Since the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the 1960s, two approaches to racial justice have competed for community support and financial resources. On the one hand, advocates for racial integration challenged the exclusion of African-Americans from neighborhoods, schools and employment opportunities. Citizens of all races and ethnic backgrounds, they argued, should be able to live in any community they choose. And along with choice of neighborhoods would come the social and economic benefits accorded whites.
Advocates of community control, on the other hand, believed that only by building up African American communities could genuine racial equity be achieved. These arguments had parallels in other ethnic and cultural communities, as well. Today, both advocates for housing integration and placed-based development see their approach as a way to reduce racial inequities and build a sturdy path out of poverty
To explore where these paths converge—and perhaps at times diverge—Truth to Tell will feature a conversation with Sue Watlov Phillips, executive director of one of the region’s premier housing advocacy organizations, the Minnesota Interfaith Council of Affordable Housing. MICAH, as it is commonly known, has joined several inner-ring suburbs and Minneapolis community groups in legal complaints challenging policies that concentrate housing in high-poverty areas.
Also joining the discussion are Owen Duckworth, who works on the Equity in Place initiative as coalition organizer for the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, and Nelima Sitati Munene, who helped rebuild housing in North Minneapolis in the aftermath of the recent devastating tornado and continues to work on affordable housing issues in the northwest suburbs where she resides. Nelima also served on the Metropolitan Council’s Housing Policy Planning Work Group, which will influence housing development in the metro region for the next 25 years.