Reconstituted Duluth African Heritage Commission ready to push ‘reset’ – Duluth News Tribune


DULUTH — The new members should breathe new life into the Duluth African Heritage Commission, a body that launched in 2020 and fell apart the following year amid a wave of resignations that reduced the body from seven members to just one appointee. remaining.

The Duluth City Council on Monday is expected to name Archie Davis to the reconstituted commission. He will join four other members whose appointments were confirmed earlier this month. Those serving include Bernice Pepper, who was re-elected as the commission’s only remaining original member, and new appointees: Melissa Grimes, Vannie Hayden and Jeanine Schroer.

With five members on board, the commission should now be able to consistently muster a quorum of four, assuming absences are kept to a minimum.

The city’s website says that the purpose of the commission is “to ensure that the views of the African Heritage community are incorporated into the decision-making, future planning and administration of the City of Duluth.”

It goes on to state: “The commission will strive to act as a guide in the development of public policy, planning and services so that the African Heritage community is adequately represented in these processes. The commission will also strive to increase understanding and acceptance of the African Heritage community and culture and increase the participation of the African Heritage community in all aspects of community affairs in Duluth.

Council Vice President Janet Kennedy, representing Duluth’s 5th Ward, was the first black person to be elected to a city council seat and advocated for the creation of an African Heritage Commission. However, friction between Kennedy and some of the former commissioners was cited as a factor in her decision to leave, as was frustration with the agency’s perceived inability to effect positive change without greater internal support.

Speaking of the new commission members, Kennedy said, “I hope we all support them. As city council members, it’s our job. And I say that because I’m calling them out. As an African American, they look at me as having the solutions and the one who needs get the job done. But this is a commission, so it’s our job to make sure they’re supported.”

Kennedy went on to tell the commissioners, “Welcome, thank you, and I look forward to getting to work.”

Noah Schuchman, Duluth’s managing director, said the city is still looking for candidates and is eager to fill the remaining two seats on the African Heritage Commission, assuming Davis is appointed Monday. The commission normally meets at 5:30 pm on the second Wednesday of each month.


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