Celebrate the 154th anniversary of the emancipation of slavery

City of Minot hosts first Juneteenth celebration

On June 19 of 1865, in Galveston, Texas, General Gordon Granger issued General Order number three, officially announcing that slaves had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment. According to Chris Owen, once hearing the announcement, former slaves in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma began celebrating. An annual celebration of June 19 began on the first anniversary of that day and the U.S. Congress officially passed legislation recognizing June 19 as Juneteenth Independence Day in America.

As of 2019, only four states do not officially recognize the date as either a state holiday or as a ceremonial day of observance. These states are Hawaii, New Hampshire, South Dakota and North Dakota.

The City of Minot will host its first-ever Juneteenth event in front of City Hall today starting at noon.

“Freedom is one thing Americans hold in high regard and differentiates our nation from so many others. So an event that commemorates freedom only seems natural. Juneteenth is an opportunity for all people to come together and celebrate, not just African Americans,” said Owen.

Juneteenth will start with a few remarks before a guest speaker will make a historical speech. There will be music and the Minot Air Force Base Honor Guard will raise the Juneteenth flag on the city’s flagpole alongside the American flag and North Dakota Flag while Alderman Olson reads Mayor Shaun Sipma’s proclamation of the city’s recognition of Juneteenth.

“While modest in comparison to others across the nation, it is a start that we hope continues to grow into the future,” said Owen.

Sipma, in a press release, said, “We’re happy to assist in making Minot’s first celebration of Juneteenth a reality. Juneteenth isn’t officially recognized by the state of North Dakota, but the Minot community has chosen to embrace and celebrate this important date in our nation’s history.”

Owen decided to hold the event because it wasn’t being done and few people knew what the event was. He spoke with friends and decided to start things off, hoping the event will grow in attendance and diversity.

“The national organization at www.njof.org has been instrumental in assisting to put things together for this event and also to help us begin to engage legislators so North Dakota can become the 47th in the nation to recognize Juneteenth at the state level,” he said. “We’d also love to make inroads with educators and influencers to increase awareness about Juneteenth for young, old and everyone in-between.”

LaJada Wilson, emcee of the Juneteenth celebration, added, “Our intent is to create change not just within Minot but all over the state.”

He hopes the event will grow and Juneteenth will become a part of people’s vocabulary.