By Toni Newborn, Interim Assistant Director –Complaint Investigations Division
For more than 20 years the Minneapolis Urban League has hosted a Family Day Celebration to highlight the importance of strong families and build a greater sense of community among African-Americans. What was once a modest gathering of several hundred has grown into a day-long event that stretches east along several blocks of Plymouth Ave. in North Minneapolis. The 2012 celebration took place on August 25th and drew thousands of people from across the metro area to enjoy family, food, music, games, community, and the beautiful weather.
This year, staff members of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) and Commission on Civil Rights tabled at the Urban League Family Day Celebration to talk with the attendees about the MDCR and the work we do.
As people strolled by enjoying the delicious food offered by various vendors, including mini donuts and sweet smelling barbequed ribs, a Commissioner and MDCR staff members answered questions about serving on the Commission or filing Charges of Discrimination. Between conversations, staff members partook of the food as well!
Throughout the day, the uplifting voices of the gospel ensemble Sounds of Blackness and a variety of other musicians filled the air. With this as their backdrop, Complaint Investigators mingled with the crowds and passed out dozens of MDCR magnets, bike flashers, and brochures to help spread the word about the Department.
In the shadow of countless kids running around and enjoying an array of games including face painting, a giant slide, and pony rides, one of the Commissioners talked with several parents about the important the oversight and enforcement functions of the Commission. Meanwhile, one of the Investigator’s two-year-old daughter couldn’t believe that a real life pony named Biscuits was willing to take her for a quick tour around the kids’ play area! Her father even got to thank Biscuits with a carrot.
After the morning’s events including a parade, basketball tournament, and drum corps competition, one of the Department’s Assistant Directors asked curious onlookers to fill out a quick survey at the MDCR booth. This survey helped inform people of their rights under the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance. The Assistant Director then used this opportunity to explain how the MDCR and Commission can help enforce those rights.
By nightfall, everyone was worn out from a long day of community fun in the sun (and a brief rain shower in the early afternoon). Many people learned something new about the MDCR or even heard about its work for the first time. MDCR staff and Commissioners appreciated the opportunity to speak with people about the role of the MDCR. They also benefited from the opportunity to hear concerns directly from people in the community. Please join us at our next community outreach event: the Third Ward NeighborhoodFest October 10, 2012 from 5:30-9:00 at the Nicollet Island Pavilion in Minneapolis!