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After Ferguson: What comes next?

The nature of media coverage is a big part of the answer
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

“What do we do now?” Such questions have been noticeably absent in media coverage in the  aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri in August, especially after last week’s announcement of the decision not to indict the police officer who killed him. Instead, most of the focus has been on if and when violence would erupt after the grand jury decision. “People were on pins and needles,” reported St. Louis native Ken Foxworth, who now lives in the Twin Cities but visited the area two weekends ago during the so-called “countdown” to the November 24 announcement. His family lives “less than seven minutes from Ferguson,” said his brother Maurice Foxworth. Continue Reading →

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Stereotypes thwart aspirations of young Black men

MPS Black Male Achievement director gets some barbershop ‘real truth’
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Shahmar Dennis plans to graduate next spring from Roosevelt High School. He also plans to continue his post-secondary education by studying computer science, with hopes to one day work as a computer programmer after earning a college degree at a school not yet decided upon. His hopes, dreams and goals mostly were self-directed and self-motivated, undeterred by some of his teachers’ stereotypical beliefs that Black young men are incapable of competent classroom achievement. When Dennis inquired about his school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program, a teacher discouraged him; but when a White student went to the same teacher, that student immediately received a pass to see a school counselor about taking IB classes. “I feel like teachers have the stigma about African American students on how they are supposed to act, speak, and how they perceive education,” recalled Dennis when speaking to the MSR soon after his appearance at the November 10 regularly scheduled Minneapolis School Board meeting. Continue Reading →

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Twin Cities Black preachers unite against biased reporting

Spiritual leaders voice parishioners’, community’s concerns on media coverage
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The local mainstream media has been “culturally arrogant” in its reporting of prominent Blacks, says a ministers’ group. His Works United, “an informal group” of nearly 20 clergy, told reporters at a November 24 morning press conference at New Salem Baptist Church in North Minneapolis that mainstream media outlets have “discounted our community” by not including diverse voices in their reporting. “We believe the voices of the broader African American community are not being heard,” said Rev. Alfred Babington-Johnson. “We will write three sets of letters” and send them this week to the National Football League, the Vikings organization, local media outlets, and the leaders of both political parties “on the unfair treatment of our community” and request to meet with these entities as well, he stated. The recent suspension of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, and the ethics charges levied against the state’s only two Black senators, Jeff Hayden and Bobby Joe Champion, are the group’s main concerns, continued Babington-Johnson. Continue Reading →

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Hometown Artist Sold Three Million Records Before Age 20

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 the young man featured in our introductory story below, first published on February 5, 1981, nearly 34 years ago.  
To say that Warner Brother’s recording artist Prince is a musical prodigy is almost an understatement. Before he turned 20, Prince had sold nearly three million records. He had recorded three LPs, playing all the instruments and writing and singing all the songs himself. Continue Reading →

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Activist, former D.C. mayor Marion Barry passes

Marion S. Barry, stalwart civil rights activist cum prominent politician, passed away Nov. 23 at age 78 owing to cardiac arrest. Barry, of course, was infamously publicized for his 1990 arrest and subsequent incarceration for drug possession. Like many chemically dependent individuals his was a virtually lifelong affliction that marred his professional career and personal life. Born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, he graduated LeMoyne College where he was president of LeMoyne’s chapter of the NAACP. Continue Reading →

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Sculptor refuses to be pushed around by racism

Local artist’s work displayed ‘from here to Ireland’ 
 
By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

St. Paul sculptor Frank Brown describes himself as a “gofer,” someone who “goes for it, who doesn’t sit around waiting for someone to come looking for them. I take the initiative to go out and initiate the conversation that hopefully will create a positive response.”

Brown has had many noteworthy positive responses going back quite a few years, the latest of which is a commission to create a sculpture for the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. Brown says the piece will be of five individuals: Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, William Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Frederick Douglass. “The sculpture will be up to about 32’’ in height, and close to 40’’ in length,” according to Brown. Continue Reading →

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How parents can help close the achievement gap

Educator encourages close collaboration between home and school
 
By Dr. Levette Evans Thomas, Ed.D

Contributing Writer

 

I believe as an educator I can effectively contribute to closing the achievement gap. It is important for parents to believe they can be passionate about helping their children achieve academic and social success to close the achievement gap in a school community of high expectations. We are to value each child in our community. Every child can learn. I am passionate and I love teaching. Continue Reading →

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MPS curtails suspensions

‘Reverse racism’ used to combat discipline bias
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 
Since this story was published, Minneapolis Public Schools has emailed the following statement:

In regards to the article posted on Dr. Johnson’s recent announcement to reduce the disproportionality of nonviolent suspensions between black and brown students and their white peers,  Dr. Johnson has not lifted the moratorium on nonviolent suspensions for students in grades pre-kindergarten through first grade. This moratorium began in September, and continues to remain in place. Dr. Johnson also did not communicate that she would not consider extending the moratorium to other grades. The option to extend it to other grades is still under consideration. In fact, she specifically announced that she challenged all schools to work to reduce nonviolent suspensions for all students. Continue Reading →

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Critics say ‘Pointergate’ story perpetuates racial stereotypes

Mayor says she doesn’t plan to stop pointing
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The fallout continues from a local television station’s airing a controversial story two weeks ago. The Hubbard Broadcasting-owned ABC affiliate, KSTP 5, aired a November 9 news story that claimed Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and a Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) volunteer organizer flashed gang signs at each other at a voter registration event prior to this year’s general election. A photo showing Hodges and Navell Gordon (whose face at the time of broadcast was blurred), which the station said came from “a local law enforcement source,” subsequently went viral on social media. “The photo was snapped while Mayor Hodges and Navell were doing voter outreach work together,” explained NOC officials in their November 10 statement calling the story that drew national attention and criticism “outrageous and inflammatory.”

“Mr. Gordon is still not in a gang,” said a MN NOC spokesperson in an email statement to the MSR.

UCare, an independent nonprofit health plan, last week pulled its current and planned advertising from the station. Marketing Director Dan Ness told the MSR that the report “was an insult to our members and business partners. Continue Reading →

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St. Paul aims to lead in workforce racial equity

Concerns over ‘unrealistic’ hiring goals have proven unfounded
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Nearly $105 million in St. Paul City contracts was awarded in 2013 to businesses owned by people of color, women-owned, and small businesses, according to Saint Paul’s Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO) annual report. That was about 41 percent of the “total business opportunity” of more than $255 million. Approximately 18.6 percent of this “total business opportunity,” or $47.5 million of the contracts awarded last year, went to small businesses; $38.5 million (15 percent of total) went to women-owned businesses; and $18.8 million (7 percent of total) went to businesses owned by people of color. Saint Paul’s Vendor Outreach Program (VOP) “requires the city to establish goals for contracting with” minority-owned (MBE), women-owned (WBE) and small business enterprises (SBE) on city construction projects, Saint Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority projects, and contracts for professional services,” stated the 2013 HREEO annual report. Continue Reading →

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