Minneapolis marks June day after recognition of official holiday | Racial issues

Minneapolis, United States – On a sunny summer morning in George Floyd Square, a gardener set ablaze in a small wooden plate near the now infamous Floyd black and white mural. Figure.

In the adjacent church parking lot, an inflatable sponge-themed inflatable house has been erected. Inside, children are jumping around, kicking an inflatable beach ball, and hot dogs, burgers and brats are stewing on a nearby black barrel grill.

“For June of this year, this is a special thing. We are focused on the future, and the future is the children,” James Johnson of Christ Church Global Outreach told Al Jazeera. “It’s a national holiday. This is a special thing, and we want to express this.”

June 19, or June Festival, commemorates the day when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and told the enslaved African Americans that they were free-more than two years after the end of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln The President signed the Emancipation Proclamation and declared all slaves free.

Celebrations began the following year to commemorate this event, and since then, the African-American community has celebrated this day as the second Independence Day. In recent decades, there have been more and more campaigns to make June Festival a statutory holiday.

A mural in northern Minneapolis [Cinnamon Janzer/Al Jazeera]

In Minneapolis, the city’s human resources department recommended in April that June 12 be the city’s 12th paid holiday. May 14, Minneapolis City Council Officially released, Followed by the entire country when President Biden signed On June 17, the “June Festival National Independence Day Act” became law.

Although Minneapolis and its “Twin Cities” Sao Paulo held a jubilant celebration on Saturday, some activities have nothing to do with the recent initiatives of the local and federal governments.

“It hasn’t changed anything,” Kevin Reese, the founder of Until We Are Free, told Al Jazeera that this is a human rights-focused organization based in Minneapolis, led by people who were previously imprisoned.

He is preparing to host a community event in a cafe in southern Minneapolis in the afternoon, inviting local performers and artists to participate, and providing opportunities for prayer and community dialogue.

“This is another symbolic gesture of the United States towards the descendants of slaves. It really does nothing. The United States can do nothing but compensation… This will please me.”

Before this year, Until We Are All Free worked with other community groups during the previous Juneteenth period, but this year due to the continuous development of the group, they are hosting their own block party activities. “This will be our first annual event,” Reese said. “We are preparing for 500 people.”

Just a few weeks after Minneapolis designated June Festival as a holiday, Mayor Jacob Frey began pushing for the reopening of traffic on George Floyd Square, which has been since Floyd. De has been blocked by the community since his murder.

George Floyd Square recently reopened to traffic [Cinnamon Janzer/Al Jazeera]

City council members blame the mayor Abuse of emergency power During the pandemic, he signed a $359,000 contract with a community group to reopen the crossroads.

Tony Smith spends a warm morning in a shade of the square. He believes that reopening is important for businesses that are struggling due to closure, but the monument should be left in place and preserved.

On June 11, he collected donations for people in several homeless camps in the city through the local non-profit organization Catholic Charity.

“Usually I’m grilling and [spending Juneteenth in] Alone,” he told Al Jazeera. “It’s nothing to be happy about, Juneteenth.You know it’s angry… when I hear this [Biden] Make it a national holiday, which has eliminated some of the anger. “

Tony Smith sitting at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis preparing for the June Festival celebrations [Cinnamon Janzer/Al Jazeera]

On the north side of Minneapolis, a large, parking lot-wide celebration quickly formed among a growing crowd, including scattered stalls and tents set up by community groups and another inflatable house.

When passers-by and volunteers set up a canvassing tent surrounded by black, red, and green balloons to talk about “All Our National Day—June”, one of the founders and directors of Black Bold and Brilliant, and the organizer of the event One. The incident, Wisdom Maus, was busy building a space she called the Negro Cave.

“We want to do something to recognize and celebrate black men,” she told Al Jazeera. “We are creating a good space for black people to respect and respect them and everything they do, and their importance in our community. Sometimes they are not sufficiently recognized.”

Throughout the park, with funk music playing in the background, Comer X. Henry, the companion rehabilitation service manager of the Twin Cities Recovery Project, was one of the four staff and set up a tent.

He told Al Jazeera that June Festival is “a celebration of the so-called slave freedom. This is of great significance to me in two respects-one is that we are physically free. Second, my fact is that we are still Being mentally locked and still dependent on everyone except ourselves”.

When it comes to designating June Festival as a municipal and national holiday, Henry said: “This is definitely a big step. I think we are moving in the right direction, but for me it is a bit deep and complicated. [We’re] Dealing with the problem of white supremacy, but still suffering. “

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