Council on Black Minnesotan’s

Recent Articles

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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Adoption celebrated during Black History Month

During February, Black History Month, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the Council on Black Minnesotans, and several nonprofit and community organizations are working together to encourage families to adopt children waiting in the foster care system, particularly African American children who are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system. “All children need safe, stable, loving homes to thrive,” said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “During Black History Month, we are celebrating the African American families who have adopted and encouraging other families to consider adoption. We, along with our community partners, are here to provide support before, during and after adoption.”

Added Edward McDonald, executive director of the Council on Black Minnesotans, “As we celebrate the rich history of African Americans during the month of February, let us also use the month to begin doubling our efforts for the remainder of the year encouraging more African American families to adopt and provide foster care for children who are wards of the state, especially the disproportionate number of African American children. The greatest historical remembrance an African American child, or any child, can have is one that is highlighted by the love and care of a family.”

Throughout February adoption-specific events include:

The Minnesota Heart Gallery is featuring foster children in need of adoptive families in its large lobby display at the East Side Neighborhood Services Building, 1700 Second St. Continue Reading →

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The MSR 2013 year in review

The local Black press continues to publish stories “from our own lens”

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

This year, 2013, was historic as well as a year-long full of highs and lows: Two MSR reporters were among the national and international press that covered America’s first Black president’s second inauguration in January. Said Atlanta Daily World reporter Kenya King, a member of the Black press who was covering the Obama inauguration for the second time, “I’m here to capture…the moment of this historic occasion [and] to make sure that the message that should get across, does get across.”

A ‘new Black agenda’ was discussed by the Council on Black Minnesotans and others during the organization’s Lobby Day at the State Capitol on March 19. The MSR asked several Blacks in attendance that day if they felt new voices and perhaps a new message is needed from Black Minnesotans. “I think it is time for new voices to be heard,” believed Greater Friendship Missionary

Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Billy Russell in our March 28 front-page story. The MSR also continued its coverage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the introduction of MNsure, the state’s new health-insurance exchange program and how the new healthcare law will benefit Blacks. Continue Reading →

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Black Minnesotans lobby at the State Capitol

Can the new ‘Black agenda’ move the community forward? 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


There was nothing new revealed last week during the Council on Black Minnesotans (COBM) Lobby Day at the State Capitol presenting their Black agenda to this year’s Minnesota Legislature. Billed as “Black Minnesotans Helping Move Minnesota Forward,” around 50 people listened on March 19 at the Capitol Rotunda to over 20 scheduled speakers before many of them visited legislators’ offices. “The last two years there was a collective group that sat on this African American lobby day, and this place was filled,” noted Rev. Jerry McAfee, who added that the COBM “didn’t reach out to anybody else. If this is about Black Minnesotans, why are you leaving Black folk out?”

Although McAfee didn’t blame the council’s new executive director, Edward McDonald, for the seemingly solo effort in planning last week’s event, the longtime pastor nonetheless added, “Some of the people around him on the council knew about it, and they should’ve said, ‘We will be stronger if we put everybody in together.’”

McDonald was hired and assumed the COBM executive duties last October. “Whether we like them [organizations that represent Blacks] or don’t like them, every African American group should have been a part of this, and there should have been meetings prior to this so that there could [be] one agenda. Continue Reading →

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Council on Black Minnesotans has new director, new agenda, new vision to get beyond tolerance






By Vickie Evans-Nash



In October 2012, Edward McDonald was appointed director of the Council on Black Minnesotans (COBM). The process began when he was approached by friends and colleagues who thought he would serve well in the role. Raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and completing his undergrad studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1980, he received a post-graduate degree as a legal assistant and completed his graduate studies at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government. He returned to the Twin Cities in the early ’90s, working as public policy manager for Family and Children’s Service. Now married for 32 years with two adult children, he has lived in Oakdale, Minnesota since 1994 but says he is not disconnected from areas with a larger population of people of African descent. Continue Reading →

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Racial Equity Report Card and legislative agenda announced

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


The Organizing Apprenticeship Project (OAP) called January 30 for a statewide racial equity agenda. It was introduced along with the organization’s seventh annual Racial Equity Report Card during a rally at the State Capitol. “This agenda is not controversial but rather a multiracial and multi-issue group of community leaders working for racial, cultural and economic justice,“ said Phyllis Hill of ISAIAH, one of the 50-plus organizations that support the OAP’s plan. “I think we can turn our state around,” she believes, if more attention is given to such important issues as health care, education, economic opportunities, housing and justice issues as they affect Blacks and other people of color. Such an agenda is important now more than ever, noted Minneapolis School Board Member Kim Ellison. Continue Reading →

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We need more Black women leading our organizations

In my last column, I asked a very good question: What is Black leadership? I asked a good question; therefore, I’ll provide good answers. As promised, part two follows, and the pleasure of reading will be all yours. All right — got my humor out of the way. The Council on Black Minnesotans (CBM) will serve its people well by having the courage to hire a Black woman as its new executive director. Continue Reading →

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