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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Ask and listen. Here's an idea for how to spend Thanksgiving, courtesy of StoryCorps. ... See MoreSee Less

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"The one thing that I would really like to see [the League of Women Voters] do is try to engage more with people of color; try to get more people to join the League; to let them know what the League is about."
--Portia Johnson, longtime League of Women Voters and NAACP activist in Duluth, MN

Portia grew up in Ohio during the segregation era, when it was dangerous, if not impossible, for African Americans to exercise their right to vote. Although much of the post-World War II civil rights movement focused on systemic racism in the South, Portia made clear that it was also a fact of life in Columbus and Chicago, where she and her husband and children lived in the early 1960s. In those cities, however, Portia at least enjoyed the support and camaraderie of the predominantly black neighborhoods in which she lived. When she and her family moved to Duluth in 1966, however, they entered an overwhelmingly white city with its own brand of racism. Since then, Portia has worked to bring racial and economic justice to Duluth through her involvement in the schools, the union, the NAACP, and the League of Women Voters. She has tried to make voting more accessible for all of Duluth’s citizens, but believes the League should take more initiative to interact with and learn about Duluth’s nonwhite communities. “I’m tired of educating white folks,” she said. “I really am.”

#WomenandVotingRightsOHP #shevoted #theworkcontinues
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The one thing that I would really like to see [the League of Women Voters] do is try to engage more with people of color; try to get more people to join the League; to let them know what the League is about.
     --Portia Johnson, longtime League of Women Voters and NAACP activist in Duluth, MN

Portia grew up in Ohio during the segregation era, when it was dangerous, if not impossible, for African Americans to exercise their right to vote. Although much of the post-World War II civil rights movement focused on systemic racism in the South, Portia made clear that it was also a fact of life in Columbus and Chicago, where she and her husband and children lived in the early 1960s. In those cities, however, Portia at least enjoyed the support and camaraderie of the predominantly black neighborhoods in which she lived. When she and her family moved to Duluth in 1966, however, they entered an overwhelmingly white city with its own brand of racism. Since then, Portia has worked to bring racial and economic justice to Duluth through her involvement in the schools, the union, the NAACP, and the League of Women Voters. She has tried to make voting more accessible for all of Duluth’s citizens, but believes the League should take more initiative to interact with and learn about Duluth’s nonwhite communities. “I’m tired of educating white folks,” she said. “I really am.”

#WomenandVotingRightsOHP #shevoted #theworkcontinues

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Thank you for sharing Portia Johnson's story. I'm humbled by her civic drive.

"On voting rights, I think that the more people who participate and don’t feel left on the margins, again, the more inclusive and diverse [a society we will create]. ...Ostracization creates hostility and creates a dangerous environment."
-- Sarah Walker, founder of MN Second Chance Coalition, co-founder of Restore the Vote Coalition, Director of State Affairs for Secure Democracy

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Walker a couple of weeks ago. The MN Second Chance Coalition and Restore the Vote Coalition both work to re-enfranchise Minnesotans who have been convicted of felonies but are living in our communities under supervision. To Sarah, it’s about “creat[ing] the most avenues using our institutions where people’s voices are heard and legitimated.”

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

On voting rights, I think that the more people who participate and don’t feel left on the margins, again, the more inclusive and diverse [a society we will create]. ...Ostracization creates hostility and creates a dangerous environment.
-- Sarah Walker, founder of MN Second Chance Coalition, co-founder of Restore the Vote Coalition, Director of State Affairs for Secure Democracy

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Walker a couple of weeks ago. The MN Second Chance Coalition and Restore the Vote Coalition both work to re-enfranchise Minnesotans who have been convicted of felonies but are living in our communities under supervision. To Sarah, it’s about “creat[ing] the most avenues using our institutions where people’s voices are heard and legitimated.”

#WomenandVotingRightsOHP #shevoted #theworkcontinues

From the archives:

Despite pressure from social workers, parents, doctors, and psychologists to release their "illegitimate" babies for adoption, mothers sometimes faced condemnation for doing so, as this August 19, 1965 article from the Minneapolis Star attests.

The article prompted an outpouring of criticism from adoption caseworkers, social workers, court workers, adoptive parents, and at least one woman who had relinquished her son, all of whom lambasted it and the court officials it quoted for their "destructive moralizing." They pointed out the care and anguish with which mothers undertook such a decision and praised the "sacrifice" they made so that their children would have better lives in adoptive homes.

Although this article certainly demanded a rejoinder, the rush to defend relinquishing mothers reinforced the idea of adoption as the "best solution" to illegitimacy.

#BMHoralhistory #Boothgirls
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From the archives:

Despite pressure from social workers, parents, doctors, and psychologists to release their illegitimate babies for adoption, mothers sometimes faced condemnation for doing so, as this August 19, 1965 article from the Minneapolis Star attests.

The article prompted an outpouring of criticism from adoption caseworkers, social workers, court workers, adoptive parents, and at least one woman who had relinquished her son, all of whom lambasted it and the court officials it quoted for their destructive moralizing. They pointed out the care and anguish with which mothers undertook such a decision and praised the sacrifice they made so that their children would have better lives in adoptive homes.

Although this article certainly demanded a rejoinder, the rush to defend relinquishing mothers reinforced the idea of adoption as the best solution to illegitimacy. 

#BMHoralhistory #Boothgirls

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It was damned if you do, damned if you don’t. A messed up society.

Damned if do/don't

Ugh!

1 month ago

Spotlight Oral History

It's not too late! Don't take your rights for granted or let others decide the shape your community will take. If there are issues or elections to be decided in your area, go vote! It's not just the four-year cycles that matter.Many Minnesotans are headed to the polls today! Click here to see a list of elections:

www.sos.state.mn.us/media/3835/regularly-scheduled-2019-elections.pdf

Is your town, city, or school district on the list? Go vote!

Not sure if you're registered? You can still register at the polling place today:

www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/register-to-vote/register-on-election-day/
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Its not too late! Dont take your rights for granted or let others decide the shape your community will take. If there are issues or elections to be decided in your area, go vote! Its not just the four-year cycles that matter.
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