Celebrate Juneteenth with Hennepin Healthcare

Friday, June 16

Hennepin Healthcare’s Health Equity Department, Black and African American Collective, and Let’s Talk Equity Collective invite you to a celebration to honor Juneteenth.

Juneteenth Program

Friday, June 16 | 9:15am-10:30am

HCMC lawn at 717 South 6th Street, Minneapolis

  • Elder's prayer and acknowledgment | Nothando and Vusumuzi Zulu, recipients, McKnight Culture Bearers Fellowship and co-founding members, Black Storytellers Alliance in Minnesota
  • Welcome and introductions | Wendy Stulac-Motzel, Chief Ambulatory Population Health Officer, Hennepin Healthcare
  • Keynote | Maurice O’Bannon, Founder/ Executive Director of Intentional Men of Courage NPO and Director of Wellness & Athletics at Urban Ventures
  • Juneteenth flag raising
  • Hennepin Healthcare team members share “What Juneteenth means to me”
  • Closing and thanks | Derrick Hollings, Chief Financial Officer, Hennepin Healthcare

This event will be livestreamed for community members and team members who aren’t able to attend in person. View the livestream on June 16.

Complimentary parking is available for external guests and program participants at the HCMC Parking Ramp, entrance on 6th Street between Portland and Park Avenues.

Maurice O’Bannon, Founder/ Executive Director of Intentional Men of Courage NPO and Director of Wellness & Athletics at Urban Ventures

Maurice O BannonBorn and raised in North Minneapolis, Maurice O’Bannon is passionate about advocacy and empowering BIPOC communities to overcome societal and systemic barriers. His dedication to improving circumstances for inner-city youth led him to obtain an Associate’s Degree in Human Services from North Hennepin Community College. He continued his academic journey and earned a B.A. in Individualized Studies with a focus on Human Services and a minor in Family Studies from Metropolitan State University. O’Bannon worked for two years in the Racial Equity Department for Intermediate District 287. He is now the Director of Wellness and Athletics for Urban Ventures in South Minneapolis. He is also the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Intentional Men of Courage, a non-profit organization. O’Bannon values diversity, equity, and inclusion and is committed to eliminating the disparities and inequities plaguing BIPOC communities. He advocates for those without a voice and leads with empathy and openness.

Nothando and Vusumuzi Zulu

For over four decades, Nothando and Vusumuzi Zulu have been stalwart proponents of Kujichagulia, the Swahili word meaning self-determination. The concept of African people defining themselves is at the heart of why they are community activists and Storytellers. They believe that the ability of a people to decide who they are, have been, and will be an awesome responsibility and power to wield. As 2023 recipients of the McKnight Culture Bearers Fellowship, they revel in the opportunity of transmitting the values of our African ancestors through stories. Both transplants from the south: Nothando from the sharecropping farms of Nat Turner’s county in Virginia and Vusi from the often tumultuous city of St Louis, Missouri.

Nothando’s stories are filled with the strong human imagery of her rural – sometimes harsh, but always filled with familial love – upbringing. Nothando is a sharecropper’s daughter born in Franklin, VA. She’s the youngest and only surviving member of her six siblings in her family. While Vusi grew up in the city where, as he often says, “we moved every time the rent was due – and we paid rent every two weeks!” Together they sought to capture and channel the energy of the Black Power and Civil Rights movements through the act of simply telling audiences who Black people really are.

Co-founding members of the Black Storytellers Alliance in Minnesota, they began producing the popular “Signifyin' & Testifyin'” three-day storytelling festival in 1991 after returning from the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. (NABS) festival and Conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was such a moving experience for Vusi who had never before attended a NABS event that they knew they had to bring something like that back to inspire the people in Minnesota.

”Signifyin' and Testifyin’” has entertained, enthralled, and educated tens of thousands of Minnesotans since its inception 31 years ago. Nothando and Vusi have brought tellers from across the country to weave the same storytelling magic. And whether it's Vusi's true-life experience in his story, “The Hog Rustlers”, or Nothando's powerful telling of “The Eagle”, festival participants and audiences continue coming back year after year to glean more nuggets of truth about our people through the art of oral storytelling. Their storytelling brings forth the ethos in addition to the pathos of our people. They demonstrate the joy of being Black.
It’s who we are.