Twin Cities ‘Voices of the Civil Rights Movement’ honored

VOCRM honorees
VOCRM honorees (l-r) Phyllis Rawls Goff, Harry “Spike” Moss, Debbie Montgomery, Dr. Josie R. Johnson, former Minneapolis Mayor, Sharon Sayles Belton, Toni Carter, Melvin Carter, Jr. and Mahmoud El-Kati Courtesy of Comcast NBCUniversal

Twin Cities leaders who have acted as civil rights champions to shape the state’s collective history are now part of a living multimedia library created to document the movement.

Attendees gathered at the Minnesota History Center to honor St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Dr. Josie R. Johnson, former Minneapolis Mayor Sayles-Belton, Mahmoud El-Kati and Harry “Spike” Moss for their contributions, ranging from fair housing to voter registration.

The five are now part of the “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement” (VOCRM) platform, which is curated by Comcast NBCUniversal in collaboration with the Equal Justice Initiative.

“The Twin Cities were not immune to the ire and intensity of racial discrimination,” said Ebonne Ruffins, vice president of local media development for Comcast “Minneapolis and St. Paul civil rights leaders set a clear tone for effective lobbying and activism that was often replicated in states outside of the Midwest.

“The premiere of five ‘Voices of the Civil Rights Movement’ segments from the Twin Cities highlights the impact of this region — fair housing, voter registration campaigns, impassioned activism, overcoming discrimination, and choosing love during trying times,” she said.

Ebonne Ruffins
Ebonne Ruffins Courtesy of Comcast NBCUniversal

Ruffins first introduced the initiative in 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech became a rallying cry for America’s Civil Rights Movement.

It now stands “as a series of first-person interviews with participants from the march who could best describe their experiences before, during and after one of the most seminal civil rights events in American history,” said Ruffins. With more than 16 hours of video content, she said, “[It] is among the largest and furthest reaching multimedia civil rights platforms of its kind.”