The Governor’s Commission on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Statewide Holiday Celebration marked the 27th anniversary of the state’s adoption of the federal Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday at St. Paul Central High School last week. This year’s theme was “Moving Beyond Tolerance to Allophilia.” The word “Allophilia” has its roots in the Greek language and involves the tenants of kinship, engagement, enthusiasm, and peace. It is defined as having an affinity, positive perspective, and a liking and loving for individuals and groups that are of “the other.”
The event started off with a discussion on various topics ranging from education and economic rights to civil rights which was later used to develop the legislative agenda for the Council on Black Minnesotans. Following the discussion was the “Civil Rights March” down Marshall Ave, a re-enactment of the historic civil rights march on Washington. Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey delivered the Keynote Address touching on the history of the Civil Rights Movement, the legacy of Dr. King and on the meaning of “Allophilia.” He was also presented with an award along with many other community members for their leadership and contributions to society.
The Leadership awardees from the API community included Raj Chaudry, Kazoua Kong-Thao and Mary Ann Prado. Raj Chaudry is the President and Founder of SEWA-AIFW, a non-profit community based organization and is the only social services organization serving vulnerable populations of refugees and immigrants from South Asia. She served on the board of a number of API non-profit organizations and is a past recipient of the “Best Innovative Women” award from the Minnesota Women’s Consortium.
Kazoua Kong-Thao is a former Saint Paul Public School Board member and is the founder of Hmong Education & Resources Today (HE&RT). In addition, she volunteers her time with her volunteer committee to organize the annual Hmong Resource Fair, believed to be one of the largest resource fairs for the Hmong community. She is currently the Director of Equity and Diversity at the Minneapolis Public Schools.
Mary Ann Prado is the Coordinator of S.O.L.E. to Soul (Sisters in One for Leadership and Development), a former Coordinator for HYPE (Honoring Youth for Empowerment and Education) and ASIA (All Sisters in Action Leadership Circle). She is also a foster parent for the Intensive Permanency Program and a past recipient of the Vincent Hawkins Fellowship for Peace and Justice.
Also in attendance were CAPM’s Board Chair and Vice-Chair Danny Hue Lee and Elsa Batica, respectively. Some of the Honorable dignitaries in attendance included former State Senator John Harrington, Ramsey County Prosecutor John Choi, Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter, Saint Paul City Council member Melvin Carter, and Saint Paul School Board Members Elona Street-Stewart and Keith Hardy.