We are our stories. Shaping our past experiences into a story helps us make sense of the world and our place in it. Stories communicate our most cherished values and dearly-held beliefs. They bring history to life by animating what might otherwise be a dull collection of facts with the deeper meaning of lived experience. Stories bring us together in celebration of our commonalities even while they honor our differences.

Spotlight Oral History captures and shares the stories of individuals, organizations, and communities through in-depth interviews based on thorough historical research.

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2 weeks ago

Spotlight Oral History

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From the archives:

In April 1961, Ann Landers jumped on the bandwagon in describing a single mother's desire to keep her "illegitimate" baby as abnormal and detrimental to her child.

Mom had relinquished her baby just a few months before this exchange appeared in the Minneapolis Morning Tribune. She later wrote that she had been "beset by doubts" about her decision to let her baby go in those early post-Booth days. I wonder if she'd have taken any cold comfort in Landers' harsh rejoinder to "Former Reader."

I also wonder who "Former Reader" was.

#BMHoralhistory #Boothgirls #amotherslove
... See MoreSee Less

From the archives:

In April 1961, Ann Landers jumped on the bandwagon in describing a single mothers desire to keep her illegitimate baby as abnormal and detrimental to her child. 

Mom had relinquished her baby just a few months before this exchange appeared in the Minneapolis Morning Tribune. She later wrote that she had been beset by doubts about her decision to let her baby go in those early post-Booth days. I wonder if shed have taken any cold comfort in Landers harsh rejoinder to Former Reader.

I also wonder who Former Reader was.

#BMHoralhistory #Boothgirls #amotherslove

Comment on Facebook

Wow. My brain is still processing this. What enormous pressure women must have felt if this is the general consensus. Makes my heart hurt for the women that were forced to make that choice.

There is a show I watch called Long Lost Family and week after week there are the heart wrenching stories of moms and dads who gave up babies because of the stigma of the times. It is sad to see how it affects and shapes their entire lives. If they reunite it seems to be so healing. It is a powerful show.

I wonder if Ann Landers kept that harsh, censorious outlook later in her career. She and her husband eventually divorced, when that was still considered somewhat shameful. Wonder if that brought a new perspective, as well as changing times by early 1970s

A couple of years ago there was a movie called Philomena, about a woman back in the 50’s who had her baby in a convent and had to give it up. It was heart wrenching and an excellent movie. Based on a true story. I would recommend it.

That is just incredible ignorance.

That’s how life was back then. So different now

Unreal.

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I have this drive to constantly learn. And I feel like I learn better through stories and interacting and engaging with folks. So that feeds my soul. I volunteer with some of the groups that we support through MN Voice. I’ll go and register voters with them and things like that just so I can get that interaction. I think that people who are personally impacted by issues need to be at the table if we’re going to craft policies that are actually going to be beneficial.
--Sina Black, current but soon-to-be-moving-on Executive Director of Minnesota Voice

Sina lived in Chicago until she was 13, at which point she and her family moved to Ruleville, Mississippi, hometown of civil rights activist and icon Fannie Lou Hamer. She attributes her commitment to voting rights work to the three years she spent in Ruleville, immersed in the history and legacy of the civil rights movement. She moved to Minnesota at age 16, graduated from Robbinsdale-Cooper High School, and found her community in St. Paul. Like so many of the women I’ve interviewed for this project, Sina has been active in many organizations and causes, from AmeriCorps to Community Action Partnership to Vote NO! to Ban-the-Box to the campaign for Rep. Rena Moran to Black Lives Matter to TakeAction Minnesota to Neighborhoods Organizing for Change to MN NORML. She began working for Minnesota Voice, a nonprofit that works to build the civic engagement capacity of nonprofits led by people of color, in 2013. She expanded Minnesota Voice’s reach and impact during her time as ED, but had gotten away from the direct-contact work that sustains her. “Do I want to continue to be in rooms where there are no windows and be in places where there’s no sunshine? …I’m still very active in the legalization work that’s happening on the ground, and actively helping to build a grassroots capacity for that. But the difference with that work is I’m directly talking to folks in community and engaging and I feel like that feeds my soul. And that’s what I really enjoy doing.” Sina is launching her own consulting firm in 2020.

#WomenandVotingRightsOHP #shevoted #theworkcontinues
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I have this drive to constantly learn. And I feel like I learn better through stories and interacting and engaging with folks. So that feeds my soul. I volunteer with some of the groups that we support through MN Voice. I’ll go and register voters with them and things like that just so I can get that interaction. I think that people who are personally impacted by issues need to be at the table if we’re going to craft policies that are actually going to be beneficial.
 --Sina Black, current but soon-to-be-moving-on Executive Director of Minnesota Voice

Sina lived in Chicago until she was 13, at which point she and her family moved to Ruleville, Mississippi, hometown of civil rights activist and icon Fannie Lou Hamer. She attributes her commitment to voting rights work to the three years she spent in Ruleville, immersed in the history and legacy of the civil rights movement. She moved to Minnesota at age 16, graduated from Robbinsdale-Cooper High School, and found her community in St. Paul. Like so many of the women I’ve interviewed for this project, Sina has been active in many organizations and causes, from AmeriCorps to Community Action Partnership to Vote NO! to Ban-the-Box to the campaign for Rep. Rena Moran to Black Lives Matter to TakeAction Minnesota to Neighborhoods Organizing for Change to MN NORML. She began working for Minnesota Voice, a nonprofit that works to build the civic engagement capacity of nonprofits led by people of color, in 2013. She expanded Minnesota Voice’s reach and impact during her time as ED, but had gotten away from the direct-contact work that sustains her. “Do I want to continue to be in rooms where there are no windows and be in places where there’s no sunshine? …I’m still very active in the legalization work that’s happening on the ground, and actively helping to build a grassroots capacity for that. But the difference with that work is I’m directly talking to folks in community and engaging and I feel like that feeds my soul. And that’s what I really enjoy doing.” Sina is launching her own consulting firm in 2020.

#WomenandVotingRightsOHP #shevoted #theworkcontinues

It took [suffragists] 70 years to get the right to vote. And the people who started that suffrage movement never got the right to vote, but they continued to work toward that one goal. And I think that kind of tenacity and persistence and resistance creates change. And they also knew how important a vote would be for not just them but for the next generations after them. That’s kind of how I think about my activism: it will help people of today but it will also help many generations after me. Because I think about the women that worked really hard to get allow me to have the vote.
--Vangie Castro, community organizer for FairVote Minnesota and Ranked Choice Voting Rochester

Vangie, who was born in the Philippines but grew up in California, has lived in Rochester, Minnesota, since 2009 and become a committed community activist. She has worked for the Diversity Council and Planned Parenthood and with OutFront Minnesota and on the Vote NO! campaign and on the Governor’s Task Force on the Prevention of School Bullying. Currently, she is working to bring ranked-choice voting to Rochester in hopes that it will increase voter turnout, diversify the candidate pool, and encourage conversation and coalition-building. Vangie said that, at various points during her activist work, she has faced hateful opposition. But she recalled the hardships suffragists faced as they dedicated themselves to their cause and wondered what would motivate people to endure such challenges today. “Would [people] slog on, as you say, for 70 years to try to get one thing?” Hopefully so, because “that one thing can change everything.”

#WomenandVotingRightsOHP #shevoted #theworkcontinues
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It took [suffragists] 70 years to get the right to vote. And the people who started that suffrage movement never got the right to vote, but they continued to work toward that one goal. And I think that kind of tenacity and persistence and resistance creates change. And they also knew how important a vote would be for not just them but for the next generations after them. That’s kind of how I think about my activism: it will help people of today but it will also help many generations after me. Because I think about the women that worked really hard to get allow me to have the vote.
     --Vangie Castro, community organizer for FairVote Minnesota and Ranked Choice Voting Rochester 

Vangie, who was born in the Philippines but grew up in California, has lived in Rochester, Minnesota, since 2009 and become a committed community activist. She has worked for the Diversity Council and Planned Parenthood and with OutFront Minnesota and on the Vote NO! campaign and on the Governor’s Task Force on the Prevention of School Bullying. Currently, she is working to bring ranked-choice voting to Rochester in hopes that it will increase voter turnout, diversify the candidate pool, and encourage conversation and coalition-building. Vangie said that, at various points during her activist work, she has faced hateful opposition. But she recalled the hardships suffragists faced as they dedicated themselves to their cause and wondered what would motivate people to endure such challenges today. “Would [people] slog on, as you say, for 70 years to try to get one thing?” Hopefully so, because “that one thing can change everything.”

#WomenandVotingRightsOHP #shevoted #theworkcontinues

"Government is all of us; it‘s not some monolithic guy behind a curtain like in the Wizard of Oz. If we all take some responsibility for stuff, then it doesn’t fall on any one person or one group to do all that."
– Helene Haapala, League of Women Voters, Northfield / Cannon Falls

Helene once ran out of gas on her way back to Northfield. A man, who happened to be a Delta pilot, stopped and brought her to a nearby gas station. When she thanked him for his help, he said something that has stuck with her: “If we all do a little something to help each other, then everybody’s okay.” Helene has been living this idea through her work with the Northfield/Cannon Falls branch of the League of Women Voters, the DFL, the Women’s March, the National Lawyers Guild Legal Observers program, and the Rice County Complete Count Committee. “I really believe that, not maybe individually, but collectively we can all make a difference. I’m a cynic about most things other than that and my Chicago Cubs.”

#WomenandVotingRightsOHP #shevoted #theworkcontinues
... See MoreSee Less

Government is all of us; it‘s not some monolithic guy behind a curtain like in the Wizard of Oz. If we all take some responsibility for stuff, then it doesn’t fall on any one person or one group to do all that.  
     – Helene Haapala, League of Women Voters, Northfield / Cannon Falls

Helene once ran out of gas on her way back to Northfield. A man, who happened to be a Delta pilot, stopped and brought her to a nearby gas station. When she thanked him for his help, he said something that has stuck with her: “If we all do a little something to help each other, then everybody’s okay.” Helene has been living this idea through her work with the Northfield/Cannon Falls branch of the League of Women Voters, the DFL, the Women’s March, the National Lawyers Guild Legal Observers program, and the Rice County Complete Count Committee. “I really believe that, not maybe individually, but collectively we can all make a difference. I’m a cynic about most things other than that and my Chicago Cubs.”

#WomenandVotingRightsOHP #shevoted #theworkcontinues

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That's my friend Helene speaking the truth!!

Well said!

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