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Justice Work Continues Behind the Scenes, Post-Floyd

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Monday, June 7, 2021   

MINNEAPOLIS - Racial justice advocates say they hope their movement doesn't slow down after the recent anniversary of George Floyd's death and the conviction of Derek Chauvin. Minnesota groups continue behind-the-scenes work they feel will contribute to ending systemic racism.

The spring saw activists and their supporters holding rallies similar to last year. Christian McCleary, an activist working with programs such as the Council for Black Male Success in St. Paul, said those visible elements of the demand for change are important.

But he said it can't be the only way to achieve equality.

"It's beyond just the policing," said McCleary. "It's the housing, it's the education, it's the mentorships, it's the relationships. All of those things are not being prioritized. "

The Council was formed about six years ago through the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation. Its mission centers around life-long mentorships for Black males.

Floyd's death sparked more awareness about Minnesota's longstanding racial disparities, and the Foundation says solutions have to be community driven.

The Foundation also is investing in the Family Housing Fund, which focuses on equitable and affordable housing across the Twin Cities region.

The group's Vice President Colleen Ebinger said a new program helps Black, Indigenous and People of Color residents become owners of two- to four-unit properties.

"Disparities in wealth, in this state and also across the country," said Ebinger, "are largely due to disparities in property ownership."

She said owning a duplex or triplex can not only give marginalized residents extra rental income, but the Fund estimates it can provide about $300,000 in net wealth over 15 years.

The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation's Senior Vice President of Community Impact, Pahoua Yang Hoffman, said this behind-the-scenes work at the community level was going on prior to the racial reckoning.

She added the collective effort should be at the center of the movement towards transformative change.

"Our community members already know what the need to do," said Hoffman. "But they need the time and the resources to support their work so they can show up and build coalitions, build partnerships. And this is the hard, long-term work."

Beyond the community level, other organizations and activists continue to press policymakers at the Minnesota Capitol. They're hoping for adoption of additional police accountability measures.




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