Civil Rights Department honors History Makers at Home

March 14, 2022

The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is honoring several community leaders as part of the History Makers at Home program – a profile series featuring African American leaders advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity in the fields of criminal justice, education, economic development, health, housing, government and more.

Whether “home” is defined as a city, region, or state, the department is honoring changemakers who are creating a lasting impact for future generations. This year’s award recipients include:

  • Deborah Watts, co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation.
  • Dr. Yohuru Williams, Distinguished University Chair, history professor and founding director of the Racial Justice Initiative at the University of St. Thomas.
  • Dr. Rachel Hardeman, reproductive health equity researcher and associate professor in the Division of Health Policy & Management at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health.
  • Minneapolis Fire Chief Bryan Tyner, the second Black chief in the department’s history and a 25-year veteran of the department.
  • Mohammed Lawal, CEO and principal architect of Lawal Scott Erickson Architects, Inc., a Minneapolis-based architecture, interior design, and planning firm.
  • Mel Reeves, a Minneapolis civil rights activist and journalist for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder who died Jan. 6.
  • Harry “Spike” Moss, longtime civil rights activist.
  • Walter “Q-Bear” Banks: DJ and operations manager at KMOJ community radio station for more than 40 years.
  • Velma Korbel, former Minneapolis Civil Rights director and vice president and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at APi Group.
  • Lisa Clemons, founder and director of A Mothers Love Initiative and a former Minneapolis police officer.
  • Dr. Sharon Cook, the artistic director and owner of Les Jolies Petites (LJP) School of Dance in North Minneapolis for 25 years.
  • Sharon Sayles Belton, the first woman and African American to serve as mayor of Minneapolis and vice president of community relations and government affairs for Thomson Reuters.

The Civil Rights Department is also recognizing the Minnesota Black Basketball Coaches Association (MBBCA), which launched the inaugural George Floyd Basketball Classic on Dec. 28, 2021. The association is dedicated to advocacy, employment opportunities and advancing the careers of African Americans in Minnesota.

2022 History Makers at Home online awards ceremony

Noon-1:30 p.m. Thursday, March 17.
Watch the event via Microsoft Teams.
(Note: This event, held in partnership with the Minneapolis Black Employee Network, was previously planned for Feb. 17 but rescheduled to honor the life of Amir Locke.)