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Continued: Feb. 12, 2007: 'This is what drives me'

  • Article by: TERRY COLLINS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 6, 2013 - 11:20 AM


The "Big House" usually refers to the plantation owner's house, and slaves who lived there had certain privileges over other slaves.

Two activists responded with their own sharp words (some perceived as death threats) on a public access television show. Samuels then filed a police complaint, which was later dropped. He then filed a formal complaint with the city's Civil Rights Department that is still pending.

But "this latest comment tops that," said Harris, program director for the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership, a nonprofit designed to increase minority academic success. "It shows how unconnected [Samuels] can be."

Samuels will pay a price for what he said, but it probably won't end his political career - in fact he just might benefit from it, said Larry Jacobs, director of the center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute.

"He's still got some explaining to do. In some sectors, it might be the straw that broke the camel's back, but my sense is that he has some support in the black community," Jacobs said.

"There are some who share his frustration, and he may have just tapped into that sense of disappointment and concern," Jacobs added.

Whatever the student graduation or failure rate is, Samuels now says that education, in addition to public safety, will be his main platform. He wants to work on a partnership with the Minneapolis schools to narrow the achievement gap. To that end, he wants to bring in noted educational experts from the public and charter sectors to share what works. He also wants to ask foundations and lawmakers to help the Minneapolis schools replicate the successes and form an independent group to monitor the progress.

Samuels knows it won't be easy to win people over. He will likely face more questions, including why his two daughters attend a Minneapolis private school.

Samuels has been invited to attend an at-large community meeting Thursday night at North High. He said late Sunday that he's likely to be there.

North High students are anxious to meet him in person.

"If he has any remorse, he would come on a regular basis to see what we need to improve on," Lydia Atlas, 18, a college-bound senior, said last week. "We need to see him, hear from him. Apologize to us in person. Show us that you care. Truly care."

Samuels said that on Friday a North teacher e-mailed him an idea: Have a contest for students to respond to his comments. The first-prize winner gets to spend a day shadowing him.

"I'm going to tell her, let's do it," Samuels said. "I want to make this happen."

Terry Collins - 612-673-1790
 

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