In the article, Lansing shares historical information about the conflict between Minneapolis Mayor Arthur Naftalin and the Police Officers’ Federation of Minneapolis in 1967. The story ends on a note of hope that in the future police unions will no longer hamper the push for police reforms. In Lansing’s words: “Anything that can be created can be uncreated.”
On August 13, President Paul Pribbenow was one of four leaders from the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities who participated in a virtual discussion on confronting systemic racism. The 90-minute discussion, “Where Do We Go From Here? Creating Lasting Change to Combat Systemic Racism and Inequities,” was moderated by PBS NewsHour journalist Fred de Sam Lazaro.
The panelists were asked to deal with hard questions. Will reactions to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor finally generate measurable progress? What do universities need to do to help lead change? What are we prepared to sacrifice? Will white people acknowledge that they cannot in good conscience maintain silence in the face of racism?
In response, Pribbenow declared the urgent need to respond to systemic racism. He spoke of the need for leaders to disrupt the status quo in hiring decisions. He said that as a leader he has been asking, “What are those things that we can do quickly that actually plant a seed, that actually will grow something sustainable for the future?”
MinnPost recently ran an opinion piece on gun violence by Lindsay Starck, assistant professor of English and associate director of Augsburg University’s MFA program. In her August 13 commentary, “Defund the guns: They do not make us safer,” she notes that gun sales have gone up since people have been calling to defund the police and asks readers to reconsider the best ways to protect themselves. She points to findings that people are actually less safe when they bring guns into their homes. Instead she suggests that we “support community-led anti-violence programs that are proven to work.”
Kare 11 spoke with health and economy experts about the hidden costs of fighting COVID-19 and the long-term effects that might stick around for years. A Hennepin Healthcare pediatrician expressed her concern about mental health, addiction, and child abuse. Economists such as Augsburg Professor of Economics Jeanne Boeh are concerned about the financial fallout that may linger on for years.
Boeh explained that many of the jobs that were lost may never come back and many of the businesses that closed may be gone forever.
“Gaps between lower, middle, and upper class may get even wider in the coming years,” Boeh told Kare 11. “People who can work from home, their lives may have actually gotten better. There are no transportation costs. They’re still getting paid.” But she said people who were involved in restaurants and nursing might be adversely affected.
Augsburg international student Jonas Bergmann was interviewed by MSNBC to share his reaction to plans to deport international students taking an online course load in the fall. Bergmann is an international student from Denmark and is part of an Augsburg team that helps international students have a smooth transition to university life in the United States.
Bergmann, who’s majoring in clinical psychology and gender studies, wondered why now, though the administration soon after this interview dropped the deportation plan. Augsburg plans a mix of on-campus and alternative format classes.
As Minnesota gains its first Somali public school principals, an Augsburg University program is actively helping to increase East African educators here.
Located in Minneapolis’ largely Somali Cedar–Riverside neighborhood, Augsburg’s East African Student to Teacher (EAST) program is committed to recruiting, retaining, and licensing highly qualified East African students who wish to become K-12 teachers. EAST covers tuition costs towards initial licensure.
“In a relatively short time, we’ve been able to multiply the number of educators of East African descent in the state of Minnesota from a handful to a bit of a larger handful,” EAST Program Director Audrey Lensmire told the Sahan Journal. Lensmire is an associate professor in the education department.
Michael J. Lansing, associate professor and chair of Augsburg University’s Department of History, has been featured in news sources from around the United States since his May 26, 2020, Twitter thread, offering a historical perspective on racial injustices in Minneapolis, went viral.
Lansing and Augsburg also were given a brief nod in the editor’s note by Scott Carlson for a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. In the note, Carlson writes, “I am heartened by seeing my old friend Michael J. Lansing, a history professor at Augsburg University, take to Twitter and to local and national newspapers to bring context to the legacy of race and policing in the Twin Cities. We need colleges that support work like this.”
Following the death of George Floyd, KARE 11 reporter Boyd Huppert put the event in perspective for those who were shocked that such a thing could happen in Minnesota, noting that on June 15, 1920, a mob in Duluth lynched three young black circus workers. One of Huppert’s sources was Bill Green, professor of history at Augsburg University.
Speaking about a graphic photo of the lynching, Green encouraged Minnesotans to look at the picture. He commented on how the smiles on the faces of the white men who participated in the lynching impacted him. “It’s almost like they were sportsmen who’d gone off and fished; this is their catch,” he said. He believes that the current moment “is an opportunity for us to prove ourselves.”
Green is author of two books on race and civil rights in Minnesota, “A Peculiar Imbalance: The Fall and Rise of Racial Equality in Early Minnesota” and “Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865-1912.”
On June 1, Augsburg University organized a supply drive to aid the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. The COVID-19 pandemic combined with the devastation that followed the murder of George Floyd near campus put a strain on our community given that many local stores were closed and there was little to no public transportation.
More than 550 cars arrived to donate to the supply drive and a few dozen trips were made to the nearby Brian Coyle Center, the recipient of all the supplies.
“This is our community, this is our neighborhood. So when our neighbors are hurting, you step forward and you do what you can to help” a volunteer told Fox 9.
WCCO’s Reg Chapman interviewed Augsburg students about One Day in May, the theme of this year’s virtual commencement and a historic call for change at the university.
One Day in May was a response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
During One Day in May, classes were canceled and the Augsburg community participated in a series of workshops and lectures about racism.
“When we look at the number of students of color that we have now and the beautiful diversity that we have on this campus, we have to remember the significance of One Day in May,” said Director of Pan-Afrikan Student Services Hana Dinku, during the WCCO interview.
The Augsburg experience is supported by an engaged community that is committed to intentional diversity in its life and work. More than half of Augsburg’s traditional day students during this academic year were students of color and last fall’s first-year class was the most diverse in the institution’s history.