The forecast may have called for scattered showers, but for the third year in a row, the rain was held at bay as the Legacy Boat Cruise set sail for a four-hour cruise down the St. Croix River on August 5.
The cruise, sponsored by the Medtronic Foundation, featured a buffet-style meal with salad, lasagna, and roasted chicken and potatoes, and a Sister Spokesman Small Business Showcase featuring local vendors. The event also featured a mix of uplifting and sultry numbers from R&B singer Mike De’Cole; old school and R&B jams DJ’d by KMOJ’s Walter “Q Bear” Banks and Lazy T, and line dancing by Phyllis “Showtime” Braxton, who kept the crowd moving.
The Legacy Boat Cruise was launched in 2015 in honor of the 80th anniversary of the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder newspaper — the oldest Black-owned publication in the state of Minnesota. This year’s cruise served as a fundraiser for the Spokesman-Recorder 501 (c) (3), the nonprofit arm of the newspaper, which houses two programs: the annual Graduation Celebration and monthly Sister Spokesman events.
A portion of the proceeds from this year’s cruise go toward the Cecil E. Newman Scholarship Fund. Newman is the founder and former publisher of the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder (MSR). Granddaughter and current publisher of the MSR, Tracey Williams-Dillard, created the scholarship in Newman’s honor to help further the higher education goals of select graduating seniors, in conjunction with the annual Graduation Celebration.
“The graduation event is in its 12th year,” Williams-Dillard said. “We recognize African and African American graduating seniors; give out scholarships and provide [a free meal at the event]. We do it for the families of the graduating seniors, the community, and the educators and sponsors, to help recognize and support these young people and salute them on their journey.”
Sandra Freeman, an attendee and loyal supporter of monthly Sister Spokesman events, stated that she has supported the Legacy Boat Cruise since it started, and more people should be aware of the oldest African American business in Minnesota. “One of the things that always concerns me, in particular, is that African Americans do not know about the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, or do not support it,” Freeman said. “I support Sister Spokesman because [the activities they provide] are my getting out time.”
Freeman also stated that she shows her support with her pocketbook. “I support small businesses, and this is still considered a small business. We find money to do the things we want to do, concerts, leisure life, etc. I support this college endeavor in the name of Cecil E. Newman.”
Dr. Jacob Gayle, vice president of the Medtronic Foundation, expressed the role of leadership Newman established. “Today we celebrate in memory of Cecil E. Newman, and the role he has played not only for this newspaper, but for media and journalism across this country. I am honored to represent the Medtronic Foundation and our partnership not only with the MSR, but with the scholarship as well. “
In a display of even further solidarity, Gayle added, “This is from me not Medtronic — in the days of fake news, thank you MSR for keeping it real.”
Entertainer Mike De’Cole stated that he attended the cruise not only to perform, but to support the MSR. “I was personally invited through Q Bear. I sung at a [Sister Spokesman] event last year, and [Tracey] loved my voice and told me about the boat cruise.
“I jumped at the chance and I am honored to be here. I’m also going to make it my business to support the paper since they support me,” he said.
The cruise ended on a high-note with prize giveaways and performances from De’Cole and an energetic dance line routine from Braxton.
Ivan B. Phifer welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org. See video highlights and more photos below.