Lissa Jones

Recent Articles

Sabathani appoints interim executive director

 

 

Sabathani Community Center has announced that Lissa Jones has been appointed as the facility’s interim executive director as the board launches an executive search. Her role will include providing executive-level support and conducting an organizational capacity assessment. Jones was deemed by Sabathani’s board to be uniquely qualified to serve in this capacity based on her previous experience and expertise. In addition to leading African American Family Services for 10 years, Jones’ core competencies include strategic growth opportunity development; learning and leadership development; budget management; resource development and grants management; and organizational effectiveness and capacity building. “Detangling organizational puzzles is my secondary love,” shared Jones. Continue Reading →

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Media justice activists develop racial equity pledge

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Nearly 50 persons attended “A Gathering for Media Justice” held last weekend at Hamline University for community members and local non-mainstream media representatives. Sponsored by Community Action Against Racism (CAAR), Main Street Project and KFAI-FM, the December 8 half-day “conversation-based” event discussed media justice issues with an emphasis on local mainstream media coverage of communities of color. “People came [to the Saturday event] because they have a real hunger to see things different,” said Main Street Project Community Organizer Danielle Mikali. “I think oftentimes we feel frustrated and we don’t know where to turn. “As a media justice organizer, but also as an African American woman and mother, too often I don’t necessary know where to look in terms of the really great independent media outlets that are sharing stories,” Mikali said of the various local media that were represented at last Saturday’s event: the Cities’ two Black newspapers, the Twin Cities Daily Planet “and even cable — there were some cable access show hosts that were here,” noted Mikali. Continue Reading →

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Chasing the tornado money

Fitz3.50

 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

and 

Jerry Freeman

Senior Editor

 

Almost immediately after the tornado struck North Minneapolis in May 2011, the Minneapolis Foundation established its Minnesota Helps Fund and raised $1,756,060 to assist Northside residents. Many other groups and organizations furthered the cause with food drives and fundraising events. On July 14, MSR began a series of stories called “Chasing the Tornado Money” with the following subhead: “Community individuals, local corporations and foundations have contributed well over a million dollars in donations, grants and matching funds to assist North Minneapolis residents affected by the May 22 tornado. Responding to questions from readers about where all these dollars are going, the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder decided to provide a community service by reporting, in the interest of transparency, on just where the funds have gone and how they have been used.”

One year and several “Chasing the Tornado Money” stories later, the MSR interviews three individuals representing three major contributors to the recovery effort — the foundation, the participating community organizations, and the Northside Community Response Team — on how they now view the work completed and the relief provided to storm victims through funds totaling more than $2 million.  

The Foundation

“Our fundraising efforts were really concentrated on the first year [of the recovery],” reports Minneapolis Foundation Grantmaking and Special Projects Director Jo-Anne Stately. Continue Reading →

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Waste disposal poses pollution threat to Northsiders

 

 

 

 

 

News Analysis

By Lissa Jones

Contributing Writer

 

Proposals are currently under consideration to significantly increase emissions from Minneapolis polluters that have a disproportionate impact on low-income communities of color such as those in Phillips and on the North Side. On April 3, several community organizations sponsored a “Reality Check” on air and water pollution at Kwanzaa Community Church to discuss the potential impact of the proposed increases on the health of these neighborhoods and the people who live there. The event flyer invited the community to “hear about the status of Northern Metals and HERC (the garbage burner) in North Minneapolis and how their emissions may impact your health.” About 25 people were in attendance, including State Representatives Karen Clark and Joe Mullery, as the panel presented their findings and concerns to the group.  

 

 

 

The panelists were Jeff Skrenes of the Hawthorne Community Council; Lea Foushee, environmental justice director with the North American Water Office, a nonprofit organization chartered in 1982 to educate people about solutions to environmental problems; Lara Norkus-Crampton, a nurse, garbage burner activist, and former planning commissioner for the City of Minneapolis; and Beverly Propes, a public health nurse. Their presentations covered the status of the legal work on Northern Metals; examined the correlation between the pollution emissions and health outcomes for children attending school in the affected neighborhoods; reviewed studies from across the world detailing the health effects of pollution emissions on communities with incinerators; and looking at alternative solutions through the lens of a community organizer. Continue Reading →

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From tragedy comes a demand for change

 

 

 

The murder of Trayvon Martin is a horrible reality that the people of the village are almost desensitized to, as murder isn’t an anomaly for too many of us. At the same time, like the deaths of Malcolm and Martin, Trayvon’s death has become a symbol of unity even as it has showcased the centuries-old flaws in the U.S. “justice” system. People — vanilla, cinnamon and chocolate brown — have banded together over this tragedy at the University of Minnesota and across the United States. Chaka Khan called some of her friends to sing a tribute to Trayvon Martin, each singer donning a hoodie. Babies wearing signs asking, “Am I suspicious?” flood Facebook pages across the world, and more profile pictures than I can count are of people wearing hoodies in solidarity. Continue Reading →

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Wake up! We’re still invisible!

 

 

“There is one thing you have got to learn about our movement. Three people are better than no people.” – Fannie Lou Hamer

 

Last night’s “Urban Agenda” radio show was one of those that unfolds as it is in motion, a potpourri about what is going on in the village and across the world, and the people who called in made it sing. It was clear to me that the few, Fannie Lou’s handful, who have committed themselves to the struggle for human rights need the people of the village to stand up so they can keep fighting. The pain in the voices of a few callers was evident — weary from struggling not only with systems rooted in the prisons of race, but weary from tussling with our own community about trying to do right. I asked in an earlier column about what you might say if Malcolm or Martin were to turn to you and say, “Your turn.” I am saying to you, it’s your turn. Continue Reading →

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Our history is the shield of our resistance

 

A month or so ago, a wonderful woman reached out to me on Facebook to invite me to a screening of the new documentary Slavery by Another Name. It so happened that I saw the chance to preview it tonight as I was thinking about what to offer in this column. It documents powerfully, painfully, magnificently the history of the Negro/African American, and it tells the truth about this country’s planned, systematic economic segregation of Black people. This week, to my dismay and surprise, I heard a show on our radio station talking about how our young people don’t want to know our history. What are the consequences, real-life consequences, for that lie? Continue Reading →

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Book shines with stories of the Great Migration of Blacks to the North

 

 
A book review
By Lissa Jones

Contributing Writer

 

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (Random House, 2010) is authored by Isabel Wilkerson, the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize (1994), and the first African American to win the prize for individual reporting. In this work, Wilkerson makes the story of the Great Migration, a Black movement that changed the face of the United States of America, come alive. The title, the author advises, was inspired by none other than another Black legendary great, author/poet Richard Wright: “I was leaving the South/To fling myself into the unknown/I was taking a part of the South/To transplant in alien soil/To see if it could grow differently/If it could drink of new and cool rains/Bend in strange winds/Respond to the warmth of other suns/And, perhaps, to bloom.”

Wright’s poem oozes the essence of Wilkerson’s work in this novel — Black people, many of them sharecroppers, almost all barely able to afford a ticket North, resisted anyway. Literally at risk of death they packed up everything they could carry and went North hoping for a future free of the devastation of the segregation in the Jim Crow South. Wilkerson tells this tale so vividly, and she makes it personal — she tells the story through the lives of three of the brave souls who helped change the face of this nation: Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, Robert Joseph Pershing Foster and George Swanson Starling. Continue Reading →

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What you can do to preserve Black history — and why you should

 

 

”When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. Continue Reading →

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Women ADVANCE to take the lead

 

 
A primarily Black Urban Women’s Movement is officially launched
 

By Vickie Evans-Nash

Contributing Writer

 

On Saturday, January 21, approximately 200 people — overwhelmingly women, predominantly African American, with a sprinkling of men such as U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison — met for the Urban Women’s Movement kickoff. Leadership in the Twin Cities, even within communities of color, has been predominantly male. The Urban Women’s Movement seeks to change that dynamic. The movement came about after a discussion between the president of the movement, Lissa Jones, host of KMOJ’s “Urban Agenda,” and Trayshana Thomas, co-chair of the event and formerly of Rep. Keith Ellison’s office, about the fact that there are no local or state-level politicians who are addressing issues of urban communities. The mission of the Urban Women’s Movement is to begin engaging women in the political process well before entering a voting booth, “so that we are shaping the ballot rather than responding to it,” Jones said. Continue Reading →

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