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Juneteenth Joy at The Family Partnership

On June 15, 2023, our North Minneapolis preschool hosted a family event to celebrate Juneteenth.

Imagine a preschool party where young scholars dance under hundreds of bubbles from a bubble machine. The sounds of upbeat music and laughing children fills the room. They dance surrounded by streamers that spell out “freedom” and portraits of heroic figures like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Rosa Parks. Off of the dance floor, parents sit in tiny chairs coloring with their children and chatting with teachers and other families.

Can you feel the joy?

This was the scene last week when teachers and families of The Family Partnership’s North Minneapolis preschool gathered to celebrate Juneteenth. Juneteenth marks an important day many years ago, in 1865, when formerly enslaved African Americans in Texas learned that they were free. The holiday has been celebrated by African Americans every year since and was made a federal holiday in 2021.

At North Minneapolis Preschool, teachers and children began this year’s celebration by wearing specially-made Juneteenth shirts. Designed by Brandy Murray, Danetra Love, and Cassaundra Davis, each shirt was as unique as the person wearing it. The designs showed “Black Girl Magic,” broken chains, colorful hearts, and afros adorned with crowns. Each shirt helped to tell a fuller story about the special day.

In the classroom, children created Pan-African flags with glue sticks, crayons, and construction paper in red, black, and green. Teachers shared Sesame Street’s “Let’s Celebrate Juneteenth Song” by Gordon and the Power of We club. As Gordon says in the video, Juneteenth is “the day that celebrates and reminds us that we are all equal and deserve the same freedom, kindness, and love.”

North Minneapolis Preschoolers run and dance for joy during the party.

After school, families joined in the festivities. Parents, siblings, scholars, and teachers gathered around to hear Portlynn Henderson, Family Achievement Coach from Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), read Our Beautiful Colors. Children excitedly pointed to the beautiful illustrations that showed Black children “in all shades of brown” playing together on a warm summer day.

It wouldn’t be a real celebration without food. The group feasted on sandwiches prepared by The Hoagie Queen, who generously donated a tray. To go with the hoagies, Tunde, the husband of a staff member, made delicious jollof rice. And for dessert—popsicles!

After so much fun, it was time to head home. Each child received a gift bag that included a book and snacks.

From start to end, this year’s Juneteenth celebration was pure joy!

Celebrating African American children and families

Events like the Juneteenth celebration reflect North Minneapolis Preschool’s commitment to cultural care in early childhood education. Our multicultural program is located in one of Minneapolis’ largest Black communities and emphasizes African American culture.

Off the dance floor, parents and children spent time together coloring pages.

By celebrating African American children, North Minneapolis Preschool helps young Black scholars to see themselves in their role models and curriculum. At the same time, every young scholar learns to celebrate differences–including what makes them unique!

We leverage events like the Juneteenth celebration to strengthen partnerships with parents and caregivers. When parents, caregivers, and teachers spend quality time together, we improve our shared efforts to help young scholars succeed.

Parents and caregivers also have the opportunity during events to explore community resources and services for the whole family, as part of The Family Partnership’s two-generation approach.

We have to partner with the family in order for the child to be successful because we are all a part of their lives.

Cassaundra Davis, Preschool Director

As Cassaundra Davis, Preschool Director, says, “We have to partner with the family in order for the child to be successful because we are all a part of their lives.”

This approach works: more than 90% of children in The Family Partnership’s early childhood education programs graduate kindergarten-ready, compared with 60% of all children statewide and 52% of children from low-income households.

The next celebration could include you

You’re invited to be part of the joy!

North Minneapolis Preschool has current openings in our toddler and pre-K classrooms. If you want more information on enrolling your child, visit our program page.

We also have current job openings for Lead Teachers and Teachers Aides. If you are interested in working with us, visit our careers page.

We want to thank the staff and families who brought our Juneteenth event to life as well as NAZ for their time and book donations.

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