ST. PAUL, Minn. (June 29, 2016) – Voices for Racial Justice (formerly the Organizing Apprenticeship Project) released its 2015-16 biennium Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity at Wednesday press conference at the Minnesota State Office Building, with organizers, advocates, artists and legislators present who are leading for racial justice in Minnesota. The group recognized 35 legislator champions for racial equity earning a grade of ‘B’ or above.
The Report Card points to bills that advanced racial equity in 2015-16. One such bill protects Religious objections to autopsies, advancing Tribal Sovereignty for those indigenous Minnesotans who continue the funerary practices of their ancestors. Another bill is the controlled substance sentencing reform bill, which makes a distinction between those who suffer from addiction to controlled substances and those who sell them for profit.
Yet even with such accomplishments, the 2015-16 Report Card makes clear that more work is necessary to address racial disparities in Minnesota, which are among the worst in the nation. “It is time that the language of racial equity present in Minnesota’s laws and statutes translates into concrete gains within the lives of Minnesota’s communities of color and American Indian communities,” writes Voices For Racial Justice’s Director of Research and Policy, Brett Grant.
The 2015-2016 Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity follows the release of the 2016 Racial Equity Agenda and the 2015-2016 Racial Equity Bill Watch. The Report Card, which has the support of numerous organizations across the state working to build more racially inclusive and equitable communities, serves as an accountability tool which grades legislators, individually and as a whole, on their efforts to advance racial equity. All documents can be accessed on the Voices for Racial Justice website at http://voicesforracialjustice.org/tools-resource/legislative-report-card as well as in hard copy.