Major Topps Jr., North Side advocate for education, dies

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , and MATT McKINNEY
  • Updated: November 4, 2010 - 8:03 AM

He founded organizations to improve young people's lives and rapped about education on his radio show.

Major Topps, a longtime community activist in north Minneapolis whose mission was education, has died.


Topps, 61, of Robbinsdale, died Tuesday at North Memorial Medical Center after having kidney problems, according to his family.


He filed a police complaint Oct. 24 after a fracas at a northside Church in which he said he had been kicked, punched and hit with a folding chair by Franklin Rich, his ex-wife’s husband.


An examination by the Hennepin County Medical examiner’s office has found no evidence linking the fight to Topps’ death, however.


Topps arranged to give a statement to police but did not show up for the appointment, police said. Rich, meanwhile, told the Star Tribune  the case was dropped because police didn’t see any evidence of a severe beating when they interviewed Topps.


“I didn’t attack him,” said Rich. Police confirmed that no charges were filed and that the case has since been closed.


Topps was a fixture in north Minneapolis for decades, focusing on the betterment of youth. He founded “Education Is Our Goal,” a program that helps minorities get high school diplomas. He also led a drum and dance corps, and worked with numerous community groups that focused on turning young lives around.


“My name is Major and I’m here to say, education is the only way,” Topps would say in a rap-style delivery during his radio show on KMOJ, 89.9 FM. “High school, college, GED, if you want to go to school, I’m the man to see.”


Topps “was all about 'Education Is Our Goal’ — the name of his long-running radio show,” U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., whose district includes north Minneapolis, said on Twitter. “RIP, dear friend.” 

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