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Juneteenth events to celebrate across Minneapolis

After the holiday is over, the celebrations continue around Minneapolis.
Image by Wejdan al Balushi
“Kumbayah the Juneteenth Story,” written by Rose McGee, takes place on Friday, June 21 at Northrop Auditorium.

Laughter, music, food and learning are all on the table for the upcoming Juneteenth events around Minneapolis.

Juneteenth celebrates the day when more than 250,000 slaves were freed on June 19, 1865, according to The National Museum of African American History and Culture. President Joe Biden officially made Juneteenth National Independence Day a federal holiday in 2021. 

Alicia D. Crudup, the chair of the Juneteenth Community Committee, said Juneteenth is her day of independence and freedom. 

“It is really important to me that we recognize the history and we recognize the fact that African Americans were told that they were free in this time when it really happened so much more sooner,” Smith said. “So, it’s important to me to acknowledge the history that has come before me and the history that we attempt to make following this proclamation.”

Here are three events honoring the holiday: 

The 28th Annual Community Peace Celebration (Western Sculpture Park, June 21) 

The 28th Annual Community Peace Celebration will offer free food, music, poetry and theater performances at Western Sculpture Park in St. Paul. 

Some performances to expect at this event include Irreducible Grace, ComMUSICation, The Rondo Allstars, Dr. Sheronda Orridge and Jim Embry. 

St. Paul City Council Member Anika Bowie (Ward 1) is also joining the celebration to deliver a proclamation of peace, said Karyssa Jackson, a member of the Peace Celebration planning team. 

Jackson said the celebration is focused on disrupting cycles of oppression within the community. 

“We can empower folks in art, as we can empower them with healthy food, as we can empower folks around economic vitality in our neighborhoods,” Jackson said. “I think we are carrying the spirit and the torch of that Juneteenth promise in the work we’re doing in this celebration.” 

Kumbayah the Juneteenth Story (Northrop Auditorium, June 21)

Kumbayah the Juneteenth Story. Photo Courtesy of Antonio Richardson

“Kumbayah the Juneteenth Story” tells the “tremendously uplifting” story of the news of emancipation being withheld from slaves and will be put on at the Carlson Family Stage in Northrop Auditorium, according to the Northrop website

The Minnesota Humanities Center is hosting a community celebration before the play at 10:30 a.m. with the opportunity to connect with community groups whose mission aligns with what Juneteenth represents. The play will begin at 11 a.m.

Kevin Lindsey, the chief executive director of the Minnesota Humanities Center, said the play is an artistic expression of Juneteenth. 

“It is an effort to talk about how the themes and the issues that were relevant back then are still relevant to today,” Lindsey said. 

Lindsey added Juneteenth is a story of America and the prejudice African Americans have faced. 

“Those lessons when we look at Juneteenth reminds us that sometimes progress is uneven, even today, and that if you’re not vigilant on the gains, they’re easily lost,” Lindsey said.

3rd Annual Juneteenth Minnesota Celebration (Minnesota State Capitol, June 22) 

The Anika Foundation will host a family Juneteenth celebration at the Minnesota State Capitol from 12 to 4 p.m. on June 22, celebrating the history of African Americans in Minnesota with food and music. The event is made possible by a partnership between the foundation, Ramsey County, the McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota Department of Health.

In 2021, Gov. Tim Walz issued a proclamation acknowledging the occasion one year after George Floyd’s murder. 

The Anika Foundation’s mission is to promote health equity, civic engagement and economic empowerment.

Lindsey said going to any Juneteenth event is important to learn more about the country’s history.

“Appreciating the fact that the conversations that we have about ethnic studies sometimes is that we think that it’s always negative but there’s also joy but then the celebration and movement forward,” Lindsey said. “Juneteenth is clearly talking about a dark past with America but also talking about joy and overcoming and moving forward, so balancing that out is really important.” 

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