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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),
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),
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),
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.