Bernadette Anderson, May 21, 1932 – October 7, 2003: Queen Bernie

Consistent with the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child, Bernadette Anderson raised a village, her family and extended family were told during funeral services Saturday. Consistent with the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child, Bernadette Anderson raised a village, her family and extended family were told during funeral services Saturday.

Revered as Queen Bernie, Anderson, 71, died last Tuesday. She was May 21, 1932 and lived her entire life in Minneapolis.

The "Going Home" celebration was held at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church, Minneapolis, officiated by the Reverend Jerry McAfee, New Salem pastor, and with eulogy by the Reverend John Bowen, pastor of Mount Vernon Missionary Baptist Church.

Anderson was one of six daughters of Leland and Lillian Early. She had six children.

Anderson emerged as the grand matriarch of her family and as a political and cultural leader in North Minneapolis. She served in school PTAs, later worked for Minneapolis Public School and had a long career with the YWCA.

After retirement she worked through Minneapolis Urban League’s Seniors In Community Service Program and worked at the Urban League’s Street Academy Alternative School.

Anderson also served as president of the Urban League Guild, a volunteer support auxiliary of the Urban League. She served on the board of directors of Phyllis Wheatley Community Center, KMOJ/Center for Communication and Development, and other community service institutions and organizations.

Anderson was celebrated for her leadership, her fighting spirit and her compassionate disposition toward children especially. She was a confidant for many. People felt comfortable unburdening their sorrows and doubts to her. They found patient reassurance, confident motivating support in her counsel.

Anderson’s home on Russell Avenue North at Plymouth Avenue became a shrine to the abundant genius of Minneapolis’ youth. Along with her son, Andre Cymone Anderson, the tycoons of the America’s music industry, Prince, Jimmy Harris and Terry Lewis and others enjoyed the protection and blessings of Anderson’s open door policy to neighborhood youth.
"We came out of the projects so I grew up always thinking about security," said Fred Anderson, Jr., leading more than a dozen family members in paying tribute to their mother, grandmother, aunt.

"When I came back from military service we had moved. I am used to people coming to a house, knocking on the door, and waiting to be invited in.

"So I was surprised to open the door one day and see these kids just walk on in and head to the basement to play music, head to the refrigerator to look for something to eat, and even head to the range and make dinner for themselves," he told the standing room only audience at New Salem.

Community celebrants nodded smilingly, approvingly as they listened to younger and older members of the Anderson family weep and laugh through rich stories about how Queen Bernie affected their lives.

Pastor Bowen’s eulogy described what had been happening in this communal remembrance of the life and work of Queen Bernie. He said many family members were at Bernadette Anderson’s bedside when she died. He said her purpose was that they remember her works and gifts and remember that they also possess gifts, that they too have work to do.

Queen Bernie died during the weekly live broadcast of the Public Policy Forum at Lucille’s Kitchen. Family members called to announce her passing to her friend and partner in politics, Liz Samuels. Samuels announced Andersons passing to the Forum audience at Lucille’s and to the live KMOJ listening audience. A moment of silence was offered, prayerfully acknowledging her departure from this realm.

Many responded to an email sent by Insight News asking friends to share a remembrance. People may continue to post expressions of remembrance at the discussion forum at

Some responses are below:

After a long fight with cancer,

October 13, 2003
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