I offer my apology for the Council on Black Minnesotans (CBM) board members who decided to walk out on community members who were expressing their concerns about the CBM at the February 2011 board meeting. Prior to the meeting, I sent an email to board members directing that we show no vitriol towards our guests and community members.
For no real reason, board members moved to adjourn the meeting because Rev. McAfee, Bill English, Rev. Staten and others were attempting to ascertain reasons why the CBM rejected Staten as a speaker at the 2011 MLK event. I and other members strongly disagreed with other members to adjourn the meeting.
I demanded a roll call. My reason for asking for a roll call was to sustain individual integrity and accountability. Those members who voted not to shut the door on our community members bringing constructive criticism to the CBM represent an icon of leadership that is willing to listen, accept and respond to the concerns and/or criticism brought by valued members of our community.
The community should demand from the CBM the names of those members who voted to shut the door on the constituents that we are charged to represent. Has this ever happened in the history of the CBM?
I can find no logical reason for ending the meeting. The community members that were asking questions were entitled to direct answers, which a few board members dodged answering by limiting time and quickly moving to another guest without answering the previous guests’ questions. The community members felt as if they were being disrespected.
I was present. I agree that our community guests were disrespected by a few board members, the same that would later walk out. The members of our community were well prepared with direct questions and their overall presentation. Mr. Staten was polite and started his comments off using the theme of healing.
This is a poor message for the CBM to send to our community. Come to the CBM board meeting, challenge us, make us feel insecure, and we shall save face, act like cowards, and if you don’t leave when told we will leave for you.
Lester Collins, CBM director, had the courage to provide our guests with a letter, whereby a board member made some evil and cruel statements about Mr. Staten. Each board member who voted to walk out ought to be ashamed of themselves and their conduct to end a meeting, close the door and tell our constituents, our pastors, men and women, to go to hell.
All the guests wanted at this board meeting were answers. I am demanding we invite these community members back and offer a meeting not about the CBM’s Hitler-type control, but our willingness to facilitate, validate and respond to their concerns. I would be honored to facilitate such a meeting.
Police called to CBM
After the meeting, I and other guests heard what we thought was a fight in the hallway. We ran to the scene expecting to separate fighting board members. Upon arrival, one board member was shaken, appeared afraid, and indicated that the chair of the CBM made threatening actions towards her person.
The board member called the police. Because the police took too long to arrive, the member left but later called St. Paul Police and made an incident report regarding the chair’s threatening behavior.
In our December board meeting, a Board member distributed pages of negative information regarding Mr. Staten relevant to his past criminal record. Board members were led to believe that current issues with respect to Mr. Staten would make him a poor choice to speak.
Well, we have learned that the issues were over 20 years old, and there are no current matters. This being said, if the Board rejected Mr. Staten for past criminal matters, we ought to use the same standards to ask the CBM chair to remove herself from that position until the current police incident is resolved. Anything else would be hypocrisy.
The chair is a public person who has indicated she will bring legal action because of my telling the truth, disclosing the police report, and demanding her resignation for adjourning a meeting on community members and talking about the Police Report. My response: See you in court.
After this column, watch the CBM walk-out board members follow up with editorials. Keep in mind that a true leader has nothing to hide. What were you afraid of by walking out?
I am willing to talk with any group regarding these events.
Lucky Rosenbloom welcomes reader responses to 612-661-0923, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.