Members of the Minnesota House and Senate announced the first United Black Legislative Caucus as part of Black History Month.
The goal of the caucus, announced Feb. 6, will be to elevate and advocate for issues relating to Minnesota’s Black communities.
Rep. Ruth Richardson, Rep. Mohamud Noor and Rep. Hodan Hassan joined the State House this year, creating a record number of Black and Somali-American legislators in Minnesota.
The U.S. Census estimates the percentage of Black Minnesotans in 2018 to be 6.4 percent, yet the United Black Legislative Caucus still makes up less than 3 percent of the state legislature. The Caucus hopes to address Minnesota’s unemployment, income, incarceration and homeownership gaps between Black and white residents, which are among the worst in the nation.
"It's taken generations to get the level of representation our community now has at the State Capitol to form this caucus, but by no means is our work over as we work to have our ideas heard and new opportunities established," said Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – St. Paul). "Collectively bringing together our shared backgrounds, stories and experiences, this caucus will give us a greater voice to inform public policy decisions at the legislature to truly gain progress and have a positive impact on our neighborhoods."
“It is significant that during Black History Month, which honors the contributions Black Americans have made to our state and our country, a historic number of Black state legislators are joining together to make the changes our state needs to improve the lives of Black Minnesotans,” said Noor (DFL – Minneapolis).
“This fight is not about us anymore, it is about giving Minnesota’s black children a picture that includes faces that look like them,” said Hassan (DFL – Minneapolis). “It is about painting a picture that shows our Black children’s dreams are not limited, but limitless. I am a Black, Muslim, former refugee and had all odds against me, yet I am serving as a state legislator in the state of Minnesota. I want every Black child in Minnesota to have all opportunities to succeed in life.”
“The newly formed United Black Caucus creates an opportunity for legislators to intentionally engage other policy makers, community and business leaders around issues and resolutions that will improve the lives of blacks and Minnesotans as a whole through strategic partnerships,” said Sen. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL – Minneapolis).
“I’m proud to stand up with these five colleagues as the United Black Legislative Caucus,” said Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL – Minneapolis). “It’s important for voters across Minnesota to know their government looks and lives like they do, and this caucus is a step toward making that happen. Whether it’s in support of the African American Family Preservation Act, expanding health care access to people who need it, or the Taylor Hayden Gun Violence Prevention Act, we’re standing here together as a united team.”
“Despite the progress we have made, Black Minnesotans continue to face persistent disparities in education, health, employment, and housing in our state,” said Richardson (DFL – Mendota Heights). “It is important that communities and people closest to the pain are represented in every aspect of our legislative process. I am proud to have the opportunity to work with this caucus and the people of Minnesota to ensure that we are creating communities where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential.”