I lived in north Minneapolis in the 1960s. I was 17 and on my own. All I could afford was a one-room flat above an old grocery store, next to a used-car lot. People would sit on the steps waiting out the night. I shared a bathroom with two 80-somethings and ate crackers.
A few years later, when I was pregnant with my first child, I moved back to Queen Avenue in north Minneapolis because, again, it was the only place I could afford. I walked the streets of north Minneapolis going door to door selling Avon products, while pushing my son in a stroller. I went into people's kitchens and drank coffee.
When the burning of Plymouth Avenue occurred in Minneapolis in 1967, I walked with my 2-year-old to see what was going on. I was thrown against the wall of a drugstore by the police, as the burning continued.
When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot in 1968, I returned to Plymouth Avenue to participate in the Silent March. I was not silent. I went door to door once again, this time expressing my sorrow over the loss of a great leader.
As a young wife, now a mother of three, I returned to north Minneapolis to develop a program for young girls adjudicated delinquent by the Hennepin County court system. Participants got together with white women to talk about how to find fresh directions and manage their lives as best they could. We called the program "Personal Improvement." Again I found myself in kitchens drinking coffee. Later, while directing a nonprofit organization that served people of all abilities who could not speak, I worked for over 17 years with residents from all over the metropolitan area and particularly north Minneapolis.
Now, at age 73, I look at the Black Lives Matter protests and events surrounding Jamar Clark's death as a turning point for a vibrant and passionate community. Clark was an individual who could not escape his ultimate outcome. The cards — the neighborhood, his upbringing, the police culture, history — were all stacked against him.
But from the loss of his life, I believe north Minneapolis will renew. As young people join together expressing who they are through protest and with passion, they will build themselves into men and women who have a better sense of themselves — who will respect and love themselves. Who — as they stand in the cold, eat sandwiches and let their voices be heard — will make themselves into unexpected heroes, each and every one building a solid foundation for a hopeful future.
No one, law enforcement included, will be the same after this gathering of like-minded people with like-minded goals of all color and differences.
I predict a revolution of attitude, tolerance and knowledge for each person standing strong to say: "My life matters!" "North Minneapolis matters!"
It is all personal. North Minneapolis is again experiencing a sea of change from the inside out.
Sara J. Meyer lives in St. Marys Point.