Project for Change to host 4th annual Juneteenth celebration – Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — Bemidji will observe its fourth annual Juneteenth celebration from 2 to 5 pm on Sunday, June 19, to honor the abolition of slavery in the United States.

Also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, Juneteenth also commemorates the reading of President Abraham Lincoln’s General Order No. 3 on June 19, 1865, in Texas, which announced the freeing of enslaved people.

Though Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had outlawed slavery more than two and a half years earlier, there were few Union troops in Texas to enforce the order.

Due to its historical roots, Texas was the first state to recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday in 1980. As of June 17, 2021, US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris signed a bill into law to make June 19 a federal holiday commemorating the end of the legal enslavement of Black Americans.

“This is not a ‘new’ holiday for black people,” BSU and NTC Campus Diversity Officer Steven Parker said. “Juneteenth, in itself, serves as freedom day, the day in which the last of the enslaved humans were set free. It is also just a small piece of the puzzle of us hiding truths in the narratives of marginalized people.”

Juneteenth celebrations nationwide typically include prayer and religious services, speeches, educational events, family gatherings, picnics, festivals and dancing.

Bemidji held its first-ever public Juneteenth event in 2019 at St. Bemidji. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in coalition with the Bemidji Food Shelf and Our Revolution Bemidji.

Project for Change, a Bemidji area group that formed in the wake of local George Floyd protests, hosted the Juneteenth event in 2020. Due to the pandemic, however, it wasn’t a public event.

The event returned to form 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, for which attendees must RSVP.

“Due to an increase in COVID, the possibility of a need for contact tracing, public safety, to plan for food, and to get contact info for future events, please RSVP with a general idea of ​​who you will bring with you to this event ,” the event page states.

Specific location details will be sent out Saturday evening and registration is available at

For people planning to attend the event, Parker hopes for some key takeaways surrounding the topics of recognition, acknowledgment and embracing all inhabitants of the Bemidji area.

“I am hoping people recognize our history and the symptoms that come from history,” Parker added. “Strip ourselves of conspiracy, of ego and hear the narratives of the real, lived experiences resulting from racism and slavery from the source.”

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

“However you celebrate in joyous ways, I encourage people to celebrate in that acknowledgment,” he said. “Truly make this day one of recognition, education and celebration.”

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

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