Charles Hallman

Recent Articles

A ‘hidden level of government’ few understand: county boards

Hennepin’s board lacks the diversity of those it represents
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Three of the seven Hennepin County Commissioner seats are up for election this November. If more people understood the importance of these positions, the Hennepin County Board might come to more clearly resemble the diverse population it serves. The MSR recently conducted an unscientific “barbershop poll” and learned that no one we asked realized that these seats were included in this year’s mid-terms, yet alone understood the commissioners’ influence on their everyday lives. Those individuals who responded asked that their identities not be made public. “We were just talking about we didn’t like the Viking stadium being funded by the public,” admitted one man, who added during his haircut that he didn’t know that the county board voted for it. Continue Reading →

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Dock Ellis a great, if flawed, American hero

Dock Ellis (1945-2008) was a good but outspoken teammate, a clubhouse cut-up who also had a substance abuse problem that some say kept him from being an outstanding pitcher.  Filmmaker Jeffery

Radice’s No No: A Dockumentary, which became available earlier this week on VOD and iTunes, tells the story of this “fascinating character.”

Prior to last month’s screening in Minneapolis, Radice talked about Ellis, a 12-year major league pitcher in the mid-1970s whose story largely has been told over the years, parts of it embellished by the man himself. “I became fascinated with Dock Ellis as an individual separate from baseball,” said Radice.   “What I found was that the truth with Dock was pretty close to what you heard about. He wasn’t a tall tale — he was a real individual. “He is a flawed hero in my story, but I think what’s so heroic about Dock Ellis is how he was able at a mid-point in his life to take stock of who he was as a man and adjust and make some changes…recognizing that he had a problem with his addiction and going out there and addressing it. Continue Reading →

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Generation Next tackles the achievement gap

Some educators feel left out of the conversation
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Solving current educational problems over the years, especially the achievement and opportunity gaps for Blacks and other students of color in the Twin Cities, has been attempted many times in some form or another with mixed results. However, leaders of “a powerful coalition” last week announced a multi-faceted plan that, if successful, could make a much-needed difference. Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak last Monday — exactly a week before the new school year begins in Minneapolis and two weeks before St. Paul schools open — stood behind the podium at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs and unveiled “an aggressive, comprehensive plan” by Generation Next, a local organization that he now heads. Target Corporation has consented to grant $1.1 million to Generation Next for this initiative. Continue Reading →

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Early Black Gopher athlete earned place of honor

 

If statues of an old sportswriter, a fictional television character, and comic strip figures can be put up all around town and at various sports venues, surely one honoring the U of M’s first Black athlete could be erected and installed outside the Gophers football stadium as well. History Professor Steven Hoffbeck, in a 2004 Minnesota History Magazine article, included several accolades he discovered in newspapers of the early 1900s: Bobby Marshall was called “one of America’s greatest all-around athletes.” The local Minneapolis newspaper in 1999 named him 51st of the top 100 sports figures of the 20th Century and 10th greatest in Minnesota state history. As a Minnesota Gopher football player, Marshall “catapulted into the realm of sports legends in Minnesota,” wrote Hoffbeck. His performance in a 1903 game against Michigan helped his school earn its second-ever Big Ten title. He once was carried off as a hero after he kicked a game-winning field goal. Continue Reading →

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Godzilla strikes again

Godzilla, a “radiation-mutated creature” who has been the star of several Japanese-based movies since the mid-1950s, typically stomps its way around smashing things until it is finally subdued. A real-life Godzilla earlier this month got even stronger, thanks to the NCAA. The NCAA board of directors voted 16-2 to give the Big 5 — Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12, the most powerful and richest collegiate conferences — the ability to “unilaterally change” rules that for years applied to all 350 Division I schools. Now 64 schools, including Minnesota, that currently belong to these conferences could, beginning in January, make up their own rules regarding stipends, recruiting, and practice time limits, for example. Even though all conferences will have this “autonomy umbrella,” smaller leagues like the SWAC and the MAC will be like those airplanes trying to shoot down Godzilla in those movies as the Big 5 will be

able to flex their muscles at ease. Continue Reading →

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McNair Scholars a pipeline for people of color into STEM graduate studies

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Eighteen students from the Twin Cities and Duluth University of Minnesota campuses, Carleton College, and Macalester College this summer participated in research projects in hopes to convince them to pursue graduate degrees in the various sciences. The students — first-generation college students, students of color and low-income students who have nearly completed their undergraduate course work — were participants in the U of M Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, a 10-week summer research apprenticeship program where students are paired with a school faculty mentor and also paid a $3,000 stipend. “Many of the McNair Scholars that I was in school with are now faculty members and full professors in higher education,” reported Dr. Katrice Albert, the school’s equity and diversity vice-president. “I think McNair is so important for building the pipeline of people of color, women, and other underrepresented fields, and [getting] first-generation students into the graduate pipeline.”

“The McNair program across the country is the premier research activity for students of color at the undergraduate level who want to go into largely STEM fields,” added U of M President Dr. Eric Kaler. “The success rate nationally is enormous. Continue Reading →

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What it takes to win in the ‘second season’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The 2014 WNBA playoffs officially begin Thursday: Minnesota hosts San Antonio in game one of the best-of-three first-round series. But actually, the regular season’s last couple of weeks have been playoff-like as post-season slots were still undecided going into the final week of action. “It is anybody’s game to win it this year. The competition has heated up,” observed Los Angeles GM and interim coach Penny Toler. She is one of only three Black coaches among the eight post-season field. Continue Reading →

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Mayors pledge racial equity

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The Twin Cities could be the nation’s best example for racial equity — so pledge the mayors of the state’s two largest municipalities. In welcoming the estimated 500-plus attendees at the August 5-6 “Convening on Racial Equity” at the University of Minnesota, both St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges told the audience that they are committed to addressing racial equity in all aspects of government and society. The two-day conference was co-sponsored by 10 governmental jurisdictions and over 40 local and national community-based organizations. “It is critically important that we leaders come together and work through every aspect of what we do in our cities and in our states to make sure that we are truly an equitable society,” stated Coleman. Continue Reading →

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Black aces remember how it was

A major league pitcher today, even if he barely completes the minimum five innings, pitches a “quality start.” “Back in our day,” says Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who pitched four of his 14 big-league seasons (1958-1971) for the Minnesota Twins in the mid-1960s, “a quality start for us was nine innings.”

Today’s lowered standards for starting pitchers sometimes baffles Grant and other retired hurlers of his ilk. “If they give you the ball to start the game, you want to pitch nine innings,” continues Grant, trying to not sound like a “we were tougher then” type of old-timer. Today’s pitchers are more specialist than workhorse, adds Ferguson Jenkins, the Hall of Famer who pitched for six MLB clubs in 19 years (1965-1983). Along with the typical four starters, “It was long relief and short relief when I played. There were nine pitchers on the staff when I broke in,” he points out. Continue Reading →

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Documentary to tell the story of Juneteenth

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Although Lee Jordan has been working on it for some time now, the local filmmaker’s recent meeting with a local film group virtually has confirmed that his preliminary plans for a documentary on Juneteenth have not been in vain. There are 43 states, including Minnesota, that annually celebrates Juneteenth in mid-to-late June, notes Jordan. It is considered the oldest known celebration that recognizes the end of slavery in the United States. Even though President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became official on January 1, 1863, some historians say that it was purposely withheld by slaveholders to keep their slaves on plantations in southern states such as Texas but on June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger read the executive order to the already freed slaves, who celebrated the news on “Juneteenth.”

Ever since, it was regularly celebrated for many years, then faded away during the Depression years. The Black holiday later saw resurgence in the late 1960s, and became an official state holiday in Texas in 1980. Continue Reading →

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