Minneapolis Urban League

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Gregory Gray reflects on a lifetime of public service

By Isaac Peterson
Contributing Writer

 

“I think the one thing that links most of my career in public service has been some type of advocacy or support for communities of color and low-income communities,” says Gregory Gray, looking back at his many years of life and service in the public sector. Gray’s service has included stints with the Minneapolis Urban League, the Minnesota House Minority Caucus, Community Action of Minneapolis, and the Legislative Commission to End Poverty By 2020, as well as working with former Minnesota State Representative Neva Walker on immigration issues. Gray is currently serving as the chief compliance officer for the Minnesota Department of Human Services. At Human Services, Gray said, “I head up both the legal department — the internal audit department, our appeals area, our contracts and procurement department, the ethics office, the privacy office — and regulatory areas that hopefully keep the agency on the straight and narrow in terms of abiding by policies and procedures. “But at the same time, since I serve on the senior management team there, I get to have some influence over policy on those areas that I care about, whether it’s health care, issues relative to welfare, a variety of issues that still impact low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.”

One effort of which Gray appears to be particularly proud is the report issued by the Legislative Commission to End Poverty By 2020. Continue Reading →

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‘Now is the time’ to diversify the MPD

 Veteran officers campaign to bring more women and people of color into the Mpls police force
 

By Isaac Peterson
Contributing Writer

 

It is no secret that historically the relationship between the Minneapolis Police Department and communities of color in Minneapolis has been tense, at best. Between brutality, shootings, racial profiling and other problems, the tension has led to the creation of a civilian review board, and even at one point, to federal mediation. Yet the tensions continue. Minneapolis police officer Eric Lukes, a 27-year veteran of the force, is attempting to put into place a long-term solution to improve relations: recruiting more people of color to be on the Minneapolis police force. To that end, with support from the Minneapolis NAACP, Minneapolis Urban League, and the Community Standards Initiative, the first of an undetermined number of events was held Saturday, April 19, at North High school to generate interest in the community to join the force. Continue Reading →

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A silent campaign for the Mpls Board of Education election

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let life be breathed into the education debate. At stake are not only the lives of our children but also the prosperity and happiness killed by the poverty in our urban neighborhoods. I recommend that the following organizations hold at least three major Minneapolis School Board candidate forums, in May, July, and late September, 2014: The NAACP, the Minneapolis Urban League and the  African American Leadership Forum. They should commit themselves to an active and shared leadership role and no longer stand in the shadow of silence. With all of the pretense that goes on in the City of Minneapolis regarding education, you would think that three months into 2014, an election year, we would already be listening to and weighing passionate thoughts and policy recommendations to deal with the continued mis-education of children of color in Minneapolis public schools. Continue Reading →

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Marrow transplant recipient finds a way to pay it forward

By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer

 

Cherise Rachel Vincent isn’t merely a presence in the room. She commands it. A lithe 5’5”, fluidly articulate with a pleasant yet frank demeanor, she arrests attention with understated authority. Which comes in handy for her professional capacity as a public face at Be The Match. Specifically, she is associate human resources strategic business partner at the National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match. Continue Reading →

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Communities of color receive 750K to promote MNsure

Website frustrations may have ‘scared off’ some Black enrollees
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Open enrollment for MNsure, the state’s health insurance marketplace, closes March 31. Stairstep Foundation President Alfred Babington-Johnson said, “It’s important for MNsure to be able to reach into communities with a sense of uniqueness of those communities, and not some kind of generic, cookie-cutter application [process]. “The case we made was [that] we have a different story to tell and we need to tell that story,” said Babington-Johnson. “The end result is that African Americans need health care.”

Minnesota State Senator Jeff Hayden told the MSR that $750,000 was allocated by MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange, for navigators training: Stairstep ($100,000), Minneapolis Urban League ($100,000) and Pillsbury United Communities ($80,000-$100,000) were among several local organizations that were awarded funds. Babington-Johnson believes that “the most organic instrument in our community is the African American church — a natural access to our people. Continue Reading →

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Local civil rights leader Matthew Little passes

 

 

By Dwight Hobbes
Contributing Writer

Matt Little is gone, leaving a legendary legacy. He was widely renowned and will be well remembered as a Civil Rights Era icon who held a soul-deep commitment to empowering the African American community. Graduating North Carolina A&T State University in 1948, he relocated to the Twin Cities and, in 1954 became a board member of the Minneapolis NAACP, beginning a lifelong dedication to the organization. During his career, he was president of that chapter as well as president of the Minnesota state NAACP. Far from being a figurehead, Little was hands-on and counted among his most prized memories filing a federal lawsuit to integrate the Minneapolis Fire Department. Continue Reading →

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Confusion widespread on Affordable Care Act

 
Enrollment in new MN health insurance exchange begins in October 
 
 
 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be in full force sooner rather than later, and U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison says every American will benefit from it. However, he sadly points out that there are “professional misinformation spreaders trying to confuse people” on the law. Ellison held two separate forums on the ACA July 2, first with local small business owners at the Minneapolis Urban League’s Northside headquarters, then with community folk across the street at the NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center. The first was attended by around 20 business people, but none were Black business owners. “We certainly reached out,” said Ellison of this absence. Continue Reading →

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Family suspects police cover-up in Terrance Franklin shooting

 
Uncle says ‘crazed individual’ profiled in media is not his nephew
 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Something happened May 10 after he allegedly was earlier involved in a theft. Exactly what happened in the basement of that South Minneapolis house May 10, the day Terrance Franklin was shot and killed by Minneapolis police, remains a mystery to all but the police officers involved. Although the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) investigation is still ongoing, Franklin’s family still seeks answers to their questions nearly a month after his death. They question earlier police reports that say their son shot two MPD officers with a submachine gun. They also question the extent to which a racial element may have played a role in the man’s death. Continue Reading →

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Does Minnesota need a ‘13th’ grade?

 

 

By Donald Allen

Contributing Writer

 

The Minnesota House of Representatives have enacted a bill attempting to establish a “13th” grade pilot project based in north Minneapolis. The bill, H.F. 1149 is part of an education and employability solution for young adults who are unemployed, underemployed and not enrolled in postsecondary education. Co-authored by Senators Jeff Hayden (D-SD 62), Bobby Joe Champion (D-SD 59), Representatives Ray Dehn (D-HD 59B) and Will Morgan (D-SD 56B), the bill is said to potentially impact over 3,000 young adults ages 18-26, placing them on college and career pathways by 2015. It states the commissioner of education shall develop a one-year 13th-grade pilot project, with one site being operated by the Minneapolis Urban League. The “13th” grade proposal is problematic because a one-year pilot program is expected to eradicate generations of educational failures in poor minority communities and the parties involved seem not to understand Minnesota’s employability issues and current status of K-12 education [if any] in the Minneapolis and St. Continue Reading →

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