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Blog #2. 1-19-04: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
On January 8, 2004, Minneapolis gathered to pay tribute to a carrier of Dr King’s dream to Minneapolis and the world, at a banquet held to honor the work for inner city Minneapolis. Ron’s publisher, Beacon on the Hill Press, sent this statement read at the tribute dinner:
It is an honor to be invited to add to the recognition earned by Ron Edwards in his forty years of work as a community activist and mediator in Minneapolis. Ron calls all of us to work for the prize of freedom: equal access and equal opportunity for all.
In a word, Ron’s book is about the gaps that still exist between Blacks and Whites in education, jobs, housing, and public safety, why they happened and how to close them. Ron lists in his book specific “how’s” for closing these gaps now, if the community elects to do so now instead of waiting another 60 years. Legislators, council members and voters are the closest to public policy making and the ones best able to reverse bad policy instituted by their predecessors. However, each time legislators, council members or voters do not do so, they too become part of the reasons for the gaps. That is not a “blame” statement. It is a legacy statement. What legacy do the people of Minneapolis and Minnesota want to be known for?
Ron’s thesis is a simple one: Minneapolis will either continue its great experiment on how to show America how to keep inner city Blacks in their place, a form of so-called benign apartheid, or it will change from discrimination and separation to integration and inclusion: equal access and equal opportunity for all. Hope, jobs, and housing begin with a good education. The Minneapolis mission of clubbing the baby seals has been successful: young men descended from the slaves brought to America from Africa have, in the inner city, been knocked off their feet, crippled before they start by being denied the education provided to Whites.
Another concern is the failure to use the Golden Rule as Ron urges us in his book and as Archbishop Flynn urged in his pastoral letter on racism in November. Clearly the failure of both sides to follow the Golden Rule stands in the way of problem resolution.
Despite the fact that not one person has come forward to repudiate or dispute one thing written in the book, the book lies silent, causing fear in some, animosity in others, especially in those advocates of the status quo, whether Black or White. And so the community is split on how to deal with Ron’s account of and suggestions for fighting for freedom and justice.
On one side of the Minneapolis divide, open to discussing the book and its ideas, are City Pages, the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, both of which have reviewed the book and given it front page coverage, and the Urban League. On the other side of the Minneapolis divide that refuses to discuss the book and its ideas, are the Star Tribune, Insight Newspaper, and the NAACP.
To close this divide Ron suggests, in another web site Solution Paper, that Minneapolis use the ubuntu reconciliation approach of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a man who fought apartheid in South Africa and a man Ron had gotten to agree to come to Minneapolis in the 1980s, only to have him prevented from doing so by the University of Minnesota because the university disagreed with the Tutu position that holders of stock in companies participating in apartheid in South Africa divest themselves of that stock. Just as Archbishop Tutu called upon both White Afrikaners and Blacks in South Africa to be reconcilers, so too does Ron Edwards call the people of Minneapolis to be reconcilers. As Archbishop Tutu said, “we are called to the business of forgiveness and reconciliation. God is not saying ‘Do you like it or don’t you like it?’ We are called to do it.” Ron has listed a series of conflict resolution models on his web site that will help address how to approach and mediate disagreements and foster reconciliation.
The recently completed mediation between the community and police has been a great step forward. Now, Minneapolis needs such mediation in the areas of education, jobs and housing. One way to begin this is to follow the suggestion in Ron’s book of establishing a Minneapolis Sullivan Commission.
The book has been expanded upon on the Minneapolis Story web site, especially in two of the Solution Papers, one called “The Seven Solutions” paper, the other The Blocks to Construct a Minneapolis Table for All to Sit at Together. They follow Martin Luther King’s statement of “Why We Can’t Wait.” The web site has also continued the story by posting daily entrees and weekly columns. For 2004, Ron will post a new column or short essay each week.
May all of us be inspired by the work and effort of Ron Edwards, and may we, as we begin the new year, resolve to make the Minneapolis Story and its continuation a positive one, of hope, of optimism, and of positive action to enable closing the gaps in education, jobs, housing, and public safety, now, not later, and in doing so, evaluate and consider the solutions Ron suggests in his book and on his web site.
Ron, please stand.
Ron Edwards, it is with great personal and professional pride and pleasure that we present to you this Freedom and Justice Award. The plaque reads as follows:
Freedom and Justice Award Presented to RON EDWARDS
In recognition of the four decades of contributions as a community activist and mediator in the civil rights struggle on behalf of justice for the people of Minneapolis, especially those of the inner city. Serving as a positive beacon of light and hope, seeking freedom and justice for all, he advocates equal access and equal opportunity to close the attainment and achievement gaps in education, jobs, housing, and public safety, which he documents in his The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes (2002), The Story of America’s Inner Cities as Told By Example of Minneapolis, Mn (2003), and the www.TheMinneapolisStory.com web site.
The plaque then quotes Ron from page 294 of his book:
“I am bullish on Minneapolis.
I keep my eye on the prize of freedom.
I believe it can be a city on the hill for all people.”
Ron Edwards, 2002
Beacon on The Hill Press at the Urban League, Minneapolis, Mn. January 8, 2004
Congratulations Ron. God speed and continued good works for the inner city of Minneapolis. I salute you. I invite all in attendance tonight to stand, to lift your glasses, and to salute you and the work you are doing.
Publisher, Beacon on the Hill Press
Blog #1. 1-1-04: New Year’s Resolution for 2004: End the gaps caused by racism, injustice and dream deferral (whether by Whites or Blacks)
The Rev. Ian Bethel, who served on the mediation team, said recently, “One of the things I constantly struggle with is the culture of denial that exists in this country when it comes to racism. Even during the mediation process you’d see that denial. There is systematic racism right in front of us and people refuse to see it.” The Archbishop of the Twin Cities, in his recent Pastoral Letter on racism, says that, in order to end the “sin of racism,” we need to keep talking with each other about it, then convert that talk into action all the while helping society live by the Golden Rule (which we also outline in Chapters 5 and 17 of our book, a book which documents the racism so all can see it). But denial exists in our community too. Thus, City Pages, the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, and the Urban League have engaged the discussion of racism and the accompanying suggestions for working out solutions in The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes. But The Star Tribune, Insight News and the NAACP have not, and are in denial about what the book “sees”. Let us resolve, therefore, to let our willingness to listen to others become greater than our eagerness to shout them down. Then, let us resolve to give a fair hearing to the ideas and suggestions the “common YESes and NOs” in the book and in the “Solution Papers” of www.TheMinneapolisStory.com, including The Blocks to Construct a Minneapolis Table for All to Sit at Together and Seven Solutions in order to enable us, working together, to close the gaps between Blacks and Whites in terms of education, jobs, housing, public safety, safe environment, governing and ethical leadership of hope. We are a victorious people who do will not give up on the dream of the possibilities. And what are your resolutions for 2004?
Ron Edwards also hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly headed the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, his weekly column appears in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. Listen to voice-over soundtracks from the book on this web site.
Posted Friday, January 2, 2004, 9:30 p.m.
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.
Permission is granted to reproduce The Minneapolis Story columns, blog entires and solution papers. Please cite the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and www.TheMinneapolisStory.com for the columns. Please cite www.TheMinneapolisStory.com for blog entries and solution papers.
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