Former Minneapolis Urban League Board Chairman says, "Minneapolis Urban League on Shaky Ground...Members Have Been Disenfranchised, Bylaws Violated"

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Former board chairman, Ronald Edwards - now president of the National Research Institute and community activist was the longest seated (17 years), board president and chairman of the Minneapolis Urban League. He has contacted the National Urban League’s director of affiliates Herman Lessard in an attempt to alert the National on the Minneapolis Urban League’s continued discrepancy in process. The following article is posted in his blog "Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues,” ( - a weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder (

The Minneapolis Urban League

The Urban League needs to...stop providing automatic votes for...the Democratic Party, which seeks out Black votes but not Black participation nor Black economic empowerment and wealth generation.

Former Minneapolis Urban League Board Member Roxanne Givens spoke frankly of the organization in a front-page story in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder newspaper two weeks ago. Many social reformers took note. Joe Nathan of the Humphrey Institute congratulated this newspaper in a letter last week for the "well written, insightful and balanced article regarding the Minneapolis Urban League." (See "Urban League callously removed board member" - Read: ( )

We will describes some of what is below as the tip of the iceberg that threatens to sink the Twin Cities Urban League branches.

Last Monday, July 27, the Minneapolis Urban League had what they called their annual meeting of the board of directors, as allowed by Article 3 of the Minneapolis Urban League Bylaws (last amended July 11, 2007).

The disturbing ruling by the presiding outgoing chair (who was once the general counsel for the soon-to-be-defunct Northwest Airlines) that members of the organization would not be allowed to participate in the electoral process (thus violating Article 3) jeopardizes the affiliate's status. This action suppressed participation by the members, disenfranchising them and putting the board in extreme violation of Article 6 of their bylaws.

The language is clear: "The Board of Directors shall place in nomination, at the annual membership meeting, candidates for the Board of Directors. Additional director candidates may be nominated directly by the membership of the Minneapolis Urban League if endorsed in writing by at least five members."

As the chairman of the Minneapolis Urban League Board and many fellow board members are attorneys, they have to know they are in egregious violation of Articles 6, 2 and 3 of their own Bylaws (following the lead of the City that is in violation of its own compliance statutes).

Of greater historic interest is their reference to Article 1, Section 2 of their Articles of Incorporation, which reminds us of the case of the great forgeries in 1989 used to force Nellie Stone Johnson (co-founder of the DFL), myself (Minneapolis Urban League chair at the time), and the rest of our board out of office.

As I wrote in 2002, "The Urban League needs to...stop providing automatic votes for...the Democratic Party, which seeks out Black votes but not Black participation nor Black economic empowerment and wealth generation."

We saw this 20 years ago when a second set of Articles of Incorporation surfaced that clearly contradicted the Minneapolis Urban League Articles of Incorporation and the national nonprofit's 501(3)(c) status by defining the Minneapolis Urban League as a membership organization. The second set "appeared" in 1989 after being 50 years in a box in the corner of the Minnesota Secretary of State's office.

The setup was taken to court, where the White power structure's White district court judge ruled that the State's box, after gathering dust for 50 years, held the prevailing Articles, and that the Minneapolis Urban League is a membership organization.

This enabled the Minneapolis Urban League to dismiss all of us, leading the governor at that time, Rudy Perpich to say that he had no room for any organization without room for Nellie Stone Johnson or Ron Edwards. He ceased all interaction with the Minneapolis Urban League.

Rumors abound that both of the Minneapolis and St. Paul Urban League affiliates are being pressured to merge into a Greater Urban League of the Twin Cities (part of the NW Area Foundation plan) due to their dire financial straits (after years of dubious fiduciary practices).

All of us in that evening meeting on the 27th heard clearly and concisely about the financial straits of the Minneapolis Urban League, including the $10,000 shortfall for Minneapolis Urban League Family Day.

For an organization that claims as a key strength its board's ability to raise funds not to have $10,000 on hand raises serious questions about the future of both Urban League affiliates and their ongoing relevance within the Black community.

We ask again, "Where is the plan" for serving the constituents, not the organizations? The only plan we have seen so far is this one to disenfranchise Minneapolis Urban League voters in violation of Minneapolis Urban League Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. Stay tuned.

When is a man's home not his castle?

Answer: When you express your concern and outrage to White police about their mistake caused by racial profiling, as done to Professor Gates in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and to President Obama when he expressed his opinion in defense of his friend.

It is not stupid for Professor Gates to stand up for himself in his own home. Nor is it stupid for a Black president to stand up for democratic institutions and democracy in America.


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Don Allen