Pride always finds a way
Now characterized by celebrations, self-expression and rainbow-clad corporate initiatives, Pride month has taken on a mainstream life of its own through the decades.
But first and foremost, Pride month is a commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which sparked the modern gay rights movement. It’s a time to openly come together and honor those who have lived their truest lives in the face of past and present prejudice.
Seven years after marriage equality became a possibility for an estimated 20 million U.S. adults in 2015, over half of U.S. states could still legally deny LGBTQ+ Americans basic freedoms like the right to rent a home or the ability to receive public goods and services.
The revised Equality Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives (224–206) in 2021, is poised to amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect people against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the realms of employment, housing and public accommodations such as restaurants. While the bill (only signed in support by the 48 Democratic Senators) awaits a Senate vote, LGBTQ+ Americans face continued discrimination:
What’s with all the stripes?
Given the diverse tapestry of people and experiences that compose the LGBTQ+ community, it’s no wonder that artist Gilbert Baker’s original 1978 pride flag featured a rainbow.
However, the community’s persistent exclusion of transgender individuals proved that certain experiences within that tapestry were deemed more worthy of celebration than others. Hence artist Monica Helms’ 1999 design of the Transgender Pride Flag and Daniel Quasar’s riff in 2018 to create the Progress Pride Flag.
Now featuring black and brown chevron stripes to represent people of color and those living with or lost to AIDS, the forward-pointing addition to the rainbow flag now visually prioritizes the progress still necessary within the community.
A cel-liberation: Juneteenth
June 19, 2022 was just the second year that Juneteenth was celebrated as a federally recognized holiday.
It marks the day in 1865 when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger brought word of the end of slavery to Galveston, Texas — two months after the effective end of the Civil War and over two years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. But the news shared on June 19 did not turn on the light switch of freedom to the 250,000 still-enslaved Americans living in Texas. In reality, it was not uncommon for slave owners to refuse the release of, or physically retaliate against, those enslaved and presumably owned. Despite the obstacles, Juneteenth honors a momentous day of liberation that deserves to be celebrated.
Even as a Union state that witnessed the outlawing of slavery earlier than June 19, slavery and its extensive fallout are entrenched in Minnesota’s history — like the legal battles of Dred and Harriet Scott, who were both enslaved at Fort Snelling.
Early Juneteenth celebrations included rodeos, horseback riding and helping newly freed Black folks learn about their voting rights. Now, common festivities involve cookouts, parades, church services, musical performances and other public events.
OTHER KEY OBSTACLES & ACHIEVEMENTS RELATED TO LIBERATION:
- 1819 The Missouri Compromise was signed. The legislation admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a non-slave state at the same time, and outlawed slavery above the 36º 30′ latitude line in the remainder of the Louisiana Territory, including Minnesota.
- 1836-1840 Dred and Harriet Scott enslaved in Fort Snelling
- 1857 The Dred Scott decision was a landmark case in the national debate over slavery. The Supreme Court’s decision effectively declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, thereby opening the door for the spread of slavery throughout all the US and its territories.
- 1865 Reconstruction
- Watch: Reconstruction In America (1865-1866)
- 1868 14th Amendment Ratified
- Watch: Amend-The Fight For America
- 1916 The Great Migration
- Watch: The Great Migration
- Pick-Up/Listen: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson
The nuances of Native American Citizenship Day
Indian Citizenship Act, passed in just 1924, which granted full birthright citizenship to all Native Americans born in the United States. As a commemoration, it helps us reflect on the long-standing fight for both legitimacy and agency that Native Americans have faced in their own homeland.
Citizenship, of course, did not change the social and economic hardships plaguing indigenous people. Largely impacted, but unprotected, was their right to vote. Even after the Act’s passing, states implemented laws that barred and hindered Native Americans from voting through Jim Crow–like tactics and poll taxes.
Land of 10,000 cultures: Immigrant Heritage Month
Maybe you’ve never lived anywhere other than Minnesota. Or haven’t uprooted your home beyond the United States. Immigrant Heritage Month reminds us of a widespread American truth: You’re an American because one of your relatives did. That is, only if they hadn’t already been moved here against their will.
From German and Swedish immigrants of the early 1800s, to Hmong and Ethiopian immigrants of the ’80s and Afghan and Somalian immigrants of today, welcoming people of all backgrounds is at the root of our state’s unique diversity in education, language and culture. This June, we celebrate the experiences of the 8% of Minnesota residents currently composed of immigrants.
According to researchers at MN Compass, Minnesota’s future economic vitality “will depend on an emerging workforce with diverse skills and preparation. This requires intentional thought and concerted effort around the inherent strengths and emergent challenges experienced by our immigrant communities.”
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EAT with Immigrant Heritage Month in mind
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