As we progress forward into the new year let us look back at 2018 … the year that was.
Twenty-eighteen was a year of both turmoil and triumph. It was a year of upheaval and uprising. Most importantly, it was a year of lessons, light and love.
Let us look back at 2018 … the year that was.
It took almost all of 2018 for Minnesota – and the nation – to witness the most impactful events. With the historic midterm elections Minnesota voters continued to show their propensity for progressive change with the election of the state’s first Black attorney general, Keith Ellison, the nation’s first Somali-American representative, Ilhan Omar (D-5th) and the nation’s first Native-American elected lieutenant governor, Peggy Flanagan (elected as the running mate to Tim Walz). With the election of Ellison, he became one of four Black state attorney generals – Letitia James (D-N.Y.), Aaron Ford, (D-Nev.) and Kwame Raoul (D-Ill.) – to prevail in 2018. James is already making her mark, announcing she will investigate the business dealings of President Donald Trump’s organization for possible illegal activities that may have occurred under New York jurisdiction.
Two up-and-coming political figures – Stacey Abrams of Georgia and Andrew Gillum of Florida – captured the nation’s attention in their bids to become governors of their southern states. While neither was able be named victor, both came close despite the history of the South and despite what many consider “dirty tricks” employed by their opposition during the campaign. Following Gillam’s valiant run the Tallahassee mayor met with former president, Barack Obama, leading to speculation of a future run on a 2020 ticket for president or vice president.
Locally, Hennepin County saw the election of its first two people of color to the Hennepin County board – Angela Conley, African-America, elected to serve in District 4 and Irene Fernando, Filipino-American, elected in District 2.
Living while Black
Living while Black has always been a thing but never was it more apparent than in 2018. A string of incidents punctuated 2018, maybe none more infamous than that of “Barbecue Becky.”
The woman dubbed “Barbecue Becky” became an internet meme when a video of her emerged calling the police on a group of African-Americans for lawfully barbecuing in a public park in Oakland. The woman was later outed as 41-year-old Jennifer Schulte.
Incidents such as that plagued 2018. There was the manager at a Philadelphia Starbucks who had two Black men arrested for sitting in one of the chain’s stores. There were multiple incidents where Black students and staff on college campuses had police called on them for simply occupying space.
Children were not spared from the living while Black experience with a young California girl selling lemonade having had police called on her for not having a permit and a 9-year-old boy in New York City was accused of inappropriately touching an adult white woman. Like the case of Emmitt Till, the claim was erroneous, but thankfully for the child there was video evidence to show the tale was made up.
Here in North Minneapolis living while Black saw young Jaequan Faulkner having the authorities called on him for selling hot dogs on his front porch without a permit. The call led to a fortuitous outcome for the 13-year-old. Instead of being shut down, Minneapolis officials worked to get Faulkner licensed. The notoriety from the incident led to national news coverage, appearances on syndicated talk shows and a generous donation of hot dogs from Oscar Meyer.
Super Bowl comes to Minnesota
Come the first week of April 2019, Minneapolis will welcome upwards of 100,000 sports fans to the region for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four. The city – and US Bank Stadium – proved its metal in 2018 with its successful hosting of the NFL Super Bowl. Despite subzero temperatures, visitors from throughout the nation descended upon the Twin Cities this past February pumping more than $450 million into the local economy.
The 68,000-plus seats fans filled at the Super Bowl were put in by workers from Thor Construction – one of the nation’s most profitable Black-owned businesses. Thor again made news this past summer when its parent company, Thor Companies, opened its Regional Acceleration Center at the corners of Penn and Plymouth Avenues in North Minneapolis. The construction of the center, which houses Thor and several other companies including workers from Target Corporation, MEDA and Hennepin County, is the largest development in North Minneapolis in more than 25 years. Across the street, Estes Funeral Home and Cremation Chapel opened the doors to its new state-of-the-art facility, thus transforming the once barren intersection.
Another of the bigger stories of 2018 came near the end of the year when a Christmas tree inside the lobby of the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fourth Precinct was defiled – by two police officers – with racist “decorations” of Newport cigarettes, malt liquor cans, a Popeye’s container and most disturbingly, yellow crime scene tape. The Nov. 30 incident is still under internal investigation while the unnamed officers in question are on paid leave. In wake of the incident the head of the Fourth Precinct, Inspector Aaron Biard, was removed and replaced by Assistant Chief Mike Kjos.
The Twin Cities was the beneficiary of several phenomenal concerts. While the most anticipated was Jay Z and Beyoncé’s OTR II tour, arguably the best performance was the one delivered by rapper J Cole. His Sept. 19 performance at the Target Center was a masterful delivery of poignant rhymes backed by a high energy band and intricate stage display. Cole powerfully connected with his adoring audience in a show that set him apart from his hip-hop contemporaries.
Other shows to grace the Twin Cities included Avery*Sunshine (The Dakota), Bruno Mars (Xcel Center), PJ Morton (Dakota), Raphael Saadiq (First Avenue), Maxwell with Marsha Ambrosius (State Theatre) and Gregory Porter (Minnesota Orchestra).
The year 2018 said goodbye to a slew of cultural icons. The biggest among them was the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Franklin passed away on Aug. 16 in her home city of Detroit. Her funeral was an international event televised on most cable news networks with dignitaries such as Minister Louis Farrakhan, the Rev. Al Sharpton, former presidents Obama and Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson all paying their respects to the queen during the more than eight-hour long celebration.
Others lost in 2018 included jazz legends Nancy Wilson and Hugh Masekala, former Temptation, Dennis Edwards, Joe Jackson – matriarch of the Jackson family, Ethel Ayler (“Cosby Show”), model and actress Kim Porter, “Flava in Ya Ear” rapper Craig Mack, Ensa Cosby, daughter to Bill and Camille Cosby and “House of Cards” actor Reg E. Cathey.
Looking forward into 2019, we at Insight News promise to continue to be your trusted source for news affecting and impacting our community. With a revamped website, in addition to our award-winning print publication, Insight will be offering a more robust web presence including original video blog content.
To all our readers, we thank you for your readership and continued support. We wish you all a joyous and prosperous 2019.