Recent Articles

A Sports Authority chair who understands the Black struggle

 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 →

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Our Vikings appear to be saved


But did legislators still leave the exit door to L.A. open?  

Because of our decade of columns and solution papers on saving the Vikings, especially in the last two years, I have received calls saying my column was instrumental in helping change anti-stadium votes to pro-stadium. Who can say? We are pleased the House and Senate bills for the new stadium are in conference, soon to be sent to the governor to sign into law. But it is not over yet. Continue Reading →

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Discontent erupts in early spring violence

MPD takes possession of Civilian Review Authority

On the international scene last year, the Arab Spring brought an offensive of hope for positive change in the Middle East, led by the young and unemployed. It also brought an offensive uprising of violence and confrontation by those wanting to dash hope and prevent needed change. Is this what’s in store for Minneapolis? My concern is not what happens with the 21st-century Arab Spring, but rather with the Minneapolis Spring of 2012 and the disturbing pattern of developing violence (drive-by shootings, gun battles in the street, White and Black youth fighting together and against each other in and through downtown). This is a concern for everyone, not just Blacks, not just Whites. Continue Reading →

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The road to re-election—The president’s State of the Union message




The president’s “A Blueprint for an America Built to Last” State of the Union speech, on January 24, 2012, was a brilliant send-off for 2012 voters. The president, well prepared, vision clear, broad and inclusive, offered for discussion to all voters a blueprint for continuing America as “built to last.”
The author of the book on corporations the president referenced, Built to Last, has since written on why “built to last” didn’t. This is why this blueprint is so important for America, so the oldest constitution in the world lasts. In a word, the president was pitch perfect for the group that will determine the election: independents. Whoever wins in November, regardless of party, will use much of this blueprint. Continue Reading →

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NCAA contenders looked like Black colleges

But they were not, nor do Black athletes or 
Black colleges share in the sport wealth

A week ago, tens of millions of Americans (with millions more around the world) tuned into the NCAA BCS national championship football game, played at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. A big game. And a big revenue generator. A great payday for all White colleges eligible to get their cut of the media and game-day millions. A big payday for White coaches dependent on winning records. Continue Reading →

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We still need help here!

African American children continue to die, and with them our spirits

On Christmas day, December 25, 2011, three-year-old Terrell Mayes, Jr. enjoyed Christmas and the love and warmth of his family. By the late evening of December 26, Terrell Mayes, Jr. was dead, the victim of the continuous, senseless violence that is tearing at the soul of our city. By Wednesday, December 28, politicians were trying to put a favorable twist on this tragic story. But there is no twist, no mirage, no Madison Avenue-driven theme, no so-called “closure.” Death is irreversible. And at three years of age, this child’s death will haunt family, friends and community for the rest of our lives. Continue Reading →

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2012: a year of decision, a year of danger

2012 for Black America could be one of the most decisive and dangerous years since the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and the turbulent days of the Civil Rights Movement (1950s and 1960s), regardless of which party wins in November. The conservative wing of American politics, so obsessed with defeating Barack Obama, has thrown their normal political caution to the winds. Before, for over 40 years, the left was seen as compulsive, irrational and careless. Danger: Both parties are not cooperating, just as in the period leading up to the Civil War and the period just prior to the Great Depression of 1929. Danger: According to the largest hunger report, “Hunger in America,” nearly 49 million people, one in six of the U.S. population and more than one in five children, were hungry or faced food insecurity at some point during 2010. Continue Reading →

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2011: preparing for the election of 2012


If 2012 is an extension of 2011, there could be hell to pay as both political parties continue their Year of Preparation to obtain the prize each seeks: the presidency of the United States. Each will work hard to defeat the other; that is the American way. Don’t get mad at that. I’m just the messenger to remind all about this American genius. It is not devious. Continue Reading →

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Some in Mpls City Hall are hostile to Blacks – Chief Alex Jackson is a target again


My Minneapolis beat continually exposes me to the fact that Black folks are really not liked nor appreciated in some circles in Minneapolis. The latest focus of City leadership is on our Minneapolis Fire Department because of its successful leadership by a Black man. Some in city government are determined to portray Fire Chief Alex Jackson as a negative example. Yet in my estimation, he has been one of the finest leaders in the history of the Minneapolis Fire Department (MFD). I should know, as I served a decade as one of six citizens presiding over the fire department for the federal court when the MFD was as discriminatory as the police department. Continue Reading →

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The three unforgivable sins of Herman Cain


Herman Cain disappeared in the first week of December 2011 as a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. I was not surprised. A little over a month ago, in this column, I said Herman Cain had to stop stepping on the banana peels. There have clearly been more banana peels than Herman Cain could tap dance around. In the tradition of a classic Broadway musical, Herman Cain danced and sang, but it wasn’t enough. Continue Reading →

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