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The Future Will Be United By Black, Powered By All

[Minneapolis – Nov. 12, 2021] – As we approach the holiday season in 2021, the African American Leadership Forum team is positioning itself to engage stakeholders inside and outside of Minnesota’s Black community to inform them of our United By Black, Powered By All work, which is moving forward. You’ll have opportunities to register to join us at, and attend upcoming presentations, town halls, and listening sessions. You will be hearing from our team about the six priority areas and ways for you to engage. 

Recently our Executive Director, Marcus Owens presented an update on our United By Black initiative, (UB for short) to a gathering at the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce Equity Summit. As of this writing, AALF is putting on the finishing touches to events being planned for next month and in the first quarter of 2022. 

Nov. 9, 2021 St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce Equity Summit. Photos Courtesy @SPACC

We’ve spent the last six months building our team and expanding our Black Centered Design approach as we embark on a 10-year project to address racial inequities in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul region.

Initially, United By Black, Powered By All (formerly the Alliance of Alliances) began with the Black men’s professional fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi (Omicron Boulé), Itasca Project, and GREATER MSP. They consulted more than 50 local and regional organizations to develop a shared vision. Thanks to our initial impact partner, the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity, we raised $4 million to increase capacity at our organization where UB is currently housed.

On May 26, 2020, we were collectively angered into action. That was the morning the world awakened to a video of George Floyd being killed by a Minneapolis police officer. The video was recorded the previous day by an observer. 

For some local residents Floyd’s death may have been the first time they felt confronted with racial inequality, yet a database created by The Washington Post and the research organization Mapping Police Violence, showed that in fact, 164 Black men and women throughout the U.S. were killed by police from January 1 to August 31, 2020. Some of the cases to this day remain under investigation.

Public Safety is at the top of our priority list. We’ve pulled aspirations from research and conversations on safe communities, police reform, and criminal justice reform. We are engaging community and systems to bridge gaps in understanding and identifying intersections in our collective vision for the community’s future. 

These are the five additional areas we intend to address as we come together to build a future, United By Black and Powered By All.

  • Infrastructure/Economic Opportunity —We must encourage investment in minority-owned businesses, while rebuilding critical civic infrastructure, particularly in impacted areas.
  • Employment—We have to empower Black people through job creation, training, hiring, and securing advancement while reducing chronic unemployment of Black residents. We need livable wage jobs and Black representation at senior leadership levels.
  • Education—We must pursue opportunities to educate and develop our youth as our region’s future workforce. We must eliminate racial healthcare disparities so every child has critical early brain development; so their teachers are inter-culturally fluent and supportive, and students are prepared for post-secondary education or living-wage jobs.
  • Healthcare—We have to drive unrestricted access to healthcare for everyone while backing initiatives that recognize and combat the racism behind disparate care and outcomes.
  • Housing—We must eliminate racial inequities in access to housing and financing, so everyone can tap into the resources needed to purchase or rent a place they’re proud to call home.

All this work centers on our ability to fortify the foundational institutions that strengthen the bonds within the Black community and allow us to work together, collectively. Through our advocacy work, we will determine what actions each of us is prepared to undertake across these six pillars supporting a shift towards a political landscape representative of the region.

We know that undoing a system built over 400 years will take time. The Black community — specifically the descendants of slaves — often bear the brunt of racial injustice. But as positive change happens within this community, the transformation will radiate outward to everyone else. We have an opportunity to create real and sustainable change over the next decade. Let’s move forward together.

If you’d like to join us or find out more, click here.


Marc Belton, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Itasca Project 

Lauren Boulware, Morgan Stanley, AALF Board Member

Lynn Casey, Padilla PR (retired), Itasca Project

Ken Charles, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity

Greg Cunningham, US Bank, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity 

Duchesne Drew, MPR, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Itasca Project, AALF Board Member

Peter Frosch, Greater MSP

Dr. David Hamlar, U of M, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity

Kevin Lindsey, Humanities Center of MN, AALF Board Member

Audrey Lucas, McKinsey & Co, Itasca Project

Tim Welsh, US Bank, Itasca Project

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We are always open to press enquiries, so please feel free to reach out. As thought leaders in racial equality and equity, we are available for media comments.

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