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For Solving the Problems of America’s Inner Cities:
In Order to Stop Deferring the Dream and to Actualize it

A Vision Paper by Ron Edwards, with Peter Jessen
August 31, 2003
Based on The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes
By Ron Edwards as told to Peter Jessen

The main themes spring from the words of DFL co-founder, Nellie Stone Johnson: No education, no jobs, no housing. No education, no jobs, no housing. No education, no housing, no hope.

To this we add the words of Sandra Scarr: Opportunity breeds predestination. The goal of this paper is to provide both an UNDERSTANDING of and ACTION STEPS for closing the gaps in education, jobs, housing, public safety, safe environment, governing, ethics and hope, in order to open opportunity and foster an end to the development of helplessness and despair of the descendents of America’s slaves in the inner city neighborhoods of Minneapolis. These are citizen steps, be they the citizens of families, churches, neighborhoods, voluntary associations, schools, counties, cities, state, or be they citizens serving on councils, committees, legislatures, etc. At the forefront must always be the citizens, We the people! We must, together, understand and then act. The 7 key themes and their 7 key problems suggest 7 key solutions in 7 areas: (1) education, (2) jobs, (3) housing, (4) public safety, (5) safe environment, (6) governing, and (7) moral/ethical stances. These are followed by my rationale and a list of addtional resources. What follows is based on my book, “The Minneapolis Story: Through My Eyes.” The Minneapolis Story continues. Unless otherwise stated, all references are to Chapters, Interludes, and pages of this book. The Minneapolis Story continues on The Minneapolis Story web site in the weekly columns, Solution Papers, and daily web log entries. Following the list of recommended solutions, I will list my rationale and the background for these 7 themes, 7 problems, 7 solutions. Whites are always saying “I was never a slave owner,” so don’t blame me. This is true. HOWEVER, Whites remain part of the problem in either helping the DEFERMENT OF THE DREAM, or looking the other way as others do so through their votes on candiates and policy that affect, positively or negative, minorities in this country, especially those in the inner city. Deferment after slavery was done through Jim Crow and the polices and attitudes following the 1968 Kerner Commission Report (which said Blacks couldn’t make it on their own and thus would always be dependent on government). As long as Whites participate in or don’t fight the ongoing deferment, they are as guilty as the Whites of the 17th and 18th centuries for what goes on in America’s inner cities today. The good news is of how so many Blacks have excelled anyway. I’m not talking of those who have moved on. I’m talking here of the inner city, where we have the greatest example of the dream deferred as seen in the GAPS in education, jobs, housing, etc. Neither this paper, nor my book, is about how bad Minneapolis is. It is about how it can be better. Read p. 262, para. 1 “Society needs visionaries”) through para. 7 on p. 263 (”Thus, there are two Golden Triangles”). Minneapolis is a wonderful city. Much progress in race relations has been made (Interludes 5 and 7). Yet there is still much to do (Interludes 2 and 10): it is the work to be done to bring about equal access and equal opportunity in education, housing, political participation, entrepreneurial growth, by bringing inner city minorities nto the social/economic/political mainstream. And, of course, facts are facts. My goal is to contribute to the reversing of current and disturbing trend lines as discussed on p. 115 of Chapter 6 of “The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes.” Nonetheless, as I say on p. 294: “I am bullish on Minneapolis.” Nonetheless, “I will keep my eye on the prize of freedom” and “I will continue to beat the drum of freedom” (Chapters 5 and 17). This paper is about the ACTION STEPS needed to be taken to achieve a NEW VISION for Minneapolis, a vision for everyone. The future is important, for, as the old saying goes, it is where we will spend the rest of our lives. The Star Tribune ran a series in 2000 on “Minnesota’s greatest challenge: whether to compete or retreat in the face of a new economy.” I vote compete. That is what these solutions are all about. Not following them is about retreat. As the Strib pointed out, “The thrust of our argument is that global and technological forces are speeding the rearrangement of capital and talent, sorting out metropolitan regions into winners and losers.” Our problem? “Complacency.” The writer states “The Twin Cities…has been coasting…in part because of a smothering cultural contentment…[that] will only guarantee further slippage unless a community-wide efforts is begun to rekindle the flame that, in the 1950s and 1960s, led to an extraordinary burst of civic energy.” That is what these 7 solutions are all about: trying to foster a burst of civic energy, for all. See the articles at:

I discuss some of these on p. 115 of Chapter 6. The SEVEN KEY SOLUTIONS of this paper are recommended for consideration, after which I discuss the background and rationale for these seven. As noted above, Chapter and Interlude numbers refer to my book “The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes.”

1. In terms of education : (See Chapter 7)

a. Abandon the notion that neither the city nor state has “no meaningful obligation to provide any high school education at all” (p. 121).

b. Change the attitude from accepting poor schools (”beat the odds”) to expecting good schools and expecting all kids to be winners (p. 122).

c. Divest the investment in ideologies of college prep, muted or no gender identity, and invest in the practicality of positively channeling male puberty, not ignoring or subverting it.

d. Recognize that the skewing of the education system as a socialization system for high achieving boys fails those with no desire for or inclination to college, who are thus not served by a college prepatory system.

e. Recognize that socialization takes many forms, not the few offered in the schools, especially during the period of puberty. “The crux of the matter, as with all societies, is how best to harness the energies of young men” (p. 152).

f. Re-evaluate the college prejudice of “modernity” and again provide boys with vocational schools and/or technical tracks.

g. Abandon “the modern” prejudice against physical and technical education that is so needed, especially for adolescent males.

h. Enable choice in education, as in birth control, especially in inner city Black neighborhoods, even if that means including vouchers (as they have been approved by an overwhelming majority of Black parents, which will do more for society country wide that adding a couple more students to the University of Michigan School of Law.

i. Before getting apoplexy at the mention of “vouchers” above, consider what Jeff Greenfield, the liberal columnist, asked the Democratic candidates at the Democratic candidate debate at the Appollo Theatre, February 21, 2000, as one of the moderators of the debate. He asked: “in light of the different proposals, from revolutionary improvement to gradual improvement to public choice and private alternatives, how do you respond to this question: if, after 35 years and $100 billion in Title I money, with the SAT scores gap not narrowing, why not conclude that the opposition to choice is an example of the support of [adult] special interests and not the interests of students? How do you defend and account for this incredible potential unfulfilled?” Both candidates dodged the question and the issue.

j. Return unions to protecting the work environment of its members NOT the educational content of the curriculum, returning education to local control. The Education Secretary echos the notion that the union is out of step.

k. End education unions political pacs as part of the unions; pacs are OK, but let pacs be independent of union automatic dues contributions.

l. See Minnesota websites: and http://

m. Business can play a very helpful role. See In the latter we read: “25% of the current American workforce is not sufficiently educated to be qualified for jobs that would pay enough to sustain the middle-class life.” There are many good suggestions in this article.

2. In terms of jobs : (see Chapter 9)

a. Make sure that all Minneapolis laws of compliance are followed regarding contractors and hires, rather than ignoring them as the city now does.

b. End the exclusionary nature of the construction contract system.

c. Graduate minority contractors from small time to prime time (p. 148).

d. End this: hiring laws are “being broken on every Minneapolis construction site, and the city and state are standing by and letting them” (p. 153). They can’t claim they don’t know as key city and state officials (as well as people from the trade unions and contractors) attended the meeting at the Sabathani Community Center on August 3, 2002, that laid this all out (p. 153-4). Progress? None.

e. 9 steps to take to correct this are on p. 154.

f. How this relates specifically to young Black males is on pp. 154-156.

g. Open Minneapolis to young Blacks. In 19th century Boston, window signs said “Irish need not apply.” Official Minneapolis says, “young Blacks need not apply.” The Minneapolis Civil Rights Department admitted in October 2002 that it had no information regarding compliance in construction and no information on the Civilian Review Authority (p. 156).

h. Include Blacks in jobs (providing training where necessary). The category “Jobs” includes economic development, living wages, wealth building (whether through savings, investment, or entrepreneuring). Are the opportunities the State of Minnesota website discusses available in North Minneapolis ( )?

3. In terms of housing : (See Chapter 8)

a. Stop red lining.

b. End the cycle of negative gentrification (when it results in neighborhood racial cleansing) and financial corruption paid for by tax payers (p. 135).

c. Allow for manufactured homes in the city (p. 139).

d. Be informed by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (p. 139).

e. Be informed by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (p. 140).

f. Make the Metropolitan Council follow the 1976 Land Use Planning Act (p. 140).

g. Coordinate state and city tax, construction and growth policies such that housing can be affordable, and thus reverse what some call a trend from neighborhoods to slums.

h. Stop the “concentration and containment” of Blacks in crime impact and poverty neighborhoods, and open all housing to all.

i. Make affordable housing affordable. Get answers to this question: “How many “affordable” housing developments (that open not being affordable) were paid by government money and how many by private?” If the former, this is neither fair housing nor fair development nor fair taxation.

j. Cap the allowable increase of property taxes (some predict doubling over the next 5-10 years) to force the city to live within its means (i.e., no more taxes) if it continues to refuse to do so, generating more and more debt, more and more fees for buddy developers, less and less services, and less less public safety and environmental quality.

k. Open access to development and end insider access to subsidies for a “development funding gap” that is on paper only for the purpose of subsidy bondselling.

l. Publish political contributions made by all who obtain development deals with the city.

m. Establish “Truth in Taxes” rule: taxes paid by those receiving city funds.

n. Establsh “Truth in spending” rule: have all developers disclose how they spend all monies received from the city or state.

o. Establish “Affordable Occupant Accountability” rule: all percentages figured for affordable housing units must be leased at original affordable rates on which subsidies are provided, with no exceptions.

p. See weekly columns #2 - 12, 14.

4. In terms of Public Safety: (Chapter 16)

a. Reverse my thesis (right side page titles of Chapter 16): “Unrest, disturbance: The Status Quo Price Minneapolis is Willing to Pay.” Thus I ask the question on p. 269: “Can we stop long enough to talk about how we can just get along?

b. Acknowledge the problem that Black youth and crime have reached emergency proportions and needs to be dealt with immediately (see my my Solution Paper on the emergency with Black youth).

c. Stop making the war on drugs a war on young Black men (”When society purposefully not only prevents, but also withholds opportunities for decent education, jobs and incomes through policies that allow discrimination and exclusion, it is the same as making war on them” (p. 148). Call it racism, call it prejudice, call it discrimination, call it what you will (as a rose by any other name is still a rose). Regardless the need remains the same: end the disparity in arrests and imprisonment among citizens:

iNote: “76% of all users of illegal drugs are White, yet 70% of drug convictions are Black…White youths are one third more likely to have sold drugs than Black youth, yet it is Black youth who get arrested” (pp. 150-151). ii. “Blacks constitute 13 percent of all drug users, but 35 percent of those arrested for drug possession, 55 percent of persons convicted, and 74 percent of people sent to prison” (Human Rights Watch Report: Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System, May 2000 Vol. 12, No. 2 (G).

d. Re-evaluate drug laws and end their wrong-headedness (p. 150).

e. Conduct mediation with the city between the police and the community.

f. Develop an approach that recognizes the need to change from a youth value system emphasizing “honor” (fighting for respect, which means different things to different people, with a tendency to listed to peers over society) vs. conscience (operating on a higher moral order or values other than what peers think)

g. End the double standard: even the Strib, through Syl Jones, admits we work “in the valley of the double standard” (p. 273).

h. Work to end the tensions. The tensions are not unknown. I handed packets to the city clerk for Ms. Glenn (Federal Mediator), the mayor and the council members in September of 2002 showing the history of the tension between the police department and its Black officers. They “lost” the packets for a while, delaying getting relevant information before the decision makes (p. 278). Such “accidents” are not “incidental.”

i. Facilitate both Mediation, which will be crucial to enhancing public safety, and implementing the agreement reached. The city has fought mediation (Chapter 16, pp. 285-291). It must no fight the agreement.

j. Consider adopting or adapting recommendations from the reports about the riots in the U.S. in 1965 and 1967, pp. 292-293.

5. In terms of the environment:

a. Remedy the fact that Hollman/Heritage Park is being “built upon the tops of brown fields, environmentally toxic areas, ecological volcanoes” (p. 134).

b. See Columns #2 - 4, 6, 8 - 11

6. In terms of governing as a mix of related issues: funding in terms of taxing, spending, and investing:

a. See weekly columns #2 - 7, 10

b. End the end-around to the Constitution and the City’s own laws by the Mayor and the City Council (p. 279). These are not acts of cowardice but bold and deliberate acts to avoid the will of the people and the law itself (p. 280).

c. Seek greater cooperation by the City’s mayor and council. Each were sent a copy of my book and a letter addressing these problems, and many sent the book back unread citing their inability to accept “gifts” (see letter to Council.

d. Work with the Committee Chairs and sub-committee chairs of committees in both the Minnesota legislature and the city to effect changes in laws, statutes, regulations and rules. This is critical and key: without this all is noise and clanging gongs and chest thumping and whining. Let them hear from the people at the grass roots level, let them hear from articulate spokesmen and women from institutions and the media, and let them hear from attorneys and specialists regarding achieving change in laws, statutes, regulations and rules.

e. Work with key department and agency heads to keep informed and to keep them aware that the citizens are watching.

f. Develop an “Accountability” watchdog group regarding city spending. Budgets have rightly been called “swamps. Reforms have failed (LBJ used the term “planning-programming-budgeting system,” Carte used “zero-based budgeting” and Nixon used “management by objective.” They all died due to congressional indifference (read our own City Council and Mayor, past and present) and bureaucratic inertia (the departments want to grow, not cut), and sweet heart deals (read friends, relatives and campaign contributors, especially with developers).

g. Have city council, a watch-dog group, or both, use “performance-based budgeting,” meaning evaluate spending on how well programs are doing what they are supposed to do and that they are accomplishing what they are supposed to accomplish. This would eliminate ideological fights as any ideology would have to use the same criteria: whether they actually worked or not. See “The Accountability Budget,” By William D. Eggers, The Wall Street Journal, p. A16, February 4, 2002.

h. Recognize that there is a negative to racism.

i. Recognize also the need to allow people to speak freely and be “whistle blowers” without retaliation. See “City Pages” cover story.

j. Stop playing games with the will of the people by trying to circumvent them with new elections. See chapters 11, 12, 13 (suggested remedies for the redistricting problem), Interlude 12, the “7 remedies for the redistricting problem listed on pp. 204 and 304, and my February 3, 2003 Solution Paper on Disenfranchising Voters.

k. Include a tax plan that is fair to individuals and corporations while at the same time will facilitate the strengthening and growing of the economy in general and jobs for people in all groups in particular;

l. Provide funding fair to private investor developers rather than just to public funded developers and non-profits who are subsidized by the city, causing housing at higher than market costs, indebting the city and taking away from needed spending on public safety and a safe environment.

m. Explore establishing a separate yet unified public and private funding/taxing/investing process and method.

n. For steps to take to correct oppression of Black people in going before various official bodies, agencies, and investigations, see p. 304 of Chapter 17.

o. Within this framework, explore the Minneapolis trend lines (p. 115 of Chapter 6).

p. Specific chapter on city government is Chapters 11. For how new elections and redistricting are being used to disempower Blacks see Chapters 12 and 13 and Interlude 12.

q. Consider the YESes and NOs of Chapters 5 and 17 and the seven values on p. 316. May each of us ask ourselves the four questions of p. 321, and may we give serious thought to the “How do we get there?” question of pp. 321-323. I offer my personal answer on p. 323.

r. Develop relationships with law firms and public relations (PR) agencies and seek their advice and, as often as possible, pro bono (free) work and representation, where applicable.

s. Determine the most appropriate level for the delivering of city services: city agencies, non-profits, voluntary associations, churches, neighborhoods, or directly to families.

t. In other words, empower people at the most appropriate levels (see my pp. 2,4, 55, 203, 211), rather than disempower them (see pp. 2, 8, 21, 38, 59, 60, 68, 99, 103, 187, 202, 202, 294, 311).

7. In terms of a moral framework:

a. First, as on p. 98, Chapter 5 (”Justice and Fairness”) deal with three main issues of (1) fairness, (2) expectations of individuals, and (3) how it is all to be addressed: individually, collectively, or both? The Minneapolis Story continues in my weekly columns (posted on The Minneapolis Story web site. See especially column #1.

b. As it anchors all the major religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam), base personal and institutional behavior on The Golden Rule. In other words, required and needed is BOTH personal responsibility and institutional accountability. Understand the need for all to be involved in a moral and ethical grounding from which to make decisions about education, jobs, housing, public safety, the environment, and for making decisions regardng how and for what public and private spending should take place. I outline the Golden Rule approach in Chapter 5 of my book, as it is shared by all the major religions and ethical frameworks. In other words, we need to acknowledge the barbarians both at the gate and those inside the gate, and work as One to preserve our Constitutional way of life for all as set forth in the Declaration of Independence, under E pluribus Unum, one out of many, not the trendy and fashionable and yet dangerous many out of one.

c. Self-reliance requires an asset base, which includes education, housing, and jobs (p. 147). Stop taking Black wealth (Interlude 8) and instead enable it to be made.

d. Recognize the genius and follow the moral and ethical example set by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” “The Playboy Interview,” and his “I Have a Dream” speech, all brought together at The Unfinnished Dream. Establish a “Sullivan Commission” for Minneapolis to sort all of this out (see Chapter 14).

e. Explore the propositions of Peter Berger, as listed in the Conclusion of my book, p. 315. Use as a base the seven values held universally around the globe by many, as a starting point, on p. 316, in the Conclusion. Explore the theses of Peter Berger on p. 297 of my book, Interlude 16.

f. Call “a family meeting”: as has been pointed out elsewhere, back in the year 2000, Dave Jennings, (with the school district as of this writing), in discussing the stadium problem, said “someone other than the teams have to create a public discussion about the future of the Twins and the Vikings in Minnesota. The teams are crying out for somebody to call the family meeting” (Star Tribune,8-10-00). So too, the problems outlined in my book call out for a public discussion, for a “family meeting.” Who should call it? Why not the Urban League, the NAACP, or the two together? How about a newspaper? A company? A coalition? A church. A church denomination. Let the family meeting be called. Let the conversation begin. Use this Solution Paper to develop the agenda.

g. Consider, for goals, the lists on p. 305 of Chapter 17, as taken from the reports on the Watts Riots in L.A. and from the Kerner Commission on the riots of 1967.

h. Use as criteria for evaluating policies and actions the YESes and NOs listed in Chapters 5 and 17, and use a calculus of meaning and a calculus of pain (see Chapters 1, 5, 16 and Conclusion).

i. Utilize the best that can be found in conflict resolution models (see ), as well as the four questions on p. 321 in the Conclusion chapter.

j. Recognize the need to expand news coverage to include all, and engage not just the limited and biased Star Tribune, but also the Black newspapers (see my “On Why American Cities Need Black Newspapers”).

k. Seek a wider representation for input from Blacks and stop relying on just the Urban League or the NAACP. In terms of the NAACP, it has, for all intents and purposes, abdicated its responsibilities and turned it self into a tool of White DFLers. (see my “Eye Off the Prize”)

l. Recognize that whatever is done must be done within a state and national context, not just Minneapolis context.

m. Calm the nerves and steel the spine with the music we have used historically to sooth us and inspire us.

n. Calculate a better future for all: follow Interlude 16. There are “positive future possibilities for Minneapolis” and a process to follow to achieve them (Chapter 17). This will happen if we don’t lose sight of the prize of equality’s freedom (”Conclusion” chapter).

o. Never forget: “The stakes are high for ALL of us, which is why hope still beats eternal” (p. 324).

p. Ponder this: “Since slavery, Jim Crow” etc., we know what man is capable of. Since the Civil War…riots of 1965 and 1967…we know what is at stake” (p. 325).

q. Ponder this as well: Be more careful with therapeutic language, substituting “well” for “good” and “ill” for “evil.” The U.S. in World War II understood that. Today’s relativism does not.


The Federalist Papers that frame the meaning of our Constitution talk of the need for a moral base to make democracy and freedom work. People need to be reminded of the moral base. Hence my beginning with the Golden Rule. But all have something: the Golden Rule and the beatitudes of Christianity, the lists of Hinduism (the Rules of Dharma, Yogananda’s 10 Rules of Eternal Happiness, which are his commentaries on the 10 Commandments), the list of Buddhism, the list of Islam, etc.). Without principles and conscience we can’t last. There will also be those at our gates astride their envy and armed with pain. There are also those within our gates, both native born and immigrants, who seek our downfall. Eternal vigilance is the watchword again. To review: the 7 KEY THEMES are

(1) equal education for all, (2) equal opportunity for jobs for all, and (3) equal access to housing for all. Underlying these are (4) the need for public safety, (5) a safe environment (air, water, soil), (6) governing to achieve a balance between the separate and different public and private funding, which includes a tax plan, fair to individuals (livable wages) and corporations (economic growth) to facilitate the strengthening and growing of the economy and jobs for all, and (7) the moral and ethical grounding needed for laws and their enforcement from which to make decisions about education, jobs, housing, public safety, the environment, and how and for what public and private spending takes place. The key moral rule that I outline in my book is the “Golden Rule,” an ethical standard shared by all major religions and ethical frameworks. In this process, we need to acknowledge the barbarians at the gate and those inside the gate.

The KEY PROBLEMS to solve are

(1) the gap between educational achievement in K-12 and SAT scores for college, (2) compliance with hiring rules requiring jobs for all, not just Whites, (3) stopping red lining and the “containment” of Blacks in crime impact zones and open all housing to all. Underlying these three are (4) the need to meet the emergency of Black youth that has resulted in so much crime, including Black on Black crime, impacting on both White and Black public safety, (5) a safe environment (air, water, soil), including former “projects” like Hollman/Heritage Park, (6) the governing issues as a need to balance separate and unified public and private funding/taxing/investing issues, and (7) a return to a city ruled by its laws not lawless men and women (elected, appointed, hired bureaucrat), whether the lawless are black collar or white collar or blue collar, using a politics of inclusion, not one party rule, including the inclusion of all the rules.

Obviously, or at least I hope it’s obvious, we are attempting to bridge the city’s racial divide. There is racism to deal with to be sure (from both Blacks and Whites). Both sides are not innocent of patronizing and demeaning the other. So we must start with the admission of animosity existing in some Blacks and in some Whites (some might use the word many). The second admission we must make is that we really do, in terms of Native American reservations and inner cities, have 3rd world enclaves within our country. This is factual. There is a history as to why. We must change it so that it remains history past. But no matter what Whites want to say about the behavior of Blacks in the city, especially the gangsta and the gang bangers, and those seemingly unwilling to join civil society, the historic roots must be remembered. The story of Blacks in America, as opposed to immigrant Blacks and other immigrant minorities, is the story of deferment. What some consider the first real play about Blacks (other than musicals or comedies) was the March 7, 1959 opening of the Lorraine Hansberry play (she was 26 years old) “A Raisin in the Sun.” That was 44 years ago. 40 years ago on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., when he was 34, delivered his “I have a dream” speech. It is due to this purposeful deferment that both sides of the Affirmative Action debate are correct. It shouldn’t be that way. Race based is wrong. Color blind is right. But that sword buts both ways when slavery, Jim Crow, and the Kerner Commission Report, were race based, are factored in. See my paper “Restorative Afffirmative Action,” which synthesizes these two seemingly polar opposites. And this is where these two admissions intersect, for in the play “A Raisin in the Sun,” we have the line “What happens to a dream deferred/ Does it dry up/ Like a raisin in the sun?” Whites need to think of the damages done directly to Blacks and indirectly to Whites in terms of motivation and initiative caused by the deferment (250 years of slavery, 75 years of Jim Crow, and the past 35 years of the 1968 Kerner Commission Report that said Blacks are different and can’t make it on their own. Whites must repudiate this central rational for the policy of the past 35 years. And Blacks need to confront that lie, dismiss it, stop acting as if it was true, and get on with living free and independent lives. This problem is also addressed in the Solution Papers section in the paper The Unfinished Dream, which contains three pieces from Martin Luther King that addresses this problem, as well as excerpts from the book, “The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes”. This is being written in the context of a city that has witnessed many shootings of Blacks and police harassment of Blacks, and a city trying to avoid the mediation process between the police and the community. Finally, this is being written against the back drop of an as yet undigested historic event: 9/11, showing us that there are those who would change our way of life and our liberty and freedom because they want everyone to worship God as they do, with their clerics in charge. This is happening while strong misgivings remain about the one thing America needs most at this time, a true melting pot, where multi-culturalism becomes a respect for other peoples’ culture in their homes and community but only after all, Whites included, subordinate their public life and roles in the community using the same language of English. If we can’t attain that, we will splinter and those at our gates will win. Thus this is not about White guilt (although there is room for some) nor about victimization (although there is legitimate room for some here as well). It is about finding common community ground. The issue is not the lack of dialogue about race (unless you don’t consider as part of the dialogue the 49 years since the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education or the 39 years since the 1964 Civil Rights Act or the 37 years since the 1966 Voting Rights Act, or the dozens of race riots, especially in 1967, or the hundreds of deaths and millions of dollars in property damage as well as looting, and the staggering amount of paper used to print the many pieces of legislation, not to mention the dialogue about the billions spent on the War on Poverty and other race based programs, not to mention the fact that it sometimes seems as if there are is affirmative action for more people that there are actually people in this country. As the old saying goes, BS talks, action walks. We need action. Let’s all admit that the race hustle is over, that there is no special “Black reality” needing special spokesmen or women. And lets admit this is not about Blacks in general. Many are doing well. This is about the inner cities, the plantations run by the Democrats for votes and city control. We must also admit that many cities are headed by Black leaders (Newark and Oakland come to mind) and yet are not doing well at all. So mental and psychological adjustment is needed by both Blacks and Whites. That brings us back to the question of deferment. Deferment must end. And we cannot, as some prominent Black and White leaders are saying, wait generations. Where Whites are clearly part of the problem is well documented in my book just as I document the fact that Blacks too are part of the problem. Neither side is pure. Both sides can transform. We have problems in education, jobs, housing, public safety, the environment, governance, and particularly with our Black youth. But we can solve these problems. And we need not wait. The solution process to follow is the “old” civil rights model. One is reminded of the old baseball combination of Tinkers to Evers to Chance. In this civil rights model, it was speaker to people to legislators and judges. Martin Luther King was made the spokesperson. The people responded and demonstrated and caused people to see the truth of the vision and the dedication of purpose and the sincerity of not taking their eyes of the prize of freedom. There were many spokesmen, especially in church pulpits and Black newspapers. Thurgood Marshall went before the Supreme Court (and was the lead attorney of an army of lawyers working the capital and the state houses. We also need tireless advocates, such as Clarence Mitchell, who worked the halls of congress going before the lawmakers while King went before the public and Marshall went before the courts. They were the point men of the many that did so. Mitchell fanned out into Congress and worked with those who fanned out to the state houses. These “types” represent the kind of people needed for success in the civil rights cause. So too, we need the same strategy today in Minneapolis and every city: we have plenty of spokespersons in our Black newspapers, on the Internet, in our Black TV and radio talk and forum show, in the Black preachers and the Leadership Forum, in our two Black Council members, the Urban League, and, when it ever gets its act together, the NAACP. They can stir the pot and carry our message to the greater population of Minneapolis, Minnesota, the United States and the world. Next we have the people, the readers of our Black newspapers, the viewers of our Black TV shows, the constituents of our City Council, and the parishioners of our Black churches, as well as all of the White sympathizers who stand in solidarity with us, a group which represents the majority of Americans. Finally, we have the hard part, attorneys and law makers, wherein we work on drafting proposed changes in the law and then work with legislators in general and, in particular, with the Chairs of the committees dealing with the areas of our concern, in order to provide them with our own legislative proposals for changing the laws/statutes/regulations/rules such that it helps to stop or reduce racism and its discrimination in education, jobs, and housing, as well as shore up public safety, environment and governing. Without this key critical and crucial last part, all the rest is for naught. To succeed there must be changes in the laws/statutes/regulations/rules. And this can only be done by working the halls of Congress, the halls of our state legislature, and our city council. We need people to speak out. We need people to follow them. Without someone working with the rule makers, it won’t make much difference. Different groups and neighborhoods can meet together as a “people of the whole” and divide up these seven areas in order to get information and research, demonstrations and spotlights, and new language for state and city laws, statutes, regulations and rules. Consider the “appropriate” deliverer of city services: city as agency deliverer or city as overseer of those delivering services for the city. Some say city services should be provided by an ever expanding modern welfare state. Other say this creates ever more larger taxes to support ever larger government bureaucracies that send more on staff than those the staff is supposed to serve. Still others say it should be some of both. This is NOT an argument for expanding or contracting city benefits, but rather the suggestion that there are alternative mechanisms for providing city services, including non-profits, voluntary associations, neighborhood associations, churches, as well as directly to individuals and/or families. See (1) “To Empower People: From State to Civil Society,” Twentieth Anniversary Edition of book by Peter L. Berger and Richard John Neuhaus, Edited by Michael Novak, (2) “Institutions of Democracy,” Edited by Peter L. Berger, and (3) “Small Is Beautiful,” by E.F. Shumacher. “Oversight” Committees This means that some one or some group should sponsor one to seven oversight committees dealing with these seven themes/problems/solutions in terms of how well the city is dealing with them: education, jobs, housing, public safety, safe environment, governing, and moral/ethical, and who can also inform the people, spokespersons, and the attorneys and lawmakers seeking appropriate change in order to get information and research, demonstrations and spotlights, and new language for state and city laws, statutes, regulations and rules. These could be by neighborhoods, blocks, individuals, foundations, neighborhood organizations, corporations, city council committee, chuches/synogogues/mosques, schools, etc. A way of doing would be for each or together to develop a web portal for developing and disseminating information and communications strategies that people can easily follow on the web page or through Email lists. This could be separate, by committee, or done as a part of “Cyberpoliticking” by participating in any of several political E-mail discussion groups of Minnesota’s “E-Democracy,” at http:// There is also “Minnesota Meetings,” at and, in St. Paul, Politalk

A special committee could also be set up to provide ways (seminars? workshops? being part of other programs? other?) to demonstrate and teach “Learned Optimism” (book by Martin E.P. Seligman) and raising one’s “Adversity Quotient” (book by Paul Stoltz), how to find meaning even in the inner city ghetto while climbing out, especially needed for young Black men: “Man’s Search for Meaning” (book by Viktor Frankl), and how to formulate all of this into the 2nd of the modern skills need to succeed (the first being education), and that is the presentation of self in every day life (Goffman’s phrase) so as to learn How to Make Friends and Influence People” (book by Andrew Carnegie). None of these are based on being “White” but on being human, and apply across the board, to American culture as a whole and all of the unique sub-culture that make up the American quilt.

For additional resources from which to gain a better historical perspective:

1. Nellie Stone Johnson, co-founder of the DFL, Interlude 3 2. “The greatest trio…The greatest quartet…,” Interlude 4 3. Dred Scott and Fort Snelling, Interlude 6 4. “Torn from the Land” newspaper series, Interlude 8 5. “10,000 Men Named George,” the HBO movie on Pullman Porters and the work of A. Phillip Randolph, as they worked for jobs and the search for dignity and respect, Interlude 9 6. “Keep the Faith, Baby,” the Showtime movie on Adam Clayton Powell, about what a Black leader can do who doesn’t see himself as a victim, Interlude 11 7. Gerrymandering, Interlude 12 8. “The Tulsa Race Riots,” Interlude 13 9. Lest we forget: Slave stories and slave ancestry, Interlude 14 10. Lynching, assassination, Interlude 15 11. The good news on race, Interludes 5 and 7 12. Racism, the bad news on race, Interludes 2 and 10

A forthcoming new book about young men in general and in the Twin Cities in particular, by Dr. David M. Pence, discusses many issues germane to the question of young men, especially the emergency situation with young Black men: “Apostles, Knights & Founding Fathers: Essays for Young Men.” Dr. Pence heads “City Fathers, which publishes the periodic magazine about issues vital to the quality of citizenship in the Twin Cities, “City Fathers,” especially the relationship between liberty, fraternity, and manhood as they relate to the public square and civic loyalty. This is a well recommended companion reader to the Solution Paper State of Emergency for Black Youth. Last edited/amended: November 30, 2003. Note also: Building Blocks for a New Minneapolis

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

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