MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Juneteenth celebration took place Friday at an intersection in Minneapolis that was recently filled with great pain.
The organization Unite and Rebuild MSP hosted the event near Lake and Minnehaha in the parking lot of a Target that was looted last month and across the street from the Minneapolis Police 3rd Precinct.
It was a joyous occasion that included musical performances, double Dutch jump-roping, a food drive and graffiti art.
“[Juneteenth] is the start of freedom,” Monique Chenier, an organizer, said. “Recognize injustices, but try to turn things around.”
Chenier and her co-organizer, Misha Bartlett, saw the anniversary of the final slaves being freed as a great reason to gather the community together.
Chenier emphasized that people of all races were welcome.
“People are like ‘Can I go even if I’m not black?’ I’m like of course you can,” Chenier said.
Members of the African American outreach group “A Mother’s Love” were there to support that same inclusivity.
“It’s not just about one race or another, it’s about the human race and all of us being together,” Donna Morris said.
Morris also expressed frustration at all the sudden awareness around the holiday.
“What took you so long? Why haven’t you been here before?” she said. “Why are you just now, after George Floyd, coming to the table offering services and days off and holidays to the African American community? It should’ve been done a long time ago.”
Chenier appreciates the opportunity for education.
“It’s not a national holiday, so we’re all learning together, which I think is beautiful,” she said.
Chenier and Bartlett say the choice of location was intentional.
“To be able to fill this corner at this moment in time with music after the smoke has cleared is so profound,” Bartlett said.
Lisa Clemons, the director of “A Mother’s Love,” sees this day as a statement that African Americans’ time has come.
“We want to say we’re free, we’re here and we’re kicking doors open,” she said.
Voices from Ashes, Rights of Passage, First Ave Productions and KFAI also supported the event.
Source: CBS Minnesota