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  • 21 May 2020 8:13 AM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Duluth Branch NAACP is in full support of a City Ordinance being considered by the City Council to establish a Duluth African Heritage Commission. City Councilors Janet Kennedy, Gary Anderson and Renee Van Nett introduced the Ordinance at the May 11 City Council meeting with further review and voting to take place at the May 26th City Council meeting.

    The Purpose of Commission is to ensure that the views of the African Heritage community are incorporated in the decision making, future planning, and stewardship of the City of Duluth.

    • The commission will act as a guide in the development of public policy, planning and services so that the African Heritage community is adequately represented in these processes.
    • The commission will increase understanding and acceptance of the African Heritage community and culture and to increase African Heritage community involvement in all aspects of community affairs in Duluth.

    Seven members reflecting African Heritage diversity in the area would be included as members of the commission. Members would be appointed by the Mayor with approval of the City Council.

    Call to Action!

    Contact your City Councilor to support the Duluth African Heritage Commission Ordinance. The Commission will help create public policy that represents the African Heritage Community and increase understanding of the community.

    Add your voice of support by writing or calling the City Councilors and speak your support at the May 26th meeting.

    Visit the City of Duluth's City Council website to find information about how to call or write and how to speak at a Council meeting during this time of online meetings. Guidance about how to do show support can also be found on this document, put together by the NAACP Health and Environmental Equity Committee.

    A letter from the Duluth Branch NAACP and other partnering organizations to the City of Duluth and City Councilors in support of the ordinance:

    This moment of health crisis and shutdown reveals the glaring weaknesses and painful inequities in our systems. The collision of historical and structural racism with the current health and economic crisis shines a bright light on deep disparities in our community. Duluth’s communities of color are impacted disproportionately at this time. However, these communities are also tremendous sources of strength and advancement.

    We are discovering that when our most vulnerable and marginalized are at risk, we are all at risk. We are also discovering the need for voices of creativity, compassion, wisdom, innovation, and skills from all perspectives and members of our society. We can be overwhelmed by these inequities, or we can engage the teachings and opportunities presented to us. We can engage with the resilience and ideas of the whole community, particularly those most impacted. We invite you to envision the power and potential of healing from this disarray and creating something new.

    The time is right to establish an African Heritage Commission for the City of Duluth. This Commission will be a significant force for mending injury, as it brings to light and celebrates the gifts that strengthen our community. We believe that each individual has talent and can help our community thrive when we practice equity and inclusion. Therefore we encourage you to adopt the resolution to establish an African Heritage Commission which would allow our City to:

    • Create a stronger, more just community by tapping into the talents of diverse community members to generate new ideas and solutions that varied voices bring to the table.
    • Build community organizations that better serve the African Heritage Community, and develop mutually beneficial alliances to tackle problems common to the Duluth community as a whole.
    • Improve the physical and mental health of our community members by providing a safe, inclusive, and equitable society for all.
    • Alleviate unemployment and economic insufficiency created by discrimination in areas of employment, housing, health care, and education.
    • Create economic growth by incubating existing entrepreneurship within communities of color and attracting new businesses that serve them.
    • Retain college graduates and attract young professionals that would otherwise leave the Twin Ports for larger communities where diversity is the norm.
    • Tap into the diverse identities, skills and intergenerational networks within the African Heritage community which allow for so many larger efforts to take shape .
    • Promote networking, training, and leadership opportunities specific to the African Heritage community to further develop the immense pool of talent.

    Making more space in our Duluth-Superior community to lift up the vibrancy of the African Heritage community would bring dynamic energy to the cultural and educational life of the Twin Ports. An African Heritage Commission would provide a forum and a conduit for promoting the historical and ongoing contributions of Duluth’s African Heritage Community. Some of these include creating a cultural hub long envisioned by community leaders; representation in museums, tourism websites, and other marketing materials for the City; and especially an opportunity to support and showcase the work of the many skilled visual artists, musicians, dancers, poets, writers, and spiritual leaders of our community.

    An African Heritage Commission would also provide a network to synthesize and augment all of the academic resources our colleges and universities in the Twin Ports have to offer. African Heritage faculty, staff, and students at UMD, UWS, CSS, and LSC would be supported by this resource, generating a more expansive and invigorating climate for scholarship. These academic institutions could support more research on issues impacting African Heritage Communities, and provide more African and African American Studies offerings, which would in turn feed the broader community through internships in local businesses and organizations, and through mentorship of young people in the public schools.

    An increasingly vibrant economic community, cultural and educational life would fuel each other, creating greater durability, health and equity in every aspect of the Twin Ports’ life, and growing the strength of our beautiful City.

    We have received official backing and support from the following community organizations:

    Indigenous Commission
    Feminist Action Collective
    American Indian Community Housing Organization
    League of Women Voters Equity Committee
    St. Mark AME Church
    Family Freedom Center
    UUCD Board of Trustees
    Peace Church Dismantling Racism
    Trans Plus
    Men As Peacemakers
    Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)
    American Association of University Women (AAUW)
    CHUM
    Senate District7
    African American Men's Group
    Peace United Church of Christ
    League of Women Voters Duluth

  • 29 Apr 2020 10:58 AM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Image of panelists with names.Join the UMD NAACP and the Duluth NAACP Health and Environmental Equity Committee as we listen in LIVE to local BIPOC Health Professionals about COVID-19 facts. This event will be live streamed on our social media channels (@NAACPatUMD and shared to @DuluthNAACP) on Thursday, April 30, 630PM-8PM from a Zoom webinar and recorded for later showings on WDSE. Community members will have an opportunity (and are encouraged) to ask questions (in real time) via Facebook live feed.

    Speakers include Arne Vainio, MD, Dr. Glenn Simmons Jr., Charity Reynolds, MD, Nomcebo Nkosi MEd, LPC, Verna Thorton, MD and Mary Owen, MD. Special thanks to consultation from Pathologist Dr. Jeff Bailey. Topics of discussion include defining COVID-19, racism and health disparities, cultural practices in the pandemic, keeping our communities safe, mental wellness and coping, myths and misinformation, and how we move forward as a community.

    Facilitators include Azrin Awal, president of the UMD College Chapter of the NAACP and Janet Kennedy, Vice President and Health Committee Chair of the Duluth NAACP. Special thanks to the Northland Foundation for financial support of our Duluth Branch NAACP COVID-19 initiatives.

    When: Thursday, April 30, 2020 630-8PM via Zoom & Facebook Live Stream

    Media Contact: Azrin Awal at awalx002@d.umn.edu and Janet Kennedy at health@duluthnaacp.org or 218-341-6113. 

  • 16 Apr 2020 8:02 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    April newsletter The Duluth Branch NAACP is happy to announce the release of its first monthly newsletter.

    Duluth NAACP April Newsletter (downloads the pdf)


  • 13 Apr 2020 12:23 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    An important message from Duluth NAACP member and local physician Dr. Verna Thornton, MD about the importance of social distancing, wearing a mask in public, & info regarding CoVID-19 impact on BIPOC, those living in rural areas, & everyone! Take 2 minutes to watch. 


  • 12 Apr 2020 9:51 AM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Two humans wearing paper facemasks.Photo by Julian Wan on Unsplash

    Due to COVID-19 disproportionately affecting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals, and income disparities preventing families from acquiring face masks, the Duluth NAACP will be prioritizing distributing free cloth face masks to members of BIPOC communities at the Central Hillside Community Center parking lot, Monday, April 13, 6:00PM-7:30PM, and at Memorial Park in West Duluth Thursday, April 16, 5:00PM-7:00PM.

    Please practice appropriate social distancing measures when picking up face masks. If community members would like to drop off cloth masks for this campaign, please do so at this time or donate to Twin Ports Mask Brigade.

    It is also important for the community at large to be aware of biases held toward BIPOC wearing masks, and to actively work to eliminate this biased thinking.

    For more information on how cloth face masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19, please visit the CDC website.

  • 6 Apr 2020 10:07 AM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Duluth Branch NAACP president Stephan Witherspoon asked local physician and branch member Arne Vainio, MD (Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tribal member) to share about why sheltering in place matters during this COVID-19 pandemic. Take 3 minutes to listen. Please share. 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_Lgrhyb1Qs&t=13s

  • 25 Feb 2020 3:31 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    Political Action Committee announcement. Contact the committee at politicalaction@duluthnaacp.org.Are you dizzy from all the political news and campaign ads swirling around us on TV, radio, the internet, and social media? We sure are! In a national election year, the winter season ushers in a state-by-state nomination process for major party presidential candidates, as well as caucuses for candidates at all levels of local, regional, and state offices. These processes can at times be confusing, overwhelming, and downright disempowering. The NAACP Duluth Branch Political Action Committee is here to help you wade through the political mire of this election season and beyond.

    In particular, the Political Action Committee recognizes that due to a number of systemic barriers, people of color have been and continue to be among the most disenfranchised voters in our nation. Therefore, the Political Action Committee’s primary goal for 2020 is to increase voter registration and turnout at the polls. We aim to accomplish this by offering a series of voter information events and caucus training, hosting a candidate forum, and assisting with voter access and transportation for both the primary and general elections.

    While increasing voter turnout is our top priority for this year, we also recognize that political engagement stretches far beyond the polls. In addition to election-related work, the Political Action Committee aims to address racist political rhetoric and/or any other political action that negatively impacts people of African heritage as well as people from other marginalized identity groups. In order to do so, we plan to provide community education about local political processes and raise awareness of how citizens can get involved. Likewise, we plan to partner with community watchdog organizations who monitor local and state politics in order to keep up to date on policy developments that impact our community.

    If you have any questions regarding voting, caucusing, local, state, or national politics, or other political questions, please reach out to the Duluth Branch NAACP for more information. Likewise, if you want to get involved in the Political Action Committee, we are always looking for new members to support our efforts. Co-Chairs Princess Kisob and Danny Frank are more than happy to talk with you about what’s happening with the committee and how you can get involved. And most of all, please remember to GO OUT AND VOTE! Minnesota’s presidential primary takes place on Tuesday, March 3.

  • 5 Feb 2020 11:23 AM | Communications Committee (Administrator)
    NAACP Young Adult Committee: contact this committee at youngadult@duluthnaacp.org

    The Duluth NAACP Young Adult Committee’s mission is to increase the number of young adults (21-35 years old) who are not only members of the Duluth branch, but active in the opportunities the branch offers. Our committee has outstanding members including Terresa Moses, Mary Cowen Bantle, Erin Kreeger, Susana Pelayo Woodward, Sandra Oyinloye, Bettina Keppers, and Jeanine Weekes Schroer. Each of them offer amazing talents to the committee– helping us reach our young adult engagement goals. One place we’ve seen growth in active young adults is on our executive committee, with six of nineteen members being under 35 years old (an increase from just two the year prior). Another place we’ve seen growth is at our branch general meetings in the attendance of young folks. 

    Our outreach method for 2019 consisted of socials that center the voices of young adults interested in social justice, advocacy, and anti-racism. These meetups are called Social Justice Socials and we hosted one per quarter. We try to plan them in places where we think folks would like to build community like Zeitgeist, Bent Paddle, and even YMCA’s Camp Miller! The SJS has been amazing opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals and many of the partnering organizations have seen growth in engagement because of the SJS.

    We plan to continue these Social Justice Socials and hope to broaden our reach of young folks looking for organizations to plug into and offer their talents to. This year, we will be changing one of our Social Justice Socials into a Legacy Social, dedicated to bringing together folks over 50 within the Duluth community. We’re hoping our efforts in helping plan such an event with community elders, helps to bridge some of the intergenerational gaps that are often present in organizing spaces. So, look out Duluth legacy folks, you’re in for a treat this year!

    The Young Adult Committee also serves as a support bridge for youth and college branch participation. We currently advise an active college chapter located at the University of Minnesota Duluth. The chapter hosts events that engage their college community on issues of racism, police brutality, and advocacy. Their plans for the Spring 2020 semester are to focus on intergenerational traumas, healing, and honoring the past victims of the 1920 Duluth lynching. They also cleverly bring art into their events by hosting a zine-making session that reinforces the topics introduced in the meeting.

    In our efforts to continue as a support bridge for youth, we’ve been hard at work to re-activate our youth chapter charter. Since the summer of 2019, we’ve been meeting with district teachers and staff who have a vested interest in the success of their Black, Indigenous, and Students of Color. Our mission for the youth council is to provide Black, Indigenous, and other secondary school students of color in Duluth a set of tools and resources to combat White supremacy in their schools and succeed despite it. We have a timeline of one year to meet with as many students as we can to hear what they want and how the NAACP can support them. It is because of our efforts that we are hosting our first Anti-Racist Youth Summit on February 12. This will serve as a space for Duluth students to learn more about how racism is affecting them, but also provide tools and community to overcome it.

  • 29 Jan 2020 1:51 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

    The Life, The Work, The Fight. 2020 Freedom Fund Dinner posterCelebrate Duluth's NAACP chapter’s 100th anniversary by attending our Freedom Fund Dinner 5pm February 21st at Clyde Iron.

    This year’s theme is, “The Life, The Work, the Fight: Black History in Duluth.” The evening will highlight the contributions of people- past and present -- who have helped to make our history and are shaping our future. We wish to acknowledge our roots, highlight our achievements and build energy to continue our efforts. Enjoy narrative from NAACP Branch President Stephan Witherspoon, film from curated generational conversations created with Daniel Oyinloye, music from the Bell Family, artwork created by UMD Graphic Design students under the direction of Terresa Moses and the photographs initiated by the board of CJMM documenting the history of some of Duluth’s African American leaders. 

    Doors open at 5:00 for the art exhibition and the dinner and program begin at 6:00. The Freedom Fund Dinner is the primary annual fundraising and ceremonial event for NAACP branches across the country. There remains much work to be done and we’d like you to join us to ensure this energy will continue. 

    For more information, to purchase tickets, or find other opportunities for supporting the Freedom Fund visit the website: duluthnaacp.org/freedomfund

    Tickets are $65 which includes a yearly membership to the NAACP and may be purchased until Feb 13 on the website 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. 

  • 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


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