Most Minneapolis workforce hiring goals currently unmet

The City of Minneapolis’ workforce goals for construction projects involving City funds are 32 percent minority and six percent female. However, according to the latest monthly contract compliance report by the City’s Civil Rights Department, only two of 60 large construction projects have thus far met both goals. All others have thus far met one goal only or neither goal.

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Second Karamu forum draws engaged audience — One long-term goal: an action plan for the Black community

Organizers predict that by the time the “Karamu House,” a monthly forum series which began in June, concludes in December, an action plan for the Black community will be formed.“If we can leave here with an action step, and the next one we get another action step, by the end of the year we will have it tight and can institute [it],” commented St. Paul NAACP President Jeffry Martin after the second in a series of such meetings July 11 at Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Paul.The series will focus primarily on the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. “This is the 150th year anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, and we want to remind ourselves of that as a community. We [will] start every meeting talking about [one] aspect of it,” explained history professor Mahmoud El-Kati.“Let’s understand that document and how important [it is] not only to us, but also to the United States of America.” Not knowing this, especially among Black people, is “our fault and not the schools’ fault,” said the professor.Martin and El-Kati, who are co-facilitators, both pointed out that there is no set agenda at the Karamu forums. Several persons during the July 11 event brought up education issues for discussion.“The goal is that this is a community event and we learn from each other,” said Martin, an attorney. Continue Reading

Trayvon Martin: this generations’ Emmett Till? — Zimmerman verdict confirms broken judicial system for many Blacks

Organizers of Monday’s downtown rally in front of the Hennepin County Government Center estimated the peaceful crowd of all ages and ethnicities at between 3,500 and 4,000 people.“I’m supposed to be here with my people, elbow to elbow and cheek to cheek, side by side,” proclaimed local poet Tish Jones, who was among a host of speakers addressing the crowd before marching down South Sixth Street to Hennepin Avenue and returning to the Center. Another protest is scheduled for Saturday as part of a national day of protest over the Zimmerman verdict. (For more information about Monday’s demonstration, go to the MSR website at marches are being held all across the country. And despite last weekend’s jury verdict, the national NAACP has requested that the U.S. Justice Department resume its investigation in the Trayvon Martin murder case. After the not-guilty verdict was handed down last Saturday, over 100,000 persons signed within a 90-minute span an NAACP petition that the organization posted on its website.“The Department of Justice can still address the violation of Trayvon’s most fundamental civil right — the right to life — and we are urging them to do so,” declared NAACP President Ben Jealous after the trial that lasted three weeks. Continue Reading

Courageous Conversations program, used in some Twin Cities schools to lower suspension rate, confronts systemic racism in education

In the recent MSR six-part series on Black suspensions, several school districts — including Minneapolis, St. Paul, and several other Twin Cities area schools — indicated that they are using the Courageous Conversations program in helping to lower their suspension rates. To learn more about this program, we contacted San Francisco-based Pacific Educational Group (PEG) Founder and CEO Glenn Singleton, who recently spoke with us in an extended phone interview.“My team is excited about the work that is going on in the Twin Cities,” Singleton said. He founded PEG in 1992 and has authored two books: Courageous Conversations About Race (2006) and More Courageous Conversations About Race (2013). Over 80 U.S. school districts, including 15 in Minnesota, are clients.Asked what makes PEG a better resource than local initiatives or organizations, Singleton answered, “What’s unique about the Pacific Educational Group and the work that we are doing is we are unapologetic and explicitly focused on racial equity as the doorway to achieving overall equity in education. Continue Reading

With Minnesota health insurance exchange beginning in October, forums address widespread confusion on Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be in full force sooner rather than later, and U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison says every American will benefit from it. However, he sadly points out that there are “professional misinformation spreaders trying to confuse people” on the law.Approximately 30 people were in attendance at the July 2 NorthPoint ACA forum.Ellison held two separate forums on the ACA July 2, first with local small business owners at the Minneapolis Urban League’s Northside headquarters, then with community folk across the street at the NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center.The first was attended by around 20 business people, but none were Black business owners. “We certainly reached out,” said Ellison of this absence. “We have been in contact with a number of [Black businesses] already.”However, Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce (MBCC) President Lea Hargett last week told the MSR in a brief phone interview, “We [the Chamber] didn’t receive anything [on the Ellison event], but quite possibly some of our members may have received a notice.”She added that the MBCC a couple of months ago surveyed its membership for interest in learning more about the ACA. “Their primary comments were [that] they did not know how the changes would really directly affect their businesses,” Hargett pointed out. Continue Reading