Minneapolis GED graduation sees record numbers

Last Thursday night, January 16, in front of a packed auditorium at Edison High School in northeast Minneapolis, 160 graduates walked across a stage to receive their GED. The GED, which stands for “General Educational Development” is a test that gives adults who never finished high school the opportunity to receive a high school equivalency credential.During the ceremony, five graduates addressed the crowd and shared a little about their personal journeys, including Ibrahim Muzamil, who recently wrote about losing his eyesight as a child, moving from his native Ethiopia to the United States in 2007, and his dedication to learning English and pursuing his GED.Several staff members from Minneapolis Public Schools participated in the graduation ceremony, including Carlye Peterson, Program Manager of Minneapolis Adult Education. She and her staff run the GED testing center in Minneapolis, where just under 900 individuals completed the test in 2013.Peterson said that she usually sees about 600 students take the GED per year, and the record number of test takers was probably due to introduction of a new version of the test, which began on January 1, 2014. Because of the new version of the test, students who had been enrolled in classes had to either finish the program by December 31 or start over on January 1. “It’s quite a motivator to get them to come back and take the test. Continue Reading

Karen community celebrates new year in Roseville

Dance and choir competitions were highlights of the January 4 Karen New Year Celebration in Roseville. The event also included a community resource fair, traditional foods and textiles, and a presentation on the Karen Community and their journey to Minnesota from Burma and Thailand. Choir competition included five different Karen Choir groups from St. Paul.

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Minnesotans protest verdict in killing of Trayvon Martin

UPDATED 7/16: Protesters marched through downtown Minneapolis, joining in a rally that connected the killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman to the police shooting of Terrance Franklin in Minneapolis. The Facebook posts collected below through Storify show images and reactions to the rally. The Facebook posts collected below through Storify show images and reactions to the rally.  Related stories:• BEHIND THE STORY | Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman: When will the cycle of racism stop? (Sheila Regan, 2013)• COMMUNITY VOICES | In the aftermath of Zimmerman’s acquittal, racial justice remains elusive (Nekima Levy-Pounds, 2013)• OPINION | Sidestepping race in Zimmerman’s trial only puts a bandaid on America’s racial wound (Lolla Mohammed Nur, 2013)• COMMUNITY VOICES | Zimmerman acquittal demonstrates that we can’t keep silent (Amber Jones, 2013)And add your comments at Talking about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman[If you don’t see the Storify photos and comments below, please refresh your browser window.][<a href=”//storify.com/ccerruti/hoodiesupmn-rally” target=”_blank”>View the story “#HoodiesUpMN Rally” on Storify</a>] Reporting for this article supported in part by Bush Foundation. Continue Reading

Minnesotans protest verdict in killing of Trayvon Martin

Hundreds of Minnesotans marched through downtown Minneapolis July 15, rallying to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin. The Storify below collects some of their statements and reactions. [If you don’t see the Storify photos and comments below, please refresh your browser window.][<a href=”//storify.com/ccerruti/hoodiesupmn-rally” target=”_blank”>View the story “#HoodiesUpMN Rally” on Storify</a>]
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Pet-a-Palooza 2013 in St. Paul

 Christina Cerruti visited the Pet-a-Palooza in St. Paul on June 29 and asked people to post their photos and comments. Here’s your story of Pet-a-Palooza 2013! [If you don’t see the Storify photos and comments below, please refresh your browser window.]  [<a href=”//storify.com/ccerruti/pet-a-palooza-2013″ target=”_blank”>View the story “Pet-a-Palooza 2013” on Storify</a>] Continue Reading

Twin Cities celebrates World Refugee Day

This year’s event was held at the Wellstone Center in St. Paul on Saturday, June 15th and featured several cultural performances, a resource fair, speakers, children’s activities, and food vendors selling authentic dishes from around the world. More than 95,000 refugees have been resettled in Minnesota over the past 30 years and this annual event celebrated many of their cultural traditions and communities. The 2013 Twin Cities World Refugee Day was organized by a number of local organizations that serve refugee and immigrant communities. For more information visit: http://tcworldrefugeeday.org/[If you don’t see the Storify photos and comments below, please refresh your browser window.][<a href=”//storify.com/ccerruti/2013-twin-cities-world-refugee-day” target=”_blank”>View the story “2013 Twin Cities World Refugee Day ” on Storify</a>]Reporting for this article supported in part by Bush Foundation. Continue Reading

Solutions Not Suspensions: Student summit organizes for school discipline changes

About a hundred middle and high school students from the Twin Cities metro area gathered at the Solutions Not Suspensions summit at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs of the University of Minnesota on May 11. They came to share their experiences with discipline procedures in their classrooms and to discuss how they think disciplinary action should be in their schools.“We want to give them the tools that will allow them to have informed conversations with people in positions of power at their school about what the discipline at their school looks like and how to make it more equitable,” said Brandon Royce-Diop of the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership (MMEP), who organized the event with his MMEP colleague Cymone Fuller.In addition to watching performances by spoken word poets and a presentation by youth advocates testifying to pass the Dream Act in Minnesota, the students spent the day absorbing facts and tips from speakers such as youth mentor and advocate Anthony Galloway, who outlined constructive ways youth can connect with adults at their school and get them to listen.Civil rights lawyer and law professor Nekima Levy-Pounds delivered a powerful presentation about the School-to-Prison Pipeline, which is a serious issue that impacts many young people of color. According to Pounds, the School-to-Prison Pipeline refers to what happens when children are suspended, expelled, given a citation, or in some cases even arrested for incidents that happen during the school day. Her presentation included outlining some rights that students have in school and steps students can take to protect themselves in disciplinary situations that may carry legal consequences.After placing calls from their cell phones to the District Superintendent for Minneapolis Public Schools demanding “solutions not suspensions,” the students broke into smaller groups for a “brain-releasing” session, where each group listed suggestions and concerns that they had in their schools and then shared those thoughts with each other. School Board member Richard Mammen was on hand during the session and encouraged students to talk to teachers and staff at their schools as well as their parents.  “I think (students) should expect the best. Continue Reading

Vikings stadium design revealed

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority has unveiled its design for a new Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis.The Star Tribune reports that new building will be nearly twice the size of the Metrodome, with an asymmetrical shape that mimics the prow of a ship or a jagged iceberg.The building facade will be made of metal panels and a glazed glass curtain wall. A walkway will surround the stadium, leading fans to and from stadium gates.Five 95-foot-tall pivoting glass doors at concourse level will allow fans to enter and exit a plaza that’s more than 2 acres in size just outside the stadium.The design by HKS Architects skips the much-discussed idea of a retractable cover in favor of a transparent glass-like polymer that will make up the south facing section of the stadium roof.KFAI’s Christina Cerruti talked about the plans with city officials, desginers and Vikings fans who attended the event. [Audio below] Continue Reading

Dr. Hawa Abdi, Somalia’s ‘Mother Theresa,’ keeps hope alive

Nobel Peace Prize nominee and author Dr. Hawa Abdi was in Minneapolis at the beginning of April as part of her national book tour for Keeping Hope Alive– a memoir about her life and work in Somalia. Named the Mother Theresa of Somalia, she has offered shelter and aid to thousands in her country since civil war began in Somalia in 1991. KFAI’s Christina Cerruti has this report. [Audio below]

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“New Jim Crow” discriminates against people with a criminal record

Minneapolis resident Manu Lewis has spent the past four years working to turn his life around and give back to society despite his criminal record. “I do a lot of volunteer work. I do a lot of community work,” he said. “I do a lot of organizing within the community that I reside in, but the fact still remains that society still sees me as a convicted felon. So no matter how much time I volunteer, no matter how many good deeds I try to do, I always have that stigma attached to me.” He looks to people like Michelle Alexander who are “trying to overthrow some of these policies that are keeping the community held hostage.” Michelle Alexander is an author, professor, civil rights lawyer and advocate, who has represented hundreds of victims of racial profiling and police brutality during her career. Continue Reading