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New commission hoping for bright impact on African Heritage community

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DULUTH, MN--The City of Duluth is hoping to bring more voices to the table with the first African Heritage Commission.

"The idea actually came from the community, we've been hearing for years the African Heritage community doesn't have a foundation or even a safe space to be in," said City Councilor Janet Kennedy.

The commission is made up of seven members who held their first meeting on Monday.

The idea was initially proposed in May and received unanimous support from the rest of the city council.

"It's a really diverse group with very different experiences, ages, both intergenerational, work, and education levels," said Kennedy.

Kennedy hopes the new commission will build a better foundation for the African community to share their voices with city leaders. Adding, "To ensure that our practices, policies, and procedures aren't negatively impacting people of color."

Hoping to bring a voice to the table, but also bringing more resources to those in Duluth's African heritage community.

"To have voices heard that are disproportionately facing decreasing life expectancies, decreased wealth, decreased educational outcomes, decreased ability to buy housing," said Kennedy.

She believes the diverse group of members will continue to shed a light on disparities the African heritage community has faced due to systemic racism.

"African heritage people have always known these things have been happening, it's just been brought to light to other communities in a way that really informs what we've been saying to people," said Kennedy.

Each member of the commission can serve two terms, with each term lasting three years.

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Emma Quinn

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