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  • 5 Feb 2019 10:42 AM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Moments in the Movement-2019 Freedom Fund DinnerDuluth’s NAACP chapter is excited to announce our 2nd Annual Freedom Fund Dinner. Following in the footsteps of the national NAACP, recognizing this is a time for action and change, the event, Moments in the Movement, will be held February 22nd, 2019 at Clyde Iron. The theme of our event aspires to highlight those moments that brought awareness of inequities and injustice and continue to encourage us to mobilize our communities to work together for change.

    Moments in the Movement includes a graphic design art exhibition on the theme by UMD graphic design students, live entertainment and keynote speaker Dr. Mary Canty Merrill,  Entrepreneur, Psychologist, Educator, Advocate, Author, Speaker, Provocateur, World Traveler-Dr. Mary’s most recent literary project—scheduled to launch in early 2019—is entitled, Why Black Lives Matter (Too): Voices of Our Youth. It is Part 2 of her popular and thought-provoking anthology, Why Black Lives Matter (Too): A Revolutionary Call to Action. As a seasoned professional and social justice advocate, Dr. Mary is committed to developing viable solutions that address critical issues by examining race, improving relations and getting to collective impact.

    We will also showcase the accomplishments of the Duluth NAACP and celebrate the work of social/racial justice leaders in our community.

    This year’s MC is local cultural and Naptural style trendsetter, UMD office of Diversity and Equity advisor Sandra Oyinloye

    Doors open at 5:00 for the art exhibition and the dinner and program begin at 6:00. For more information visit the website: duluthnaacp.org/freedomfund

    Tickets may be purchased on the website (duluthnaacp.org/freedomfund) with a credit card or PayPal account or by check or money orders made out to “Duluth NAACP” with “Freedom Fund Dinner” in the memo line. They can be mailed to the following address: P.O. Box 494 Duluth, MN 55801 ATTN: Freedom Fund Committee.

    Tickets for the event are $60 which includes a yearly membership to the NAACP.

  • 16 Jan 2019 11:36 AM | Communications Committee (Administrator)
    MLK 2019 events flyer - details in article textDuluth 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 from January 20 - 21 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 “The Current Crisis” which comes from an article by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., submitted for publication in March of 1958. In the article under the full title, “The Current Crisis in Race Relations,” King tells us that the crisis had been affirmed by the reactions of the country to the Supreme Court’s decision to integrate schools.

    Dr. King also speaks to the theological reasoning for nonviolence and integration. Nonviolence combats the evil committed by individuals rather than combating the individuals committing evil. As we contextualize his ideology today in our fight for justice and racial equity, we remember that our fight isn’t between individuals but with the systems of oppression that affect each of us. As King says “The tension is at bottom between justice and injustice.”

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

    • Interfaith Worship Service - January 20, 4pm at Peace United Church of Christ - 300 E 2nd St, Duluth
    • Community Breakfast - January 21, 7am at First United Methodist Church - 230 E. Skyline Pkwy, Duluth
    • March - January 21, 10am at Washington Center - 310 N 1st Ave W, Duluth, MN 55806 & March begins at 11:15 AM
    • Rally - January 21, 12 pm at the DECC - 350 Harbor Dr, Duluth.
    The Inter-Faith Worship Service will include remarks from Rev. Tracey Gibson of St. Mark AME Church; Dr. Jerel Benton, Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity at UWS; Rickie Defoe, Fond du Lac Ojibwe tribal member and spiritual advisor; and Rabbi David Steinberg of Temple Israel. Performers will be the Wayman A.M.E. Men's Chorus including Henry Banks.

    The 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 First United Methodist Church Pastor Jeanne Alexander; and a live-streamed broadcast of the Twin Cities MLK Day Celebration. The program’s emcee will be Stephanie Williams of the planning committee.

    The 2019 MLK March will host a variety of youth and community activities, giveaways, and refreshments starting at 10am, and the March will begin promptly at 11:15am.

    The 2019 MLK Rally keynote speaker is Minneapolis resident, singer-songwriter, and Black Lives Matter activist Me’Lea Connelly. She is the founder of Blexit, a grassroots economic resistance organization and the Director of the Association for Black Economic Power. The Rally emcee is Tolu Ekisola, a local actress in her final semester at the University of Minnesota Duluth completing a BFA in Musical Theatre and Deaf Studies. Performances from Deiondrea VanDassor and Joyce Biddle, the ARE Poets, and Majur Attraktion will also take place along with the City of Duluth’s Proclamation, installation of NAACP Officers, and amazing giveaways! The 2019 Drum Major for Peace Award Recipients for youth, adult, and organization categories will be announced at the Rally as well.

    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 the first year ever, we have available a series of 2019 MLK Commemorative Posters created to our theme for pre-sale with all proceeds going towards supporting the events. Visit duluthnaacp.org/shop to order today. They will also be available at the Inter-Faith Worship Service and the MLK Rally for pick-up. Posters will be sold at the events while supplies last.

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

    The 2019 MLK events are made possible this year by the American Indian Community Housing Organization, American Lung Association, Blackbird Revolt, Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, DanSan Creatives, Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, Duluth Grill, First United Methodist Church, Interfaith Action Of Greater Saint Paul, ISD 709 Duluth Public Schools' Office of Educational Equity, Ivy Vainio & Arne Vainio, M.D., Minnesota Environmental Partnership, National Audio Visual, Northland Foundation, Peace United Church of Christ, Temple Israel, The College of St. Scholastica, The University of Minnesota Duluth Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Trans Plus, and Wisconsin Public Radio.

  • 16 Jan 2019 11:34 AM | 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.

    Ronnie Wells is a Duluth community member. 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.

  • 3 Jan 2019 10:53 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Stephan Witherspoon, Duluth NAACP Branch PresidentAs we embark on another year, the NAACP Duluth Branch has made incredible strides in the Twin Ports area, letting our community know we hear them, we love them, and we will fight any injustice placed on them. Our working committees have been vital in addressing health, education, labor, criminal justice, and social justice initiatives in our marginalized communities. Although we have made some pretty dramatic positive steps in these areas, we must remain at the forefront of our revolution to keep moving towards a more equitable and liberated society.

    It is quite amazing that the NAACP Duluth Branch membership has increased tenfold in the past couple years. As our membership grows, I encourage the new members and existing members who are not on our working committees to get involved and use their skills to forward our mission. For those who haven’t become members yet, I also highly encourage you to take that step and join us in our work. Our Rapid Response Team, which directly responds to individual and community grievances. We will deal with such grievances together with knowledgeable and prompt action, needs more of our members involved. The people’s voice does matter and will be heard. It is important we establish a Housing Committee to address the current issues we face today.

    I ask all of you to intentionally reference our vision while doing this important work:

    “Our vision for the Northland is one with equitable opportunities for people of African heritage and other marginalized communities.”

    I want to give a shout out to all of our working relationships with other community organizations and individuals who are powerfully building the resistance of the many facets of oppression we face today. We will face them together with one accord!

    I would like to personally thank our committees for all the effort they put into our community:

    • Communications, Press and Publicity
    • Community Coordination (MLK Tribute Events, Juneteenth, etc.)
    • Criminal Justice
    • Economic Development
    • Educational Equity
    • Finance
    • Freedom Fund Dinner
    • Health & Environmental Equity
    • Labor & Industry
    • Membership & Life Membership
    • Political Action
    • Young Adult

    You are all doing stellar work for the NAACP Duluth Branch, and I thank you!

    Finally, my prayer for all of you this new year is to continue the meaningful and much needed work that has been passed down to us through the lineage of our forefathers/mothers and all the civil rights activists before us. Lean on each other, care for one another, and be champions in this revolution even when no one is looking.

    Many Blessings and Happy New Year,

    Stephan Witherspoon,
    President, NAACP Duluth Branch

    “Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world.” -Nelson Mandela


  • 19 Dec 2018 10:52 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.

    Sandra Oyinloye is a Duluth community activist. 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.

  • 18 Dec 2018 10:49 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Decorative imageThe Duluth Branch of the NAACP held their 2019-2020 elections for the executive board on December 16, with results as follows:

    President - Stephan Witherspoon
    Vice President - Janet Kennedy
    2nd Vice President - Terresa Moses
    Secretary - Elena Bantle
    Assistant Secretary - Mary Cowen
    Treasurer - Emily Drevlow
    Vice Treasurer - Jara McLarren

    Executive Committee members are Cruz Mendoza, Doug Bowen-Bailey, Andrea Gelb, Kevin Skwira-Brown, Sandra Oyinloye, Bob Grytdahl, Sharon Witherspoon, Audrey Devine-Ellers, Ivy Vainio, Claudie Washington, Portia Johnson, Carl Crawford, Boissey Johnson, Melissa Meyer.

    The new and returning officers will be officially sworn into office during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Rally on January 21 at 12 pm at the DECC.  

    For more information please visit our website at duluthnaacp.org. Our General Meetings are held every 3rd Sunday from 3:30 pm - 5 pm at the One Roof/Central Hillside Community Center building.

  • 16 Dec 2018 10:46 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Decorative imageDuluth is one of the least affordable places in Minnesota to find housing. A minimum wage earner has to work 64 hours a week to afford an average one bedroom apartment here. Thousands of people pay more for housing than they can realistically afford. Over 800 households are on a priority waiting list for housing because they are currently homeless. This is nothing short of a crisis for many of our neighbors, family members, and friends. The social and economic consequences of housing insecurity and neighborhood instability affect us all.

    Recently, the Duluth Planning Commission and the Duluth Economic Development Authority gave their support to $6.2 million in public financing to a Madison-based developer for a 14-story apartment complex to be built downtown. There is no requirement that any of the units in this new building be affordable to regular Duluthians. Monthly rent is projected to run from $1325 for a studio to nearly $3,000 for a two bedroom.

    The city should not give handouts to for-profit developers without a clear public benefit. Right now our greatest public need is housing for low- and moderate-income people. It doesn’t move Duluth forward to build hundreds of units of housing that are only affordable to doctors in the nearby Essentia campus. We need housing that is also affordable to nurses, janitors and employees of the grocery store proposed for the complex.

    Duluth leaders have been talking about the affordable housing crisis for years. It’s time we stop talking and start taking action to make a change.

    We ask the Duluth City Council to table a vote on the TIF (tax increment financing) district for this new development and send it back to DEDA and the Community Development Division to work out a better deal for Duluth taxpayers that includes a plan for long-term affordability. We further ask that any future housing projects receiving public financing be required to include housing that is affordable to low-income people. This is a small step and it is a fair ask of any developer that wants public financing for their private gain. If this TIF district is approved - with or without greater affordability - we ask the City make a similar investment in affordable housing. This is the least we can do to turn the tide and create a Duluth that works for everyone.

    Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition
    Loaves and Fishes Community
    American Indian Community Housing Organization
    Duluth Branch NAACP

  • 8 Dec 2018 10:44 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Decorative imageThe Duluth NAACP stands with the Duluth Indigenous Commission with renaming Lake Place Park, in Duluth, to Gichi-ode’ Akiing which translates to ‘A Grand Heart Place’ in Anishinaabe language. We understand the importance of genuinely recognizing Anishinaabe lands, people, language, culture and local history to help educate non-Native citizens and visitors

  • 21 Nov 2018 10:42 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.

    Henry Banks is a Duluth community leader and community activist. 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.

  • 29 Oct 2018 10:40 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Decorative imageThe November 6th ballot will include three levy questions regarding resources for our schools. The Duluth NAACP stands in support of the levy, and we urge our community to vote “Yes” on all three questions.

    The first question on the ballot continues the levy that already exists, which supports full-time teacher positions to support class sizes. The second question will bring more staff into the schools. The third will update classroom technology, some of which is over 20 years old.

    We advocate for the district to be held accountable to the public for spending that promotes equity for students of color & low-income students, decreasing achievement gaps, and transparency about budget processes, priorities, and outcomes. We believe that education is important and that our youth deserve the best opportunities we can give them. In addition to voting “Yes,” we also stress the importance of voting in candidates who will provide sustainable funding to our schools.

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