St. Paul, Minn. (February 25, 2011) – The Organizing Apprenticeship Project joined by multi-racial leaders and community members from across Minnesota, held a rally last week for racial and economic justice at the State Capitol and announced a proactive community agenda for a more equitable Minnesota.
The rally was followed by a press conference where OAP unveiled its annual Legislative Report Card. The actions were rooted in the common goal that racial equity needs to be incorporated into job creation and economic policy, education, the criminal justice system, community development and health care policy to ensure Minnesota’s long term economic, political and social vitality.
For five years, OAP has released its annual Legislative Report Card, analyzing policies proposed and laws enacted by the Governor and Legislature that could impact the stark racial disparities in education, health, economic well being, the criminal justice system and public investment in Minnesota. In this Report Card, OAP outlines the stark racial disparities that exist in Minnesota, and it’s real cost to our state.
Simply put, failure to address persistent racial disparities in education, health, wealth, jobs and justice undermines Minnesota’s quality of life, our role in the global economy, and our capacity to sustain our families and communities.
“In OAP’s 2005-2010 review, we find that leadership on issues of racial equity moved forward even in a bipartisan state government, tough economic times and rapid demographic shifts,” Jermaine Toney, Author of OAP’s Legislative Report Card. “But let’s be real – more Minnesotans are facing unemployment, foreclosure, hunger and poverty across the state, disproportionately Minnesotans of color. Leadership on racial and economic equity is essential.”
“As Minnesota faces a daunting budget deficit, how we respond as a state and the decisions we make in the next two years could have a positive – or a very powerful negative – impact on communities of color and on our shared future,” said Elaine Salinas, Co-Chair of the Organizing Apprenticeship Board of Director’s and President of MIGIZI Communications. “Therefore, we turned to our allies and collaborators around the state and worked together on an emerging, powerful and timely proactive agenda for achieving racial equity in Minnesota. This agenda, created by community leaders, holds tremendous promise for the work of advancing equity in the state.”
The ideas and principles outlined in this initial proactive community agenda draft were generated by organizations and a multi-racial group of leaders with significant experience addressing racial and economic disparities in communities. Some of the ideas are linked to legislation, and OAP will be analyzing many of these as part of its next Report Card on the 2011 Legislature. Others are opportunities for the Governor, state legislators, local government, community groups, schools or businesses to lead for equity.
“With thoughtful leadership and political courage, the gaps in wealth, education, criminal justice, health, and political access can be closed and racial equity can be achieved,” said Jesus Torres, Co-Chair of the Organizing Apprenticeship Project and Lead Organizer with Centro Campesino, Owatonna. “OAP and a growing network of organizations across the state will do our part, and we all will continue to explore, research, shape and advance a community agenda for equity. We ask state leaders to do the same, and to work with us and other racial justice leaders to create a more equitable state.”
For information on the 2005-2010 Legislative Report and the Proactive Community Agenda visit www.oaproject.org.