Mahmoud El-Kati

Recent Articles

Remembering Lillian Anderson, Minneapolis’ first civil rights director

Longtime friend Josie Johnson offers tribute to ‘a tough sister’
 

By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer

 

Asked which adjectives she’d use to describe Minneapolis’ first civil rights director Rev. Lillian D. Anthony, her longtime friend and former colleague Josie Johnson said “committed, determined and persistent” easily came to mind. A graduate of Lincoln (MO) University and an associate minister in the Presbyterian Church, Anthony passed away at age 88 on June 26 in Louisville, Ky. According to her obituary, Dr. Anthony “transformed her home into the first African American Heritage House Museum founded in Louisville.”

However, Anthony did this as well while living on Minneapolis’ North Side in the late 1960s, recalls Johnson. “She converted her home in ways like a museum. I had known Lillian for many, many years, way back to the 1960s. Continue Reading →

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Family contact with prisoners known to reduce re-offending

Community asks commissioner to remove obstacles to such contact
By Raymond Jackson
Contributing Writer

 

On April 24, Reverend Jerry McAfee of New Salem Baptist Church hosted an event introducing Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy and his staff to a listening audience greatly affected by the rules, regulations and policies of Minnesota correctional facilities. This was an audience whose cultural base is four percent of Minnesota’s population, yet from their community comes 50 percent of Minnesota’s incarcerated population: African Americans. The top three areas of concern were:

• a 10 percent increase in the surcharge applied to money sent to inmates,

• visitation and family contact, and

• educational opportunities for those incarcerated. Reverend McAfee, in his introduction and welcome, stated, “Our goal tonight is to get some information, to all of us, that tells exactly what the Department of Corrections does. Normally when we deal with the Department of Corrections it is from a negative perspective. Continue Reading →

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Local griot El-Kati tackles the delusions of race

 

Mahmoud El-Kati’s newest missive, The Myth of Race, the Reality of Racism: Critical Essays (Papyrus Publishing, Inc.), marks the latest crowning achievement of a brilliant, well-storied career as author, historian, scholar and community griot. It joins a canon that includes the highly entertaining The Hiptionary: A Survey of African American Speech Patterns with a Digest of Key Words and Phrases and Politically Considered: 50th Commemoration of the Supreme Court Decision of 1954, which, like the title says, is an informed look at the desegregation of public schools. You can, if you don’t know, catch El-Kati’s issues-oriented program Reflections and Connections on KMOJ Tuesdays at 6:30 pm. You can also swing by his Fourth Fridays at the Movies monthly screening of historic African American cinema at Golden Thyme Cafe in St. Paul. Continue Reading →

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Recently e-published writer ‘digs humanity’ Like Richard Pryor and James Baldwin, Dwight Hobbes speaks his mind

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Name the subject — any subject — and Dwight Hobbes will have something unique to say about it. After his writing appeared over the years in such publications as Reader’s Digest, Mpls/St. Paul Magazine, Essence and the MSR, Hobbes finally relented after being oft-asked when he’d write a book. “People kept nagging me,” said Hobbes recently in an MSR contributing-writer-to-staff-writer conversation. As a result, his Something I Said (Papyrus Publishing, 2012) contains previously published essays, along with a half dozen more added specifically for the book — 33 in all in an uncompromising, reflective, “candid, no-holds-barred” style — ranging over such topics as domestic abuse, rape, race and relationship issues. Continue Reading →

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Second Karamu forum draws engaged audience — One long-term goal: an action plan for the Black community

 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Organizers predict that by the time the “Karamu House,” a monthly forum series which began in June, concludes in December, an action plan for the Black community will be formed. “If we can leave here with an action step, and the next one we get another action step, by the end of the year we will have it tight and can institute [it],” commented St. Paul NAACP President Jeffry Martin after the second in a series of such meetings July 11 at Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Paul. The series will focus primarily on the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Continue Reading →

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Karamu House conversations launched to develop new Black narrative

 

 

By Vickie Evans-Nash

Editor-in-Chief

 

The second monthly Karamu House meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, July 11 at Camphor Memorial Methodist Church, 585 Fuller Ave, St Paul, from 6-8 pm. The event came together as a result of Professor Mahmoud El-Kati feeling that the community needs to have its own conversation around the events in history stemming from the first group of Blacks that landed on the shores of the North American continent as slaves and continuing through today. “Karamu is a Swahili word,” explained El-Kati, “and it means center of community life, place of festive enjoyment — both. It’s serious…and expressive. Churches symbolize Karamu houses. Continue Reading →

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Guthrie Theater’s smug and offensive “Clybourne Park” perpetuates the illusion of a “post-Civil-Rights” society

 

By Peter Rachcleff, Community Voices/Twin Cities Daily Planet

 

Clybourne Park is a significant play. It won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Drama and, in 2012, was awarded the Tony Award for best Broadway drama. A cursory glance over the schedules for regional theater in the past two years suggests that it is the most widely produced play in the country. The Guthrie has made a major investment in the play, from hiring a top notch production team and cast to building an enormous, complex set, and booking the play for a lengthy run of eight weeks. On the night I attended, most of the apparently full house (around 700) at the McGuire Proscenium Stage—almost all of whom were, like me, white—loved the play. Continue Reading →

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Dred Scott’s story a ‘springboard’ into authentic Black history

That in turn can help free both U.S. Whites and Blacks
 
By Charles Hallman Staff Writer   She always knew about them, but Dred and Harriet Scott’s great-great granddaughter says she’s learning more about them every day. Lynne Jackson heads the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation, and since 2007 she has been very active in ensuring that her descendents’ place in American history is fully recognized. In a brief MSR interview, Jackson explained last week during a visit to the Twin Cities why her great-great grandparents’ story must be told. “I think the Dred Scott case was so pivotal and so few people really know what it was, what it did, and how it impacted the nation,” she pointed out. “There are so many things about Dred Scott that is wrong. Continue Reading →

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MPS revising Black history curriculum

 

Mahmoud El-Kati calls for a ‘radical’ change to educating youth
 
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

 

Following two recent incidents that occurred at Minneapolis high schools — a Black doll hung by the neck from a string at Washburn High School and a cafeteria fight at South High School — Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Chief Communications Officer Stan Alleyne said, “There is a new level of intensity and urgency” around the importance of teaching Black history in the schools,

The two incidents are “about misunderstandings and about ignorance” of Black culture, said Mahmoud El-Kati, who has taught Black history classes at North High School for 18 years. “All children should learn the wisdom of Frederick Douglass, [W.E.B.] DuBois, Mary Church Terrill, Ida B. Wells and Mary McLeod Bethune, Martin [Luther King, Jr.] and Malcolm [X], and God knows how many [other] people we can call on who are very important in American democracy. These children haven’t heard their names, [as well as] too many adults.”

Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson was unavailable for comment, but Alleyne pointed out, “The superintendent has spoken numerous times on how important it was to take another look at what we are doing. We have to make sure that students are learning things that are important for them to learn.”

The current Minnesota K-12 Social Studies Standards has four key components: citizenship and government, geography, economics and history. Students in kindergarten through third grade are required “to master fundamental understandings” of social studies, then study North America geography (grade four), North American history (grade five), Minnesota studies (grade six), U.S. Studies 1800-present (grade seven) and global studies (grade eight). Continue Reading →

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South High food fight gives voice to Somali student’s frustrations

One student response to turmoil is to “mix it up” culturally
 

By Mel Reeves

Contributing Writer

 

“We don’t feel safe,” said 16-year-old Kowsar Mohamed, a Somali student at South High, during a recent press conference addressing the reasons for a Feb. 14 fight in the cafeteria of the school involving Somali, other African Americans, and Native American students. Her classmates surprisingly pointed out that their sense of insecurity extends to the Minneapolis police stationed at the school. “We were mishandled by the police,” said student Halima Abumunye. “I felt disrespected by the police. Continue Reading →

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