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LE​AGUE OF MINNESOTA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONS

The Honorable David A. Singleton, President and Chairman

Supporting Minnesota Communities Through Local Human Rights Commissions and Organizations

Contact Us

Mission Statement:

The League of Minnesota Human Rights Commissions provides advocacy, advice and guidance to city, county, state as well as other Municipal and non profit agencies pursuant to their ordinances or resolutions in human and civil rights.


To assist the Minnesota Department of Human Rights carry out the purposes set forth by statue 363A, and to develop partnerships with all divisions within state government and other entities, businesses and organizations involved in human and civil rights.

League Description:

Founded in 1971, the League of Minnesota Human Rights Commissions is a partnership of local human rights commissions that have been established by charter or ordinance in communities throughout Minnesota, and by amendments approved by the board in March 2016, organizations and individuals who have met the criteria set forth by the board are now authorized to become members of the league. All members must pay dues prior to being appointed.


While its member commissions are public agencies, the League is tax exempt with a federal 501(c)(3) classification pursuant to the IRS Code. Grants and contributions to the League are tax deductible upon request.


The League is the only non-governmental, statewide human rights organization recognized as the official advisory body to member cites and counties on matters of civil and human rights issues.

Donate to Us

We are a public nongovernmental organization with 501(c)(3) classification under the IRS Code. Grants and gifts to us are tax deductible. There are various ways to donate to us (both in cash and in kind). Your donations will help us continue our objective of making Minnesota a vibrant community where every person’s human rights are respected.


For more information about making donations, don’t hesitate to call or email us. We’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.

Option #1

You can mail a check to our post office box:


League of Minnesota Human Rights Commissions

PO Box 9242

Maplewood, Minnesota 55109


Donations can be made in honor of or in memory of a loved one.

Option #2

You can also make a donation online by clicking the button to our GiveMN donation site.

Visit Our GiveMN Donation Site Now

Volunteer With Us

If you are interested in volunteering for the League of Minnesota Human Rights Commissions, feel free to contact us: [email protected]

Mailing Address

League of Minnesota Human Rights Commissions

PO Box 9242

Maplewood, Minnesota 55109



Our History

1970–1979: The Decade of Creation

The League of Minnesota Human Rights Commissions (LMHRC) was formed in 1971. The first annual meeting was held on October 14, 1972.


The founders of LMHRC were Phyllis Janey (St. Cloud HRC), Vicki Wilson (Columbia Heights HRD), Jim Samples (attorney/advocate), and David Therkelsen (Brooklyn Park HRC), who became the League’s first executive director (volunteer).


Phyllis Janey was the first president. The other early leaders included Norman Nitzkowski, David Cowan, Maria Larson, Carl McDaniels, Mari Haddox, Dr. William Dudley, and Bill Henschel.


LMHRC was established to provide support and technical assistance to local human rights commissions as well as to advocate on behalf of human rights issues, especially at the legislature.


It had a significant impact on the content of Minnesota’s early anti-discrimination statutes. In particular, LMHRC’s influence helped the Minnesota statute encompass a “right of private action” so that victims of discrimination could have recourse directly through the courts, rather than proceeding through the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR).


This was controversial at the time, is still the law, and is still not part of the Federal Civil Rights Acts.


Other issues of interest to the LMRHC included state and municipal policies for Section 8 housing and corrections. Our leaders worked not only with various local and state human rights commissioners, but also the Commissioner of Corrections.


One of the ideas behind the formation of LMHRC was the realization that most other municipal functions had some centralized expertise and advocacy through what is now the League of Minnesota Cities (e.g., subgroups for engineers, attorneys, planning commissions, mayors, etc.), but not for human rights. Yet in the civil rights climate of the late 60s and early 70s, many thought this was important.


As noted by David Therkelsen, LMHRC’s first Executive Director, “I don’t recall great difficulties in organizing LMHRC, but there were certainly tensions at that time around the whole issue of human and civil rights and a tendency in the suburbs to believe they had no problems because, after all, they did not have any of ‘those folks.’”


LMHRC Collaborative Groups:

  • Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR)
  • Commissioner of Corrections

*Information taken from a history of LMHRC provided by its first Executive Director, David J. Therkelson (2009)

1980–1989: The Decade of Establishing an Identity

In 1982, LMHRC awarded its first human rights awards to the city of St. Paul and the Minneapolis Jaycees for their efforts to enroll women as full and equal members.


LMHRC was instrumental in lobbying for and implementing a no-fault grievance resolution process, as well as providing training to local human rights commissioners.


LMHRC was reorganized in 1986 so that it could become an exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The 1986 Articles of Incorporation provide that the purpose of LMHRC was to:


“Assist local human rights/relations commissions in Minnesota to carry out the purposes in scripted pursuant to the enabling legislation for which they were established; interact with all divisions of the State and other agencies involved in the area of human rights/relations; provide educational enlightenment, data gathering, statistical analyses, and research for interested parties.”


LMHRC had an active “Adopt a Commission” program to support and encourage inactive commissions.


Additionally, LMHRC distributed brochures and materials at the Minnesota State Fair at a booth sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.


Keynote speakers at LMHRC annual conferences in this decade include:

  • Suzan Shown Harjo, Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians
  • Tony Bouza, Minneapolis Police Chief
  • Steven Cooper, Commissioner of MDHR
  • Matthew Stark, Minnesota Civil Liberties Union
  • Leslie R. Green, Professor of Criminal Justice, St. Cloud State University


1990–1999: The Decade of Active Activity

LMHRC obtained 501(c)(3) status in 1992.


In 1992, Mort Ryweck was hired as LMHRC’s part-time project coordinator and grant writer. Prior to working for LMHRC, Mort served as the regional director of the Jewish Community Relations Council/Anti-Defamation League of Minnesota for 16 years.


Mort started with a statewide hate crimes response and prevention pledge distribution, which led to the establishment of about 10–12 new commissions, a hate crimes response and prevention network, and about 15 commissions writing response and prevention plans.


By 1992, 43 of 856 municipalities in Minnesota had HRCs.


LMHRC held 12 regional bias response training workshops, including police chiefs and sheriffs. LMHRC responded to hate incidents around the state, even if there were no HRCs in the area.


LMHRC organized community response to a cross burning in Eden Prairie – hundreds gathered for the anti-racism rally.


LMHRC raised $50,000–$60,000 from foundations to pay part-time income, mass mailings, and travel expenses for LMHRC activities.


LMHRC and local HRCs participated in Community Circle Design training programs at Augsburg College, under the leadership of Dick Little. This is for local implementation of the topic “Beyond Busing.”


Educational packages were created and distributed by LMHRC, including:

  • Children Who Care – Educating Your Child about Human Rights, a Booklet Created by Shoreview HRC. LMHRC Donated Funds for More Printing.
  • This is My Home – Human Rights, K-12 Curriculum. LMHRC Helped With Writing and Training.
  • REHaB Project – Reducing and Eliminating Hate Behavior, Providing Curriculum and Counseling for Offenders and an Action Guide for Dealing With Hate Crimes.
  • American Indian Curriculum – LMHRC Introduced This to Local HRCs and School Districts.

LMHRC Collaborative Groups:

  • Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR)
  • University of Minnesota Human Rights Center
  • Augsburg College
  • County Attorneys
  • Minnesota Chiefs of Police
  • Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association
  • Victim-Witness Program
  • Anoka
  • League of Women Voters
  • World of Difference
  • Dakota and Ojibwe Reservations
  • American Indian Section of the Minnesota Department of Education

2000–2009: The Decade of Maintenance

LMHRC sponsored its first conference (open to all): “Understanding Somali Culture and Islamic Values.” There were hundreds in attendance, and we had to turn people away at the door.


LMHRC conducted a statewide TV conference involving 20+ college campuses on countering and preventing bigotry and hate crimes on college campuses.


Student panel involvement at the annual conference: “The Lessons of Brown vs. the Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas” held Sept. 19, 2003 in the Chaska Community Center. A study guide created for use by student panelists.

  • Keynote Speaker: Superintendent Stan Mack, Robbinsdale Area Schools
  • Luncheon Speaker: Attorney General Mike Hatch

“Human Rights, Civil Rights, Treaty Rights: Minnesota Challenges” – Annual Conference September 29, 2007 at Mille Lacs Grand Casino Convention Center, Onamia, Minnesota.

  • Keynote Speaker: Morris Dees, Chief Counsel, Southern Poverty Law Center.

LMHRC bylaws were renewed in 2008. Standing rules and meeting norms were approved by the board.


LMHRC biyearly strategic plans were established.


LMHRC participated in establishing HRCs in Montgomery and Mille Lacs Area.


LMHRC established the League Lending Library.


LMHRC retained a pro bono attorney to help protect its status.


LMHRC Collaborative Groups:

  • Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR)
  • Islamic Center of Minnesota
  • Schools
  • Mille Lacs Area (Local Government, Law Enforcement, Businesses, Clergy, Elders, and Community Members)
  • Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights
  • Center for Prevention of Torture

2010–2019: The Decade of Electronic Communication to Support Local HRCs

LMHRC public policy resolutions were adopted (2011–2012).


LMHRC board of directors’ email was established in 2011.


LMHRC’s independent website was established in 2013.


More to Come

LEAGUE OF MINNESOTA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONS

Executive Cabinet

Hon. David A. Singleton, President and Chairman of the Board

Email: [email protected]

Hon. Donald C. Speese, Vice President

Email: [email protected]

Hon. Christopher Williams, Treasury Secretary

Email: [email protected]

PENDING APPOINTMENT

SECRETARY-GENERAL

Executive Board of Directors and Commissioners

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Member Commissions (By District)

District 1

  • Fairmount
  • Marshall
  • Montgomery
  • Morris
  • Paynesville
  • St. Peter
  • Wilmar

District 2

  • Anoka

  • Albert Lea
  • Arden Hills
  • Austin
  • Moorhead
  • Northfield
  • Olmsted
  • Owatonna
  • Red Wing
  • Waseca
  • Winona
  • St. Cloud

District 3

  • Cottage Grove

  • Crow Wing County
  • Duluth
  • Forest Lake
  • Lake Elmo
  • Stillwater

District 4

  • Golden Valley

  • Isanti
  • Robbinsdale

District 5

  • Bemidji

  • Chaska
  • Mille Lacs
  • Minneapolis
  • Shoreview
  • St. Paul

District 6

  • Eden Prairie

  • Falcon Heights
  • Hibbing
  • Hopkins
  • Plymouth
  • St. Louis Park

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