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Juneteenth is a celebration that commemorates the ending of slavery in the U.S. It has been celebrated informally for more than 100 years and honors African American freedom, history and accomplishments. Juneteenth is also referred to as African Americans’ Independence Day or Emancipation Day.
Hennepin County Library is celebrating Juneteenth with events at three libraries. All events are free.
Chess Club for families presented in collaboration with the African American Men Project
Saturdays, June 1–Aug. 31, noon–2 p.m. at Hennepin County Library – North Regional, 1315 Lowry Ave. N., Minneapolis.
Have fun learning the basics of chess, improving your game, mastering strategies and meeting other chess fans. Walk-ins welcome.
- More info: 612-543-8450.
“Local History Round Table” with Walt Bachman, author of “Northern Slave, Black Dakota,” presented in collaboration with the Pond Dakota Heritage Society
Tuesday, June 18, 7-8 p.m. at Hennepin County Library – Minneapolis Central, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. Doty Board Room.
Registration required, begins May 21.Register online or call 612-543-8000.
“Northern Slave, Black Dakota“ author, historian and retired trial lawyer Walt Bachman will tell the extraordinary and riveting life story of Joseph Godfrey, who grew up in bondage serving Minnesota's fur-trade elite, and who was conscripted to join the warriors in the U.S. Dakota War of 1862.
- More info: 612-543-8000.
“Juneteenth: The Sound of Freedom — A Celebration of Community” for families, with actor/vocalist T. Mychael Rambo and vocalist/actor Thomasina Petrus
Saturday, June 22, 2 p.m. at Hennepin County Library – North Regional, 1315 Lowry Ave. N., Minneapolis.
Award-winning actor T. Mychael Rambo is joined by Thomasina Petrus and others to offer a blend of music, poetry and stories that reach back to the songs of freedom and the words that announced its arrival.
This project is funded with money from Minnesota's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
- More info: 612-543-8450.
Additional partners: Juneteenth Twin Cities, Intermediate School District 287 and Radio KFAI and KMOJ.
African American Men Project is a program of NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center. Its mission is to enhance the lives of African American men through leadership, policymaking and infrastructure in the areas of education, housing, family structure, health, economic empowerment, criminal justice, community and civic involvement, fundraising and communications.
Walt Bachman became interested in the life of Joseph Godfrey while researching his own great-great grandfather, who was killed in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. Godfrey was an African American slave living in Minnesota who fled cruel masters and sought refuge with the Dakota. He was among the group of Dakota warriors who killed Bachman’s great-great grandfather and other whites in a surprise attack in Milford, Minn., at the onset of the war.
Bachman, now a New York resident, grew up in Minneapolis, received law degrees from Oxford University (as a Rhodes Scholar) and Stanford University, and practiced as a trial lawyer in Minnesota for 22 years. His critically acclaimed first book, “Law v. Life,” discusses the realities of the modern legal profession.
Bachman said researching “Northern Slave, Black Dakota” was challenging and took more than 10 years.
“The most challenging task was to document Godfrey's life as a born-in-Minnesota slave, for evidence of his enslavement had been omitted or suppressed by early historians. Three principal sources proved most crucial in this regard: previously unpublished files at the Minnesota Historical Society, Army records at the National Archives and Missouri freedom lawsuit records.
“Research into Godfrey's life unveiled significant new evidence that Minnesota slavery lasted longer and involved many more slaves than was previously thought.
“Even the most serious scholars of the state’s African American history had no idea that slavery was practiced so extensively in Minnesota or that at least one slave – Godfrey – sought sanctuary as a fugitive from local slave masters among the Dakota people,” Bachman said.
St. Paul actor, vocalist and recording artist T. Mychael Rambo, an affiliate professor in Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota, has performed with many local and regional theatres and several national and regional tours, including Penumbra, Guthrie, Illusion, Mixed Blood, Children’s, Park Square and Hey City theatres, the Minnesota Opera and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. As a “powerhouse baritone,” he has performed at Carnegie Hall and at jazz clubs and other venues in Minnesota, Canada, Europe, Africa and Brazil.
Described by reviewers as “the closest thing to Billie Holiday since Billie herself,” recording artist Thomasina Petrus has been a premier vocalist in the Twin Cities jazz scene for more than 15 years at venues such as the Dakota Bar and Grill, Paisley Park, First Avenue, the Fitzgerald Theater, the State Theatre, and the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. She has performed with Prince and Moore by Four and was the opening act for Deborah Harry (Blondie) and other notable vocalists. She also has performed with Mixed Blood, Penumbra and Illusion theatres and on other stages.