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Support the Creation of a Duluth African Heritage Commission

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)
Senate District7
African American Men's Group
Peace United Church of Christ
League of Women Voters Duluth