KOOTASCA hosted the first Juneteenth event in Grand Rapids on Sunday, June 19th. Juneteenth Independence Day began as a holiday in the State of Texas and is now celebrated in 47 States and the District of Columbia as a special day of observance in recognition of the emancipation of all slaves in the United States.
The event was organized by KOOTASCA’s Itasca Community Action Team programming (ICAT).
The team consists of local volunteers who are growing a movement to support the wellbeing of people of color and disrupt systemic and individual racism in Itasca County.
Over 200 community members attended the event featuring family friendly activities including DIY kite making and flying, coloring and face painting. Food and entertainment were provided by Black owned businesses including Big O’s Chef House, Muk Boy, Eli Little, and Dezzy Starr.
Multiple community partners assisted in sponsoring the event including Northern Community Radio/KAXE, MacRostie Art Center, The Reif Center, Rapids Brewing, United Way, Caribou Coffee, Thrivent Financial, Grand Rapids Human Rights Commission, Grand Rapids Arts & Culture Commission and regional multicultural awareness initiatives. Several KOOTASCA staff and their families were on hand to support the event and provide services in sales, security and first aid.
From Grand Rapids Mayor, Dale Christy’s reading of the proclamation commemorating Juneteenth, “The City Council of the City of Grand Rapids, Itasca County, Minnesota, recognizes the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day and supports the continued nationwide celebration of Juneteenth to provide an opportunity for the people of the United States to learn more about the past and to better understand the experiences that have shaped our collective histories”.
KOOTASCA affirms that all people should be treated with dignity and respect and recognizes that racism operates on systemic, institutional, and interpersonal levels, which carry on across generations creating harmful impacts on individuals and communities of color.