OPINION | New president renews Mpls NAACP’s commitment to justice

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I would like to start off by briefly re-introducing myself to those who may not know me. I was born and raised in Minneapolis, particularly North Minneapolis.

I have been a member of the NAACP since I was 16 years old. I used to produce several public affairs television shows on public access television and write a bi-weekly column for this newspaper. I want to use this introductory column to inform the community about what has been happening with your Minneapolis Branch of the NAACP and to reintroduce our branch to the community.

Over the past four years, the branch has been rebuilding after drudging through a very continuous conflict that almost destroyed the branch.

President Emeritus Duane Reed spearheaded a successful effort to restore the branch to a position in which it could effectively address issues that concern the community. If it were not for the efforts of Duane Reed, the Minneapolis branch of the NAACP would be in a state of dormancy.

The NAACP is an all-volunteer organization, meaning no one gets paid one dime for what they do for the organization. Our income is based solely on memberships and the annual fund raiser that we are supposed to conduct. The Minneapolis NAACP does not have paid lawyers on staff, but we do have a Legal Redress Committee that consists of volunteer lawyers.

Again, let me say no one gets paid — we are ALL VOLUTEERS. The focus of the NAACP tends to be more macro as to oppose to micro in nature.

Over the next two years, which is the length of my term, the branch will focus primarily on education and economics. Education is one of the most important issues facing our community, and the NAACP has a long history of fighting for equal education. Over the next two years we will be looking at the educational curriculums of the Minneapolis school district and all the districts that receive children as a result of the Choice is Yours program.

We will not only focus on Minneapolis Public Schools, but also on those schools that educate children from Minneapolis. The schools that educate Minneapolis children outside of Minneapolis have not been subjected to the degree of scrutiny as has Minneapolis Public Schools.

The second focus of the branch over the next two years will be economics. We will focus on contracts awarded as a result of the federal stimulus package. We would like to see everyone have equal opportunity to be awarded these oftentimes lucrative contracts. The 35-W bridge project exceeded its goals in terms of minority participation, and we would like to see this effort repeated with future contracts.

In closing, I would like to say that the need for the NAACP remains in our community. We have the largest education achievement gap in the United States.

We have the largest child poverty rate in the United States for children of color. We only have 160 Black police officers out of over 10,000 in the state.

We have many issues to deal with here in Minneapolis. Our role is going to be to educate the community on these issues and mobilize people to help enact some productive changes.

Our next membership meeting is April 18, 11 am, at Sabathani Community Center, 310 E. 38th St., Minneapolis. For more information, call 612-822-8205 or email bookerhodges@hotmail.com.

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