Project for Change hosts the 4th annual celebration of June – Medji Pioneer

Bemidji – Bemidji will celebrate its fourth annual celebration in June from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday, June 19 to honor the abolition of slavery in the United States.

Juneteenth is also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, and also commemorates the reading of President Abraham Lincoln’s General Order Number 3 on June 19, 1865 in Texas, which declared the emancipation of enslaved people.

Although Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation banned slavery more than two and a half years earlier, there were few Union forces in Texas to enforce the order.

Because of its historical roots, Texas was the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a public holiday in 1980. Effective June 17, 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris signed a bill to make June 19 a federal holiday to commemorate the end of legal slavery for black Americans.

“This is not a ‘new’ vacation for blacks,” said Stephen Parker, a campus diversity officer at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Juneteenth, in and of itself, is like Freedom Day, the day the last enslaved humans were set free. It’s also just a small piece of the puzzle that hides the facts in the accounts of marginalized people.”

June celebrations across the country typically include prayers, religious services, sermons, educational events, family gatherings, picnics, festivals, and dancing.

Bemidji held its first ever public Juneteenth event in 2019 at St Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in alliance with Bemidji Food Shelf and our Bemidji Revolution.

The Project for Change, a Bemidji-area group formed in the wake of the local George Floyd protests, hosted the Juneteenth event in 2020. But due to the pandemic, it was not a public event.

The event is back in shape for 2021, and is now set to return for another year of celebration.

Food, outdoor activities, stories, education, and music will be available at the event, and attendees must respond to the invitation.

“Due to the increase in COVID, and the potential need for contact tracing, public safety, food planning, and obtaining contact information for future events, please respond to the invitation to attend with a general idea of ​​who you will be bringing with you to the event,” the event page states.

Specific location details will be communicated Saturday evening and registration is available at www.projectforchange.org/juneteenth.

For people planning to attend the event, Parker hopes to have some key takeaway surrounding themes of recognition, appreciation, and embracing of all Bemidji area residents.

“I hope people will learn about our history and the symptoms that come from history,” Parker added. “Strip ourselves of conspiracy and ego and listen to accounts of real lived experiences resulting from racism and slavery at the source.”

For those unable to attend, Parker encourages any form of celebration which may look different from house to house.

“However you celebrate in joyful ways, I encourage people to celebrate this recognition,” he said. “Make this day a day of appreciation, education, and celebration.”

More information can be found at www.projectforchange.org or on the Project for Change Facebook page.

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