Celebrating Juneteenth and Honoring our Elders

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Celebrating Juneteenth in the Northland all weekend-long, and it started today in Duluth, near City Hall. A time to observe the day when the last slaves in the United States were informed that they were free in Galveston, Texas.

People gathered to eat, celebrate and honor the contributions of elders in our community as a part of the Juneteenth celebration. The Twins Ports Juneteenth Celebrate Freedom will be on Saturday, June 18th, from 1-6 pm at Barkers Island in Superior, WI. There will be an event on Sunday, June 19th, from 1-5 pm at Central Hillside Park…Juneteenth Celebrating Black Joy.

In attendance for today’s event was Senator Tina Smith…she shared an inspirational story that she got to witness last year when Juneteenth was signed into law. "Being present for the bill signing and watching our president Joe Biden come and kneel by the chair of Opal Lee of Texas…who is a long fighter to make this day; to commemorate Juneteenth as a federal holiday," mentioned Senator Smith.
Celebrating Juneteenth is more than the gathering…it is a time to look deeply look at how far we have come and acknowledge that there is still work to do. "The celebration for my ancestors that did not get an opportunity to leave the plantation! For me, it is that there is some freedom, but as a recognition that freedom is not freedom and it is not the freedom that we are truly looking for,” said McEntyre.

Chaquana McEntyre is the founder and president of Family Rise Together in Superior.

Friday was the first day of weekend events around the northland, recognizing the history of Juneteenth. The celebration started near the city hall honoring the elders in the community. "Without our elders…we have no blueprint…without our blueprint. We are recreating the wheel, and I don’t believe in recreating the wheel, says McEntyre. That’s why it’s important to have positive relationships with our elders so we can get those stories."

Retired judge Lange expressed the importance of recognizing and honoring Juneteenth not just yearly but every day. "General Gordon’s order number three was the absolute equality of African Decanted People. You can take that order number three and teach the words of that order to every child; so they understand that since 1865 they’ve had their rights, but every decade pushback comes, and people try to take the rights and the property away."

LaJune Lange is the president of the International and Leadership Institute and a retired State of Minnesota Judge.

The bond and legacy of the elder community has and will hopefully continue to live on long and hard in the Northland. "Some really victories elders, who stayed after the lynching and refused to be pushed out of Duluth. They declared this home. They kept their presence here and have fought every step of the way,” Lange expressed.