Today is Juneteenth, a day of remembrance and celebration of the emancipation of African Americans after more than two centuries of enslavement in the United States.
The observance can be traced to June 19, 1865, when the Union Army landed in Galveston, Texas, and declared all slaves were now free, which applied to roughly 250,000 people in Texas.
The Emancipation Proclamation had been issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, but slavery continued through the end of the Civil War and until news of the new-found freedom was delivered.
Other states followed Texas' designation of Juneteenth as a holiday, including Minnesota in 1996.
The quest for equality has been a winding and painful journey, but a global effort toward social justice has grown in the weeks since the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 was recorded on video.
Some may never fully know what Juneteenth can mean to others, but empathy is an admirable goal, one with great potential for helping facilitate meaningful changes because it brings an understanding of what someone else has gone through or is currently encountering.
Listening to others with an open mind and heart is a good start, but how does one fully appreciate incomparable experiences?
That brings us to Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman. He and his wife, Michele, adopted all six of their Black children through the foster care system.
Spielman recently participated in a Q&A with Sports Illustrated's Greg Bishop on what it's been like to have a multiracial family and see the world "through our kids’ eyes … a totally different lens."
"When they were little, kids playing with kids, no one sees color," Spielman told Bishop. "Then I asked one of my sons: 'When does that change?' And one of the responses I got was, 'When we become 13, 14 years old, become teenagers. All of a sudden, things change for us.' They live in a world of white privilege. When they're out on their own as they got older, they are exposed to what Black and brown people have to live with from a racism standpoint on a daily basis."
Bishop followed by asking, "They've dealt with incidents?"
Spielman explained that one son was pulled over while driving Michele's car.
"I'll never forget that," Spielman said. "We were sitting at home and one of my sons was out eating with his friends in a restaurant. They were the only Black and brown people in the restaurant. Supposedly there was a call that came in to the police that there was a robbery or burglary. The police [came] into that restaurant and [pulled] my son and his friends out because they automatically thought that was them. Watching when they go into stores without us and they're being followed by the security while they're in the stores … or they describe one incident where the person working in the store told them to get what they want and get out as quickly as they can. There's just numerous examples like that."
These examples highlight that there is still much work to be done in establishing freedom for all.
Wair to receive award during ESPYs
Former Minneapolis North standout Taquarius Wair will receive the "Jimmy V Award" during the ESPYs on Sunday night. The annual awards show is set to air at 8 p.m. (CT) Sunday.
Wair survived severe burns suffered during a devastating house fire that took his sister's life when they were children.
He and his family persevered through the tragedy, and Wair enrolled at Mesabi Range College last year, continuing his gridiron dream.
Wair continues to inspire others. He sounded the Gjallarhorn and was honored as the Hometown Hero of Minnesota's preseason game against Seattle last August.
View the best photos from the career of Vikings G Steve Hutchinson who has been named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
2020 Pro Football Hall of Famer Hutchinson on college ballot for 2021 | By Eric Smith
Steve Hutchinson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February and is scheduled for enshrinement in August, but he could also double up on accolades in 2021.
The former Vikings guard was recently announced on the ballot for the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame. In order to be eligible for the NFF & College Hall of Fame, a player must have recorded at least one First-Team All-American season, and be 10 years removed from his collegiate playing days.
Hutchinson, who starred at the University of Michigan, will find out in early 2021 if he is selected.
Hutchinson's bio on the announcement read:
Unanimous First Team All-American [in 200] who led the Wolverines to four bowl wins, including the 1997 National Championship at the Rose Bowl. One of only seven players in conference history to be named a four-time First Team All-Big Ten selection. Three-time Big Ten champion.
He played in the NFL from 2001 to 2012, spending half of his career in Purple with the Vikings from 2006 to 2011.
A member of the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000s, Hutchinson was a seven-time All-Pro selection (five-time First-Team All-Pro) and seven-time Pro Bowler who started all 169 games in which he played.
Hutchinson is among 78 players and seven coaches who are finalists from the Football Bowl Subdivision, while 99 players and 33 coaches from lower levels of college football are also finalists.
Others with Vikings ties who are finalists include Morten Andersen, Eric Bieniemy, Brad Culpepper and Jack Del Rio.