Council on Black Minnesotan’s

Recent Articles

Fight for ‘health equities’ went to state capitol

By Brandi Phillips

Contributing Writer

 

Until recently, health equities has not been a subject in Minnesota that has received a lot of publicized attention. It represents the goal of groups working to address the health inequities that are well documented between communities of color and Whites in Minnesota. The Ad Hoc Roundtable is a group made up of subgroups that are interested in fighting against health inequities. Some of the participants in the Roundtable include members of the Council on Black Minnesotans, the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, the Chicano Latino Affairs Council, the Cultural and Ethnic Communities Leadership Council, the St. Paul Chapter of the NAACP, MICAH, HIRE, Isuroon, the Organizing Apprenticeship Project, and the Minnesota Tenants Union. Continue Reading →

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Dialogue now focused on how best to strengthen, not eliminate, state ethnic councils

No final decision expected until the 2014-15 legislative session
 
By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

As previously reported in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, the legislative audit of the Minnesota councils of color created quite a stir, containing criticisms of the councils as well as the governor’s office and the legislature for lack of oversight and guidance. The audit suggested four options for improving the operations and efficiency of the councils. One of the suggested options, placing the councils under the auspices of the State Department of Human Rights, seems to have attracted the most attention and the most support. Legislative Auditor James Nobles explained to us that the advantages of such a move would be that “You’re connected into the governor’s cabinet; the Commissioner of Human Rights is a member of the governor’s cabinet and formulates a policy and an agenda that the governor will get behind. And that’s pretty powerful… If you connect up with the governor and his agenda through the Commissioner of Human Rights, I think you’re going to get a little more power behind your message.”

Council on Black Minnesotans (COBM) Executive Director Ed McDonald disagreed, saying among many other things, “I think that what that would do for the councils is move it into partisan swings. Continue Reading →

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Moving from Tolerance to Allophilia:

Expand Human Rights Enforcement in Minnesota
 

By the Council on Black Minnesotans

Fifty years ago, on July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson displayed courage and innovation by taking the unprecedented national step to attack the heart of America’s close friendship with discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin by enacting the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Minnesotans such as Roy Wilkins, Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Vice President Walter Mondale played a huge role with bringing about this historic day. In fact prior to the passage of the civil rights act, Minnesota passed the Minnesota State Act for Fair Employment Practices in 1955, which prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, creed, religion, or national origin and in 1961 passed laws to prohibit discrimination in mortgage lending and in the sale, rental, or lease of real property. These acts banned discrimination and represented the beginning of the fulfillment of the hopes and dreams of many in the costly and painstaking journey to build a society with equal access and opportunity for all. It also provided an external control mechanism to move America from absolute prejudice to tolerance. Continue Reading →

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McDonald: Folding the Council on Black Minnesotans into the State Human Rights Department is a bad idea

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Last week, Council on Black Minnesotans (COBM) Executive Directory Edward McDonald responded to an audit release by the Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor’s (OLA) in March (See MSR April 17-23, “Director defends Council on Black Minnesotans: ‘We’re doing it’). Among the four recommendations the OAL offered to increase the effectiveness of the COBM was restructuring the council under the State Human Rights Department. This week, McDonald responds to this recommendation. “I think that what that [placing the councils under the Human Rights Department] would do for the council is move it into partisan swings. If there is a Republican governor, then the council more than likely will be supporting a Republican agenda. Continue Reading →

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Director defends Council on Black Minnesotans: ‘We’re doing it’

‘We’re growing our community. We’re determined.  We know we can do even more.’
 

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

In March, the Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor’s (OLA) released their audit of Minnesota’s four councils: the Councils on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, Black Minnesotans, Chicano/Latino People, and Indian Affairs. Last week the MSR spoke in depth with Legislative Auditor James Noble about his report. “We laid out four options,” Nobles said, “but what we asked is, ‘What option is not just maintaining the status quo?’ Because we think that the voices of these communities need to be amplified and heard more.” The options:

 

1. Continue Reading →

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State auditor clarifies intent: Make ‘minority councils’ better, more effective

Legislature, governor’s office partly to blame for problems
 
Second  of a  three-part story

 

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

In last week’s issue of the MSR, we detailed the points made by the Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor’s (OLA) in their annual audit of the four “minority councils” in Minnesota (See MSR April 3-9, “Audit questions need for Council on Black Minnesotans”). The report released last month, which was critical of the councils’ effectiveness, also included criticism of the governor’s office and the legislature which the councils report to. In response, Council on Black Minnesotans (COBM) Executive Director Edward McDonald said the report “appears to be nothing more than a veiled attempt to stymie the Council on Black Minnesotans’ civic engagement and the promotion of strong human rights enforcement in Minnesota.” The MSR subsequently spoke with State Auditor James Nobles at length about the four options the report offered to restructure the councils, which are:

1. “Maintain the four councils, but clarify their primary purposes; require them to adopt strategic plans, develop policies and procedures, and work more substantively with state agencies; and encourage them to become more involved in the appointments process and better communicate with the public;

2. “Restructure the councils by placing them under the [State] Department of Human Rights and requiring them to adopt certain operational changes;

3. Continue Reading →

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Audit questions need for Council on Black Minnesotans

Council director calls the report ‘flawed,’ its recommendations ‘a disgrace’
 
By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Earlier this month, Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) released its annual audit of the four “minority councils” in Minnesota. These councils — identified by the OLA audit as the “Councils on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, Black Minnesotans, Chicano/Latino People, and Indian Affairs” — were created between 1963 and 1985 by the State of Minnesota. They are, also according to the audit, “primarily charged with advising policy makers and serving as a liaison to state government.”

The audit report was somewhat critical of the councils. Following are conclusions from the audit of the councils:

• “Overall, there is little evidence that the state’s four minority councils have been effective advisors or liaisons to state policy makers

• “The councils have not been adequately integrated into state policy making

• Statutes set forth various duties [for] the councils…but the councils’ overall purposes are unclear

• “…the councils have done a poor job setting specific objectives and identifying outcome measures to assess the impact of their activities

• “There has been ‘little substantive collaboration among’ the councils

• “Communication between the councils and the organizations that work with their constituents has been inadequate”

The audit was also very careful to note that not all problems concerning the councils were with the councils themselves. The governor’s office and the legislature, under whose auspices the councils exist and operate, drew

criticism as well. Continue Reading →

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Minneapolis NAACP swears in new members

New leaders say their mission includes no time for negativity
 
 

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

The Minneapolis NAACP meeting, held on February 22, was the first membership meeting following the organization’s election of new officers in December. The sparsely attended meeting was a strange mix of business as usual, along with a bit of the unusual. Reverend Jerry McAfee, the NAACP’s newly elected president, started off the meeting by introducing new NAACP officers and committee heads to the membership. Of special note were Farhio Khalif, assistant secretary, who hails from Somalia, and Wintana Melekin, treasurer and chair of communications committee, also from Somalia. Each is the first from her country to hold a Minneapolis NAACP leadership position. Continue Reading →

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Celebrate and take action during Black History Month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Lucinda Jesson and Edward McDonald

Guest Commentators

 

 

Black History Month is a time to celebrate and recognize the rich accomplishments of African Americans. Many of the 311,000 Black/African American Minnesotans, including 76,000 African immigrants, have contributed significantly to Minnesota through strong cultural diversity, business development, consumer spending, government revenue, employment opportunities and trade relations with African countries. As we applaud the growing strength of African American communities during the month of February, we also encourage more families to adopt and provide foster care for children, especially the disproportionate number of African American children in the foster care system. One of the greatest memories an African American child, or any child can have, is the love and care of family. Of the 467 children in the foster care system in need of adoptive families as of January 1 of this year, 140 (30 percent) are African American — a disproportionately large percentage compared to the number of African American children in Minnesota. Continue Reading →

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