Nekima Levy Armstrong Reflects on Juneteenth

The civil rights lawyer and racial justice advocate describes the importance of the federal holiday
Nekima Levy Armstrong at a Juneteenth event she co-organized with Raeisha Williams, after the murder of George Floyd
Nekima Levy Armstrong (left) at a Juneteenth event she co-organized with Raeisha Williams, after the murder of George Floyd

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Nekima Levy Armstrong is a go-to voice in the movement for racial justice. The Twin Cities-based civil rights attorney is also the executive director of the Wayfinder Foundation, an activist-driven nonprofit that invests in under-resourced community leaders through grants, training, and other forms of support. We checked in with Levy Armstrong to ask her about Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and became a federal holiday last year.

What Juneteenth means to Nekima Levy Armstrong:

“Juneteenth represents the resilience, tenacity, and power of my Ancestors and their escape from and resistance to the brutal and dehumanizing realities of chattel slavery in this country. When I was younger, my family shared stories with me about their experiences living in the deep South in a racially-hostile environment and the oppression and denial of economic opportunities they experienced. Those lessons helped shape who I am today and why I fight so hard for racial justice and equality.”

The Juneteenth event Nekima Levy Armstrong co-organized involved providing meals, groceries, and other supplies to the community
The Juneteenth event Nekima Levy Armstrong co-organized involved providing meals, groceries, and other supplies to the community

What Levy Armstrong did for Juneteenth of 2020:

“Raeisha Williams and I co-organized [a Juneteenth celebration] on behalf of the North Minneapolis community, following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. As we were in the midst of COVID-19 and grieving from George Floyd’s murder, we decided to put on a celebration to uplift our community and to provide critical resources for children and families. We took over the parking lot of Cub Foods, which was closed for several weeks due to the civil unrest and left many people without adequate food and household items. We partnered with Tommy Beevas of Pimento Jamaican Kitchen, Brasa, and Chef Andrew Zimmerman to provide hot, delicious meals to the community; as well as groceries, household items, diapers, formula, and books for children that were donated by local community-based organizations.

“It was a powerful, uplifting moment in our community. We ate, danced, laughed, and fellowshipped in honor of our Ancestors and the tremendous sacrifices that they made.”

How Levy Armstrong plans to celebrate Juneteenth of 2022:

“I plan to celebrate Juneteenth by spending time with my family and friends and reflecting upon my experience as a Black woman in America and my gratitude for Black people and Black culture. We have endured so much as a people and we deserve to be celebrated, protected, and uplifted.”

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