Video Guide, Sources and Biographies

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This supplemental guide to the “Journey to Juneteenth” video delves into the origins of the holiday and the ongoing stories of Black freedom celebrations. Learn how Juneteenth has changed over time and view resources used in the video.

Joseph Cole Brother RA

Brother RA (Joseph Cole)

Black Youth Healing Arts Center

Joseph aka Brother RA is a member of the Youth Leadership team at the Black Youth Healing Arts Center (BYHAC), helping co-lead inhouse programs, facilitating workshops; teaching mind body medicine practices and also out in community apart of the Pop Up team sharing breathing tools, poetry, and playing Bomba; an Afro Puerto Rican drum style alongside other BYHAC members. RA is a youth advocate and Pan-Afrikan Community Activist dedicated to amplifying the voices of youth and the liberation of Black/Afrikan people across the globe. RA serves our community as the Vice Chair of YouthLink MN Voices of Youth Advisory Council. He works with the 2nd Chance Project as a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist helping peers gain access to employment opportunities, housing, and connected to resources. RA also facilitates longitudinal systems transformation assessments as program manager of the Youth Research Task Force; a community participatory action research program, offered by the Black Community Board.

John Robinson

John Robinson

Sterling Club, Coach

I was born in Chicago, Illinois and moved to Minnesota in 1970, where I grew up in North Minneapolis until moving to St. Paul in 1984. In 1987 I started coaching youth sports around the city, including a number of AAU basketball and football programs. I coached at various St. Paul high schools, including girls basketball at Johnson and Central, where we won back-to-back championships. At Como Park High School, I coached boys and girls basketball and track. Outside of the schools, I worked with Saint Paul Parks and Recreation for 20 years where I built a lot of long-lasting relationships with kids in the community. I’ve spent the last seven years with the Community Ambassador Initiative, walking the streets and engaging with our youth from teens to young adults. Currently, I am a member of the Sterling Club in St. Paul where we have done a number of service projects locally. 

Judge LaJune Lange

The Honorable LaJune Lange

Judge, Retired

The Honorable Judge LaJune Thomas Lange is a retired State of Minnesota trial court judge. She is an expert on legal and constitutional standards for discrimination in state and federal courts. She began her career with the Hennepin County Public Defender's Office as a trial lawyer until appointed to the Hennepin County Municipal Court in 1985. She became a district judge when the Municipal Court was merged with the District Court in 1986 and served on the District Court Bench until her recent retirement.

Lange is a former co-vice chair of the Minnesota Supreme Court Task Force on Racial Bias in the Courts and a former member of the Minnesota Supreme Court Task Force on Gender Fairness in the Courts. She is a founding member of the Minnesota Minority Lawyers Association and has served on the Minnesota Women's Lawyers committee, Minnesota Public Interest Research Foundation, the American Bar Association, National Bar Association, Women Judges Association, the Minnesota State Bar Association's Board of Governors, and the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers. 

Jewelean Jackson.

Jewelean Jackson

Community Elder and Advocate

Jewelean Jackson is a community elder and advocate, and former board chair of the Community-University Health Care Center. Through her advocacy, Jackson has also built political will and shaped the affordable housing conversation with testimony to legislators using her lived experience, policy-making presentations, and engaging community involvement. Jackson, along with others, is credited with starting celebrations in Minneapolis around Juneteenth in 1982. She is the Lifetime National Ms. Kwanzaa and speaks of Kwanzaa as a way of life in her travels.

Rose McGee.

Rose McGee

Author, CEO and Founder Sweet Potato Comfort Pie

Rose McGee is President and Founder of the Sweet Potato Comfort Pie organization. She is a well-known facilitator, one of Minnesota’s 50 Over 50, a member of the Golden Valley League of Women Voters, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Minneapolis Women’s Rotary, and a Humanities Officer with the Minnesota Humanities Center. She resides in Golden Valley, Minnesota, where she was named Citizen of the Year and has been presented with the Bill Hobbs Human Rights Award twice. She is a 2023 Facing Race Award recipient from the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation, a 2023 Black Collectives Fellow, a 2023 and 2024 University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts Hub Fellow and a 2019 Bush Fellowship recipient, and is featured in the national PBS documentary, A Few Good Pie Places.

McGee is the author of Story Circle Stories (Belfrey Press) and the newly released children’s book, Can’t Nobody Make a Sweet Potato Pie Like Our Mama (Minnesota Historical Society Press). She also authored the play, Kumbayah The Juneteenth Story, which has been performed across the state of Minnesota.