Click HERE for “Ending student expulsions: Minneapolis Public Schools, Legal Rights Center partner for restorative justice.”
Public Schools face daunting challenges. Unlike private schools that can select their students, the public schools are just that – they belong to all of us, they educate the whole population, not just the cream that is skimmed from the top. Urban schools systems like the Minneapolis Public School System provides education to the poorest of the poor, the middle class, and wealthier families committed to public education.
In Minneapolis alone, the students coming into the schools speak over 80 different languages from as many different cultures. What happens in the public schools will determine America’s future.
The restorative justice partnership between the Minneapolis Public Schools and Legal Rights Center is a natural. Legal Rights Center, Inc. (LRC) was founded in 1970 by four leaders of the American Indian and African-American communities in Minneapolis, and a lawyer named Doug Hall. Clyde and Peggy Bellecourt, Syl and Gwen Davis, and Doug Hall gave birth to a law firm that belongs to the people, a non-profit law office staffed by community advocates and street lawyers who work for the people of the street.
Michael Friedman, the current Executive Director of LRC, continues the tradition of the spirit and heart of these founders.
During the last decade of Doug Hall’s life, I served as Executive Director of LRC. Kay and I spent many hours, days, and weekends with Doug and Mary on their farm near Wabasha, MN. Doug had become convinced that restorative justice offered the best hope for empowering and repairing communities affected by multi-generational violence and trauma. In his last years, Doug gave birth to the Minnesota Restorative Justice Campaign and served as its chair for three years.Michael Friedman, the board and staff of LRC are carrying the torch for Doug and Mary Hall, Clyde, Peggy, Syl, and Gwen.
The day of Doug’s memorial service, his daughter Claire walked through the woods to the small clearing where the family had buried Doug’s ashes. There were four stones pointing in the four directions. In the center were Doug’s remains. A bald eagle sat in the center of the stones on Doug’s ashes. While his ashes remain there on the farm, his legacy and spirit are soaring in the new partnership to stop the prison train before it gets on the tracks…in the school system.