Recent Articles

Finding common ground

MSR Editorial

Standing up for the middle class in new Congress

I’m grateful to the people of Minnesota for giving me the chance to serve a second term as senator. And I’m ready to keep fighting for middle-class families and for families aspiring to be in the middle class. Republicans now control the Senate majority, and while serving in the minority will be a new experience for me, my job will remain the same: working hard for Minnesota. And just as I worked across the aisle during my first term when Democrats held the majority, I’ll look for areas of agreement with my Republican colleagues. For example, both sides agree we need to cut wasteful spending so we can fund important priorities like education and research and development without running up the deficit. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , ,

The plantation bowl


White profit, Black poverty in college sports

The “hoorah” is over for the January 12, 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship game. Ohio State University was crowned, salvaging the Big Ten’s reputation. The Pac 12’s Ducks of Oregon lost and must wait for another opportunity. But two injustices continue: racism in college sports and funding college plantation sports programs on the backs of student athletes, many being African American. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote about “why we can’t wait.” Around the world, young people want access to opportunity and fairness. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,

Martin Luther King Jr.’s expansive dream


Martin Luther King, Jr.’s actual birthday is January 15, and I believe if he were alive today he would be well pleased with Ava DuVernay’s film Selma. Many people working for justice today stand on the shoulders of Martin Luther King, Jr. and what he achieved in Selma. But I believe King’s vision of justice is often gravely limited and misunderstood. Too many people thought then, and continue to think, that King’s statements regarding justice were only about race and the African American community. We fail to see how King’s vision of inclusion and community is far wider than we might have once imagined. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , ,

Remembering Cuomo, Brooke and Scott

MSR Editorial

“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities…because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”  — Winston Churchill

Just as we welcomed in the New Year with various renditions of Auld Lang Syne and well-wishing cheers, we also met 2015 with solemn reverence as we mourned the loss of three great Americans, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, former United States Senator Edward Brooke III and ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott. Each of these men charted a new course and left an indelible mark on America with their passion, pioneering spirit and principled approach to leaving our nation a better place than they found it. Mario Cuomo, who passed on New Year’s Day at 82 years old, was lionized as a great voice for liberalism, the New Deal and the Great Society from the 1970s through the 1990s, particularly during the Reagan years. Governor of New York from 1983 through 1994, Cuomo, the son of immigrants whose deep commitment to values was shaped by his Italian American upbringing in Queens, NY, was widely celebrated for his stirring speeches and oratorical skills. I had the fortune to be in San Francisco at the Moscone Center during the 1984 Democratic National Convention as a young delegate for Jesse Jackson when Cuomo gave his now very famous speech on the haves and the have-nots, a speech that has as much relevance today as it did 30 years ago. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Judge Davis: a great legal mind


Black leadership: What’s the plan? Michael J. Davis, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, announced December 31, 2014, that he will step down as Chief U.S. District Judge, summer 2015, “but will remain active on the bench as a senior judge.” I have known Judge Davis for over 40 years, from when he joined as an attorney and commissioner on the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission (MCRC). We served as commissioners along with two other African American commissioners, also attorneys, Pam Alexander and Lejune Lang. These three are among the greatest legal minds of Minnesota. Judge Davis served nearly 21 years on the federal bench, seven as chief judge of the federal court of the Federal District of Minnesota. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Time for law enforcement to listen to criticism

MSR Editorial

The recent open letter issued by the police union presidents of Minneapolis and St. Paul (1/4/15) does not indicate a readiness to listen, but to lecture those critical of law enforcement (www.mpdfederation.com/police). Like police union leaders in New York City and elsewhere, their letter seems to make the same spurious claim that protests against police brutality and discrimination may have incited Ismaaiyl Brinsley to murder two NYPD officers. In light of protesters’ just anger over the killing of unarmed Black Americans, even suggesting such a link lacks respect for the communities that law enforcement serves. Protesters are as heartsick over the tragic death of the officers as anyone. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Sony and the sociology of racism


As a result of the North Korean-related hacking of Sony’s computer system, certain racist emails of Sony executive Amy Pascal were made public. This may appear as an isolated incident of racism amongst individuals, but it offers opportunity to uniquely examine certain aspects of the sociology of racism that not only fester in entertainment, but extensions of this same sociology have historically led to deadly consequences in the streets of America when Black men encounter law enforcement. By sociology I am simply referring to America’s sum total of ethnic and cultural distinctions and exchanges, its shared and conflicting beliefs, ideals and values. I’m referring to Americans’ common sociopolitical influences and the human actions, ethos, and consciousness that publically and privately shape American society, institutions and government. Among Pascal’s emails were jokingly racist comments that President Obama probably liked Kevin Hart, along with the movies 12 Years A Slave, Django, The Butler and Think Like A Man. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,

2015: a year of preparation


The word “preparation” is a sophisticated word. It means to prepare, develop, and analyze to get the best change plan to implement. The year 2015 will be an extremely interesting year as preparations begin for the return of the conservative right to control the White House just as the liberal left works to retain the White House. Which plan will resonate with people to get their vote? Will Democrats be ready? Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Access is the problem

“Why are you looting? Why don’t you people get jobs and pay for things?”

“Well, I really don’t see it as looting, I call it gaining access, access that has been denied.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Have you seen the latest statistics, and are you aware that the wealth gap has widened? The median net worth of White households is $142,000 and the median net worth for Black households is only $11,000. Access, I have no access.”

“Get a job.”

“Do you understand what access means, access to wealth? It takes 13 median Black households and their net worth to equal the net worth of one median White household. Continue Reading →

Filed under: