Juneteenth has always been an important holiday, not only just for me but to every black person that is a descendant of slaves in America. It’s a holiday that I’ve celebrated as a child and I hold near and dear to my heart. It’s that one time of the year where the black community comes together to celebrate the last slaves that finally got their freedom in Galveston, Texas.
When I was a kid, my mom would bring my brother and me to Theodore Wirth Park, where they had the biggest Juneteenth Celebration in Minneapolis. We lived in North Minneapolis and didn’t live far from Theodore Wirth Park, so we always walked. There were many vendors there, from food, art, clothing, accessories, human resources and a lot more. The best thing about it for me was that majority of vendors were black and there was even a parade in the morning. I myself have performed an Afro-centric dance at this celebration too. It was definitely one of my favorite celebrations when I was a kid and preteen.
As I got older, the Juneteenth celebration started to get smaller and smaller due to vendors pulling out. One of the biggest reasons for this, is that there were a couple of shootings that happened and people didn’t feel safe to go to or to participate. As we moved into the new decade, I’ve also noticed that people have been trying to revive Juneteenth at other parks, but none were as big as the one in Theodore Wirth Park. In my early 20s, I could barely make it to any events but I always find ways to celebrate it. One of my favorite things to do during the week of Juneteenth is to cook food that reflect my community. Some of the things I would cook are yams, collard greens, mac & cheese, fried whole cat fish and cornbread.
Since meeting my fiancé, knowing that he didn’t know much about Juneteenth, I wanted to start going to more events. I wanted him to experience what Juneteenth is about and how Minneapolis celebrates it. This year and in this new decade, Juneteenth will be bigger than ever. I’ve seen many Facebook events celebrating Juneteenth, a lot of businesses are recognizing Juneteenth and everyone is coming to celebrate our holiday and learn more about it. I know many people outside the black community don’t know about Juneteenth, but I’m glad that people are waking up and understanding what this holiday means to us. This is our 4th of July and we always recognize the freedom that those slaves finally got after 2 years since the Emancipation Proclamation was passed.