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In Honor of MLK: Black Minnesotans 'Claim Their Voices'

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The groups ISAIAH and Faith in Minnesota want to engage more people of color in 2018 statewide political campaigns. (Brian Fullman)
The groups ISAIAH and Faith in Minnesota want to engage more people of color in 2018 statewide political campaigns. (Brian Fullman)
January 12, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The day before the holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the perfect time to get organized for the upcoming political season, according to the nonprofit groups ISAIAH and Faith in Minnesota.

ISAIAH community organizer Brian Fullman says the goal is to get people more involved in local and state elections. He says the new movement, called Claiming Our Voices, embraces both African Americans and African immigrants who are people of faith.

"We are pushing a nonpartisan movement to encourage people to learn how to caucus, become delegates, and set the agenda in the governor's race,” says Fullman. “We don't care who ends up governor. What we care about is the agenda that they will be held accountable to."

ISAIAH is a faith-based coalition made up of more than 100 congregations across the state. The Claiming Our Voices inaugural meeting is Sunday from 12:30 to 2:30 pm at Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Paul.

Fullman says Claiming Our Voices will ask candidates and the legislature to address issues like affordable housing, police-community relations and discriminatory practices in schools.

He explains that African Americans and African immigrants are among the most disenfranchised residents of the state, and that's why Claiming Our Voices is starting with these groups. But Fullman says it won't stop there.

"The most powerful movements in this country are ones that are diverse,” he says. “This is just not about black people – African, African Americans – even though that's my focus, because we need to be organized. Ultimately, this is about people of faith who are just fed up with looking at our brothers and sisters being treated unfairly. "

He says Claiming Our Voices will announce specific action items next week. Precinct caucuses in Minnesota are Feb. 6, and the legislative session begins Feb. 20.

Laurie Stern, Public News Service - MN