“Whatever the future, MayDay 2019 will be a celebration of all that has been and all that will be,” came the statement from Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater in announcing that this year’s MayDay parade in the Phillips and Powderhorn neighborhoods of South Minneapolis could be the 45-year-old tradition’s last gasp.
A celebration it was Sunday, despite mounting financial difficulties for the parade’s organizer, Heart of the Beast Theater.
For 45 years, the MayDay parade has been a much-anticipated rite of spring, melding all things hippie-trippy with all things anarchist-punk-political, and injecting fun, imagination and creativity into the winter-beaten citizens of Minneapolis. “Beloved Community” was the theme of this year’s parade, the 45th and possibly last of its kind. MinnPost took in the parade, in words and pictures:
Remus Huber and Mary Jo Nikolai. “I’m a tree frog… and an artist. I want the parade to be around because I want it around for Remus. It’s hard, because I’ve been doing it for 25 years and it’s our community, it’s our beloved community,” said Nikolai. “I’ve been in the parade every year since I was born, so I’ve been in the parade 15 years,” said Huber. “It really is a community. The people who work on this are incredible, and I know them and I care about them all, and I think the parade has had effects on the neighborhood as a whole. The theme ‘beloved community’ this year really fits, because that’s really what the MayDay parade has become.”
Maymuna Abdulkadir and Suad Adam. “The rocks represent the bad, negative, things going on in the world, and the chains represent holding us down and how it affects us,” said Abdulkadir. “Our religion is not a religion of violence. We’re really peaceful people, but people are always out to get us to say that we do this and that and we’re terrorists, but in general we’re all just one and like, in the world.”
“I’ve been studying what toxic masculinity is,” said Adam. “I have friends who have died because of it, shot because of it, and it’s heartbreaking to know that guys don’t have doors open for them as much, especially boys of color, as much as the females do. Because they can’t be vulnerable, they have to be ‘manly,’ and I feel like people need to be educated on it because a lot of boys don’t have fathers to say, ‘It’s OK to be this, you don’t have to be that.’”
Andrea Palumbo and Lauren Nielsen of Democratic Socialists of America. “It is definitely the time for socialism,” said Palumba. “I did the parade last year, and our contingent was half the size as this year. Membership locally and nationally has gone up, and people across the country and across the world are really realizing that the economy is not working for us, it’s harming us, and it’s time for a change.”
“I think a lot of people are really struggling in the world right now under a capitalist system, and we want to change that,” said Nielsen. “We want the world to be a better place. One of our main slogans is, ‘A Better World Is Possible,’ and as you can see from all our signs here, we believe in all sorts of things: supporting eco-socialism, socialist feminism, housing justice, trans advocacy, anti-racism, all sorts of things to make this world a more wonderful place.”
Adriana Foreman and Nekessa Opota. “This my fourth parade; I’ve worked with Heart of the Beast for three years,” said Foreman. “Heart of the Beast has allowed me to be a kid, and make money. It’s allowed community building, collaboration, stories, and it’s allowed for communities to collab and come together and create magical things and inspire the youth to continue to do these things and to be activists.”
“The majority of the folks wishing this are undocumented immigrants,” said Opota. “We are fighting for drivers’ licenses rights to be restored, because we used to be able to drive and now people cannot drive [legally] anymore. We think it’s safer for folks, and it’s about our dignity to be able to move around. As the federal government figures out what it’s doing with immigration, states should also figure out how they’re protecting undocumented immigrants.”
Michael Ford (foreground, green shirt). “I’m the chairman for Legal Marijuana Now and Minnesota Norml,” said Ford. “This is my fourth parade, supporting the natural way of life. It’s a pretty dope parade. As far as legalization, we need you to contact your legislators. That’s the most important thing you can do. We had a couple bills that got introduced. One actually got a hearing in the Senate, but it wasn’t a great bill, and it failed. We’re hoping that we can introduce new legislation and keep things going. Minnesota should be more progressive on this than we are.”
Karissa Kier-Fickin: “This is my first year marching with the parade, and we just finished this puppet. She was just made within the past two months. She represents the campaign for missing murdered indigenous women, to highlight the epidemic that’s killing our women that goes unnoticed. Actually, May 5 is National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Day. She’s bringing light to it, to bring action to it, just because the government isn’t doing anything about it.”
“We want people to know that we do not want any loons covered in oil from Line 3,” said Jeanne Fahlstrom (behind the sign), a volunteer with Minnesota 350. “The Minnesota state bird is the loon, and we want the governor to know that we want Line 3 stopped.”
Adrian Chavez. “I am with Kalpuli Yaocnoxtli. I’m a union member. I’m a member of local union 563, laborers, so I know all about May Day and it’s history, but this is the first time I’ve participated in the parade as a dancer. The Spanish called us ‘Aztecs.’ We do this to let people know that our culture is very much alive, and that it continues with us, and our youth, and that we’re here and we’re not going anywhere.”
Joseph Santana. “I’m a student at South. I want to raise awareness for this type of situation, because it’s really messed up how some police officers handle situations with people of color.”
Rose Carline Gbadamassi. “I’m from the Haitian community of Minnesota. May 18 is Haiti flag day, and it’s gonna be 250 years of independence. Haiti was the first black country to have independence, and every year in the parade I represent Haiti. I’ve lived on the block for 20 years, and probably in the parade for 12 years.”
Marcelo Araujo and Aaron Johnson-Ortiz. “We want to give a positive message of the wall, because a wall is not a meaning of separation or pulling apart,” said Araujo. “We are building walls of hope, of love. We are [of] one creator, community, creating houses and parks.” “In addition to the wall, we also have a giant heart, which symbolizes the heart of the community,” said Johnson-Ortiz.