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  • 8 Jan 2020 8:38 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Stephan Witherspoon giving a thumbs up during a speech.2020: The Next Phase of the Movement - The Demand of Tangible Deliverables

    The next phase of the movement consists of putting words into action and letting those actions be the catalyst to ignite essential, tangible change. It is no mystery that segregation by comfort still exists on multiple levels in our society, and this dynamic must and will change. We together as a community deal with the consequences of suicide, drug overdose, gun violence, and very little human connection. We need humanity back in a major way. 

    We must pay more attention to environmental issues that affect low income and people in poverty. Toxic levels of lead in our air & water and high levels of mercury and other environmental pollutants are affecting our youth’s behavior, critical thinking, and overall health. This is happening on a much higher scale than we realize.

    Gentrification is happening before our eyes, and some questions have yet to be answered on how it will affect the residents who already live in these areas. The displacement has already started.  

    There is also the boundary line conversations in our public schools. If this goes in a wrong direction, it has the potential to cut funding that would be more detrimental to our African Heritage youth, Indigenous youth, and low income families.  All of these important issues directly and indirectly affect us all. You must get involved.

    Make this the year the year we change our pedagogy on how we teach our youth. Be more creative and integrate more technology into the classroom. Help students bring their ideas to life, allow them to ask questions, encourage self expression, and be intentional by teaching them critical thinking techniques when it comes to academics such as math and science. 

    We can start by making a bigger concerted effort to recruit professionals that best represent all cultures and social groups in our community. The realization of how intersectionality plays a role in our everyday lives must be at the forefront when working on more equitable changes on all levels in our society. The modernization or removal of discriminatory laws, policies, protocols, and procedures - especially at the highest levels in our government - must change. This should be an intentional priority in our hospitals, public schools, public offices, city positions, and other businesses that serve the community.  

    In the New Year, allies to people of color, this is what you can do to ignite that change: 

    Get Involved: Whether it is NAACP or other like organizations, join and use your set of skills to forward the movement.

    Invest in social change: If you really want to see a more equitable society, put your money where your mouth is. Invest in organizations and people who promote it.

    Call out hate speech: If you hear family, friends, and or people use hate speech call it out and let them know that it is highly unacceptable anytime, anywhere.

    Show up: Go to cultural events other than yours. Participate and get your family involved. 

    Vote: In this upcoming election year, show up to the polls, take your ballot, and utilize your right to vote!!

    The effects of our synergy today will create the blueprint for tomorrow!! Which side of history will you be on?

    Photo credit: Ivy Vainio


  • 8 Jan 2020 8:31 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    MLK 2020 Poster with dates as described in the post

    Duluth and Superior are honoring and celebrating the legacy of Civil Rights Movement leader, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a series of tribute events on January 19 - 20 coordinated by the Duluth Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). These events are free and open to the public.

    This year’s theme is “Give Us The Ballot” which is centered around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s "Give Us the Ballot and We Will Transform the South." In his speech, Dr. King speaks to the importance of political power and the right to vote. He states that the right to vote is a sacred right. A right that should be defended and aggressively upheld. The Reverend goes on to say that if we are to achieve racial justice we need strong leadership from our government and our communities. He speaks to the coming freedom and independence of communities of color and the importance of leading with love. Dr. King suggests that even in victory we must “avoid the temptation of being victimized with the psychology of victors.” We must work to pursue victories while seeking harmony with those who would see us harmed. Dr. King would have us focus on the future and not despair. He states “Let us realize that as we struggle for justice and freedom, we have cosmic companionship.”

    We will honor Dr. King in this year’s events including:

    • Interfaith Worship Service - January 19, 4pm at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church - 219 N. 6th Ave. E., Duluth
    • Community Breakfast - January 20, 7am at Holy Family Catholic Church - 2430 W. 3rd St., Duluth
    • March - January 20, 10am at Washington Center - 310 N 1st Ave W, Duluth, MN 55806 & March begins at 11:15 AM
    • Rally - January 20, 12 pm at the DECC - 350 Harbor Dr, Duluth.

    The 2020 MLK Community Breakfast will feature a free, hot, delicious meal provided by the Duluth Grill and served by the African American Men’s Group; a presentation by Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General via a live-streamed broadcast of the Twin Cities MLK Day Celebration. The freewill offering recipient will be Family Freedom Center.

    The 2020 MLK March will be led by the Men as Peacemakers "Girls Group" Restorative Justice Program and will host a variety of youth and community activities, poster making, and refreshments starting at 10 am, and the March will begin promptly at 11:00am.

    For our 2020 MLK Rally, the Keynote Speaker is Autumn Brown, and our emcee will be Doreen Nyamwaya. Performers include the Miziiweykaamikiinaang drum group, the ARE Poets, and the Major Atraktion Dance Group. The Drum Major for Peace Awards will be announced and presented. There will be children’s activities, a selfie photo booth, vendors, and free MLK buttons while supplies last outside the DECC hall before and shortly after the Rally. The Rally will begin promptly at 12 pm. The rally will be interpreted into American Sign Language and recorded for broadcast.

    All events in the MLK Tribute series serve to inspire and educate our community, honoring the work and life of Martin Luther King, Jr. through meaningful local community engagement.

    For more on all of our MLK Tribute events, please visit duluthnaacp.org/mlk.

    Our “Mountain Top” Sponsors are The College of Saint Scholastica and the Duluth Entertainment. Our “Drum Major for Peace” Sponsors include Blackbird Revolt, ISD 709 Office of Educational Equity, and the School District of Superior. Our “I Have a Dream” Sponsors include Duluth Grill, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Interfaith Action, Northland Foundation, Lake Superior College, UMD African & African American Studies Program, 1Roof Community Housing, UMD Campus Climate, and the Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans. Our “Beloved Community” Sponsors include Girl Power! YWCA Duluth, National Audio Visual, UMD Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Clayton Jackson McGhie, and Duluth Superior Pride. Thank you for your contribution to the success of the MLK Events!


  • 14 Nov 2019 2:01 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Decorative imagePhoto by Dan Gold on Unsplash

    The Duluth NAACP Health & Environmental Equity Committee welcomes Morgan Park neighbors in particular and the public in general to the next Garden Committee Meeting. The meeting will take place this Saturday 1:00-4:00PM at the Goodfellowship Community Center, 1242 88th Ave W, Duluth, MN 55808.

    Morgan Park neighbors and the Duluth NAACP Health & Environmental Equity Committee have formed the Garden Committee with the mission to build a community garden for the Morgan Park Food Justice Community Garden Project. The project is designed to help neighbors who may not always know where their next meal is coming from. The garden is planned to be built in the spring of 2020, with funding that the Duluth NAACP Health & Environmental Equity committee received from the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Grant.

    Saturday’s event will host an expert panel, including people who have helped start or run community gardens and garden programs. Neighbors will be asked about their interest in gardening and for their input on the location of the garden, size of plots, and management of garden upkeep. Information tables related to health and gardening will be open for exploration during the afternoon.

    Childcare and fresh vegetable snacks will be provided. Everyone attending will have the opportunity to enter a raffle to win one of ten $10 gift cards to a local grocery store.

  • 7 Nov 2019 8:55 AM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Janet Kennedy photo

    Across the nation, Tuesday’s elections produced record wins for candidates of color, women, transgender people, and other historically underrepresented groups. Duluth’s City Council election was no exception. The Duluth NAACP wishes to congratulate our Vice President Janet Kennedy on her historic election to the Duluth City Council in the 5th District. Janet will be the first African American to serve on the Council, and brings decades of expertise as a strong community advocate, a career professional in the healthcare industry, and is a lifelong resident of West Duluth.

    Janet ran on a platform of community-centered economic development, building vibrant neighborhoods across our city, and promoting equitable access to healthcare and transportation for all Duluth residents. Her commitment to these important issues are vital to a just future for our community, and embody the Duluth NAACP’s mission “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons, and eliminate race-based discrimination.”

    More broadly, representation by people of African heritage and other historically marginalized groups is critically important at all levels of government. The Duluth NAACP honors the hard work of Janet and her campaign team, and hopes to continue making strides toward more anti-racist political gains in our community and beyond.

    To get involved in the Duluth NAACP Political Action Committee or other branch initiatives, or to join the NAACP please visit our Committees or Join page at duluthnaacp.org.

  • 30 Oct 2019 2:11 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Xavier Bell

    Message from the President:

    The Duluth Branch NAACP would like to pay homage to Mr. Xavier Bell for his unconditional love and leadership in our community. He was the definition of a true servant leader. His passing is a tremendous loss and a major blow to our community and he will be sorely missed! May he rest in peace!

    -- Stephan Witherspoon

    Funeral Information

    November 2, 2019
    2 pm - Visitation
    3 pm - Celebration of Life
    Peace United Church of Christ
    1111 N. 11th Ave E.  
    Duluth, MN 55805

    People are encouraged to carpool and, if they are able, park near Myers-Wilkens Elementary School to save parking spaces for people who need to be closer to the church.

    The service will be live streamed on Peace Church’s Facebook page for those not able to attend in person.

    Official Message from the Bell Family: 

    “X loved his family, others, and most importantly, God. He gave people a purpose. He was a father to the fatherless and was a source of life, positivity, kindness, and love. He lived his life as a lover of music and a soldier of social justice. We are deeply saddened by this tragic event and are overwhelmingly grateful to the St. Luke’s nurses, doctors, and staff, in addition to members of the community who have helped us through this trying time. The family would like to request privacy at this time.”

    The Family Freedom Center is the dream of Bell’s that started in 2015 as an initiative to bring the black community together.  Our organization is to focus on the needs, cultural heritage, and to be a resource for families in the Duluth area. Last year, the Family Freedom Center found a home of its own in Lincoln Park and expanded to include the Family Freedom Summer program that was inspired by the Freedom Schools that took place during the civil rights movement. 

    “X was a giant in our community. He dedicated his life to building bridges and fought for diversity and equality. There was no one like him,” said longtime friend Carl Crawford. 

    “Spending time with X was always such a joy,” Mayor Emily Larson said. “He was so passionate about the work that he did, and for the impact that it had on our community. He led with his heart, and that led him to accomplish incredible things. His passing is a huge loss for Duluth and our state.”

    Xavier left us to continue doing that work that he loved. It is our responsibility to continue his mission and his work that has touched so many lives in our community and beyond. The Family Freedom Center staff, its Board of Directors, and Xavier’s family are dedicated to bringing Xavier’s goals to fruition and will do so in his memory. 

    Our organization and the Bell family would like to invite the community to celebrate Xavier’s life on Saturday, November 2, at 3:00 p.m. at Peace United Church of Christ. 1111 N 11th Ave East, Duluth MN 55805.  Visitation at 2:00 pm. All are welcome.

    _________

    About the Family Freedom Center: The Family Freedom Center seeks to empower the Black community by reconstructing socio-cultural narratives and unapologetically embracing what it means to be Black, both historically and present day. We will do this by exploring alternative means of education and providing resources that bridge the gap between community and students. This bridge will engage members of the organization with love, respect, guidance, knowledge, and pride. The Family Freedom Center fosters positive change in various systemic landscapes that directly impact the Black community while being inclusive to the Duluth community at large.


  • 18 Oct 2019 1:20 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Free, light refreshments available

    The Duluth NAACP Criminal Justice Committee is proud to sponsor “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”, a speak out, panel and Zine-Making on the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation on October 22 at the UMD Garage, 1st floor of the Kirby Student Center.

    The event will begin with a curated speak out where biographies of victims of police brutality will be read, followed by a panel of local experts discussing the history of policing, their continued militarization, the culture of safety and a future free of violence. Following the panel, attendees are invited to join in Zine making, focused on the theme “A World Free of Violence”.

    Partnering organizations include: Duluth NAACP, Superior Save the Kids, Duluth Save the Kids, and the College Chapter of the NAACP of the University of Minnesota Duluth.

    To learn more, visit the Facebook Event Page or contact criminaljustice@naacp.org.


    What: "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" speak out, panel and Zine-Making event
    Where: When: October 22, 2019 at 5:30PM - 7:30PM / UMD Garage, Kirby Student Center
    Cost: Free
    Members of the media should arrive 15-30 minutes prior to the event to conduct interviews so as not to disrupt the event itself.

  • 25 Jun 2019 11:57 AM | Anonymous

    We need financial support to make membership in NAACP College chapter and a Youth Council we are working to establish more affordable.  Can you make a donation to help us reduce the cost of membership from $10 to $5? For every $5 you give, you can help us recruit another student or youth to be a part of the NAACP.  

    Click here to make a donation (please add Youth/College Chapter in the memo line). 

    Please note that the Duluth NAACP is a 501c(4) organization and contributions are not tax exempt. 


  • 14 Apr 2019 7:23 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    decorative imageThe recent appearance of posters throughout Duluth and Superior promoting a white nationalist hate group should be concerning to us all as a community, but especially to citizens who are the targets of such groups. As the National NAACP stated recently, “domestic terrorism...has been the hammer and chisel used to chip away at the humanity of Black Americans and the suppression of our political power” and “it’s high time we prioritize the threat posed by domestic terrorism.”

    We call on Duluth, Superior, and surrounding cities to make a unified commitment and take a public stand against white nationalist groups and the hate they foster. The first and easiest step is through public statements. Beyond that, we ask that our city leaders publicly accept personal responsibility for promoting a community commitment to ensure that black, brown and every citizen has dignity and feels safe living in the Twin Ports and in surrounding cities. We also encourage our community members to stand up and hold people accountable when they see or hear hatred-filled actions.

    We are confident that our community and the city at large will stand together in solidarity to speak up and take action against hate rhetoric in any form. Together we can work to eradicate hate in all its forms; within our families, neighborhoods, and throughout our cities.

    Hate creates fear, and fear creates division, and we need to stand strong as a community; a difference can only be made together.


  • 21 Mar 2019 4:50 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Photo of Climate marchers by The Climate Reality Project on UnsplashHealthcare design and operations have a significant impact on community and environmental health. It is well understood within healthcare spheres that social and environmental determinants are the largest influences to individual health. Across the nation, hospitals and health systems are leveraging their economic positions and moral standing in communities to address our climate emergency and support livable economies for all and future generations. In Duluth, Vision Northland should not only include, but lead in the promotion of environmental health and justice by modeling environmentally sustainable, economically and environmentally just practices for the broader society and global community.

    Finally, we believe and recommend that the Essentia Vision Northland (VNL) project and future operations must include a recognition of the disproportionate burdens and health inequities that people of color bear and that this understanding and a commitment to environmental equity be made explicit as a VNL goal as well as future Essentia operations goal.

    We support the investments the project will bring forth for health and jobs. We ask that the city and project developers to consider increased conversations with stakeholders, and the social, economic and environmental impacts of the project on the communities overall health and how it impacts everyone living, working, and playing in Duluth.

  • 20 Mar 2019 4:45 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    In April 2018, thirty-five Duluth community members attended the opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, visiting sites where racial terror had occurred along the way. Among them were several members of the Duluth NAACP, who have agreed to share their experiences on this journey.

    Claudie Washington was, at the time of the recording, the 2nd Vice President of NAACP-Duluth Branch and President of the Twin Ports African American Men’s Group, as well as former long term President of Duluth NAACP and former Vice President of the Minnesota & Dakotas Area State NAACP Conference. Ivy Vainio is chair of the Duluth Branch NAACP Communications Committee.

    Content Warning: Due to the violent subject matter, some of the events discussed in these Duluth to Montgomery Reflections interviews may be unsettling.

    Credits: Duluth to Montgomery Reflections produced by Ivy Vainio, Becky Nelson, Abby Dillon, and Nat Harvie. Our theme music was composed by Jake Vainio.

    Transcript will be available soon.

    To hear other episodes, visit the main Duluth to Montgomery Reflections podcast page.

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