University of Minnesota Alumni Association



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Thank you for publishing the courageous fall issue of Minnesota Alumni. We all need to be engaged in discussions about the conditions and societal problems that caused the murder of George Floyd. This discussion can be hard to have in our current political climate.

Your decision to make this a focus of this issue only makes me even more proud to be a member of UMAA.

Alan Ellis (B.A., ’94), San Antonio, Texas

I was happy to see a reference in your latest issue to Dr. Norman Borlaug, who won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize and was described by a letter writer as one of “the University’s most highly esteemed alumni.” Dr. Borlaug is the only U of M person to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and he got his start at the U of M in General College. In the same issue, in “We Need To Talk,” Adora Land and Ernest Comer III, wrote of the closing of General College as an example of how the U of M has “eliminated programs and colleges that historically served as an entry point for Black and other students of color into the University” and how this move “significantly decreased the number of Black and brown students on our campuses.”

I taught in General College and campaigned against its closing. Now it should be evident to everyone what a mistake that was.

General College provided an entry point for many people who, for many reasons, were not in the top 10 percent of their high school class or who had other obligations, such as parenting or working full time, but who were highly motivated to attend the U of M and to get their degree.

By closing General College, the U of M showed how duplicitous its claims to honor diversity really were.

Patricia Eliason (M.A. ’89), Minneapolis

I’m writing to commend you for the most excellent recent issue of Minnesota Alumni. The issue is both timely and compelling.

Your opening piece set the table for examining both our legacy (I was born in North Minneapolis), and the challenges that we face—individually, as Minnesotans and Americans in addressing racism at all levels from the personal to the national. I especially appreciated “The Minnesota Paradox” by Elizabeth Foy Larsen on Professor Myers’ Jr.’s research and the hopeful possibilities it laid out.

Thank you for your work and the relevance that you provided.

Brian Madson (B.A. ’74), St. Paul, Minnesota

I recently read your article (“A Hard Conversation, Fall ’20) regarding the death of George Floyd. I am white and I am educated, and I was arrested about 20 years ago. I followed the directions of the arresting police officer. I felt that I should not have been arrested, but I knew that I [could] explain myself to the district attorney and if necessary, the judge if I had to go to trial. George Floyd knew that also.

However, you suggest “When a Black man was stopped for the minor offense of allegedly using a counterfeit $20 at a neighborhood Minneapolis store, he was killed for it.” Honestly, he was not killed for being an alleged counterfeiter.

He [had] the same rights as you and me in a court of law and he could explain to a district attorney that he in fact was not aware that the $20 was a counterfeit or he could go to trial, if that was not successful. He knew the process, as he [had] been convicted of multiple crimes. That is one of the facts. Furthermore, he was using illegal drugs at the time of the arrest.

I live in Minneapolis and I have seen the outside gangs move into the Twin Cities over the past 40 years. These gangs have been a major problem due to drugs, theft, and other illegal activities. And whites and Black neighbors are seeing some of our children getting caught in that business and they are being killed, murdered, and manipulated into a life of crime.

Perhaps, the Blacks, whites, and Alumni Association should focus on eliminating the criminals and gangs that are killing our children and adults.

Roger Kittelson (B.S. ’80, B.S. ’88, M.A. ’88), Goodhue, Minnesota

I just finished reading the Fall issue and the many learned articles on structural racism. I learned a lot.

In my opinion, however, your series lacks any discussion of one of the fundamental and glaring causes of “structural racism” and that is the growing breakdown of the Black American family structure. This is not just a Minneapolis problem, but one of the most urgent but unaddressed issues our country faces. … How can children grow up in fatherless homes without huge obstacles at every stage of growing up?

I would hope that your continuing focus on these subjects will in some way recognize and discuss the vital role family structure plays in our ongoing efforts to find ways to go on from here.

G.Sheldon Barquist (B.S.B. ’49), Savannah, Georgia


In “We Need to Talk” in the last issue, we reference the 40th anniversary of the Morrill Hall Takeover in our print edition. Last year was actually the 50th anniversary. The takeover was in 1969. Minnesota Alumni regrets the error.

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