Letter: Martin Luther King event on Monday

Published 8:30 pm Friday, January 15, 2021

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My husband and I went to the first Martin Luther King Day Celebration 33 years ago.  We had just adopted our baby daughter, Tess, and we brought her in her baby carrier along with her two older brothers. From the time she could read, Tess participated in one way or another until she moved away to attend college.  It was a wonderful way for our Black child to connect with her culture and history. 

And on the whole, Albert Lea was a good place for Tess to grow up — good schools, good friends, good activities.

Tess lives in Minneapolis now and tends to come home to visit every month or so.  When she comes home, she usually stops at a local station to fill up with gas here in Albert Lea. She says not anymore. About five months ago as she was filling up, a man walked near her and asked, “Are you lost?” She smiled and said “No.” The guy then said, “I’ve never noticed you before. Are you sure you’re not lost?” She told him, “I grew up here, lived here for 18 years, graduated from the high school here, so I’m pretty sure I’m not lost.” It felt “unfriendly.” About two months later, same gas station, another man walked up and asked her if she was from around here.  She told him, as she had told the other man, “I grew up here.”  After the second incident, Tess was a little shook. Her question to me was: When did Albert Lea change?

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Did we change? After some thought, I remain hopeful that these two men do not represent Albert Lea. Collectively, we are not hostile to people because of ethnicity or skin color. We strive to be welcoming and open-minded. We celebrate differences realizing that diversity makes us strong. And this brings me back to Martin Luther King’s birthday and his legacy. If you celebrate diversity, admire Martin Luther King or want to hear about and discuss social justice, please join us at our 33rd annual event, this year a zoom event.


Martin Luther King Day Celebration

Keynote speaker: Minister JaNae’ Bates of Faith in Minnesota: “Called to Uncomfortable Conversations” — the hard things will liberate us.

Monday at 11 a.m.

https://minnstate.zoom.us/j/97143917277  (passcode 442586)

Please join us.


Mary Hinnenkamp

Albert Lea