MN Council of Church’s inaugural ‘truth telling’ event is Sept. 24-25, first step in reparations work

Last fall, the Minnesota Council of Churches announced a multi-year effort at truth telling, education, and repair with both African American and Native American communities.

“With partners, this work will include naming and addressing the unjust and ongoing systems and structures that “have made Minnesota rank as a state with some of the highest racial disparities in the nation,” it said.

The first truth telling event will be held Friday evening and Saturday morning, Sept. 24-25 at Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900 Nicolette Ave., Minneapolis.

Christine Diindiisi McCleave, Chief Executive Officer of the Twin Cities-based National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, will give the keynote address on Friday night. She is an enrolled citizen of Turtle Mountain Ojibwe Nation and a leader and an activist for Indigenous Rights advocating for truth, justice, and healing for the genocidal policy of U.S. Indian Boarding Schools.

Christine Diindiisi McCleave

Earlier this year, the Coalition announced a new outreach effort to open dialogues with the Christian and Catholic churches that were involved in operating boarding schools.

Yohuru Williams, a history professor at St. Thomas University, will give the keynote address Saturday morning. He is the Founding Director of St. Thomas’ Racial Justice Initiative and the author of several books, including Rethinking the Black Freedom Movement.

Prof. Yohuru Williams

The Racial Justice Initiative began in June of last year, following George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police and the civil unrest that followed. The St. Thomas website describes the Initiative as: “In keeping with our Catholic mission to uphold the dignity of every human person and to advance the common good.”

William’s talk will be followed by a panel discussion among Indigenous and African American leaders who are working together on racial justice issues.

Organizers had hoped to plan a full-day of events Saturday, including workshops. Those were cancelled due to COVID concerns.

This is the first of a number of such truth telling events the Minnesota Council of Churches plans to hold around the state.

People are asked to register, but the registration site isn’t up and running yet. It will be posted in this blog and on the Council’s website when it becomes available.

Organizers also hope to live stream the event so those who can’t make it will be able to watch. Get it on your calendar and stay tuned for more details.

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