Minnesota memories: Mondale, Wellstone, and the trial.
Walter Mondale died today at age 93.
I remember voting for him when he ran with Jimmy Carter for reelection (and lost to Reagan). Then again in 1984 when he chose Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate for V.P. What excitement that was! Who knew we'd have to wait until 2021 to have a woman V.P. in office.
But I especially remember where I was when U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone died with his wife and daughter in a plane crash in 2004. Tragic, and still controversial whether it was really an "accident," Wellstone died just a few days before the election. Mondale stepped in to take his place. I was jubilant - until he lost to Republican Norm Coleman. How could the people of Minnesota betray him? How naive I was. Wellstone campaign signs were draped in black and stayed up for months after the election.
(photo above: campaign buttons from Jules' collection)
I was working at the Loft Literary Center when I heard the news that Wellstone had died in a plane crash. The entire staff was in shock and basically took the rest of the day off. We didn't know what to do. I worked at the Loft in downtown Minneapolis from 2000-2004. I had seen Senator Wellstone at a rally on Harriet Island in St. Paul just a few weeks before the tragic news.
My nametags from the Loft.
My living and working in Minneapolis and the Metro area was a place of warmth and unity - mostly, of writers and artists. As the Chauvin trial closes and the jury announces their decision soon, I hope for healing. I fear for more violence and worry about my many friends living there. I review my reason for moving out of Minnesota in 2011, to New Mexico. My birthplace is St. Paul, Minnesota. After 48 years in the Twin Cities, living in various St. Paul suburbs and eventually downtown Minneapolis, living and working a few blocks away from the Hennepin County Government Center, I felt mostly safe. I'm a white woman. When my parents moved out of state to retire, I lost the family connection that is so strong in the Midwest. I spent my holidays with friends more than family. I attended and organized orphan Thanksgivings. I heard the stories from my non-white or transgendered friends about the discrimination, the traffic stops, the hate crimes, the always-on-edge outsiderness of not belonging. I too felt like an outsider sometimes. What did I have to lose by moving away? Was it a chance to gain some perspective? A chance to live in a place where whites are the minority? The racism has to stop. We must keep fighting. Black Lives Matter.
This is a walk down memory lane. Again, the U.S. has new Presidential leadership. Again, we are confronting racism. I hope we do the right thing to try to move forward. We must.