Future History Maker

  

BHM

Black History Month

History. Tradition. Community.

February is Black History Month. 
 Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity.

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Honoring the Legacy

Edith_and_Arthur_LeeIn June 1931, Arthur and Edith Lee bought a two-bedroom bungalow at 4600 Columbus Avenue in south Minneapolis. The Lees were black; the neighborhood white. Despite threats from the neighborhood association, they moved into the home in July, along with their 6-year-old daughter. A group of neighbors offered to buy the home back for $300 more than the Lees had paid. The family declined.

For the previous twenty years in Minneapolis–as the black community had grown in the city–neighbors in Prospect Park, Kingfield and Linden Hills had used identical tactics to drive African-American property owners out of white sections of the city.  However, Arthur Lee had more resources than most to withstand the pressure of racist neighbors.

Lee had the strength of his convictions. A veteran of World War I, he felt his military service should ensure he would enjoy the rights of full citizenship, regardless of race. “Nobody asked me to move out when I was in France fighting in mud and water for this country,” he declared. “I came out here to make this house my home. I have a right to establish a home!”

When word of the purchase spread, a mob of 4000 people gathered, in an effort to force the family out of the small white bungalow. In a record-breaking heat wave, the Lees remained confined in their home while the threatening mob kept watch. Popcorn vendors worked the crowd, which surrounded the house for several weeks.  Arthur Lee stood guard with a shotgun, backed up by members of the local American Legion post. The mob threw firecrackers, rocks and killed their dog. But the Lees survived and remained in the house for a couple of years. But they were never accepted into the community they had sought to open up for African Americans.

Source The Historyapolis Project . Based on a work at http://www.historyapolis.com.

Learn More About Arthur and Edith Lee


Celebrating The Future

Today’s Future History Maker understands the advocacy and resilience of the Lee family. She  is an advocate for equitable housing and is dedicated to empowering community. She is Shannon Jones.

Shannon Photo

Shannon Jones is the Director of Community Engagement at Urban Homeworks. In her role, she analyzes the needs of the community and makes appropriate recommendations for housing programs, policy, and practices within Urban Homeworks and beyond.  Urban Homeworks responds to the voices of community by providing dignified housing opportunities, creating space for construction training, weaving together a network of engaged neighbors, and mobilizing volunteers.

In 2012, Jones was hired as a community engagement strategy manager to build relationships with community, connect community to resources, and to provide a safe, respectful way for families to voice their concerns. Shortly thereafter, she began to co-manage the Urban Neighbor Program, a faith-motivated housing program for college students and working professionals. While managing the Urban Neighbor Program, Jones was consistently given more responsibilities and opportunity to expand the community focus of the organization.  These efforts led to Urban Homeworks incorporating community engagement as a core principal of its organizational framework.  At the time, Jones, who had proven herself  as a consummate community organizer, was asked to become the new Director of Community Engagement. 

In her new role, Jones implemented several programs designed to get renters and homeowners civically engaged. Jones initiated the “Writing Campaign” which allowed community members to use their voice to address issues with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  The Campaign is a process by which community can successfully engage with HUD on a number  of issues related to fair housing. This proved so successful that Jones led a second campaign addressing constituent issues pertaining to emotional welfare as it relates to police brutality.  

Jones leads community listening sessions throughout the Twin Cities with renters, homeowners, and police.  The listening sessions allow for candid dialogue and address major issues such as responsible banking, discrimination, excessive force, and the role of grand juries, and police shootings. Jones says, “These opportunities to engage are essential because community members are telling me, “We want those in positions that affect  our lives to know us; we need them to know us.”  The listening sessions are a major success with both community and police. Jones says, “I believe things can change. I am committed to doing my part to promote understanding and the need for humanity in policing.” 

Jones is experienced in non-profit and community-based work and is passionate about bridging the gap between community and policy making.  Jones says, “My job is to keep the community informed and involved in policy-making decisions that affect their most basic needs – housing being one of them.”  Jones focuses on connecting renters and homeowners to resources so that individual and communal assets emerge and thrive. Jones is recognized in the Minneapolis community as an innovative leader who leads with compassion. 

 

Most Rewarding Work Experience

Helping to diversify neighborhood associations.  I initiated a program that encouraged Urban Homeworks renters and homeowners to get involved in neighborhood associations.  At the beginning, lots of residents were uncomfortable with the idea of participating in neighborhood associations.  At the end, we had residents represented on many boards throughout the City. They felt empowered and recruited others to do the same.

Beacons of Leadership

Family. I’m inspired by my mother and grandmother because I know the road they traveled was tough, yet they endured. Their efforts allowed me to have opportunities they never imagined. I’m also inspired by my uncle, Richard Green, who was a zealous advocate and never afraid to take initiative.  My sister is a strong leader and I’m inspired daily by her work.

Advice for Aspiring Housing Advocates

Be comfortable with people, differences, and yourself.  Any role in which you’re working with people it can be emotionally exhausting.  Don’t try to be a hero; this line of thought is too burdensome. Instead, understand people have free will; and your responsibility is to help them make the best choice.

Hometown

North Minneapolis, Minnesota

Education

Bachelor of Science in Family Social Science – University of Minnesota

Masters in Leadership and Management – Concordia University

 

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PCOC Meeting in a Snapshot: February Edition

OPCR Policy Analyst Kaela McConnon presents to the Commission on the Mental Health Response Methodology

OPCR Policy Analyst Kaela McConnon presents to the PCOC on the Mental Health Response Study  Methodology

The Police Conduct Oversight Commission held its monthly meeting on February 9, 2016. Meeting highlights included committee appointments, a discussion on conducting a formal performance review for the Chief of Police, Commission involvement with the National Justice Initiative, an update on the Mental Health Response Study Methodology and committee reports.

To begin the meeting, Chair Brown announced new committee appointments for the new year which are as follows:

Policy and Procedure Committee: Commissioner Singleton, Commissioner Foroozan, Commissioner Farah
Outreach Committee: Commissioner Westphal, Commissioner Cerrillo, Commissioner Foroozan

In addition to these two established committees, Commissioner Singleton introduced the idea of establishing an Audit Committee whose purpose would be to work on Research and Studies which function in more of an audit capacity . The advantage of working on such studies through such a committee is that they could become certified audits, utilizing the OPCR’s Law Enforcement Analyst Ryan Patrick’s official certification as a law enforcement auditor. Commissioners discussed the opportunity, Commissioner Singleton put forth a motion that a framework be developed for the committee, and the motion passed.

Following the committee discussion, Chair Brown spoke about the contribution individual members of the Commission had made in reference to a performance review of the Chief of Police but acknowledged a need for a more formal process for conducting such a review in the future.  Commissioners discussed the idea and passed a motion to develop a official procedure for such a review through the Policy and Procedure Committee, with a completion timeline for early summer.

Chair Brown also updated Commissioners and the public regarding the Commission’s interactions with National Justice Initiative.  Chair Brown spoke to the City Council, voicing a desire that the PCOC be involved in the Initiative’s work, which has since taken place. The Commission has been involved in the Initiative’s work through an introductory meeting and a later training with Initiative representatives.

Next were committee updates, beginning with one from the Policy and Procedure Committee from Commissioner Singleton.  The Policy and Procedure Committee, at its last meeting, spent much of its time viewing and giving input regarding the methodology for the Mental Health Response Study. Additionally, the committee discussed revisions of the entire Minneapolis Police Department Policy and Procedure Manual and corresponding Discipline Matrix.

Commissioner Westphal provided the update for the Outreach Committee and noted her extensive work on the Mental Health Response Study. She noted meetings she has held with many stakeholders. She also noted the Outreach Committee’s general meetings with community groups such as STAMP Minnesota and  Black Clergy Untied for Change.  The Outreach Committee is also in the process of selecting its official monthly meeting time based on newly appointed committee members’ schedules.

Following committee reports, Commissioners reviewed case summaries and selected cases from synopses to be turned into summaries.  Cases selected were 1, 8 and 9.

The meeting then adjourned and the next monthly meeting is set for March 8, 2016.

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Future History Makers

BHM

Black History Month

History. Tradition. Community.

February is Black History Month. 
 Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity.   

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Honoring The Legacy

nellie1.jpgNellie Stone Johnson had a long and distinguished record of public service in support of the advancement of minority concerns, the rights of workers, and equal opportunities for all people. Her life was a series of “firsts.” As a leader of organized labor in the 1930s and 1940s, she was the first woman vice-president of the Minnesota Culinary Council and the first woman vice-president of Local 665 Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union. She was also the first black person elected to citywide office in Minneapolis when she won a seat on the Library Board in 1945.

Mrs. Johnson grew up with a strong tradition of support for education. Her mother and grandmother were teachers. Her father was a school board member in Dakota County. She left home at 17 to finish high school through the GED program at the University of Minnesota. After a number of years in the workforce, she continued her studies at the University of Wisconsin. Johnson’s  commitment to education continued through her work on the Minnesota Education Board. She also served on the Minnesota State University Board for eight years, and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees.

 Learn More About Nellie Stone Johnson


Celebrating The Future

Today’s Future History Maker understands the commitment and dedication of  Mrs. Johnson. He also is dedicated to educating and empowering community. He is Michael Walker. 

MW222

Michael Walker, Director of The Office of Black Male Student Achievement (OBMSA), leads the Minneapolis Public School District’s (MPS) efforts to eliminate the achievement gap between black male students and their MPS peers. The Office of Black Male Student Achievement is a new department created specifically to address the needs of the largest demographic group within MPS. It represents an equitable approach to tackling the challenges that exist for the school district’s black male students.

Walker has over  15  years of career experience in youth development and helping black youth achieve success. From 1998 to 2006, Walker served as community outreach program and youth development director at the YMCA of Greater St. Paul and Minneapolis, where he developed programs for social, academic, athletic and employment skills for youth.  He served as coordinator of the Black Achievers Program, an academic achievement and career development initiative for middle school and high school youth and teens.  While acquiring his master’s degree in counseling, Walker interned at Roosevelt High School. There he was encouraged to apply for a job as a career and college coordinator for AchieveMpls at Roosevelt High School. He served in this role from 2006 to 2009.  Walker obtained his administrative license from St. Cloud State University and served as Roosevelt High School’s dean of students and later as an assistant principal.

Before Walker became director of the Office of Black Male Student Achievement  and before developing or implementing any programming  for the newly created office, he took to the streets to learn from the community the challenges young black males encountered in the Minneapolis Public School District.  Michael visited Minneapolis barber shops, hair salons, churches, and community organizations interviewing MPS alumni and parents concerning the experience of young black males in the school district.

Walker developed B.L.A.C.K. (Building Lives Acquiring Cultural Knowledge) a curriculum that works to empower students.  The curriculum introduces students to the complexity of the black male experience by exploring the everyday reality of black men in the United States.   The curriculum exposes students to the experience of black male labor force participation and employment outcomes; deconstructs representations of black masculinity in popular culture; explores academic dilemmas associated with primary and secondary educational pursuits; and uncovers issues connected with law, incarceration, and criminal justice.  Walker and his team have witnessed promising developments in OBMSA participants.  Today he continues to undertake what many consider an intimidating challenge with strength, compassion, and courage.  

Walker is a product of North Minneapolis and attended Roosevelt High School. He and his wife have four children, two of whom are school-age and attend MPS schools. 

Beacons of Leadership                                                                                                                    

My mother is the most inspirational person in my life.  She has always believed in me and encouraged me through all endeavors. My mother taught me to be confident in decision making, but to remain respectful of all thoughts, perspectives, and opinions.  My mother, who is my sounding board for advice, always gives honest critique.  She’s the person who keeps me going.

Most Rewarding Work Experience                                                                                            

The Office of Black Male Student Achievement is a new and developing organization.  As I chart the path for this organization I’m blessed to work in conjunction and partnership with the young black males I’m entrusted to serve.  The young men are present in every aspect of program development.  I am intentional about keeping their voice at the forefront of my work.  

Advice for Aspiring Educators                                                                                                    

This is not a job. This is something you have to be passionate about. As an educator, you are going to lead from 30 to maybe 150 students each day.  You must be able to see them each as unique individuals. While content is an important aspect of education,  authentic relationship building is critical. Once you form trusting relationship with students, you can teach them anything.  

All children want to learn. As educators, we must determine what it is that motivates our students, tap into it,  and let learning happen for everyone. Build authentic relationships with students and their families- and be the best educator possible.  

Hometown

  • North Minneapolis, Minnesota

Education 

  • Minnesota State University – B. A.
  • University of Wisconsin-River Falls- Masters in Counseling
  • St. Cloud State University- Administrative License

 

 

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Future History Makers

 

 

BHM

Black History Month

History.  Tradition. Community.

February is Black History Month. 
 Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity.   

______________________________________________________

Honoring The Legacy

rkk

Photo by Craig Bares

“Dr. Reatha Clark King is a chemist whose long scientific career includes breakthroughs in fluoride research that advanced the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) space program. She devoted the second half of her career as an educator and administrator to expanding opportunities for education available to students from poor backgrounds.  Dr. King’s early life centered around the institutions of church and school, although the family was so poor that she often had to leave school to pick cotton or tobacco for $3 per day.

Dr. Kings says, “My reasons for leading were not centered on my needs but on the needs of my people, of women, and of my community.  The question is, what do people lead toward? I’m leading toward a cause: to get more opportunities for people. It is in my blood to remove unjust barriers and to help people appreciate themselves and be who they are.”

Dr. King has received more than a dozen honorary doctorates from institutions of higher institutions, been named one of Ebony magazine’s Top 50 Black Executives, and received a Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy Award from the National Center for Black Philanthropy. She was named Twin Citian of 1988 for Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.”

Source: The History Makers, 2016

 Learn More About Dr. Reatha Clark King


Celebrating The Future

Today’s Future History Maker understands the commitment and dedication of  Dr. King. He also is dedicated to educating and empowering community. He is Dr. Abdul M. Omari. 

2015_Abdul_Omari_0250_v3_proof

Dr. Abdul M. Omari is the CEO and founder of AMO Enterprise. AMO Enterprise is a firm, which helps people better connect in individual and team settings through leadership seminars, keynotes, and mentoring. The biracial son of two immigrant parents raised in South Minneapolis, as a child Dr. Omari was exposed to various cultures and diverse experiences. He is determined to use his perspectives to help people connect and recognize the value of lived experiences. Dr. Omari helps his clients understand how their life experiences affect their personal leadership styles and relationships with others. 

Dr. Omari holds a B.A. in global studies, a master’s of public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and a PhD in comparative and international development education from the University of Minnesota.  His research is focused on the perceptions of mentoring and the role of Cultural Intelligence within mentoring relationships. For several years, he has taught leadership courses for college students. Dr. Omari is an elected member of the Board of Regents at the University of Minnesota. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the YMCA Greater Twin Cities, AchieveMpls, and Civic Eagle. 

What Motivates You

I am inspired by situations. My parents’ meek beginnings motivated me to finish my PhD program and pay off previously accumulated student debt before graduating. Today, their meek childhoods, coupled with my own, continue to drive me to be a good financial steward and work to change the mentality about wealth within communities and my younger family members.

Most Rewarding Work Experience 

I am most proud when I facilitate a seminar or deliver a keynote and audience members email me examples of how their personal discoveries have impacted their leadership capabilities as well as other aspects of their lives.

Because I am on several boards, I am intertwined with policy and its impact. Too often there is a physical disparity between who’s in office and on boards and who is most affected by policy. My work, in many ways, is to bridge the space between those in the boardroom and those impacted by the decisions within the boardroom. Now, more than ever, it is critical to understand that we cannot move forward as a society without that bridge. True relationships are at the core of it all.

Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs 

Start with “why” you want to start a business. When you focus on the why, and allow passion to be your compass – everything else will fall into place. I highly recommend the book “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek.

Hometown

  • South Minneapolis, Minnesota 

Education 

  • University of Minnesota, B. A., MPP, Ph. D 

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Future History Makers

BHM

Black History Month

History. Tradition. Community.

February is Black History Month. 
 Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and remove barriers to equity.   

______________________________________________________

Honoring The Legacy

Lena O. Smith flipped“During the 1920s and 1930s, Lena Olive Smith was a prominent civil rights lawyer and activist. She made major contributions toward securing civil rights for minorities in the Twin Cities. Smith began fighting for the rights of others when she became the first African-American woman licensed to practice law in Minnesota in 1921. She was the only African-American woman to practice law in the state until 1945.”                                           Learn More About Lena O’ Smith 


Celebrating The Future

Today’s Future History Maker understands the commitment and dedication of Ms. Smith.  He honors the contributions of Ms. Smith to the community. He is Andrew Gordon. 

Andrew-Gordon (1) Andrew Gordon is a trial attorney and advocate for indigent clients, juveniles, and newly arrived immigrants and their families. A graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, Gordon once had high hopes of being a public defender. In fact, Andrew was a finalist for an attorney position with the Hennepin County Public Defender’s Office until the county instituted a hiring freeze. Disappointed but not deterred, Gordon found work as a public defender in the City of Boston until his work visa expired. Gordon then returned to Minnesota spending three days a week volunteering at the Legal Rights Center while he applied for his green card. A year later, a staff attorney position opened. Gordon, who was now a permanent resident, applied and was selected for the job. 

Gordon is now the Associate Director, of the Legal Rights Center. In this role, he supervises staff attorneys, manages volunteers, and conducts strategic planning and development for the organization. Gordon also contributes to the legal education of both new attorneys and the community by presenting lectures on legal rights, engagements and collateral consequences of a juvenile adjudication and/or criminal conviction. Currently, Gordon is representing 20 individuals with charges stemming from Black Lives Matter protests.  Gordon’s commitment to  community empowerment is fueled by his desire to marrying defense advocacy in court with advocacy in community

What Motivates You

The opportunity to guide a client through a confusing legal process, and ensure their story is communicated. I enjoy learning from my clients and being able to impart that knowledge to the court, prosecutor, and general public. 

Most Rewarding Work Experience 

I enjoy working in the community helping to educate my clients and their families. In 2010, I was invited to Loring Nicollet Alternative School for a “Know Your Rights” presentation. The students were really receptive and have asked me to return each year since. Experiences like such allow me the opportunity to build relationships and really connect with the community I serve. 

Advice for Aspiring Attorneys

Listen to your clients.  Attorneys burn out when they stop listening. If you want to do this work well and do it for a long time- you must ensure your client’s voice is heard. 

Hometown

  • Kingston, Jamaica

Education 

  • Macalester College
  • University of Minnesota Law School 

 

 

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PCOC Meeting in a Snapshot: January Edition

One new and two existing Commissioners being sworn in by the City Clerk.

One new and two existing Commissioners were sworn-in by the City Clerk.

The Police Conduct Oversight Commission held its first monthly meeting of 2016 on January 12, 2016.  Meeting highlights included the swearing-in of a newly appointed Commissioner, and newly appointed Review Panelist, a welcome from Commission Chair Brown, a policy update from Deputy Chief Medaria Arradondo, a presentation on the OPCR 4th Quarterly Report from Director Imani Jaafar, and Committee reports.  Continue reading

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PCOC Meeting in a Snapshot: December Edition

OPCR's Ryan Patrick presents the Doesn't Fit Any Crime Study to the Commission

OPCR’s Ryan Patrick presents the Doesn’t Fit Any Crime Study to the Commission

The Police Conduct Oversight Commission held its monthly meeting on December 8th, 2015.  Highlights of the meeting included a statement from the Commission Chair, a presentation from Commissioner Westphal regarding a Emotionally Disturbed Persons and Mental Health Conference with the Duluth Police Department, a report on the results of the Doesn’t Fit Any Crime Study and the Policy and Procedure and Outreach Committee reports.

The meeting began with a statement from Commission Chair Brown who discussed current events in police accountability and the PCOC’s consistent desire to work with the community and provide valuable civilian oversight of the Minneapolis Police Department.  Chair Brown presented a letter from the Commission to be sent to the Department of Justice National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice who has chosen Minneapolis as one of its pilot sites.  The letter details the PCOC’s purpose and desire to work with but independently of the MPD to provide valuable oversight of MPD policies. It also details the important work of the Commission in conducting a total of five Research and Studies on a variety of MPD policy issues including investigatory stops and body camera implementation, with policies recommendations, some of which have already implemented in the MPD.  See all the reports here.  The letter invites National Initiative representatives to meet and communicate with the PCOC in its work. Chair Brown will present this same letter to Minneapolis City Council tomorrow.

Following this chair report, Commissioner Westphal presented to her fellow Commissioners regarding a conference she had with representatives of the Duluth Police Department regarding their recently implemented program for police interactions with emotionally disturbed persons, a program that has quickly proven quite successful.  Commissioner Westphal noted that the Duluth program involves a social worker who accompanies officers on such calls, requires officers responding to wear plain clothes, and includes a partnership with an oversight group including the county mental health department, social workers, doctors and others who review each case of police interaction with emotionally disturbed persons on a monthly basis.

Responding to this presentation, Commissioner Buss moved for the Policy and Procedure Committee to create a framework for a new Research and Study on MPD encounters with mentally ill and emotionally disturbed persons to be completed in the next two months at which time the framework would be presented to the entire Commission who would then decide whether or not to proceed in conducting the Research and Study.  The motion passed.

The OPCR’s Ryan Patrick and Kaela McConnon then presented the results of the Doesn’t Fit Any Crime Study.  The study called for analysis of police reports and court records of cases where individuals were cited or arrested for offenses that were categorized in the MPD record keeping system as miscellaneous. The key findings of the study were that the use of such categorization was primarily in response to database limitations and that the use of such categorization has reduced dramatically in the last year. Other finding concerned demographics of individuals involved in the cases including race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, the various outcomes of the cases and limitations of the public record keeping systems.  Find a copy of the report here. Find the presentation here.

The meeting then moved to Committee Reports. Commissioner Buss noted that the Policy Procedure Committee heard a presentation on the Doesn’t Fit Any Crime Study at its last meeting and discussed its continued work toward a possible Research and Study on police interactions with emotionally disturbed persons. A full Committee Report can be found here. Commissioner Singleton presented the Outreach Committee’s work focusing on Commissioner Westphal’s previously mentioned conference and discussions of Committee support to the community amidst protests at the 4th Precinct. A full Outreach Committee report can be found here.

The Commission then discussed the case summaries requested for this meeting and selected case synopses to be converted to summaries for the January Commission meeting.  Those selected cases are case 3, 9, and 10.  The case synopses can be found here.  The next PCOC meeting with take place on Tuesday January 12th.

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