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2000 Annual Report

In January, Susan Granger was appointed to replace Barbara Stevenson.

In February, Chair Bea Nelson and Secretary/Treasurer LeAnn Love were reelected to office for the 2000 year. (Without a majority of members present at the January meeting, the election of officers was postponed to February.)

In March, the Commission met with a UMM student from E-Quality (the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Transsexual organization).

In April, the Commission arranged for free transit rides from the Senior Citizen Center, West Central Homes, and Grand View for those interested in attending the World Touch Cultural Heritage Week events on the UMM campus. Very little interest was shown and only two residents took advantage of the free rides.

The Commission met with Christine Gibson, the newly appointed Human Rights Officer for the Morris School District.

The Commission co-sponsored, with the Anti-Racism Task Force, a "Forum on Racism" on April 30, 2000. Approximately 40 people attended the forum which encouraged the group to plan an additional workshop on Dismantling Racism. There were not enough registrants to hold the two and one-half day workshop so it was canceled. Plans are underway for a one day workshop in March 2001.

In May, Nelson met with Mayor Wilcox, UMM administration and a Key Row Apartment representative regarding students' complaints about the physical conditions of the apartments and other student concerns about living in the apartments. She also met with Bonnie Hausmann, City Manager Larson, Minority Student Program Director Hall, and a student representative regarding students' complaints and concerns about the Morris Transit.

Nelson and Granger met with UMM Chancellor Schuman to encourage funding for the ACE project.

The Commission initiated a series of articles, "Notes From The Human Rights Commission" beginning in a September issue of the Morris paper. Plans are to have an article appear once a month. The initial article explained what the Commission is doing and encouraged attendance at the Racism Workshop. The November article was about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The third article reported on the ethnicity in our community. A future article "Making Multicultural Connections" will deal with ways to learn about the heritage of people whose family history or cultural background may be different from our own. The Commission paid for half of the cost to encourage the Morris Library to order seven additional videos to complement the eight cultural heritage videos now available. The videos "The Joy Luck Club", "Glory", "Simon Birch", "Smoke Signals", "Gandhi", and "Hester Street" have arrived at the Library. "Snow Falling on Cedars" will be ordered in January 2001.

In October, Dennis Ellefson was appointed as the ex-officio member from the City Council.

The Commission sponsored the second Minnesota Human Rights Essay Contest open to all sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students in the Morris area schools and to all sixth, seventh, and eighth grade home schooled students. The Essay topic was: "Choose an article in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and write an essay relating the article to an event currently in the local, national or international news." Local contest winners will be announced on Martin Luther King Day in the January 15, 2001, issue of The Morris Sun Tribune. The first place entry will receive $100.00 and that essay will be entered in the statewide contest sponsored by the League of Minnesota Human Rights Commissions. The second place local winner will receive $75.00 and the third place prize is $50.00. State contest winners will be announced April 19, 2001.

In December, Peg Rinkenberger, a Morris Area social studies teacher invited reformed white supremacist Thomas J. Leyden to Morris to speak about hate groups. Leyden spoke at UMM and at the high school. The Commission agreed to pay up to $100 for his lodging. Rinkenberger reported that the presentation was excellent and well received. Similar comments were received from community and Commission members.

After receiving a complaint, the Commission investigated the handicapped restroom at Prairie Inn and found it was not accessible to someone in a wheel chair. The Commission contacted one of the owners who is working on a satisfactory solution to the problem.





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