Juneteenth organizer posthumously recognized with MoorHeart award

Moorhead honored Destiny “Grandmamma” Holiday, who died in February, with the award for her efforts to make Juneteenth an official holiday in the city.

Destiny Grandmamma Holiday .png
Destiny "Grandmamma" Holiday posthumously received the MoorHeart award this month for her work in promoting social change and for being a "guiding force" behind Moorhead's first Juneteenth celebration.
Special to The Forum
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MOORHEAD — Destiny “Grandmamma” Holiday has posthumously received the MoorHeart award for her advocacy work and being a “guiding force behind the first community celebration of Juneteenth.”

Holiday, 73, died in February after she helped pass a resolution for Moorhead to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday, an effort that came a year before President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Juneteenth is celebrated across the nation on June 19 and is observed in North Dakota after Gov. Doug Doug Burgum signed legislation in April 2021.

The day commemorates when the Union Army reached the deepest corners of the Confederacy and announced the freedom of all remaining enslaved men and women.

The Moorhead City Council and Mayor Shelly Carlson recognized Holiday’s work on Monday, June 13, saying she was handpicked for her “dedication to uplifting those around her and also for her tireless work with her nonprofits, the Birthing of a Diamond and Diamond Kids.”


Birthing of a Diamond is an organization that seeks to promote social change within families and single mothers with children, Holiday said in a video posted to the organization’s website.

“A diamond has to go through pressure before it becomes a diamond. My motivation came through my struggles; my motivation came through my hardship,” she said, adding that four of her six children had health issues.

Amid her struggles, Holiday spent more than a decade feeding the homeless and helping those addicted to drugs, she said in the video.

“It’s about a change. The Birthing of a Diamond is to help the community become healthy through programs, to become healthy through motivational speakers,” Holiday said.

“To bring hope where there seems to be no hope and to bring joy when it seems like nothing will ever change, and to bring information on what goes on in the community, bridging the gap,” she said.

Destiny Grandmama Holiday started the Diamond Kids organization, trying to promote positivity..png
Destiny "Grandmama" Holiday started the Diamond Kids organization, trying to promote positive change.
Special to The Forum

Another program she founded, Diamond Kids, branched out from Birthing of a Diamond in order to provide programs, activities and stepping stones to promote positive paths and better outcomes for “youth of color, African/Negro American, Indigenous youth and others,” a press release from the city of Moorhead stated.

“Destiny Holiday was a woman of tremendous faith, fortitude and compassion. She was a leader, advocate and unofficial ‘grandmamma' to many. Destiny Holiday was a champion for people who needed someone by their side, and she held those of us in public office accountable for working harder to make Moorhead a more welcoming and equitable community for all,” said Deb White, a Moorhead City Council member.

“Destiny loved her family and friends, and she is loved here. She was powerful and will have a lasting impact on our community,” said Dan Mahli, Moorhead city manager.


Holiday’s family traveled to Moorhead to accept the MoorHeart award on Monday.

“Destiny was influential in her efforts to have Juneteenth commemorated in Moorhead with gatherings and celebrations,” the city’s press release about the award stated.

“For all Destiny has done — and through the legacy her work continues to do for Moorhead — the MoorHeart selection committee chose Destiny to posthumously receive the MoorHeart award. Destiny was a treasure in our community and the MoorHeart way of life,” the press release said.

The MoorHeart award recognizes individuals who go above and beyond to demonstrate community within Moorhead by their actions and service. A team of volunteers from city boards and commissions selects award recipients. The MoorHeart award is commemorated with a piece of art commissioned from Moorhead-based artist Karman Rheault.

To nominate someone for a MoorHeart award, visit

C.S. Hagen is an award-winning journalist currently covering the education and activist beats mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota.
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