'Without each other we will not make it': Crowds celebrate Juneteenth across the Twin Cities

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Juneteenth celebrations throughout the Twin Cities on Friday became community gathering places, calling for racial justice and equality.

Governor Tim Walz also called on the legislature to make Juneteenth a state holiday. Juneteenth is the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.

"We celebrate Juneteenth because it took two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to actually free every black man in every corner of this country," said Eric Willis, organizer and emcee of a Juneteenth event in south Minneapolis, hosted by CTUL’s Future Fighters, a workers' rights organization in Minneapolis.

With the unrest and calls for change after George Floyd's death, Juneteenth took on special meaning for many this year.

"Juneteenth being a celebration of freedom, we as a community are starting to realize we were never free," Willis said. "The police and prison systems still keep us enslaved to this day."

The Juneteenth event in south Minneapolis took place on the same block where Floyd was killed.

There were somber moments at the site of his memorial Friday but many of the events surrounding Juneteenth were uplifting as well, with music, art and free food.

Juneteenth celebrations around the Twin Cities

Many parents also brought their children out to the event to teach them important lessons about history and racial justice.

"Our skin tones are different and that's what makes us beautiful," said Catie Kastan, a local teacher who brought her two young kids to the event Friday. "We need to make the world a place where we value that and we celebrate that and we love that and protect that."

A Juneteenth event in north Minneapolis took place in the Cub Foods parking lot on West Broadway Avenue and featured drumming, dancing and food.

People who attended these events told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they believe this Juneteenth will be a turning point for the country, as a growing number of people from all backgrounds call for change.

"Without each other we will not make it," said Shenda Kazee, who attended the event in south Minneapolis. "But if we all stand together, they have no other choice but to hear us."