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Martin Luther King Jr.’s expansive dream

Rev.Monroesquare

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 →

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Project Sweetie Pie cultivates an urban farm movement

By Dwight Hobbes
Contributing Writer

 

It’s a tough call as to whether Project Sweetie Pie (www.projectsweetie.org) is the proverbial idea whose time has come or if its founder/director, irresistible force Michael Chaney, has brought his tireless tenacity and innovative industry to bear on the immovable object of social inertia. In October of 2014, Chaney told the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, on being honored by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, “Urban farming is a means to an end. It creates economics [as well as] a value system and work ethic within our community. “This serves as an antidote to the poison that we [experience] as African Americans, the mythology that the larger, dominant community tries to spread upon us of self-defeat, of low self-esteem. That we’re not capable.”

Project Sweetie Pie (PSP) encourages youngsters to literally get their hands dirty by learning how to plant gardens and grow food, in the process acquainting them with exercise out in the fresh air as well in entrepreneurship. Continue Reading →

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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 →

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Civil rights tour opened students’ eyes to Black history

 Spring break trip field trip encouraged thoughts of college, attending HBCUs
 

By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer

 

Over 40 Minneapolis Public Schools’ (MPS) Black high school students, instead of spending spring break on a sunny beach, traveled down south by bus on a “Civil Rights Research Tour.” The five-day tour (March 31-April 5) took the students to Montgomery, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia and stopped at several historic sites, including the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four young Black girls died in 1964. For some students, the trip also included stops at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Four of the participants spoke to the MSR last week about their experience. “It helped me learn more about my history,” said Edison junior Nailah Heard. “I never heard of the 16th Street Church at all,” added Edison’s classmate Jasmine Valentine. Continue Reading →

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Documentary highlights NYC street basketball

By Charles Hallman
Staff writer

 

The best basketball players often aren’t found in college or in the NBA, but on the nation’s blacktops. Using a late 1970s tune by the Blackbyrds as its overall theme, Doin’ It In The Park: Pick-Up Basketball, New York City accurately gives viewers a well-deserved look into pick-up basketball. Although they focused on the Big Apple, in many urban corridors, if you are a hoopster of any note, you will make or break your hoopin’ reputation on the blacktop. Many go on to star on high school and college teams; some even make it to the pros. Many others don’t — but that doesn’t make them any less significant in basketball circles — their streetball exploits will sometimes precede them. Continue Reading →

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Children shouldn’t receive a life sentence

My 99-year prison sentence started in Oak Park Heights, Minnesota’s only maximum-security prison. Built into the side of a hill, the prison has acquired the unsettling myth of being underground. Upon my arrival, I believed it was true. To enter the cellblock, I rode an elevator that slowly descended three levels. I felt condemned to a deep dungeon and thought I would never see daylight again. Continue Reading →

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