The first Peace Celebration was organized by long-time community organizer Melvin Giles in 1997 in response to several acts of violence in the Saint Paul Frogtown community. The event inspired community organizers and residents to host an annual celebration, held every 3rd Friday in June.
“I became acquainted with Brother Melvin, who, of course, is the light that has drawn everybody into this celebration,” recalled longtime volunteer Karyssa Jackson. “What has drawn me to continue, is that it’s such a beautiful expression of community. Every aspect of our community is well represented, from race, gender, and ages, everybody is here.”
Jackson says the first Peace Celebration was a seed that, now planted, continues to grow in the community. And she says recent events show that the celebration is even more important.
“Locally and nationally, I think we are experiencing a lot of randomized violence,” said Jackson. “I think our young people are consistently under a lot of pressure. There's a lot of detachment and a lot of tension in our communities right now. It's a moment for us to take some time to remember that peace isn't something that we ‘had.’ Just like love, it’s something we have to do with, and for each other.”