U of M Office for Equity and Diversity and College of Design's Juneteenth Celebration in North Minneapolis

Image of a young black girl having her face painted by a Juneteenth volunteer.

By Henry Hagen
Published June 20, 2023

UMN community celebrates Juneteenth

The University’s second annual Art of Freedom Celebration brings a day of joy, remembrance and fun to North Minneapolis

The University of Minnesota hosted a Juneteenth celebration in North Minneapolis Saturday to bring the community together at a block party to commemorate the anniversary of enslaved Black Americans emancipation in 1865.

The free event, called The Art of Freedom: A Juneteenth a Celebration, took place at the Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center and featured Black musicians, performers, speakers, vendors, free food, free haircuts, a poster showcase, art, a petting zoo and more. 

Although this was the second annual event for The Art of Freedom celebration, this is the first year the University is observing Juneteenth as a holiday.

“Acknowledging the importance of Juneteenth — without ignoring current challenges both in our country and local community — is part of the University’s commitment to recognizing the richness of experiences of every employee,” said Vice President for Human Resources Kenneth Horstman in a statement to the Minnesota Daily. “Juneteenth is a celebration as well as an opportunity to reflect, amplify voices and share knowledge.”

Terresa Moses, the University’s director of Design Justice and an assistant graphic design professor, organized the event. She said it is “beyond meaningful” to have the opportunity to plan an event celebrating and recognizing Black history.

“Being able to create spaces and plan events that are centered in the Black experience, I think it makes my ancestors proud, and I’m empowered by my ancestors to do so,” Moses said. “With the work that my ancestors have done, previous freedom fighters and historical abolitionists, and then me being able to stand here and say, ‘I am an abolitionist and a freedom fighter,’ and I’m doing these things to help our community, it feels like a full-circle moment.

This year’s Art of Freedom event used the slogan “Joy. Resistance. Rest.”

Moses said she chose these three words because they bring an understanding of what it means to live the “Black experience.”

She said “joy” means Juneteenth being a celebration of freedom and abolition. “Resistance” represents the places in society where Black people are not free and must continue to have resiliency, like when experiencing police violence and healthcare discrimination. Lastly, she said “rest” signifies Juneteenth as an opportunity to breathe and “just exist and be valued as a Black person.”

Read the full story from the Minnesota Daily