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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

The MLK Legacy

Category: Society
Posted: 01/19/15 19:43

by Alan Anderson

We celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday on January 19 this year. It is a tribute to a man who worked tirelessly for integration of American society and for the acceptance of Black and other minorities into the main life of American culture. He lived in a time where children of different races went to separate schools; where Blacks couldn't sit in certain restaurants and other public places, and when voting rights were denied based on ability to read or on taking certain tests to qualify to vote. And because no honeymoon suites were available for African-Americans, King and his wife Coretta spent their wedding night at a friend's funeral parlor.

As a result of King's efforts, along with thousands of others, the Civil Rights Law was passed and signed by President Lyndon Johnson. Because of the law many millions of Blacks and other minorities started to become regulars in American society.

Knowing King was associated with this history, it is important to realize today that there is still much to be done to achieve the "dream" he shared with America. It is especially important because some of the progress he fought for has been erased by certain government policies and by new cases/decisions that have come from the Supreme Court. In 2013 the Court altered the law and removed oversight by the Congress to ensure that there were not discriminatory practices that affect the rights of minorities to vote, especially in many southern states. As soon as the law was revised several states rushed to pass laws requiring IDs for voting, eliminating same day registrations, and made it harder for the elderly, the poor, and minorities to register and vote. So, some of the progress King fought for has been eroded by current practices. We still are better off than in the 1950s and 60s, when there was outright segregation, but there are many instance of abuses that need to be addressed.

Certainly issues with recent shootings in several cities of Black children and teens/young adults have raised issues of civil rights and equal treatment. There is an renewed loss of faith in the judicial and police systems that need to be addressed and repaired. And the income and opportunity gaps between people of color and Whites continues to be an issue, especially as wealthy individuals seem to be acquiring larger and larger shares of wealth and financial power.

The message of the MLK birthday is clear: we need to celebrate our successes and remain vigilant that past problems don't emerge and generate new challenges. We need to continue to move forward, realizing that there is underlying racism and hostility toward equality by some in society. MLK Day is a time to rejoice, reflect, and restore the momentum that characterized the efforts of the 1950s and 60s. Thanks to Dr. King and his community for helping to ensure that America doesn't forget it moral goals and values of peace, non-violence, and dedication to justice and equality for all.
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Thank You Bloomington City Attorney. More Protest Publicity.

Category: Society
Posted: 12/29/14 22:41, Edited: 12/29/14 22:42

by Dave Mindeman

The Mall of America and the City of Bloomington are treading a fine line in the handling of the recent protests staged in the MOM shopping mall....

Nearly all the 26 people arrested recently for protesting at the Mall of America were cited for misdemeanors. Most were for trespassing because the privately-owned mall bans political demonstrations.

It would seem that the Mall of America is telling me I have an open invitation to visit their property as long as I do not engage in political activity. With the possible exception of a Sarah Palin book signing I guess.

Alright....OK....maybe they can arrest protesters with a charge of trespass. But this may backfire:

None of the group's leaders were arrested, but Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson has said she intends to file charges against them as soon as this week.

In fact, Johnson was quoted:

"'It's important to make an example out of these organizers so that this never happens again,' Johnson said. "It was a powder keg waiting for the match."

I can't think of a more sure fire way to make demonstrations at the Mall of America a regular thing than to start making people "examples".

There was nothing violent about this protest. It was peaceful and meaningful. Shoppers were inconvenienced, sure, but hardly a major disruption in a multi-million dollar shopping season.

If City Attorney Johnson wants to prolong the impact of what happened then, by all means, file more charges. It can only lead to more negative publicity for the Mall and a sure fire way to make the Mall a future target for more protest.

The protest wanted to make noticeable impact and it did -- peacefully and orderly. But for the city to move beyond that with vindictive charges against the organizers only adds more credibility to what they were protesting.....the overzealous abuse of legal authority.

In the future, any protest looking to make a bigger public impact will be seeking out the Mall of America and the Bloomington authorities. Because, it would seem, they can count on an overreaction sure to make news.
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Rep. Peppin vs. The MN State High School League

Category: Society
Posted: 12/08/14 16:43

by Dave Mindeman

Soon to be GOP Majority Leader in the House, Rep. Joyce Peppin, went out of her way to comment on the Minnesota State High School League's new policy on transgender policies. Her comments didn't specify what exactly brought about this statement after the transgender policy was announced, but she did indicate that more "oversight" of the league was needed.

It can only be assumed that the "new" GOP House is still locked into the "old" GOP fixation on social issues.

Peppin's remarks are not just those of a legislative individual. She now speaks as one of the core leadership of the new Republican majority. So that must mean that the MN High School League policy is now a "target" of the House majority.

It has been difficult enough for the MN State High School League to find a way that allows transgender athletes to participate in high school sports with at least a modicum of normalcy. But add the always volatile element of politics and you have an unwanted focal point of attention.

It is unfortunate for this type of meddling to begin even before the policy has been implemented.

Is this really the type of priority this "new" majority wants to open with?

Isn't the budget and transportation funding enough to keep them busy?

I applaud the Minnesota High School League for attempting to tackle a very sensitive issue. They will have their hands full navigating the waters of parental influence.

But it would be advisable for the legislature to keep their partisan, political hands off the topic - and give the League at least a chance to give it an honest and fair trial.
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