'A piece of your freedom is being acknowledged': Maple Grove Juneteenth celebration is time for reflection, remembrance | KSTP.com

'A piece of your freedom is being acknowledged': Maple Grove Juneteenth celebration is time for reflection, remembrance

Rich Reeve
Created: June 18, 2021 11:21 PM

In Maple Grove, a Juneteenth celebration drew young and old — a time for reflection and remembrance.

"It means like a piece of your freedom is being acknowledged," said Queen Frye, of Minneapolis. "It's something I would have celebrated whether it was recognized as a federal holiday or not."

The event took place in Fish Lake Park, the city's very first event honoring this day.

"It's long overdue," said Nicole Fernandez, who organized the Juneteenth celebration. "But I am grateful we are on the right side of history."

"To be able to come out to where I live at, just 10 minutes away, and take part in this, is phenomenal," Leslie Vinson, a longtime Maple Grove resident, added.

Historical displays told the story of this holiday, commemorating the end of slavery.

On June 19, 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger brought the news to the African-American community in Texas.

"In 1865, many African-Americans in this country did not know that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed," Fernandez said. "Gordon Granger, who traveled over to Texas, let those folks know, 'Hey, the Emancipation Proclamation has been signed, you are free!"

Nearby, Frye had set up a stand displaying fresh produce from her urban farm in Minneapolis, the R. Roots Garden Urban Farm.

"The first time I celebrated Juneteeth was when I was in the fifth grade," she recalled. "The way I celebrate is by growing food. We grow collard greens, a meal that's prepared during celebrations like this and Martin Luther King Day, and Kwanzaa."

There was joy for the acknowledgment of this day's role in history, but also hope with how much has changed.

"For me personally, I think it's all the work that went into from George Floyd," Vinson said. "I think really George Floyd changed things. People are starting to look at things differently and to acknowledge this culture, and acknowledge things people may have forgotten about or we never acknowledged."

Fernandez said she hopes events like this will educate, enlighten and perhaps make a difference for the future.

"Our history in our American century is not simple and plain, it has been ugly and brutal," she said. "However, there's always time for reconciliation and restoration."

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