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 →
Local branch joins Doug Mann in Sports Authority law suit
One of the traditional strengths of the NAACP movement has been its shrewd planning for taking legal action against those violating rights of African Americans. When you think of the successes of NAACP legal redress committees, you think of such leaders as Walter White, Roy Wilkens and Thurgood Marshall, as well as such historic actions and legal milestones as the 1954 decision of Brown vs. Board of Education and Martin Luther King’s 1968 Poor Peoples March. The legal redress committee, a historic pillar of strength of NAACP branches across America fighting for African American civil rights, is seen once again in the local NAACP branch’s crafty move on the legal front to join the suit of long time NAACP member Doug Mann against the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) for its failure to meet its diversity pledge. With the appointment of long time local branch NAACP supporter Louis King to its executive committee, the trap door has been slammed shut on the MSFA. Continue Reading →
When Douglass Mann filed his motion with the Minnesota Supreme Court, early Friday morning, January 10, 2014, no one knew his motion was being sent to the State Supreme Court, raising serious constitutional issues with regard to the funding of the $1 billion “people’s stadium.”
As of the writing of this column, three days after the filing, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) did one of the most peculiar things in the modern legal history of Minnesota: asked to be a defendant in this landmark constitutional case, peculiar because one thing that never happens in America is for people to rush into court to be a defendant, especially when there are allegations of constitutional violations. Besides obviously believing they can’t/won’t lose, the MSFA is employing a shrewd strategy: requesting that the Minnesota Supreme Court impose a $50 million bond upon the Mann group to stop their pursuit seeking justice and fairness for the taxpayers of the City of Minneapolis, and, by extension, the taxpayers of Minnesota, The MSFA, in about 16 months or less, has gone through $74 million, including the $50 million in cash provided by Ziggy Wilf and the Minnesota Vikings. Before the Supreme Court does anything, it should require a forensic audit as to how the MFSA conducted its business from July of 2012 through December of 2013, and how it has spent its money ($74 million) and doesn’t have money to pay the bills due ($28 million) later this month (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board says one in three company audits have “high levels of deficiencies.” How high for government agencies?). The MSFA is paying more for the foreign steel they purchased than they are confirming, and have apparently consummated contracts that are $50 million beyond what they have ever had in their bank accounts. And Thursday evening, Jan 9, MSFA Equity Director Alex Tittle not only pointed out that 46 percent of current stadium work force were women and minorities (hard to believe), but that “to date more than $120 million have been awarded in contracts.” Really? Continue Reading →
What good is an equity plan with no follow through?
Liberals have become extremely proficient at making promises to the constituent base of people of color. The theme song is “come vote for me so that me and my people get paid to distribute a few tax dollars to you,” not “come fly with me to prosperity.”
Betsy Hodges, our incoming mayor, made the traditional liberal promises last Monday, January 6, 2014, in her inaugural. Under the guise of equity, the constituent base, people of color were told to wait on another five-year plan. The Soviet Union communist five- and 10-year plans were not funny. Continue Reading →
“The whole world opened to me when I learned to read.” — Mary McLeod Bethune
For decades, a workable relationship between organized labor and African American leadership existed in Minnesota. They do not necessarily speak with one voice, but, regarding financial consideration, they do. But for the last decade, this relationship has frayed, not in terms of financial considerations but in terms of standing up for real education for African American children. Legendary civil rights activist Nellie Stone Johnson clearly stated: no education, no job, no housing. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that although many Blacks were not qualified (lacking education and training), we are qualifiable through education and training. Continue Reading →
The ‘here we go again’ relevance for Black America
Young journalists stepped forward to warn again how we continue to lose our government to growing “Big Brother.” Thirty-year-old document leaker Edward J. Snowden has fled to a secret place. And 33-year-old journalist Michael Hastings was killed in a fiery auto crash in Los Angeles June 18, 2013. They have shocked the nation by exposing the extent of the secret crypt of America’s intelligence network’s surveillance abuse of American citizens. Black America is not shocked. It’s been part and parcel of our lives ever since the first Black foot stepped off the boat in Virginia, on through failed Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the 1920’s, on through to today, blocking our access and freedoms.
We especially remember the surveillance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders. Continue Reading →
Now through Feb. 17
30 East 10th St., St. Paul
651-292-4323 or www.historytheatre.com
Civil rights and labor activist Nellie Stone Johnson was a Minnesota hero. Her feisty spirit and drive to succeed made her a political force to be reckoned with on issues of social justice, labor rights, and equality. Renowned playwright Kim Hines tells the remarkable story of a young African American woman who moved from a farm in northern Minnesota to Minneapolis to attend the U of M.
Woke Up Black, a film by Mary F. Morten
Sat., Feb. Continue Reading →
Where is the long awaited/anticipated Equity Plan for the People’s Vikings Stadium, a plan to guarantee inclusiveness (all of “we the people”) in the development, construction and operation of the stadium? Inclusive means diversity (more than just one race). The lack of an Equity Plan mocks “inclusive” and “diversity,” as does stadium legislative language stating all that is required is “a best effort.” If this continues it will be the handwriting-on-the-wall warning of delays to the projected opening of July 2016, suggesting more than slight bumps in the road. The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights missed the city-council directed deadline for submitting the Equity Plan. The DCR then outsourced it to two individuals who work for the Metropolitan Council, who are doing it on a moonlighting basis as private contractors. Continue Reading →
The 2012 presidential election proves 2008 was not a fluke nor an accident. The 2012 election demonstrates the peril of all-White “dream teams” with mostly White door knockers in the field. When will the Republicans accept “representative democracy” on ballots and in the field as well as in voting booths? It was interesting to watch the red-faced and frivolous TV pundits scramble to understand, whether Fox News, CNN, MSNBC or the rest. The Republicans mixed up a special batch of snake-oil tonic in the first week of November 2008, after President Barack Obama won his first term. Continue Reading →
Kelm-Helgen’s civil rights history is a rich one
There are names and families that remain strong in the pantheon of the civil rights struggle for freedom and liberty for all in Minnesota, including such names as Newman, Johnson, Humphrey and Childress. Governor Dayton’s June 15, 2012 announcement of his three Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority members reminds us of another name and family of the Minnesota Civil Rights Pantheon, that of Elmer Kelm. The governor has appointed Elmer Kelm’s granddaughter, Michele Kelm-Helgen, as Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chair (Star Tribune, “New stadium head has deep political roots,” June 16, 2012). Michele Kelm-Helgen’s grandfather, Elmer Kelm, managed Hubert Humphrey’s first successful mayoral campaign, was chairman of the Democratic Party when it merged with the Farmer Labor Party in 1944, and had a very long relationship with both Cecil Newman, the founder and publisher of this newspaper, and with Nellie Stone Johnson, one of the great political leaders in the history of this state. Elmer Kelm and Nellie Stone Johnson, with Hubert H. Humphrey’s blessing, were two of the signatories of the Farmer Labor Party/Democratic merger in 1944. Continue Reading →