By Michael K. Browne, Assistant Director – Complaint Investigations
Join me on November 30, 2011, at a public hearing before the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Health Committee of the Minneapolis City Council to discuss the appointment of seven individuals to the Minneapolis Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR).
The civil rights work happening in the city is not accomplished single-handedly by the department staff. This is especially so when it comes to addressing complaints of discrimination. Just in the processing of civil rights complaints, volunteers can find three opportunities in: (1) the mediation program; (2) law student internships; and (3) commission membership. The work that the MCCR does is vital to accomplishing, not only our legal requirements, but outreach to the broader community of those who live, work and visit our city.
There is little doubt that the work performed by the 21 member commission is a crucial component to the success of the department’s work. For example, during a typical three-year term, Minneapolis Civil Rights Commissioners can expect that they will:
- Provide leadership in the areas of civil rights
- Encourage and educate the public in the promotion of civil rights
- Kept up to date on the latest developments in civil rights law and on community issues
- Identify issues of principle concern to members of the community in the area of civil rights and set priorities and objectives
- Develop a productive rapport with members of the City Council and Mayor’s office
- Advise the Mayor, City Council, and City agencies and departments with respect to civil right matters
- Conduct research and studies to best carry out the objectives of the Civil Rights Ordinance
- Enforce the Civil Rights Ordinance through education, conciliation, mediation and adjudication
Theodore Roosevelt said it best when he stated: “far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Work on the Minneapolis Commission on Civil Rights fits that description. It is also a journey in service to the community that is rewarding and full of opportunity which are not necessarily self-limiting. For example, in its November 4, 2011 press release, the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selections announced the three finalists selected to fill a judicial vacancy in Hennepin County.
It is here, in the competitive process of judicial selections and appointments, that we find evidence of the long-lasting personal impact of volunteering on a local civil or human rights commission. Indeed, one candidate for the current vacancy in the Fourth Judicial District prominently noted his tenure on the “Human Rights Commission for the city of Edina.” Now, a past volunteer to a local civil/human rights commission like the MCCR has become one of three top candidates for Governor Mark Dayton to consider for the post of Judge of District Court.
Embarking on a similar volunteer opportunity will be a personally rewarding (and potentially career enhancing) endeavor. The numerous commission and board positions offered by the City of Minneapolis are one of the primary means for residents to become involved, engaged and franchised in local government.
Apply! Volunteer! Participate!