Black History Month: Celebrating Commissioner Angela Conley of Hennepin County’s 4th District

By: Isaiah Mack

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Carter G. Woodson, a prolific figure in African American culture during the early 1900’s, alongside the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, started Negro History Week in 1926 to celebrate the lives of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. Woodson, who received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and a PhD from Harvard, saw an opportunity to join the traditional celebration of Fredrick Douglas’ birthday on February 12th by black Americans, and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 14th celebrated by Republican supporters, in a week-long celebration of both their lives and the rich African American history.

Minnesota made its own black history on January 7th when Angela Conley was sworn in as Commissioner of Hennepin County’s  4th District, making her the first Black commissioner in the board’s 166th year. Born, raised, and currently living in South Minneapolis, Angela has been an active member in her community working in roles as the President of the Bryant Neighborhood Organization and a veteran in the Public Service Sector. Running with the mission of reducing inequity that she observed during her time in Health and Human Services, she won by a landslide- 14% over DFL endorsed incumbent Peter McLaughlin who had served on the board for 27 years.

Since 1976, President Gerald Ford began a National tradition by U.S. Presidents to celebrate Negro History Month. On February 5th, 2019 Angela extended the Nationally celebrated holiday to Hennepin County by proposing the now accepted item 19-0065 stating, “WHEREAS, all Hennepin County students, educators, and residents should know and pay tribute to our community’s rich African-American legacy, and rededicate ourselves to nurturing a bright future for our African American students”.

As a member of the oldest County entity, she will take on both executive and legislative roles serving east and downtown Minneapolis, as well as Fort Snelling. With Hennepin County’s mission of enhancing its resident’s health, safety, and quality of life, Angela will use her 20 plus years of experience in the Health and Public Services sector to contribute as the chairwoman of the Health and Human Services committee of Hennepin County.

Impact Hub had the pleasure of learning more about the Commissioner's activities in person. Earlier this month, our members at Elliot Park Neighborhood (EPNI) hosted a breakfast with Commissioner Conley. She spoke about her key initiatives including safe, accessible and affordable transportation, housing and racial justice. This, coupled with EPNI’s plans for the future showcased the hard work and strong values of key leaders of this community. EPNI  is dedicated to bringing people and resources together to preserve and promote the unique urban character of this historical neighborhood. Learn more about Elliot Park Neighborhood on their website!

Impact Hub is proud to be a part of a community that is celebrating new and old history through the election of Commissioner Conley. Commissioner Conley has already demonstrated her goal of addressing inequity in Minnesota by making Black History Month a recognized Holiday by the County early in her tenure. We looked forward to her future activities that will continue to make Hennepin County a more equitable place live.