Area to celebrate Juneteenth in multiple ways

·3 min read

Jun. 15—This Sunday marks the second year in which Juneteenth — an annual celebration of Black culture, independence and freedom from slavery in the U.S. — is recognized as a federal holiday.

Both Mankato and St. Peter are honoring it in more ways than one, and a new two-day celebration hosted by True Essentials Founder and CEO Destiny Owens and Minnesota Hip Hop Coalition regional representative Bethany Truman is included on that list.

The duo has helped plan other Juneteenth events in the past but wanted to branch out and create their own.

"We started talking about it last year," Owens said. "We wanted something that was larger than other celebrations we've been a part of before."

After months of planning, the Minnesota Statewide Juneteenth Celebration came to be.

Day one of the two-day event kicks off at 4:30 p.m. Friday and runs until 8:45 p.m. that night at the YMCA Mankato.

"We decided to have a whole night dedicated to youth," Owens said about the event Friday, which is open to 6th-12th graders.

The night will consist of live music by local artist Malik, a youth fashion show exemplifying the influence Black culture has had on fashion through the decades, a youth art and business expo, a crowning of Mr. and Mrs. Juneteenth — nominated and voted upon by the community — and much more, including free food catered by Zoe's Fixin's.

The event continues 10 a.m. Saturday at the St. Peter High School.

From 10-11:45 a.m., youth workshops are scheduled. "We wanted to do something to cultivate kids' gifts or introduce them to something that maybe they've never done before to see if they liked it," Owens said.

Afterward until 1 p.m., a basketball tournament will commence in honor of Father's Day — which lands on the same day as Juneteenth this year — and in hopes of uplifting all fathers, especially those in the Black community. Cash prizes and medals will be awarded to the winners.

All throughout Saturday, food trucks will be available, guest speakers and live music performers will take the stage, and more activities including a Black Business Expo will be held for everyone to enjoy until it all wraps up at 6 p.m.

"I think it's important for people to come and bring their kids out because it really shows the support of the community," Owens said. "It shows that there's space within our community, our world, our state, for Black people and for the uplifting of Black voices."

Both the Friday and Saturday events are free and the Saturday event is open to all. Community members also can get involved by donating or volunteering for both events.

"We definitely appreciate our community," Owens said. "That's what the event is about, celebrating Black liberation and the unity that has come from that. Black history is American history and we all have to celebrate that."

Diversity Council celebration

The fifth annual Juneteenth celebration hosted by the Greater Mankato Diversity Council will go from 1-5 p.m. Sunday at 10 Civic Center Plaza.

The free event offers a variety of things to enjoy, including free water and snacks, food trucks, Black Business Expo, guest speakers and more entertainment.

There will also be live music performances by Kijana Grant, Dahlia Jones Hawton, Kelz Musik and Nakara Forjé, along with spoken word poetry from event MC Chadwick Niles. Michele Be will be DJing the event.

The fifth annual Freedom March will take place before the event at 12:15 p.m. Participants will meet at Shared Spaces and march to the 10 Civic Center Plaza.

"This event is important for people to attend so they can connect with the community," Diversity Council Executive Director Mohamed Alsadig said. "It helps educate the community on the importance of Juneteenth and create conversations that aren't always talked about."