Two men who’ve worked to end racism will be honored tonight at the Facing Race Ambassador Awards event in St. Paul.
Mahmoud El-Kati, Macalester College professor emeritus, and Steve Pederson from Alexandria will get the awards, which are sponsored by the St. Paul Foundation.
“The awards celebrate individuals working to end racism in Minnesota,” says Carleen Rhodes, St. Paul Foundation president. “With racial disparities on the rise, we believe it is critical to recognize leaders who strive to create greater equity in our community.”
El-Kati was part of the effort to form The Way Unlimited Inc., which worked with black youth and those in the state’s prisons. He was a founder of the African-American studies department at the University of Minnesota. And he was on the faculty at Macalester from 1974 to 2003, teaching classes in African and African-American history and culture, and helped found the American Studies department at Macalester.
He still writes and talks about racial oppression and injustice, with a weekly radio show on KMOJ-FM and regular contributions to Insight News and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.
Pederson, who farms near Alexandria, organizes workshops with regional advocacy groups, primarily the Diversity Resource Action Alliance in Alexandria. He also works with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Community Action Diversity Council to address issues of recruitment and retention of students of color, first-generation students, and low-income students. And he’s a founding member of Alexandria’s Cultural inclusiveness Committee, advising the Alexandria City Council on matters of diversity and inclusion.
Pederson, who is white, says he got serious about anti-racism work seven years ago, after he and his wife adopted the first of their two children, who are both African-American.
Also to be honored with honorable mention awards are:
- Elizabeth A. Campbell, emerging business inclusion coordinator for Ryan Cos. US.
- Taneeza S. Islam, civil rights director, Center for American-Islamic Relations-MN Chapter.
- T. Gregory Stavrou, executive director, Rochester Civic Theatre.
Tonight’s Ambassador Awards celebration is at the Crowne Plaza Riverfront hotel in downtown St. Paul, with a 6 p.m. reception and the program at 7 p.m.