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CIVIL WAR VETERAN HENRY MACK, 107 YEARS OLD, DIES BURIED APRIL 11 [1945]

As part of our celebration over the next several months of our 80 years of continuous publication, the MSR will be republishing notable stories from our extensive archives of more than 4,000 weekly issues of African American news in Minnesota. Many of our readers will be sure to recognize friends, family and neighbors from the distant and not-so-distant past — such as the passing of one of the last surviving Black Civil War veterans reported in the April 13, 1945 issue of the Minneapolis Spokesman. Continue Reading →

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The Whole Gritty City promotes dialogue on youth engagement

Participants encouraged by young people’s resilience, desire to ‘step up’
 By Charles Hallman, Staff Writer
Young people still need encouragement, especially during turbulent times. This was the impetus behind last week’s free screening of a documentary about New Orleans at Oak Park Youth and Family Center. “Showing the film served a two-fold purpose,” explained Pillsbury United Communities [PUC] Parent Network Manager Edwin Irwin on The Whole Gritty City, the 90-minute documentary following three New Orleans all-Black marching bands — two high schools (O. Perry Walker and L.E. Rabouin) and The Roots of Music, a new middle-age children’s band — as they prepared for a Mardi Gras performance. The film aired nationally in February 2014 as a two-hour special hosted by Wynton Marsalis on CBS’s 48 Hours Presents: THE WHOLE GRITTY CITY. Continue Reading →

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St. Peter’s AME holds Black Lives Matter service

St. Peter’s AME Church, along with Black churches nationwide, asked its members to wear black to church on Sunday, December 14 to symbolize that Black lives matte

“This action is in response to the failure of a grand jury in St. Louis County, Missouri to indict a White police officer in the killing of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown, the failure of a grand jury in Staten Island New York to indict a White police officer in the death of Eric Garner, and other incidents of police brutality leveled against Black persons nationwide,” said Rev. Nazim B. Fakir, pastor of St. Peter’s AME Church. “We need to draw attention to and change a system that systematically subjects Black persons to these injustices.”

Fakir said during his sermon that police officers have a very difficult job; they are supposed to protect and serve the community, and many officers do that with integrity, putting their lives on the line every day. Continue Reading →

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Venerable activist Dick Gregory offers words of wisdom

‘Library of Black radical thought’ shared insights 

on sundry topics during his recent visit

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

Dick Gregory first started out as a comedian while serving in the military in the mid-1950s and had become one of the nation’s most popular Black comics — the first to regularly appear on television’s The Tonight Show — before turning to social activism at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. He ran for U.S. president as a write-in candidate in 1968 and has demonstrated over many human rights issues, including the first of several hunger strikes in 1980 when he tried to help negotiate the U.S. hostages’ release in Iran. A cancer survivor, the 82-year-old Gregory spoke at the University of Minnesota during a Twin Cities visit in late October. Following are excerpts of his remarks during a panel discussion held at the school’s Humphrey Center and a short, exclusive MSR interview. “I hear people say if you want to hide something from a Black person, put it in a book,” said Gregory half joking, drawing on his comedic roots to make a point. Continue Reading →

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Judge: Boy, 14, Shouldn’t Have Been Executed in U.S.

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (AP) — More than 70 years after South Carolina sent a 14-year-old black boy to the electric chair in the killings of two white girls in a segregated mill town, a judge threw out the conviction, saying the state committed a great injustice. George Stinney was arrested, convicted of murder in a one-day trial and executed in 1944 — all in the span of about three months and without an appeal. The speed in which the state meted out justice against the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century was shocking and extremely unfair, Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen wrote in her ruling Wednesday. The girls, ages 7 and 11, were beaten badly in the head with an iron railroad spike in the town of Alcolu, authorities said. A search by dozens of people found their bodies several hours later. Continue Reading →

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Northside Achievement Zone gets mid-term report card

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Almost three years ago, the Spokesman-Recorder reported on the origins and mission of the Northside Achievement Zone, or NAZ, which was described as “a $28 million social experiment” whose goal was “increasing educational outcomes so that kids and families have opportunities that they can point to” over the following five years. (“Northside Achievement Zone envisions a ‘tipping-point’ of success,” MSR February 22, 2012)

The NAZ is focused in an area on the Northside that is 18 blocks by 13 blocks and runs from Penn Avenue east to Interstate 94, and Broadway Avenue north to 35th Avenue. The Wilder Foundation earlier this month released a report card on NAZ’s 2014 performance and gave it an overall good grade, but the report also highlighted areas that need improvement. The key finding of the Wilder report was that the longer children in grades 3-5 were in the NAZ program, the more their scores on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) improved. The report noted that NAZ was on track in that area. Continue Reading →

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Students challenge who defines U of M diversity

President declines invite to meet off-campus
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

Whose Diversity? is a diverse “collective” of University of Minnesota undergraduate and graduate students who came together at the beginning of the year to argue against what they call a “cosmetic” commitment to diversity at the school. After they presented a list of “diversity demands” to President Eric Kaler, the group was featured in an MSR June front page story (“Student group presents ‘diversity demands’ to U of M officials: ‘Whose Diversity?’ resists cooptation, wants more than ‘sprinkling a few faces of color in catalogues,’” June 12, 2014),

After a December 1 meeting last week with Kaler and the group at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, a University statement emailed to the MSR said, “The meeting was productive. We look forward to working with all students, faculty and staff as we continue to address the important issues affecting campus climate.”

Group members, however, say they will “push” Kaler and other school administrators to do more. “I want to believe [Kaler] is sincere,” said Tanja Andie, a U of M sociology graduate student who was among the dozen Whose Diversity? Continue Reading →

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MSR Archives: Motor Pool WAC’s Win Driver Badges, Brothers In France

From the MSR Legacy Archives

As part of our celebration over the next several months of our 80 years of continuous publication, the MSR will be republishing notable stories from our extensive archives of more than 4,000 weekly issues of African American news in Minnesota. Many of our readers will be sure to recognize friends, family and neighbors from the distant and not-so-distant past — such as from among the military personnel featured below in the April 13, 1945 edition of the Minneapolis Spokesman. 

Motor Pool WAC’s Win Driver Badges

Six WACs assigned to the QM Motor Pool were recently awarded qualification badges for excellence in driving and maintaining motor vehicles. The names of the five pictured above are, from left to right, bottom row: Pfc. Mildred Johnson, T/5 Inez Clayton, and Pfc. Tinsie Brazil; top row, T/5 Priscilla Taylor and Pvt. Continue Reading →

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Five big steps across the achievement gap

With 10 small, experimental ‘bright spots’ along the way
 
By Khymyle Mims

Contributing Writer

Earlier this year, Generation Next held a kick-off event at the University of Minnesota to unveil what they believe are the five core initiatives to closing the achievement gap here in the Twin Cities. Curious as to how they intend to attack

these five areas, I took a trip over to headquarters to speak with Executive Director R.T. Rybak and the staff to find out who they are and what they are about. “At the broadest level, Generation Next is a powerful table of people who are coming together saying, ‘We want to be responsible for this. We want to do whatever it takes,’” said Victor Cedeño, director of networks and education policy for Gen Next. Rybak says this initiative began back in 2012, during his final term as Minneapolis mayor, when the African American Leadership Forum (AALF) approached him and others about speeding up the process to close the achievement gap. Continue Reading →

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National study: Young Black males 21 times more likely to be killed by police

  How do local police measure up? 
 

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Racial tensions in the U.S. have reached the boiling point in the wake of the deaths of two Black males at the hands of police officers and the announcements in the last few days that grand juries declined to bring charges against either officer. Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson just weeks after Eric Garner was placed in a chokehold that resulted in his death by Daniel Pantaleo in New York. Both officers are White. The racial tension, already high, reached the flashpoint nationwide in the last few days following the grand jury announcements. Protests, some becoming violent, took place all over the country, including the Twin Cities, decrying a system that seems to allow police to murder Black males with impunity and with no repercussions. Continue Reading →

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