It’s been awhile since this columnist has taken a look at entities in our community that are a part of making a difference. Most often you expect me to be critical, but I just provide the facts as I know them to exist.
The Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC) is committed to sharing authentic voices, experiences and stories reflecting our state’s increasingly diverse population. Working with schools and communities, I have known the MHC in partnership with the Council on Black Minnesotans and other entities to challenge presumptions and celebrate our common bond — all toward a vital and inclusive future for all African American and African Minnesotans.
It appears that members of the MHC are committed to building ever stronger partnerships within the African American Community. Some examples:
The Humanities Center’s partnership with the Givens Foundation includes its NOMMO African American Authors Series, which hosted poet and professor Elizabeth Alexander, who penned President Obama’s inaugural poem; the Black Writers Collaborative Retreat; and the 2011 Education Conference. The MHC also supports the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay/Spoken-Word/Poster Contest.
I have known the MHC to work in collaboration with Legacy-funded programming with the Council on Black Minnesotans to provide nearly $190,000 in grants to 10 African American and African immigrant-led agencies, including the Minnesota African American Museum, the Sierra Leone community in Minnesota, and Sabathani Community Center.
“Firsts: Minnesota’s African American Groundbreakers” aired statewide on TPT and featured Alexis Pate interviewing Sharon Sayles Belton, William Finney, Archie Givens Jr., Robyne Robinson, Arthur Blakely, Jr., and Linda Finney.
I for one will continue to watch the MHC in an effort to let you, my readers, follow the monies MHC receives to carry out their charge in our community and our people in the State of Minnesota.
I want to buy the St. Paul Urban League
Driving down Selby Avenue recently, I saw a For Sale sign on the Urban League’s grounds. Aw man, I wondered, what’s going on? I thought the Urban League was the only Black presence on Selby and Western these days, and now there’s a For Sale sign in front of the St. Paul Urban League!
It’s eerie. Being my inquisitive self, I ran a property check with Ramsey County. Afterwards, this curious brother ran a civil court check.
Did you know the St. Paul Urban League building is for sale? I would purchase the building; however, the City would not allow me to have a gun range in the basement. Another idea is to purchase the building and open up a fast-food place, but Michele Obama would not like this idea.
Perhaps one could buy the building and leave the name St. Paul Urban League with the added word “Bar” — the St. Paul Urban League Bar. No. Don’t want to put W.A. Frost out of business.
Bill and Willie Mae Wilson would prevent me from buying the building because these two are in court trying to prevent the sale. Hey, you two, did you know that the For Sale sign is in the yard?
I am going to talk with Raymond Jefferson, the board’s chairman. (The Jefferson’s, that’s it — I’ll buy the building and open up a dry cleaners. But back to Mr. Jefferson — he wants to sell the building in hopes of using the money to continue to provide services to community residents. Hey Jefferson, you won’t have a building to operate from.
Tell you what: Sell the building and, if the deal is right, I’ll let you build a new St. Paul Urban League building at our family’s location at Tiger Jack’s Corner. Talk about location, location, location.
As a teen growing up in St. Paul, I would often stop in the St. Paul Urban League. The SPUL offered inner pride being a Black male. Bill Wilson, Willie Mae Wilson and others always carried themselves with honor and competence.
What a sad story for the organization today. This generation will not have that building to walk into and talk with employees, strong Black people who some of us emulated in our self-esteem of being Black in a small Black community.
All kidding aside — if you did not know the SPUL building is up for sale, now you do. Is it wise to sell the building and use the money to start over, or is it better to hold on to the building when there is no money to support its existence? Good question.
As always, I ask the good questions. I shall follow up with a good answer. Stay in contact with my column.
Lucky Rosenbloom welcomes reader responses to 612-661-0923, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.