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Meeting racism straight in the eye

Soteria Murphy sings “Listen” by Beyonce. (Photo by Ivy Vainio)1 / 7
Karen Perry, Chrystal Gardner, Salaam Witherspoon, Corinthian Rutherford, Susie Green, Janet Kennedy and Stephan Witherspoon stand on stage to be recognized as emerging African Heritage Young Leaders. Not pictured is Donny Frank. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger)2 / 7
Member of the dance team Majur Atraktion watch a fellow performer on stage. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger)3 / 7
Duluth East High School students Jude Goossens, Spencer Fredrickson, Zack Labyad and Emma Spooner said participating in the march was a “cool way” to represent their high school. “We sang along even though we didn't know the words,” Fredrickson said. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger)4 / 7
After the rally, Vernon Green, pastor at Duluth Christ Temple Church, poses with his "heroes" while his wife Karen Green snaps a photo. Vernon was nominated for a Drum Major for Peace Award. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger)5 / 7
Jake Vainio performs "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King. (Photo by Ivy Vainio)6 / 7
Lissa Jones-Lofgren, a radio talk-show host from Minneapolis, gives the keynote address. "We are going to have to do the work that has not yet been done. We are going to have to meet this ugly thing called race, look it straight in the eye and call it the lie it is," she told the crowd. Standing behind her is Nevada Urrutia, 9, daughter of co-emcee Renee Van Nett. (Photo by Tori Billings/ / 7

In frigid weather, people gathered outside the Washington Center to march down Lake Avenue and Superior Streets to a Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

Once at the DECC, the crowd was treated to drumming, singing and dancing interspersed with a somber message that the fight to overcome racism is still needed. Local people were recognized and honored for their work.

Liss Jones-Lofgren gave the keynote address. She is the host of "Urban Agenda" on KMOJ radio in Minneapolis. "Absolutely every black life matters," she told the DECC audience, adding that there is still much work to be done in areas of racism. "We are going up to every child and reminding them it doesn't matter how much money their parents make or what their address is or what they look like: that their lives matter."

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Naomi Yaeger

Naomi Yaeger is a freelance writer and the former editor of the Budgeteer. See her blog at