more, with the bike ride starting at 5 p.m.
— From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Hopkins Center for the Arts will host a pop-up marketplace and bazaar that highlights MN Black Box partner businesses.
— From noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday at The Lawn Intergovernmental Center in Mankato, there will be food, kids activities, live performances, a Black business expo and a panel discussion to make Juneteenth. More details here.
— The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) has been hosting Juneteenth events all week, from story strolls to movie nights, with more festivities planned in the coming days, including community panel discussions, family nights, live music and a kite flight at various parks. More details here.
— The Northside Community Juneteenth Celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at Bethune Park in Minneapolis. There will be free food, music, books and family activities, as well as the Ujamaa Black Vendors Market.
— From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis will also host a Juneteenth celebration with education and informational entertainment, including African American storytelling, crafts, dance troops and more.
— From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at Gooseberry Mound Park in Moorhead there will be a Juneteenth celebration featuring vendors, music and a pig roast. Hopkins
— From 6-8 p.m. on Thursday at 875 Summit Ave. in St. Paul, the Diversity, Equity and inclusion at Mitchell Hamline School of Law is hosting a march and rally for reparations, child protection and the advancement of people’s rights.
— From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday at Wester Sculpture Park, in celebration of Juneteenth and in partnership with the 25th Annual Peace Celebration, the first-ever Sweet Potato Comfort Pie Jubilee will feature a sweet potato pie competition, the character values live photo exhibit, free food, stage reading of the Kumbayah: The Juneteenth Story, gift giveaway, and more. More details here.
— From 1-4 p.m. at the Minnesota State Capitol, Black Lives Matter Minnesota, Communities United Against Police Brutality and other groups will host a Reparations Juneteenth Celebration to demand economic justice for Black lives. There will be games, music and fun.
— Gov. Tim Walz and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter are slated to attend a tree planting and opening of a garden in the Rondo neighborhood at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The tree planting event will be held at the Rondo Commemorative Plaza, 820 Concordia Ave., with the Rondo Community Garden planned for 315 Fisk St. The Rondo neighborhood, a historically Black neighborhood, was split apart when Interstate 94 was built in the 1950s, and there’s an effort to reconnect the neighborhood with a 20-acre landbridge.
— From 3-4:30 p.m. on Saturday at Boyd Park in St. Paul, the YMCA St. Paul is hosting an event with music and entertainment featuring T. Mychael Rambo, Singer Thomasina Petrus, Violinist Emilia Mettenbrink with Pianist Franco Holder and Walker West Youth Jazz Ensemble, as well as food trucks. More details here.
Looking for other events? The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder has a calendar filled with Juneteenth events. Check it out here.
Additional events in Minnesota can also be found here.