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========================================================

The Ellison Deception
by Jared Israel

Edited by Samantha Criscione

January 30, 2017

[In this article, all emphasis and all notes in brackets are from Emperor’s Clothes]

========================================================

Table of Contents

I. The Ellison controversy: Personal harassment or hard evidence of a fascist past?

II. Never, never, never, never, never!  Or, Ellison and the Nation of Islam: indirect link or intimate involvement?

III. Nation of Islam: leading purveyor of antisemitic slanders and anti-white racism among black people

IV. Did Ellison ever break with Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam?

V. Please donate to Emperor’s Clothes!

VI. Footnotes and Further Reading

Appendix I. “Consensus and Confrontation – Greg Gray and Keith Ellison, Vying for the 58B Seat in the Minnesota House, Share Similar Views on the Issues. How They Come at Those Issues, However, is Another Story” by Maria Douglas Reeve, Pioneer Press, June 21, 1998


========================================================

I. The Ellison controversy: Personal harassment or hard evidence of a fascist past?

========================================================

The current election battle for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee (DNC)
[1], the governing body of the Democratic Party, is of the greatest importance because of the dispute over one of the candidates, Keith Ellison, who is being promoted by Senator Bernie Sanders and his wing of the Democratic Party, but also by others not generally associated with Sanders, such as retiring U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, incoming U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, much of the labor union bureaucracy and most media.  The intensity of the campaign backing Ellison’s pursuit of what has heretofore been seen as a relatively minor post supports my impression that the goal of getting Ellison the DNC chairmanship is to position him to work full time consolidating local support so that he can run for president.

All the more reason to seriously consider the charges raised against Ellison, especially concerning his ties to the Nation of Islam and its supreme leader, Louis Farrakhan.  The problem is, prominent media have not only avoided and indeed covered up evidence regarding Ellison’s involvement – as I shall prove, membership – in the Nation of Islam; they have even misstated the charges.

Thus in David Corn’s recent article on the DNC election fight in Mother Jones magazine, we read that the Ellison dispute concerns nothing worse than “his associations with radical black Muslims in the 1990s.”
[2]

Radical black Muslims?

Ellison is accused of having been a member of the Nation of Islam and of lying in various ways about it.  If you are like most people, you probably don’t know much about Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, but after you read what I have posted below, you will see that describing it as “radical black Muslims” trivializes the horror of an apparatus of fascists – photographic negative images of David Duke and company – thus supporting the impression, which David Corn and others wish to convey, that the Ellison controversy is nothing more than the politically motivated harassment of a progressive politician, exploiting some minor indiscretions, long, long ago.

Others denigrate those who challenge Ellison’s claims about his past.  For example The Washington Post writes:

[Excerpt from Washington Post article starts here]

In an interview last week, Ellison complimented the Obama campaign for its “Fight the Smears” project, which he credited with bypassing the media to defeat nasty rumors. That was the extent of his praise.

Ellison, too, had been countering attacks on his personal life, from his youthful praise of Louis Farrakhan to money problems revealed in his 2006 House race. These were the sort of distractions that a forceful party could confront, he said — live streams and social media could get strong Democrats past the “smears” in the media.
[3]

[Excerpt from Washington Post article ends here]

So, according to Ellison and The Washington Post, the charges against him constitute ‘smear’ attacks “on his personal life” over nothing worse than some “youthful praise of Louis Farrakhan,” which “nasty rumors” should be ‘gotten past’ via “live streams and social media.”

In this series, starting with the present article, I will present proof, including hard evidence – scans and texts of news reports – that nobody has previously posted, that:

a) Keith Ellison is lying when he says he never had more than a superficial association with the Nation of Islam (NOI).  He was a very public member of the NOI in 1995, when he was 32 (not a youth).

b) Keith Ellison is lying when he says he ended all association with the Nation of Islam in 1995.  He was still an open member in 1998, when he was 35, and there is no way of knowing when he left the Nation of Islam, if ever.

And I will show that influential media – as we have seen, The Washington Post and Mother Jones, and others including The Forward, The Nation and especially CNN – have falsified the public record to facilitate the Ellison deception.


========================================================

II. Never, never, never, never, never! Or, Ellison and the Nation of Islam: indirect link or intimate involvement?

========================================================

In 2006, Minnesota Public Radio reported that, during Ellison’s first run for Congress, while debating Republican opponent Alan Fine, Ellison claimed he had never joined Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam:

“ ‘And I would like to just tell you that I am not a member of the Nation of Islam, nor have I ever been. […] And I just think you ought to know the truth,’ Ellison [said].” [4]

Ahh, the truth.

Today, Ellison and his supporters continue to insist he never had more than a superficial association with the NOI.

For example, in a recent article on the Forward website, based on an interview with Ellison, Forward editor-at-large and former editor-in-chief [5] J. J. Goldberg wrote:

“The association [i.e., Ellison’s association with the NOI], he said, was a fairly brief involvement in a community-wide effort to mobilize participation in Farrakhan’s 1995 Million Man March and Day of Atonement: ‘I was a member of a diverse organizing committee, working with people who were involved in the Nation of Islam, in the African American community and other communities.’ ” [6]

Summing up at the end of the article, Goldberg presented Ellison’s claim that he never had more than a superficial connection with the NOI as an established fact:

The facts — that it was a brief, indirect association, it happened 20 years ago and he publicly repudiated it and expressed regret — don’t make much of a difference. It’s hard to recover from an accusation of anti-Semitism. Jewish listeners don’t forget, and too often, they don’t forgive.” [See footnote 6]

Two points about this.

First, by telling us that in organizing for the so-called Million Man March (henceforth ‘Farrakhan’s march’) he was part of a politically diverse group, admittedly including some members of the NOI, Ellison is claiming that, as J. J. Goldberg puts it, his association with the Nation of Islam was only “indirect”: the NOI people liked Farrakhan’s march; many others liked the march; Ellison was one of the many; end of story.

The only problem is, as Pioneer Press, the second highest circulation newspaper in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, reported in a June 21, 1998 article on Ellison’s campaign for the office of State representative, Ellison had been the Minnesota “coordinator
[7] of the so-called Million Man March.  Given that Farrakhan’s march was a Nation of Islam project, it follows that the Minnesota coordinator was either a member of the Nation of Islam or so close to the NOI as to be indistinguishable from a member.  Indeed, the June 21, 1998 article states that at that time – that is, three years after Farrakhan’s march – Ellison was a member of the Nation of Islam:

“Ellison has been active in the community, but not within the established DFL party [the Democratic Party in Minnesota]. A member of the Nation of Islam, Ellison was the coordinator of the Minnesota participants in the Million Man March and the subsequent community group that formed.” [See footnote 7]

In the next article in this series, I will present hard evidence that Ellison was already a member in 1995, when he was organizing for Farrakhan’s march.

(During the current debate over Ellison’s Nation of Islam ties, nobody else has mentioned the June 21, 1998 Pioneer Press article, let alone posted it on the Internet.  You can read it in Appendix I, where we have copied it for Fair Use – very fair, since it contains information vital for assessing a key politician.  Let’s get this information out to as many people as possible!)

So much for Ellison/Goldberg’s claim that Ellison was just one of many activists whose involvement in Farrakhan’s march indicated only an “indirect association” with the Nation of Islam.

Second, Goldberg’s statements that “it’s hard to recover from an accusation of anti-Semitism,” and “Jewish listeners don’t forget, and too often, they don’t forgive,” are intended to place the onus for Ellison’s Farrakhan difficulties on the Jewish people.  But according to my research, Ellison was an intense supporter of the NOI for at least a decade – and regarding at least part of that time, as I have already shown, he was a member.  Did the Great and Powerful Jews force Ellison to embrace the Nation of Islam’s infamous apparatus of hate for so long against his will?

‘Apparatus of hate’ is not hyperbole. Consider the case of Steve Cokely.


========================================================

III. Nation of Islam: leading purveyor of antisemitic slanders and anti-white racism among black people

========================================================

In 1988, Nation of Islam bigotry became a national issue (and not for the first time!
[8]) when the Chicago Tribune published quotes from speeches that Chicago mayoral aide Steve Cokely had given at Nation of Islam meetings, as recorded on tapes that the Tribune purchased at an NOI bookstore.  The Tribune published an editorial pressuring Mayor Eugene Sawyer to fire Cokely:

“The mayor has known for a month that in lectures tape-recorded for followers of Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, Cokely said Jews run a global ‘secret society’ bent on ruling the world. The cross, he said, is one of the ‘symbols of white supremacy’ that should be ‘off limits for people of African heritage.’ The AIDS epidemic ‘is a result of doctors, especially Jewish ones, who inject the AIDS virus in blacks.’ Yet Sawyer let this hate-spewer remain not just on his staff, but also in his circle of political advisers.” [9]

Mayor Sawyer finally did fire Cokely, whereupon Louis Farrakhan came to the rescue:

“Afterward, charging that he was the object of a plot, Mr. Cokely accepted a job with the Rev. Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, who remarked that Mr. Cokely had offended Jewish leaders only ‘because the truth hurts.’ ” [10]

What does it mean to teach young black people that white doctors, especially Jews, inject black patients with the Aids virus?  If this monstrous slander were true, wouldn’t such doctors deserve the harshest punishment?  So, Cokely was inciting black people to fear whites and especially Jews, and possibly take action against them, and at the same time inciting white people and especially Jews to fear black people, since who could know how many were affected by Cokely’s slanders?

All courtesy of the Nation of Islam.  The NOI sponsored Cokely’s lectures and sold his tapes.  When he was fired from his job, it was NOI boss Farrakhan who took him in and told the world “the truth hurts.”

And the Cokely affair is not an isolated example.

In 1992, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., chairman of what was then called the Afro-American Studies Department at Harvard, noted in a New York Times opinion piece that:

“A recent survey finds not only that blacks are twice as likely as whites to hold anti-Semitic views but – significantly – that it is among the younger and more educated blacks that anti-Semitism is most pronounced.” [11]

Gates attributed this shocking development to “black demagogues and pseudo-scholars” who bombard young people, especially college students, with antisemitism, with the Nation of Islam playing a leading role:

[Excerpt from “Black Demagogues and Pseudo-Scholars” by Henry Louis Gates starts here]

But the bible of the new anti-Semitism is “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews,” an official publication of the Nation of Islam that boasts 1,275 footnotes in the course of 334 pages.

Sober and scholarly looking, it may well be one of the most influential books published in the black community in [the] last 12 months. It is available in black-oriented shops in cities across the nation, even those that specialize in Kente cloth and beads rather than books. It can also can be ordered over the phone, by dialing 1-800-48-TRUTH. Meanwhile, the book’s conclusions are, in many circles, increasingly treated as damning historical fact.

The book, one of the most sophisticated instances of hate literature yet compiled, was prepared by the historical research department of the Nation of Islam. It charges that the Jews were “key operatives” in the historic crime of slavery, playing an “inordinate” and “disproportionate” role and “carv[ing] out for themselves a monumental culpability in slavery – and the black holocaust.” Among significant sectors of the black community, this brief has become a credo of a new philosophy of black self-affirmation.

To be sure, the book massively misrepresents the historical record, largely through a process of cunningly selective quotation of often reputable sources. But its authors could be confident that few of its readers would go to the trouble of actually hunting down the works cited. For if readers actually did so, they might discover a rather different picture.

They might find out – from the book’s own vaunted authorities – that, for example, of all the African slaves imported into the New World, American Jewish merchants accounted for less than 2 percent, a finding sharply at odds with the Nation’s of Islam’s claim of Jewish “predominance” in this traffic.

They might find out that in the domestic trade it appears that all of the Jewish slave traders combined bought and sold fewer slaves than the single gentile firm of Franklin and Armfield. In short, they might learn what the historian Harold Brackman has documented at length – that the book’s repeated insistence that the Jews dominated the slave trade depends on an unscrupulous distortion of the historic record. But the most ominous words in the book are found on the cover: “Volume One.” More have been promised, to carry on the saga of Jewish iniquity to the present day.

(See footnote
[11] .)

[Excerpt from “Black Demagogues and Pseudo-Scholars” by Henry Louis Gates ends here]


========================================================

IV. Did Ellison ever break with Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam?

========================================================

J. J. Goldberg complained that people (actually, as I noted, he wrote “Jewish” people) refuse to forget Ellison’s Farrakhan connection even though Ellison “publicly repudiated” the Nation of Islam.

Ellison complained on December 14, 2016 on the Morning Joe program that, regarding his past writings supporting the Nation of Islam:

“Man, I’m telling you back in 2006 and before I disavowed them. That’s the ridiculous thing about this, that we keep on having to answer this kind of stuff.” .” [My emphasis here duplicates Ellison’s emphasis in the interview.] [12]

Ellison’s claim that he disavowed the Nation of Islam before 2006 is important.

It was in 2006, during Ellison’s first congressional campaign, that a conservative website called Minnesota Democrats Exposed published evidence of Ellison’s links to the Nation of Islam.
[13]  If Ellison had indeed publicly disavowed the NOI before 2006, one might argue that said website was opportunistically rehashing what Ellison himself had revealed.  His disavowals, made before he was attacked in 2006, might be judged as having greater credibility.

Another pro-Ellison article, this one on the Politico website, cites Ellison’s “account of an 18-month infatuation with Farrakhan followed by years of his public denunciations of the Nation of Islam founder.”
[14]

The “18-month infatuation” refers to Ellison’s claim that he was indirectly associated with the Nation of Islam for 18 months in 1994 and 1995, while organizing for Farrakhan’s march.  So according to the Politico article, Ellison said he had launched into “public denunciations” of Farrakhan after the march, which would mean in or around the Fall of 1995 (the march was on October 16, 1995), and continued denouncing NOI leader Farrakhan for many years.

In a similar vein, The Nation magazine claims Ellison has from the start of his career welcomed scrutiny of his past:

“Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the US House of Representatives, has from the start of his decade-long career on the national stage welcomed scrutiny, offered to address ‘legitimate concerns in the Jewish community’ and explained that ‘I have a deep and personal aversion to anti-Semitism regardless of its source.’ ” [15]

So, according to Ellison and his media supporters, it was before 2006 that Ellison started renouncing his earlier praise of the Nation of Islam; beginning in 1995, he repeatedly denounced NOI chief Farrakhan; from the start of his political career, he welcomed inquiries about his past; and yet the harassment continues.

Sounds good; the problem is, neither Ellison nor any of the media promoting him have ever produced any statement by Ellison mildly criticizing – let alone denouncing – Farrakhan or his Nation of Islam, or renouncing his own writings praising Farrakhan, until ten days after Minnesota Democrats Exposed attacked Ellison’s ties to the Nation of Islam during his Congressional election campaign in 2006 (see footnote
[13]).

And far from welcoming scrutiny of all charges, Ellison himself is on record saying that until 2006, when he was forced to discuss his association with the Nation of Islam, he avoided the matter like the plague.  The following is from the Star Tribune, the leading Minneapolis newspaper, June 12, 2006:

[Excerpt from “Ellison tells synagogue he’s going ‘face to face’ with past” starts here]

Last month, Ellison won the DFL [the Democratic Party in Minnesota] congressional endorsement in the Fifth District, which includes Minneapolis and St. Louis Park, but he has since faced sharp criticism in some quarters for past links to Farrakhan’s organization. Ellison has countered by saying he’s made some mistakes.

“I wasn’t proud of my work with the Nation of Islam,” Ellison said Sunday, “but I was hoping it wouldn’t come up.” He said now that he’s in the spotlight, “I have come face to face with my past.”
[16]

[Excerpt from “Ellison tells synagogue he’s going ‘face to face’ with past” ends here]

So, contrary to the claim that Ellison renounced his Nation of Islam association before 2006, or attacked Farrakhan starting in 1995, he himself has said he avoided the whole issue until he was forced to “come face to face with my past” when he was accused of membership in the Nation of Islam in 2006.

As reported by the Minneapolis Public Radio news website, two years earlier Ellison had mocked another politician who made a disavowal while seeking political office:

[Excerpt from Minneapolis Public Radio report starts here]

In 2004 he also led the charge to get former Republican state legislator Rich Stanek fired from his job as public safety commissioner. At that time Ellison questioned whether Stanek was qualified for the job because Stanek had admitted using racist remarks a decade earlier.

“I do believe in racial reconciliation, but you know what? When somebody makes an apology on the eve of them being confirmed for a job that they want, I sort of doubt the sincerity of that apology,” he said.
[17]

[Excerpt from Minneapolis Public Radio report ends here]

Letting Ellison be our guide, should we not “doubt the sincerity” of his disavowals of his Farrakhan ties, disavowals that were made, according to his own testimony, only after he was attacked for having those ties while running for office in 2006?  And keep in mind, Rich Stanek had been accused of making racist remarks, not of spending years as a strong supporter and member of a violently racist organization.

Moreover, while to my knowledge Stanek was never accused of lying in the very act of making his apology, Ellison has been so accused, and still is.

For example, hasn’t Ellison repeatedly claimed since 2006 that he was just one of many volunteers helping organize Farrakhan’s march in 1994 and 1995, when in fact he was the Minnesota coordinator of the march, and in charge of the community group formed out of the march?

And hasn’t Ellison said that being a Farrakhan march volunteer was the limit of his association with the Nation of Islam, when in fact he ran for State representative as a member of the NOI in 1998?

And didn’t we just witness another of Ellison’s lies, namely the claim he made on Morning Joe that he had disavowed his pro-Farrakhan writings before 2006, when in fact, as we just saw, he himself said in 2006 that he had avoided all discussion of his Nation of Islam ties until he was attacked during his run for Congress that year?

Now really, is it fair to fault Jewish people, or anybody else for that matter, for not trusting a politician who lies about the disavowals he has made even as he complains that he is being forced to make them?

-- Jared Israel
Emperor’s Clothes


* * *

Continued in “The Ellison Deception, Part 2: CNN to the Rescue.”


========================================================

V. Emperor’s Clothes Needs Your Donation!

========================================================

Because we base our writing on long hours of research, in “The Ellison Deception” and the articles that will follow in this series, the analysis is always supported by evidence from sources you could not find anywhere else, unless you duplicated our research.

To do our work, Emperor’s Clothes needs money to pay Internet and computer costs and other bills.  Our only source of funds is our readers.  If you value this article and want to read more about Ellison and his media apologists – and we have loads more – please help out with a donation.  Any amount will help!

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Thank you!


========================================================

VI. Footnotes and Further Reading

========================================================

[1] See the section “The Democratic National Committee” on the Democratic Party website at
https://www.democrats.org/organization/the-democratic-national-committee

[2] “Why Tom Perez Is a Strong Competitor Against Keith Ellison in the Democratic Party Race,” by David Corn, Mother Jones, January 6, 2017

[3] “Echoes of 2016 fight shape race to run the Democratic National Committee,” by David Weige, The Washington Post, December 23, 2016

[4] “Sparks fly at 5th District debate,” by Brandt Williams, MPR News (Minnesota Public Radio), October 18, 2006

[5] Biographical notes on Jonathan Jeremy Goldberg at The Forward at
http://forward.com/author/j-j-goldberg/

[6] “Keith Ellison Vows To Give Democrats Their Groove Back — Will Louis Farrakhan Haunt Him?” by J[onathan] J[eremy] Goldberg, The Forward, November 29, 2016

[7] “Consensus and Confrontation – Greg Gray and Keith Ellison, Vying for the 58B Seat in the Minnesota House, Share Similar Views on the Issues,” by Maria Douglas Reeve, Pioneer Press, June 21, 1998

You can read the article in Appendix I.

[8] One example: in 1984, Farrakhan's was widely condemned – including by the U.S. Senate – for calling Judaism a "gutter religion."  See, “Tape Contradicts Disavowal of ‘Gutter Religion’ Attack,” by E[theleen] R[enee] Shipp, The New York Times, June 29, 1984

[9] “Sawyer should fire racist aide,” Chicago Tribune, editorial, May 3, 1988

[10] “Anti-Semitism in Chicago: A Stunning Silence,” by Eugene Kennedy, The New York Times, July 26, 1988

[11] “Black Demagogues and Pseudo-Scholars,” by Henry Louis Gates Jr., The New York Times, July 20, 1992

[12] Video: “Ellison: Farrakhan talk distracting from the issues,” Interview on Morning Joe program, MSNBC, December 14, 2016

[13] Ellison’s first public renunciation of the Nation of Islam was his open letter, dated May 28, 2006, to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota & the Dakotas (JCRC).

In the JCRC letter, Ellison stated that he was writing because “there has been much speculation about my past connections to the Nation of Islam [...].” So clearly he was distancing himself from the NOI ties in response to being attacked for those ties.

The letter can be read at
https://drive.google.com/file/d/...SnN3/preview

In his JCRC letter Ellison did not explain who had ‘speculated’ about his past, but I found two attacks on Ellison concerning his support for the Nation of Islam, both published prior to May 28, 1995 – the date of the letter – on a website called Minnesota Democrats Exposed (MDE).

The first MDE attack, published May 18, 2006, deals with two articles Ellison wrote for the University of Minnesota student paper when he was a third year law student (age 26). It reads as follows:

[Text of May 18, 2006 MDE post on Ellison starts here]

MDE FROM THE ARCHIVES: ELLISON’S EXTREMISMS
By Michael B. Brodkorb | May 18, 2006

I was sent two articles written by Keith E. Hakim. These articles appeared in the Minnesota Daily during the time Ellison was a law student.

Earlier this evening I spoke with three former students of the University of Minnesota Law School who confirmed that Keith E. Hakim is Keith Ellison.

In the first article Hakim/Ellison writes about the creation of a state or “land base” for blacks.

“Affirmative action does not make up for past injustices”

In the second article Hakim/Ellison defends Louis Farrakahn. The editor called Hakim’s/Ellison’s article “a genuine threat to the long-term safety and well-being of the Jewish people…”

“Minister Farrakahn never claimed to be Malcom X”

[Text of May 18, 2006 MDE post on Ellison ends here]

“MDE FROM THE ARCHIVES: ELLISON’S EXTREMISMS” can be read at
https://web.archive.org/.../2006/05/18/mde-from-the-archives-ellisons-extreme-postions/

If archive.org takes it down, TENC has archived it at
http://www.tenc.net/archive/2006-5-18--MDE.htm
[You will need to scroll down to see text]

“MDE FROM THE ARCHIVES: ELLISON’S EXTREMISMS” links to copies of both Keith E. Hakim (Keith Ellison) articles.

In one article, entitled “Affirmative action does not make up for past injustice,” dated February 2, 1990, Hakim (Ellison) calls for an independent black nation located on several southern U.S. states – a Nation of Islam demand.

It can be read at
https://web.archive.org/.../keithehakim221990mndaily.pdf

In the other article, entitled “Minister Farrakhan never claimed to be a ‘Malcolm X,’ ” dated November 27, 1989, Hakim (Ellison) fiercely defends Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and disputes the charge, raised by Jewish law students and others, that some of the speakers that the black law student group of which Ellison was the spokesperson had invited to address students – such as Steve Cokely (who said white doctors, especially Jews, were infecting blacks with AIDS) and Farrakhan – were violent racists. Cannot be true, wrote Ellison, because not being an oppressor race, black people cannot be racist. Ellison also discussed Malcolm X in a way that only an NOI member or someone in an NOI study group would.

It can be read at http://imgur.com/a/eDJZL

The second MDE attack, published May 26, 2006, consisted of an online poll, asking the question: “Does Ellison’s support of Farrakhan hurt Minneapolis’ bid for ’08 Democratic National Convention?”

It can be read at https://web.archive.org/.../ellisonpoll.JPG

If archive.org takes it down, TENC has archived it at
http://tenc.net/archive/ellisonpoll.JPG

[14] “Keith Ellison’s one-man march,” by Glenn Thrush, Politico, December 20, 2016

[15] “Keith Ellison Is No Anti-Semite,” by John Nichols, The Nation, December 7, 2016

[16] “Ellison tells synagogue he’s going ‘face to face’ with past,” by Randy Furst, Star Tribune, June 12, 2006

[17] “Keith Ellison dogged by his past,” by Tom Scheck, MPR News (Minnesota Public Radio), June 30, 2006


=========================================================

Appendix I

========================================================

“Consensus and Confrontation – Greg Gray and Keith Ellison, Vying for the 58B Seat in the Minnesota House, Share Similar Views on the Issues. How They Come at Those Issues, However, is Another Story,” by Maria Douglas Reeve, Pioneer Press, June 21, 1998
[Original URL: http://bit.ly/2jgWtQc ]


Greg Gray and Keith Ellison, vying for the 56B seat in the Minnesota House, share similar views on the issues. How they come at those issues, however, is another story. Greg Gray and Keith Ellison have a lot in common. They’re both DFLers, both lawyers, and both want to represent North Minneapolis in the Minnesota House. In fact, they’re friends.

But these two African-American men are as different in style as the executive suites of Fortune 500 companies, where Gray has spent his career, and the modest offices of the Legal Rights Center, where Ellison worked for five years.

Political allies describe Gray, 44, as easy-going and a good consensus builder. Ellison is decidedly more in-your-face. He doesn’t mind talking about racism, even if it makes many Minnesotans uncomfortable.

“Why should African-Americans be retiring and submissive?” said Ellison, 34. “Other people ... can be confrontational about asserting their issues and we cannot be?”

Gray suggests that his opponent’s confrontational style is more effective in the courtroom than on the floor of the Minnesota House. Still, he describes his opponent as “a very good litigator, the kind of guy you’d want representing you in court.”

“I enjoy trying to build a consensus,” said Gray, the endorsed DFL candidate. “I think I’ve proven that I’m effective in building coalitions and working with a broad group of people in a diverse community.”

Rep. Richard Jefferson, currently the only black state legislator, is retiring after representing North Minneapolis for 12 years. Not surprisingly, given Jefferson’s own low-key style, he favors Gray.

Reform Party candidate Eric Pone, who is seeking the seat, also is black. So the district, which is 64 percent minority, will continue to be represented by a person of color.

The candidates sound similar on the issues: Promoting public education, creating affordable housing and jobs, to help reduce crime. At issue is how best to achieve those goals.

Gray comes from the Minneapolis DFL establishment. He serves on the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council and is backed by Sen. Linda Higgins and Minneapolis City Council President Jackie Cherryholmes.

Ellison has been active in the community, but not within the established DFL party. A member of the Nation of Islam, Ellison was the coordinator of the Minnesota participants in the Million Man March and the subsequent community group that formed.

He thinks poor black citizens often aren’t well-represented. He has support from many in the black community, including Al McFarlane, publisher of Insight News, a weekly newspaper serving the black community.

Gray directs member services for the Minnesota Bar Association. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a degree in business and was an accountant before going to law school at Hamline University. He’s worked at major corporations such as Pillsbury, Dayton Hudson and Marquette Bank.

Ellison earned a degree in economics from Wayne State University and graduated in 1990 from the University of Minnesota School of Law. He worked for a large law firm before becoming executive director of the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis. He is now in private practice.

Mark Andrew, former chair of the state DFL Party, said the district will be well represented, whoever wins.

He described both Gray and Ellison as talented, smart guys who have worked hard in the community.

“We’re in the position now where we have enough talent in the African-American community that I regard this as a very healthy thing,” Andrew said.


Copyright © 1998, ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS.

Posted For Fair Use Only.


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