Minneapolis elders share their knowledge of Juneteenth in an intimate conversation

Minneapolis elders push to increase Juneteenth awareness, involvement

MINNEAPOLIS -- Since Congress made Juneteenth a federal holiday, celebrations dedicated to the freedom of enslaved people in Texas more than two years after the emancipation proclamation have increased. 

Many more Americans are looking to learn more.

Community elders met with WCCO employees to share their knowledge of the longest-running holiday in Black communities in an intimate conversation.

"The founding fathers cannot do it without the founding mothers," Jewelean Jackson said.

Jewlean Jackson and Michael Chaney brought the first Juneteenth celebration to Minneapolis back in 1982.

"It was a matter of education, awareness, cultural sharing," Chaney said.

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They use their experiences to explain why this is a holiday all Americans should acknowledge.

"The African Americans' contribution to this fight for freedom is the baseline, the basic principle of democracy," Chaney said.

Lee Henry Jordan is the Midwest director for National Juneteenth Observance Foundation and he says the fight for freedom began with a conversation.

"This wonderful conversation between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas about if he wanted to win the war he needed to get three people involved slaves, runaway slaves and those who were incarcerated for no good reason," said Jordan.

Those brave men were recruited and trained at Camp Nelson, Kentucky.

Segregated into 19 Black troop regiments, it was thousands of colored soldiers who traveled to Galveston, Texas, and on June 19, 1865, told enslaved people there they were free. 

"Freedom is actually the main story that we should be talking about around Juneteenth because that is our common bond - the common bond of freedom," Jordan said. "From the national standpoint, we have talked about Juneteenth from the standpoint of freedom stories that each state has its own freedom story to tell. We want to get people to do a little research and maybe even find out what the freedom day is in your state."

Jordan says every state and every person has their own freedom story to tell. He believes pulling together these pieces of history will bring us closer as a nation.

"It's knowledge and knowledge is always a way of finding a common ground, and once you find common ground then you can move forward in a better understanding of each other," Jordan said.

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