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Happy Juneteenth! Here are Three Ways Progressives are Working to Support Black Minnesotans.

  • Juneteenth is now an official state holiday

Thanks to the work of progressives in the Minnesota Legislature and the advocacy of the Black Minnesotans, this year, we’ll celebrate Juneteenth as an official state holiday! 

Juneteenth marks the date in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to ensure the last enslaved people in the United States were set free, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth became a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, but this will be the first year Minnesota establishes the day as a paid holiday. 

To celebrate the day, communities across Minnesota are hosting a wide array of events. Check them out and support a local Black organization!

  • Marijuana legalization takes necessary equity steps

Minnesota House and Senate progressives passed groundbreaking legislation to legalize recreational adult-use cannabis! 

And included in the law are necessary measures to repair the legacy of racial injustice created by decades of criminalized marijuana use. 

Minnesota has a racist history of criminalized marijuana use. A Black person in Minnesota is about 4.8 times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana charge (despite data showing that Black and white residents use cannabis at similar rates). 

To help address criminal justice inequities created by our current system, the law that progressives passed will decriminalize low-level cannabis use offenses so that law enforcement can focus on more serious issues. 

  • Restore the Vote is now Minnesota law

In a historic victory, the Minnesota Legislature voted to restore voting rights for over 50,000 Minnesotans across the state.

The Restore the Vote Act returns the right to vote for formerly incarcerated people who live, work, and contribute to our communities across the state.. 

The United States has a long history of preventing people of color from voting, and Minnesota has not been immune. 

Laws in 48 states ban people with felony convictions from voting, an estimated 4.6 million Americans in 2022, even after they’ve completed their prison sentence. And Black Americans are disproportionately affected. 

Currently, in the United States, one in 19 Black Americans of voting age is disenfranchised from the right to vote. This means that 5.3% of adult Black people living in our country can’t access the right to vote. 

In Minnesota, disenfranchisement among Black adults is about 4.4x higher than for non-Black adults. 

Restore the Vote takes necessary steps to prevent the unjust exclusion of Black people and all people affected by the criminal justice system from the fundamental right to vote and participate in our democracy. 

  • The CROWN Act takes on race-based discrimination

The Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or CROWN Act, passed through the Minnesota House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Tim Walz. 

The bill aims to expand the Minnesota Human Rights Act to prohibit race-based discrimination, specifically concerning hair. 

This law will help ensure that discrimination in the workplace and in school for Black Minnesotans who style their hair in braids, twists, locks, or for their natural hair texture is no more.

We’re thrilled to see our Minnesota leaders taking steps to make our home safer and fairer for all of our communities.

In addition to these bills that address racial injustices head-on, progressives have worked to champion an agenda from Paid Family Medical Leave, codifying abortion rights, and investing in public schools that will help all of our communities thrive and grow. 

We can’t wait to see how the progressive leadership at the Capitol will continue to work together to invest in our communities and build a better Minnesota.

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