Author:Jenkins, Andrea

On May 27, 2017, The Humanist Institute hosted an all-day symposium at the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis titled "Social Justice: Addressing the Narrative of Fear," which included individual remarks and panel discussions with humanist, feminist, and social justice advocates. Among them was American Humanist Association Social Justice Coordinator Sincere Kirabo, along with Minnesota State Legislator Bobby Joe Champion and University of Minnesota oral historian, poet, and activist Andrea Jenkins. On November 7 Jenkins became the first openly transgender black woman elected to public office in the United States when she won a seat on the Minneapolis City Council. The following is adapted from her remarks at the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis in May.

It is my deep honor to share the stage with all of these amazing speakers today and to address you in this conversation about the narrative of fear. As Senator [Bobby Joe] Champion noted, I'm running for the 8th Ward city council seat in Minneapolis. As an unapologetic black transgender woman, I think that deserves a round of applause. So it's okay for you to applaud that. Thank you. Thank you very much.

I never dreamed of this moment growing up in a working-class family on the West Side of Chicago with a single mother. I do want to shout out to my mother, who lives here in Minneapolis now. When we were growing up in Chicago, whenever our neighborhood would get really unbearable or before it would become completely unbearable, she would always move us to a better neighborhood and to a better public school. One of the big issues in African-American wealth building is homeownership, and that is an extreme challenge today. But my mother, who had a high school education, has owned five homes and has never been foreclosed upon. She gifted my sister and me each a home so that we could move into homeownership. Senator Champion talked about Isabel Wilkersons book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, which documented the great black migration. My family came from Tuskegee, Alabama, to Chicago. If you've read this book you'll recall a woman in Chicago who became a sort of beacon for families to come and to stay in their homes. That was my grandmother.

She owned a three-flat, as we called them in Chicago; they call them triplexes here in Minneapolis. A family would come from the South and they would stay with her until they got their footing and were able to...

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