Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage

The Minnesota Humanities Center's work with the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage (formerly Council on Black Minnesotans) is focused on supporting programs and events that celebrate and preserve the artistic, historical, and cultural heritages of the communities represented by the council and highlighting the experiences of African American Minnesotans. This work increases capacity and emphasizes to a broad public audience the significant and remarkable contributions made to the state by members of the communities represented by the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage.


Statewide Cultural Relations Summit (January – September 2013)

The Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage  and the Humanities Center coordinated a Cultural Relations Summit for Minnesotans of African descent. The summit celebrated culture traditions through instructional demonstrations, guided tours, and visual arts; plan for cultural institutions’ sustainability; and strengthen cultural connections. A web-based cultural portal and a video documentary on the contributions of Minnesotans of African descent discovered and preserved cultural traditions and enhanced relations in Minnesota. This summit is an outcome of the 2012 Our Voices, Our Stories listening sessions.

This weekend-long celebration centered around the themes of: Power of Unity, Power of Communication, and Power of Family. Each day was packed with different activities.

For details about each day’s program offerings, please see the Power of Unity Summit Programming Agenda (PDF)

Our Voices, Our Stories (April – December 2012)

After receiving funds from the Minnesota Legislature’s Legacy Funding program to listen to the voices of black Minnesotans, the Council in collaboration with the Minnesota Humanities Center contracted with Marnita’s Table to facilitate two listening sessions in Minneapolis and St. Cloud, Minnesota. The Minnesota Humanities Center serves as a collaborative partner and fiscal agent for the program, managing the consultant relationships and offering valuable insights and leadership toward the goals of maximizing the outcomes of bringing people together. The purpose of the listening sessions is to gather the stories and voices of black Minnesotans to help inform the Council as to the current issues, solutions, partnerships and entities in each community, enabling the Council to fulfill its advocacy role. The COBM also contracted with Innovations By Design, LLC and Millennium Consulting Group to evaluate the listening sessions and make recommendations for next steps.

2009-2011 Collaborative Programming

Absent Narratives

Listen to the experiences and stories of African American Minnesotans that are often missing in mainstream resources through two programs:

Firsts: Minnesota's African American Groundbreakers

Firsts: Minnesota’s African American Groundbreakers, is a collaborative endeavor made possible thanks to the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. The Humanities Center in partnership with the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage has developed a series of interviews with African American Minnesotans to capture what it means to be a "First." The Council identified an original group of 40 Minnesotan groundbreakers from which six were ultimately selected. Segments from this program featuring Sharon Sayles Belton, Arthur Blakey, Jr., Linda Finney, William Finney, Archie Givens, Jr., and Robyne Robinson can also be seen on the Minnesota Humanties Center's Absent Narratives Resouce Collection. 

Watch | Discussion Questions

Voices from the African American Community
Hear community members share experiences and viewpoints that speak to what it means to be an African American Minnesotan.

Watch interviews with Toni Carter, W.C. Jordan, Charity McCoy, and Lucky Rosenbloom.

Arts and Cultural Heritage Programming and Event Grants

Learn about programming and events supported by nearly $200,000 in grant funds to African American and African Immigrant led organizations in Minnesota, including:

  • Aurora St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation (ASANDC)
  • The Black Parent Group
  • Culture Brokers Foundation
  • Finote Tibeb Literary Art Center
  • Mentoring Young Adults
  • Minnesota African American Museum
  • Sabathini Community Center
  • Sierra Leone Community in Minnesota
  • SoulTouch Productions
  • TU Dance

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