Associate Supreme Court justice retires August 7
Justice Alan Page has been a life-long success model (high school star athlete, university all star defensive end and consensus All-America at Notre Dame, NFL first-round draft pick, Vikings All Pro defensive tackle, MVP, NFL Hall of Fame).
Nonetheless, as a young man, Alan Page wanted to be an attorney and be on the state Supreme Court. He earned his law degree while playing for the Vikings.
As he stated in 2005, “The lessons that I learned from professional football were many: hard work, discipline, focus, the ability to analyze a problem and work through it. To accept that you don’t always win and when you do win that doesn’t change who you are.”
Throughout his life, Justice Page has served as a role model for young men and women, demonstrating that education matters, as it leads to jobs and careers for those who follow that path. I still remember a wonderful luncheon meeting at the Riverview Supper Club with then-Governor Rudy Perpich, Nellie Stone Johnson (DFL co-founder), Elmer Childress (master electrician, labor leader, and the only African American to serve as commissioner of MN Veterans Affairs), and Leon Rankin (master electrician, contractor, community advocate, most effective labor movement organizer, and devoted family man).
The purpose of the luncheon was to recommend four African American attorneys to be considered for appointment to Minnesota courts. The four outstanding African Americans we recommended to Governor Perpich all went on to make their mark as judges: Michael Davis, Pam Alexander, Lejune Lang, and Alan Page. Three were later appointed to the Hennepin County District court bench. Alan Page later joined the Minnesota Attorney General’s office.
As Insight News wrote, February 19, 2015, we formed “a highly effective advocacy and civic change movement,” being “civil rights freedom fighters [who] formed the core leadership group of the legendary Minneapolis Urban League Board of Directors” that “in the mid-1970s, gave rise to the MUL national reputation as audacious, relentless, progressive and effective.” When will we get a group like that in Minneapolis for the 21st century?
Alan Page translated the intelligence, hard work, speed and quickness with which he played football to the law. When Alan Page let it be known in 1992 that he sought a seat on the MN Supreme Court, new Govenor Arne Carlson tried to block him, even though he had the support of former Governor Perpich and a significant segment of the African American and White communities. Alan Page challenged the block tried by Governor Carlson, taking on the established order just as he did with so many running backs and quarterbacks. And, in Thurgood Marshall style, he tackled the block.
He won. History was made. He became the first and, so far, only African American to sit on Minnesota’s high court.
We now take the opportunity to thank Justice Alan Page for his humanity, for his commitment to law and justice, and to thank those four African Americans and the governor of the state of Minnesota who saw the value and importance of recommending and supporting Judges Davis, Alexander, Lang, and Page.
This column’s goal and commitment is to make sure history is preserved as is the success of the African American community in championing those who clearly have made a difference while also showing that not just Whites can make it to high positions. Justice Page will continue in retirement to pursue making Minnesota a better place to live and matter.
Thanks Judge Page for a job well done, enabling us to pursue focus, dignity, integrity and humanity.
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