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Minnesota Legislature’s new black caucus seeks to address racial disparities

ST. PAUL — Minnesota’s six African-American state legislators on Wednesday, Feb. 6, announced the formation of the first United Black Legislative Caucus as part of Black History Month in the state.

The new group “will enable us to elevate and advocate for the pressing issues our black communities face every single day,” DFL Rep. Rena Moran of St. Paul, the chair of the new caucus, said at a Capitol news conference.

Seventeen African-Americans have served in Legislature in Minnesota’s 161-year state government history, but never before have so many held office at the same time, Moran said. That’s why the six lawmakers believe they can have an impact by uniting now.

“We are going to be a voice to be reckoned with,” said Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis.

While black Minnesotans make up 6.4 percent of the state’s population, members of the black caucus comprise less than 3 percent of the Legislature.

In addition to Moran and Hayden, caucus members are DFL Sen. Bobby Joe Champion of Minneapolis and first-term DFL Reps. Ruth Richardson of Inver Grove Heights and Mohamud Noor and Hodan Hassan of Minneapolis.

The caucus hopes to address Minnesota’s education, unemployment, income, incarceration and homeownership gaps between black and white residents.