May 2010 Archives

A Message From Scott

Thumbnail image for Picture1.gifThe societal challenges that we face as a global society are complex, our understanding of its intricacies has grown and continues to grow considerably. As alumni and friends of African American & African Studies we now know more about the ways that education, politics, economics, and cultural complexities are interrelated and together shape the world in which we live. The health of our society has been and will continue to depend upon our ability to care for past, present and future generations.

As an academic ethnic studies department we believe we are in the business of addressing societal challenges, and we are pleased to have our many alumni and friends as our strongest partners. As a supporter of the department you have witness the impact your ideas and resources are having on campus and in the community. This issue of The Village is a shining example of how your Department of AA&AS is leading the way in building bridges. So on behalf of the faculty, students and staff; thank you for creating the future with us.

Staff in the News

Since joining the Department of African American & African Studies in 2008 I've had the fortune to work with faculty, staff, and community to develop exciting outreach and engagement activities. The following is an excerpt from the Star Tribune by reporter Emily Johns covering a college tour organized by AA&AS and Minneapolis Public Schools Office of Equity and Diversity.

Scott Redd stood in front of a group of fifth-graders, urging them to hold onto the folders he was giving them like their lives depended on it.

"The folders," which held information sheets on getting into college, "are your key to a million dollars," he said -- because college graduates are expected to make a million dollars more than high school graduates during their lifetimes.

It was the first time Bryn Mawr Community School in Minneapolis has organized such a visit to the University of Minnesota, where Redd is the coordinator of community relations in the Department of African American and African studies.

Minneapolis Public Schools organized the trip for the 50 fifth-graders, to get them to raise their sights toward college and start thinking about it early.

"Some of our students don't really see themselves as ever going to the U of M," said Cedrick Frazier, assistant director of the Office of Equity and Diversity in the district, who helped Principal Renee Montague organize the trip. "We want them to see that this is where they're supposed to go after high school."

"This" doesn't necessarily mean the U of M, though many of the kids were professing their desire to be Gophers by the end of the day. "This" means college, no matter where it is.

Throughout the day, the Bryn Mawr students heard U students talk about college life. They also talked to student advisers, took a campus tour and rode a campus bus over the Mississippi River.

"It was kind of cool to see where I'm going to go to school," said 11-year-old Reggie Markert, who said her parents are alumni of the U and think she's destined to go there, too. "You get much more independence at the U" than at Bryn Mawr, she said.

Markert said she wants to be a cartoon voice when she grows up. "But being a teacher is my backup plan."

Her classmate, 10-year-old Kajal Behnke, said that college seems like "it will be hard, but it will be fun at the same time. ... The U of M is very different from our elementary school."

Redd told the students what it takes to get into college, namely, hard work. Three-quarters of the students at Bryn Mawr come from low-income families, so Redd and others also emphasized that scholarships are available for those who don't think they can pay for college.

On a tour through Walter Library, the fifth-graders hushed each other as they passed studying college students. They yelled as they boarded a bus to cross the Washington Avenue bridge, and they ran after each other playing games on the lawn behind the Coffman Student Union.

They also elicited many a curious stare from the college students.

"This is just a road map for them on how to get to college," Redd said. "I'm glad they've got people [in the schools] helping them see themselves in college. ... It helps them understand the relevance of what they're doing now and in high school."

The taste of the college life appealed to the students.

Eleven-year-old Savoy Davis was pleasantly surprised that when he bought his lunch at the student union, he could get two pieces of pizza and a soda -- a more appetizing lunch than he normally gets at school, he said.

Davis, who said he wants to play in the NBA when he grows up, said he learned that the U "is not just about sports, it's about everything, like academics."

And that if he wants to be a student there someday, "I need to keep my grades up and do my homework."

UROC: Research Driven Access to Power

The following is an excerpt from Insight News by Al McFarlane.

Robert Jones.jpg The University of Minnesota and residents of North Minneapolis celebrate the opening of a first-of-its kind collaborative facility that serves the needs of urban communities. The U's Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center (UROC) and community partners launch the initiative with a grand opening celebration 1-6 pm Wednesday, May 12.

UROC is located at 2001 Plymouth Ave. N., between Newton and Oliver. The building once before opened to great fanfare and with great expectations. It was the newly built home of neighborhood owned entrepreneurial enterprises. Known as the Penn Plymouth shopping center, the building opened in the mid 70's and included King's Super Market, Coast-to-Coast Hardware Store, The Phone Store, a Northwestern Bell Telephone Company retail outlet, the Carl Eller Liquor Store, and J.C. Clark's Pharmacy.

It was a symbol of pride hailing the emergence of a vibrant middle-class North Minneapolis that could support and celebrate Black business leadership and development.

UROC is igniting those feelings of pride, hope and possibility once again with its multi-million dollar investment to renovate and retool the resource to deliver impact in today's social and cultural environment.

As one of the very few land-grant research universities located in an urban setting in the United States, the University of Minnesota has placed a priority on discovering solutions to the many complex issues facing urban communities.
Creating a physical presence in the urban community was the first major step in this initiative.

UROC comes online as home to 12 university programs that pursue research and outreach in partnership with individuals and organizations in the communities.

"The University of Minnesota is committed to developing strategic, sustainable partnerships with urban communities, residents and governments, leading to positive, measurable outcomes with significant impact toward improving lives and stimulating economic growth," says university Senior Vice President Robert Jones.

The event is free and open to the public and will include building tours, refreshments, an art exhibit by Fawzia Kahn and Lynn Fellman, a youth choir performance by CitySongs and brief remarks by University of Minnesota Board of Regents Chair Clyde Allen, university President Robert Bruininks and several community and government leaders who have been instrumental in making the partnership a reality. Jones will host the event that includes welcome festivities at 3:30 p.m., followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and short program at 4 p.m.

Ora Hokes, a long-time Northside resident who participated in all of the early meetings that led to UROC's formation, says UROC is a fulfillment of the community's vision. "When I look at the end product--UROC--and think about all the community requested of the university--it's all there," she says. "The U said, 'We're going to walk with you.' So we're seeing programs at UROC that help young parents learn to feed their kids healthy meals and that help our young entrepreneurs get a solid start. The U listened to us and the U heard us."

The event will provide an opportunity for guests to talk with community partners and university faculty and staff about the many research, outreach and education programs in the facility that are designed to address key issues such as health and nutrition, education, the arts, and community and economic development. These programs are highlighted at

More information about the event can be found at You can RSVP at or by calling (612) 626-UROC (8762)

Course Spotlight

Afro 3592 Introduction to Black Women Writers in the U.S.

Njeri R Githire.jpgContemporary Black women's writing has been preoccupied primarily with "resurrecting," recovering and representing the past four hundred years of black peoples' lives in the United States and throughout the African diaspora. In this course Professor Njeri Githire will use various types of texts (novels, short stories, film, etc.) to explore the ways the history of African Americans in the United States informs cultural identity and how this identity interacts with questions of gender, class, and sexuality. The writing assignments in this course are used not only as a way of thinking about such broad issues as: memory, storytelling rituals, the ancestor as foundation, but also as a means of clarifying your own beliefs and values.

Quote of the Month

"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these."

George Washington Carver

Upcoming Events

UROC's Open House

Date: May 12, 2010

Time: 1:00pm - 6:00pm

Location: 2001 Plymouth Avenue North

Minneapolis, MN

Cost: Free and open to the public

RSVP at or call 612-626-8762

Community partners with University faculty and staff will host an information fair to highlight the many research, outreach, and education programs housed in the UROC facility. UROC is designed to address key issues that impact the Northside of Minneapolis.

Saint Paul Public Schools Board of Education Listening Session

Date: May 13, 2010

Time: 7:00pm - 8:30pm

Location: Neighborhood House

179 Robie Street East

St. Paul, MN

The Listening Session is designed to allow participants the opportunity to speak with Board Members in an open forum with out pre-determined topics.

Community Clean Up

Date: May 15, 2010

Time: 9:00am - 12:00pm

Location: West Broadway Avenue and Lyndale Avenue North (Minneapolis)

The West Broadway Business Coalition is hosting a community clean up event for the West Broadway Safe Zone: Cleaner, Safer and Greener West Broadway Project. Juxaposition will coordinate two gardening and painting projects to prepare for summer programs. Celebration following clean up.

Gospel Choirs United 36th Annual Concert

Date: May 16

Time: 5:30pm - til

Location: Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church

3355 4th Street North

Minneapolis, MN

Cost: $13.00 for adults and $7.00 for children

Contact: 651-291-7623

The theme for the concert is, "Hallelujah! The Highest Praise,"

GO! Northside 5k Run/Walk & Finish Line Festival

Date: May 22, 2010

Time: Registration and check-in opens at 9:15am - 10:15am

Location: Cottage Park

2100 James Avenue North

Minneapolis, MN

Cost: $5 Kids' Race (10 years & under)
$10 Youth Rate (under 18 years)
$15 Northside Resident Rate (55411 or 55412 zip codes)
$25 Standard Entry Rate

This year's GO! is bigger and better with new activities and a new location - the beautiful Cottage Park in North Minneapolis' Jordan Neighborhood! Celebrate after the race at the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) Finish Line Festival.

The Memorial Weekend Special

Date: May 28 & 29, 2010

Time: 10:00pm - 2:00am

Location: RAS Restaurant & Longe

2516 7th Street West

St. Paul, MN

Presented by African Global Roots & Tempo Afric. Food, Music, Dance and More...