Siad Ali, running unopposed in the East District clinched a spot in the Minneapolis School Board election on Tuesday. 10,018 people (96%) cast their vote for Mr. Ali to send him to the school board. His victory was the only good news for African immigrant candidates as they fell short in various races in Minnesota in their quest to fill school boards, state representative offices and a bid for mayor in the state’s most diverse city.A record five African immigrants were on the ballot Tuesday in Minnesota races.Brooklyn Center MayorMike Elliott, 31, a Liberian immigrant who came to America at age 11 was defeated by incumbent Tim Willson in his quest to become mayor of Minnesota’s most diverse city which neighbors Minneapolis to the west. Elliott received 3,330 (48.58%) votes to Willson’s 3,475 (50.70%).More than half of the city’s population is non-white with a quarter of them born outside the United States, a good number of them being from Africa.Mr. Elliott’s defeat by less than 150 votes brought back memories of a similar election in neighboring Brooklyn Park where Wynfred Russell, another Liberian immigrant, was defeated by a mere five votes. Brooklyn Park’s population is also majority non-white with the entire elected City Council being white.This article is reposted from TCDP media partner Mshale. Continue Reading
On May 22, More than 200 people crammed the main meeting room at the Brooklyn Park Community Activity Center to participate in the Community Town Hall for Parents of Color in the Osseo School District. Most of the participating parents were African immigrants and African Americans. The meeting was hosted by African Immigrant Services and Legacy Family Center. Teachers and staff of Northview Junior High participated in the planning and logistics of the meeting.A top goal of the meeting was to give the parents an opportunity to talk about what they wanted changed in their schools, identify solutions, then work together to get solutions implemented.Small group brainstormingPeople gathered around tables in groups of about ten.They then in turn brainstormed these questions: What do you like/dislike about your child’s school?What solutions would you propose?What kind of follow-up would you like to see after tonight?The answers to the like and dislike questions were then written on big easel sheets, and the sheets were taped up on the wall.As the meeting ended, people were given five dots, and asked to vote for the five things they most liked and disliked about their school and the school system.Voting PrioritiesThese dislikes got the most dot votes:1. Staff not racially similar to students (41 votes)2. Low expectations for black students (38 votes)3. Need better support for immigrant students (36 votes)4. Inconsistent communication from teachers to parents (35 votes)5. Not enough diversity (32 votes)6. Blowing black student school issues out of proportion (32 votes)7. Teachers lack cultural understanding of their students (31 votes)8. School board is not racially similar to community (30 votes) These likes got the most dot votes: 1. Hiring people of color (25 votes)2. Good at getting communications out to parents’s homes (15 votes)3. There is good diversity (13 votes)4. Progress made regarding racial equity (11 votes)5. Cares about exceptional students (10 votes)6. Open communication (10 votes) Over the next few weeks., parents and community members will be reaching out to more parents, researching possible solutions to the biggest problems, negotiating with the Osseo school district, and working together to get solutions implemented.Even though the room was packed and noisy, people came away energized and vowing to work together to improve their school systemBelow are the easel sheets with dots and the vote count for each like and dislike Continue Reading
The first Twin Cities suburban homeless shelter for youth is moving forward in Brooklyn Park faster than anyone expected, thanks to a coalition of church and community leaders and support from city leaders.
African community members engaged in meaningful discussion with Brooklyn Park city authorities and foundation representatives at the African civic engagement conversations in April. These three members of the West African community in Brooklyn Park expressed their frustration with the city’s lack of diverse representation on committees and in not being given opportunities to create meaningful change. They also point out some of the structural barriers for smaller nonprofit organizations run by immigrant communities, such as a lack of funding, resources, time, and not having an “in” in funding cycles.Related stories:• Brooklyn Park African and African-American communities convene 350 leaders for civic engagement• OUR STORIES | Ethel Livingstone talks civic engagement in African communitiesReporting for this article supported in part by Bush Foundation. Continue Reading
Ethel Livingstone is a Liberian American and North Minneapolis resident who considers herself to be civically engaged. A first-generation immigrant from Liberia, Ethel has lived in Minnesota since the 1970s and works as a community health worker. She talks about some of the struggles new African immigrants face, misconceptions about the Northside, and the need for more dialog between African and African American communities, such as the African civic engagement conversation which took place in April. Continue Reading
“This is not a talk show,” said Abdullah Kiatamba, executive director of the African Immigrant Services, at the May 9 civic engagement forum. “It is not a conference for resolution. It’s about shifting people from being observers to active leaders.”Hundreds of Africans, African-Americans and other minority groups gathered May 9 at Brooklyn Park’s City Council Chambers for intense conversations on how to better increase civic engagement among the city’s minority communities.The three-hour event, which brought together more than 350 community leaders and concerned citizens, felt like a college classroom: There were presentations, small group discussions and questions about civic engagement — and participants stayed energized in receiving and sharing information throughout the forum.For many participants in the small groups, the message was the same: Whatever their differences may be, they will either stand or fall together. The majority of those in attendance were West Africans. Other groups included East Africans and African-Americans.Brooklyn Park is about 48 percent nonwhite, according to news reports. Continue Reading
The City of Brooklyn Park has reacted sharply to accusations by Boyd Morson, a candidate for Central District City Council election, that “City Hall has failed to come clean with regards to a $50,000 Civic Engagement” grant provided by the McKnight Foundation. Boyd Morson prepares for city council election….takes aim at the city of Brooklyn Park by staff, The Liberian JournalMorson, in an exclusive interview with The Liberian Journal (TLJ), said:” The City of Brooklyn Park failed to communicate information about the grant to the immigrant community. If they receive money, they need to communicate that information to the community…it was intended for. The immigrant and minority communities do not know that they [City of Brooklyn Park] have this money”. He also accused City Hall of removing his campaign signs, as part of a conspiracy to undermine his chances of wining the elections against Mike Trepanier, the incumbent councilman. Continue Reading