Black Minnesota

Recent Articles

2014 All-Star Classic lineup

According to DEREK REUBEN, director of the Inner City All-Star Classic, the rosters are set for the annual boys’ and girls’ basketball contests featuring the metro area’s top seniors. Reuben, who was named the state’s Mr. Basketball after an outstanding career at Minneapolis North, started the boys’ game in 1994 with then-teammate and friend RALPH CROWDER. At the urging and persistence of the late community and sports activist KWAME MCDONALD, a girls’ game was added in 2001.  

This year’s Inner City All-Star Classic will be held Sunday, June 8, at the University of St. Thomas. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

I remember when the community supported us

By Lovell Oates
Contributing Writer


Conclusion of a series

Last week: If the bridge is not built to reconnect these [incarcerated] brothers…in the end, the work being done in the community will become more difficult because a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.  

I remember when Joe and Tyrone were outcast in the community and brothers and sisters would check their behavior. In fact, their families wouldn’t allow it. I talk about Joe and Tyrone in terms of being incarcerated, yet we all know the community is full of these types of brothers that have never been to jail, which makes it worse for the simple fact that the brother in jail at least has a chance to evaluate his situation. Joe and Tyrone, in the free world, don’t even know that they are clowns and fools because it’s normal to everyone around them. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Gang summit in Mpls

Preparing for summer 2014

The “invitation only” “North Side Safety Summit” (“Gang Summit”) was held April 18, 2014, in North Minneapolis at the School District’s West Broadway headquarters. The Star Tribune reported “why” April 19, 2014: “The city’s North Side has seen one-third of the city’s violent crime and half of the city’s shootings over the past 14 years… Violent crime rose 24 percent…due to more assaults and robberies…centered around the Folwell, Jordan and Hawthorne neighborhoods.”

The purpose of the summit was to find solutions for summer 2014’s anticipated gang violence. Star Tribune: “Some 70 public officials…gathered…to talk about pervasive crime numbers and how to lower them.” The “containment” until winter hibernation returns is not a solution. The real solution, as I wrote about in my April 3, 2014 column, is to end the city political culture that results in providing little for the least among us in education, job opportunities, housing, health care, and further decline in families and community. It should have been called the Summit of Denial. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Poverty and the criminal justice system are intimately related

One of the most critical, yet often overlooked aspects of poverty in this nation is the escalating incarceration rate of American citizens. The Justice Policy Institute notes that since 1970, the number of incarcerated Americans has grown nearly eight-fold to a total of more than 2.2 million people today. In addition, nearly five million more American adults are currently caught up in the criminal justice system through probation or parole. This precipitous spike in the U.S. prison population coincides with this country’s war on drugs and is representative of a proliferation in America’s poor, which now counts more than 46 million people among its ranks.  

The link between poverty and contact with the criminal justice system is well established. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Your work self: values at work

Introducing a new column from a longtime MSR contributor



Now that you have started the journey toward self-sufficiency, you need to identify your values at work. Values are conditions and attributes which we consider necessary to our well-being and on-the-job satisfaction. When we think of what we value, words such as family, time and love often come to mind. When we think of what we value at work, compensation, salary, benefits, achievement and recognition are some words that come to mind. As you begin to identify what you value, ask yourself the following questions:


Why do I want to work? Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

How to be a community activist: just show up

While speaking at a local college, I was recently asked a question by a student that I felt I would answer publicly. I was asked what does one have to do to become a community activist and how do you maintain your integrity once you become a community activist. The student also reminded me that this column is 10 years old this year — boy how time flies. The next column will showcase the highlights and history of this column over the last 10 years. Now, onto the question. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Lawyers of color names Levy-Pounds one of the most influential law professors in the U.S.

University of St. Thomas School of Law Professor Nekima Levy-Pounds is one of the most influential young minority law professors in the country, according to media and research company Lawyers of Color. Levy-Pounds was named to the company’s “50 Under 50” list for 2014, which recognizes law professors of color who are making “bold contributions to the legal canon and the community at large.”

As professor and founding director of the Community Justice Project, the School of Law’s award-winning civil rights legal clinic, Levy-Pounds fosters and inspires up-and-coming lawyers to work to improve the lives of members of under-served communities and youths in the Twin Cities. Challenging laws and policies that hold back communities of color, she has carved her place in the local civil rights movement. With Levy-Pounds’ vision, the Community Justice Project developed Brotherhood Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that uplifts and empowers young African American males who have had contact with the criminal justice system, are involved in gangs, or are at risk of such involvement. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Black female strength coach a true rarity

Conclusion of a two-part column


If it’s hard being a Black female coach in any sport, it’s more than likely harder still for a Black female strength coach. Mia Erickson of the Mayo Clinic Performance Center in Rochester, Minn. was the only Black among the four-person sport science panel at the U of M Tucker Center Women Coaches Symposium in February. “That’s just the way it is on seeing [strength] coaches that look like me,” she admits. “First of all, I’m in a male-dominated field, so there are not going to be a lot of female coaches. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

A sports reporter’s spring notebook cleaning

Marlene Stollings’ second hire on her Gopher women’s basketball coaching staff is Nikita (Niki) Dawkins. She is a 23-year coaching veteran who has been a VCU assistant coach the last two seasons and held similar positions at Old Dominion, Michigan and Ohio State, her alma mater. In a released statement, Stollings called Dawkins, whose duties include recruiting coordinator, “one of the top assistants in the country.” She joins Tiffanie Couts, who Stollings named director of basketball operations. Couts was a grad assistant last season at VCU. The women are the only two Blacks on the staff. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Cookie Cart receives grant from Hennepin County to improve recycling program

Cookie Cart, a Minneapolis bakery and nonprofit organization, received a $10,000 recycling grant in January, along with 10 other Hennepin County businesses and organizations. Now they’ll be able to make environmental sustainability a strong aspect of their business and up the ante on their recycling programs.

In addition to selling delicious cookies, Cookie Cart helps youth ages 15-18 gain first-time work experience while learning important life skills. All cookie profits are invested back into Cookie Cart’s youth employment program. Cookie Cart is currently expanding and relocating their bakery, and they will use Hennepin County’s business recycling grant to improve their recycling system and implement an organics recycling system. Organics composting is great for the environment — recycling food scraps, food-soiled paper products and other compostable items. A recycling hauler picks up the collected organics from a business and brings them to a commercial composting facility. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,