Introducing the United Black Legislative Agenda

You can see the full United Black Legislative Agenda here.

Leaders from across the Black community today unveiled a United Black Legislative Agenda with concrete recommendations to address Minnesota's painful racial disparities. Gov. Mark Dayton has pledged $100 million to address these racial disparities, which are among the worst in the nation. 

Unveiling Black Agenda

"We are at a pivotal moment in this state, both with some of the largest racial disparities in the country, and in a movement when Black people from communities across the state are demanding not only equal treatment but equal opportunity and equal investment," said Anthony Newby, executive director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. "The legislature had three priorities starting out this session: Real ID, Iron Range unemployment, and racial disparities. The first two have been addressed. Today, organizations from across the Black community have come together in an unprecedented way to present the United Black Legislative Agenda in a pragmatic proposal to improve the quality of life for Black Minnesotans."

The three core priorities outlined in the United Black Legislative Agenda are economic justice, criminal justice, and Black immigrant justice. 

"For decades, economic priority has been given to many other communities and regions of the state," said Jeff Hassan, executive director of the African American Leadership Forum. "We can no longer afford to allow the crisis of chronic unemployment and lack of access to capital in black communities to continue. It must change. This agenda will help put us on a path of more inclusive and just Minnesota for its Black residents." 

Organizers with Black Lives Matter and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change spoke of the need for a ban on private prisons, a ban on grand juries for police-involved criminal proceedings, sentencing reform, and voting rights restoration.

 
"Minnesota has one of the highest rates of people under correctional control in the country. It's time to end Minnesota's alarming trend of criminalization of Black people," said Asha Long, organizer with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis. "Our communities need economic investment and opportunity, not prisons. We need policies that will hold the police accountable, not allow them to escape responsibility. This agenda will allow us to begin investing in economic opportunity for Black communities, restore voting rights to those with a previous criminal history, and begin to address police accountability."
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"To many, the Somali and East African community are seen as threats, problems, or communities that don't share the values of Minnesotans. This is far from true," said Mohamed Farah of the Somali Community of Minnesota. "The Somali and East African community aspires for the things all Minnesotans aspire to: economic opportunity for themselves and their kids, safety in knowing they can go to dinner at a restaurant without fear of being harassed or assaulted, and security in old age. This package helps ensure that the immigrant Black community here in Minnesota has equal access to all that Minnesota has to offer."
Leaders stressed that the list did not claim to represent every need of the Black community--education, housing, environmental justice, and many other issues are also important. "This is not a definitive list of what the Black community needs, but a starting point for the 2016 legislative session," said Anthony Newby.
Numerous supportive legislators were also in attendance, including Minnesota's three Black state legislators, Senator Jeff Hayden, Senator Bobby Joe Champion, and Representative Rena Moran. Following the press conference, legislators and community members joined a fishbowl discussion to talk about legislative priorities. Over a dozen legislators joined the discussion.

Organizations that co-created the United Black Legislative Agenda include African American Leadership Forum, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, Council of Minnesotans of African Heritage, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, the Somali Community of Minnesota, and the Urban League.  

The entire United Black Legislative Agenda can be found here

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  • published this page in News 2016-04-06 17:28:27 -0500

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