MN Celebrates Local BIPOC Artists and Juneteenth this Week

Minnesota State Fair’s 2022 commemorative artwork 📸 Painting by Leslie Barlow

This week’s edition covers stories from June 9th to June 15th, 2022.

This issue is 809 words, a 4-minute read.

We’re talking about the first Black woman to create the MN State Fair’s commemorative artwork, a local playwright being a finalist in Lin Manuel Miranda’s competition, and what celebrating Juneteenth really means.

Local News:

The Minnesota State Fair has selected its first Black woman and woman of color to create this year’s commemorative artwork. Leslie Barlow, the artist behind the painting, grew up in South Minneapolis and works as a portraitist, arts educator, and activist in the Twin Cities. The painting marks the 18th year of commemorative art at the Minnesota State Fair, and its BIPOC subjects stand beneath iconic fair rides and attractions in the vibrant painting. Barlow’s work showcases Black joy at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, helping to hold space for all within the great Minnesota tradition. 

The finalists of the 2022 Miranda Family Voices Latinx Playwriting Competition have been announced. The competition, formed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and his family, seeks to highlight the voices of Latino playwrights from across the country, with monetary prizes and staged readings awarded to the finalists. BIPOC voices are encouraged to apply to the competition and plays written in English, Spanish, or both are accepted. One of the selected finalists is a Minnesota local. Miguel Enrique Fiol-Elias, a Puerto-Rican born grandfather who is also a neurologist at the University of Minnesota, presented “The Chrysalis”. The subject of the play surrounds the son of a Puerto Rican family coming out during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s in Puerto Rico. The subject of the play is somewhat surprising considering the background of the playwright, which helps to portray a rich – and sometimes overlooked – history of LGBTQ+ identities in the Latino community. 


E. Lake Street celebration of Juneteenth in 2020 📸 Rohan Preston | Star Tribune

This Sunday is Juneteenth, the federal holiday celebrating the remaining enslaved people in Texas in 1865, receiving word that the 13th amendment abolished slavery. It is a day for celebration as well as recognition, reflection, and education on our history and how far we’ve come. While we hope you celebrate this turning point (and we’re mentioning some events below), we also want to acknowledge where we are in history. It’s easy to look back at slavery in the 1800s and believe that we’re far past it – that that was so long ago. But slavery in some forms still exists in our country. We should not wait for Juneteenth, Black History Month, or MLK’s birthday to recognize, educate, and reflect on the past. We must continue to do so, or else we will never know the strides that we have yet to take and need to take to ensure that everyone has the right to justice, equity, and equality. 

Juneteenth Books:
This week we’re reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Minnesota Juneteenth Celebrations:

  • Freedom Ain’t Free: Friday, June 17, 4:30 P.M – 7:30 P.M at North Hennepin Community College. Stop by for Juneteenth education, a community resource fair, storytelling, and performances from local artists.
  • Midtown Global Market Juneteenth Celebration: Saturday, June 18, 12:00 P.M – 3:00 P.M. Visit for traditional storytelling, music, great food, and great company.
  • RCODE 2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration: Sunday, June 19, 12:00 P.M – 6:00 P.M at the Rondo Commemorative Plaza. Drop in for a block party featuring Juneteenth information booths, live music and dance performances, food trucks, and the Rondo Achievement Award Ceremony.

Bottom of the News:

Governor Walz signs the Frontline Worker bill 📸  Elizabeth Flores | StarTribune 

Minnesota workers are eligible to apply for frontline worker pay for their work during the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic. The state predicts that around 700,000 people will be eligible with a maximum payment of $1,500. Check out the Frontline Pay website for information about eligibility and instructions to apply. 

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