Richard Jefferson, who represented North Minneapolis in the Minnesota House of Representatives for 12 years, died June 28, 2021 at the age of 90.
AKorean War veteran Jefferson earned a B.A. from Xavier University of Louisiana, and worked as a chemist for U.S. Bureau of Mines. Upon retirement he won election to the state legislature, serving 6 terms from 1987 to 1999 representing He was the only person of color in the Legislature from 1987 to 2001, when he was joined by Ellen Garcia of Richfield and Carlos Mariani, of St. Paul. He succeeded Randolph Staten, who opened the door for Minneapolis Black’s winning election to the Legislature in 1980.
In a story by Nicole Wood, in the House of Representatives Session Weekly, Jefferson, when he retired from office in 1999, said one of the things he has enjoyed the most as a legislator was helping people who were tied up in the bureaucracy of local government. "That's the power of this office," he said. "It can be, when used properly, a very important tool for helping people." Jefferson said he had no illusions about how long the power to get phone calls returned quickly lasts. "The power is seated in the position, not in the individual," he said. "Because the day that I leave here, that will no longer exist for me, and the young man who comes in behind me will be able to do those things."
Jefferson's spent 32 years with the U.S. Bureau of Mines. As the head of research services, he used his chemistry background to oversee research into mining techniques and the use of resources - projects that the private sector would not do or couldn't afford.
Jefferson was a key negotiator on 1994TargetCenter buyout, and later on Minneapolis Convention Center expansion. Of the 12 House members from the Minneapolis delegation, Jefferson was the only one to vote for a new Twins stadium during the November 1997 Special Session.
"I saw [those initiatives] primarily as job opportunities, as much as anything," he said. Jefferson said the most important piece of legislation he sponsored was a 1993 measure setting residency requirements for public employees ofbthe city of Minneapolis. "It had the greatest impact and the mostfar-reaching effect on the city of Minneapolis of anything I've ever done," he said. Another bill that was important to him but did not receive as much attention provided for the testing of newborn babies for sickle-cell anemia, a genetic blood disease that primarily strikes those of African descent.Sign
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Jefferson was Chair of the Minneapolis Housing Authority, and he was one of the founders of Pilot City which is now known as Northpoint Health & Wellness Center in North Minneapolis. He was a co-founder of the Willard-Homewood Organization and he also authored legislation establishing Juneteenth as a State Holiday in 1996.He was a commissioner for the Metropolitan Sports Facility Commission, and became an Ordained Minister for the American Fellowship Church in 2016. He is survived by his wife, Alice Johnson, former Minnesota State Representative and Minnesota State Senator. He is survived by his children, Keith Jefferson, Stephanie (Theodore) Crosby, Raymond (Carla) Jefferson, Leonard (Denise) Jefferson, Matthew (Colette) Jefferson and many grand, great-grand and great-great grandchildren. Also survived by Alice’s ghildren, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Jefferson enjoyed fishing, golfing, traveling the world with his wife Alice, did stand-up comedy for seniors at the Senior Centers, and loved making Jelly and Jam. Richard and Alice were playing golf when he passed away on the 9th green. He was preceded in death by Mary Louise Jefferson, his previous wife. Mass of Christian Burial was held at Church of the Ascension in North Minneapolis on Thursday, July 8th at 11 AM with Interment at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Family would prefer memorials.