Fitzgerald Theatre debuts Human Potential conversations

‘Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline’ to be the first topic


the-human-potential-disrupting-the-school-to-prison-pipeline-october-25-minnesota-public-radio-s-fitzgerald-theaterMinnesota Public Radio (MPR) News is inviting the community to talk with them in downtown St. Paul. The Human Potential, a new conversations series on timely news topics and issues, will debut at the Fitzgerald Theatre Tuesday, October 25, at 7 pm.

It is intended as “safe and challenging conversations [with] the community as a whole, to look for a way to speak with empathy and hopefully be a rise to action to find solutions from an individual or collective standpoint,” explained Gregory Smith, the Fitzgerald’s business operations manager, in an MSR phone interview.

His involvement in the project, which Smith pointed out is expected to be held quarterly, is because part of his duties, which include community engagement. “I have been very focused on social justice and being an active part of the community,” he noted.

The invited panelists for “Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline” include Macalester College Professor Emeritus Mahmoud El-Kati, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell, Save Our Sons’ Founder Melvin Carter, University of Minnesota Assistant Vice President Shakeer Abdullah, Taska Welters, a community liaison with the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), and Minneapolis Public Schools Office of Black Male Achievement Director Michael Walker.

“The guests will come at it from their perspective, but the community isn’t asking the guests for answers,” continued Smith. “It’s about having everybody in that room engaged…to use their voice to propel the conversation forward. I think any time you can bring the community together on common ground, hopefully out of the conversation you can change minds.”

MPR News Metro Unit Reporter Brandt Williams is host of the October 25 event that is free to the public, although registration is required. Go to for more details.

“We are not going to solve the world’s problems in a conversation,” said Smith. “It is a catalyst for the audience [and] the community that is there and takes it out to the world.”


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