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New school mural, candidate forum both pay tribute to democracy

What are you doing Wednesday night? Thursday night? Just sitting on the stoop watching as your yard withers further? You can do better — far better.

On Wednesday, from 6:30 to 9, join Minneapolis’ South High School’s s.t.a.r.t. (which stands for “students together as allies for racial trust”) for the unveiling of “We the People,” a 1,700-square-foot mural that two dozen students and the muralists Greta McLain (a South alumna), Shannon McEvoy and Gustavo Lira spent the summer painting.  

There will be refreshments, courtesy of vendors from the Midtown Global Market and Brotherhood Brew, and reflections from storyteller Rose McGee and rapper Brother Ali, whose portfolio includes grass-roots civic activism and hip-hop. (Full disclosure: Your Humble Blogger’s brother works with Ali.)

Actually, Ali will make two appearances — as his corporeal self, the one that served as muse to the students, whose charge was to paint nothing less than their views on democracy and constitutional principles — and as  one of the figures depicted in the mural.  

Made possible by an anonymous donation of $10,000, the work of art is powerful and provocative — think Diego Rivera, in a stairwell, as channeled by teens whose talents as painters are exceeded only by their passion for social justice.

If you agree, seek out and congratulate South art teacher Denny Sponsler, who wrangled both the donated paint and democratic discussions. I guarantee you’ll leave feeling pretty high on democracy — and Brotherhood Brew’s cycle-of-despair busting coffee.

You should endeavor to hang onto that civic buzz for another 24 hours because on Thursday the New Americans PAC is hosting a forum of candidates for the Minneapolis School Board from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Brian Coyle Center, 420 15th Ave. S., in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. New Americans is a grass-roots, nonpartisan political action committee that encourages Minnesotans of east African descent to get involved in the political process.

Yep, that’s right, immigrants fired up about a franchise many of us Old Americans can’t be bothered to exercise and about a race few people take the time to really think about. It’s almost enough to make a person want to commission a mural for every school.

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