Black leaders meet with Minnesota lawmakers to end racial disparities

- A group of black community leaders met with lawmakers at the Capitol on Wednesday with a legislative agenda to end racial disparities in Minnesota for good.

They are hoping to address three key areas: Creating equality in housing, education, and jobs – areas Governor Dayton has pledged $100 million towards addressing. And while many are excited about the prospect of real progress, others won't believe it until they see it.

The agenda suggests things like creating equal access to capital and jobs, placing a ban on private prisons, and increasing the penalty for hate crimes.

“We need to do this together to build the future in the state of Minnesota that looks like all of us and has space and opportunity for everybody, and we're not there yet,” Rep. Erin Murphy said.

United Black Legislative Agenda supporters plan to meet regularly. They also hope to extract every dollar of the $100 million Dayton has pledged to help heal racial disparity in Minnesota.

Statement from Gov. Mark Dayton

“Since November, when I began calling for a Special Session to begin to address Minnesota’s racial disparities, I have expressed hope that Minnesotans of color would be the driving force in deciding how best to address these challenges. Yesterday, I was very pleased to see African American community leaders, activists, and faith leaders come together to propose their priority initiatives. I strongly welcome their participation in this process, and I urge the Legislature to involve them as full partners in enacting these initiatives.

“I offer my overall endorsement of the United Black Legislative Agenda, especially support for African American businesses, summer jobs programs, expanding paid family leave for working parents, voting rights restoration, and opposition to private prisons. I urge these leaders to continue their advocacy, and to find common ground in the Legislature, so that we may begin to close Minnesota’s racial disparities this year. I look forward to continuing this work together.”

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