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Why Juneteenth Community Collaborations Are Important

Today, I had the great opportunity to speak with several members of the Black Community regarding their plans to celebrate on Juneteenth Weekend 2022. I spoke with Lee Jordan who is a part of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF), Marvin Anderson with Rondo, Inc. and Martine Smaller, the director of Northside Residents Redevelopment Council (NRRC). After speaking with these three wonderful people, I realized how much knowledge I gained about Juneteenth and the impact it had on the Northside community. I always knew Juneteenth was an important holiday that has been quite memorable for most of us, but I respect the views of others who may disagree with my opinion.

Lee Jordan a longtime member of the original Minneapolis' Juneteenth committee said that NJOF had been working on getting the Juneteenth Holiday Bill passed for over 30 years. This was new information to me since many Blacks in the conscious community think the bill is nothing more than a symbolic gesture that overlooks what Blacks really want and need, which is Reparations. We've been celebrating Juneteenth for almost two centuries without a national holiday and if the USA government didn't recognize it, Blacks were still going to continue to celebrate. Jordan also stated their NJOF committee wants to have events everywhere whether they're small or large. I beg to differ just a little bit, last year there were small Juneteenth events everywhere and many people didn't know where to go to celebrate. I think the impact of too many events in the case of what happened in 2021 in the Twin Cities lacks togetherness, which is what many of us look forward to when participating in these types of events. So I think its very important that this year we take the time to observe Juneteenth by attending multiple events for the entire weekend. Lee Jordan's Juneteenth celebration will take place on Saturday, June 18, 2022 at Bethune Park in Minneapolis, 1304 north 10th Avenue, 55411, we intend to participate. BOB Rewards Club will be posting all of the events that we know about on our website, which we're currently building.

On the other hand, Martine Smaller, whom I hope we can build a solid relationship on working together to make the Northside community a better place for all of us to live, said some of her best memories of Juneteenth were at Theo Wirth Parkway too. So, how do we make it better? I've come to the conclusion that events like Martin Luther King's Birthday and Juneteenth must be a community collaboration on a multi-organizational level, and the location does matter. She mentioned some of her fondest memories were watching the parade go down Penn and Glenwood Avenues and everyone eventually ending up at the Theo Wirth Parkway to enjoy all of the festivities.

In Saint Paul, Marvin Anderson, founder of Rondo Inc., promoters of the former Rondo Days events, is having a small Juneteenth event at their Rondo Center of Diverse Expression building at 315 North Fisk Street, 55104 on the same day we plan to do our event, but not necessarily the same time. Not sure about the hours, but please stay posted. After speaking with a few of the community members in my native city, many hope Saint Paul will become the center of attention for Juneteenth like Minneapolis has been for many years. I don't know if that's possible considering the changing demographics of the Rondo community, the Black population in that area continues to decrease its population.

Originally, our event was to take place on Saturday, June 18th. However, after speaking to everyone, I felt conflicted and convinced to change the date of our Juneteenth event to Sunday, June 19, 2022 from 10am to 6pm. We're having a West Broadway Block Party that we hope to bring back some of the feel of the original Juneteenth celebration. This does not mean I will not attend or support the efforts of other organizations' Juneteenth celebrations in the Twin Cities. I just hope other community members think like me and attend ours too.

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