The Twin Cities recently lost a freedom fighter. Hailed as brilliant, honest, and a sensitive man, Mel Reeves, an editor and activist, recently transitioned into his next life and next mission after dealing with complications from COVID-19 and pneumonia. Reeves, 64, was an editor and writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder both in the early 80s and again for the past three years. He was a man so dedicated to his craft he continued to write from his hospital bed. His commitment to his community was not negotiable.
A man committed to what he believed in, an advocate, and an activist for underserved and marginalized communities, his work did not go in vain. The announcement of his death brought many online tributes to the man, who was not a myth.
Educator and coach, Larry A. McKenzie, said of his fellow Miami, FL friend, “Mel Reeves was a true community champion who is now truly resting in peace as he has earned his wings. I will be forever grateful of the time we did have together and our memories of growing up in Miami. Rest In Peace My Friend.”
Stephanetta Isis Harmon wrote on her Facebook page, “Mel Reeves was such a fighter. Grateful to have known him and all his antics. He was adamant about being acknowledged for his community work and activism. Deservedly so. He was always present and accounted for. Enjoy your flowers, Mel. We can only hope to carry a small part of the torch you lit for the community and social justice.”
Reeves covered the murders of Jamar Clark, Philando Castile, and George Floyd. More recently, before getting ill, he was still activating, and was covering the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter who was found guilty in the murder of Daunte Wright.
On Dec 25, from his hospital bed he wrote about the 14-year-old girl who was killed while trying on a dress at a department store in Los Angeles. On Dec. 27, he wrote of Coach Larry McKenzie and North High School launching the inaugural George Floyd Basketball Tournament.
In a social media post, Reeves said doctors suggested he keep writing, to focus on the positive. He did just that. He kept writing, he kept fighting, for himself and for others. Reeves was relentless about his work.
In an interview with Insight News, Tracey Williams-Dillard, owner of the MN Spokesman-Recorder, who also lost her husband to Covid complications last year, said of Reeves, “I have known Mel since the mid 1980s. He used to live with my mother and me. He was like a brother to me. Of course, I ultimately became his boss. He worked with us before he left back to Miami. When he came back to Minneapolis, he did not come back to the paper immediately, but he was back with us for three years until his passing.”
Regarding his legacy, Williams-Dillard added, “He was a person who would do anything for you. If there was a cause that he could help you fight, he would be there for you. He was very interested in the youth. He wanted to make sure that he could sponsor the youth at any given time, and support them in any way that he could. He made sure that his legacy would not be forgotten. He knew he was getting older and could not fight for justice the way he used to. He told me that. He wanted to pass the torch on to the youth.”
On New Year’s Day Reeves-- who was adopted and often spoke of feeling unappreciated-- posted via Facebook, “It's really true that ‘it’s a long road when you face the world alone.’ So, thank you for not letting me face one of my darkest hours alone!”
He continued, “I tried to love folks and it turns out I am here today because folks loved me back. I never ever want any credit for anything I ever do for anybody else, but I guess I too wanted to be appreciated. I wanted to get my flowers while I could appreciate them.”
United States Representative for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, Ilhan Omar, posted online in a tribute to Reeves, “Mel Reeves was a relentless advocate for justice, a true organizer rooted in the Northside, and a friend. His advocacy helped spark a movement that has inspired the whole nation. Rest in Power, Mel”.
In another powerful tribute, Kellen Reeves, son of Mel, posted on social media, “I lost my father last night. Mel Reeves was so much to so many. ‘Brother Mel’ was known by the whole city. Matter of fact, he was known around the nation. To me he was Pops. To my kids he was Grandpa Mel. We didn’t need anything from him other than his presence. His grandkids didn’t know or care what he did for so many, just that they loved playing with their grandpa. We loved him fully for him. For his heart, for his caring nature and for his love for us. We will miss him more than words can express. You always signed off your writing with ‘Justice, then peace’. You dedicated your life to justice. Now be at peace. Rest well, Pops. Give Cam a hug for me.”