Urban League Statement on the Passing of Ron Edwards

The Board of Directors and staff of Urban League Twin Cities wish to express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of Ron Edwards on his passing.

Ron served as a member and chair of the Board of Minneapolis Urban League for over 10 years. His service on the Board ended in 1986. He was an activist chair and led the organization in facing difficult challenges to the Black community including housing discrimination, segregation in public employment and police brutality. He was an unapologetic and tireless advocate for equity, justice and power for Black people.

Fearlessness was another of Ron’s attributes. He challenged the City of Minneapolis to integrate its Fire Department, advocated for placing the Minneapolis Police Department under federal receivership, among other reforms, and confronted the Board of Education about inequitable discipline and educational outcomes for Black students. He called out racial bias in the Star Tribune’s coverage of Black people and the Black community and gave the newspaper the memorable moniker, “Johannesburg Times,” a scornful reference to the apartheid regime of South Africa.

Ron was a gadfly to politicians, corporate officials and civic leaders alike—anyone who presented an obstacle, perpetrated an injustice or stood in the way of fairness and opportunity. He was a constant and sometimes unexpected presence at school board, city council and community meetings as well as legislative hearings. His newspaper column, radio show and community access program on cable television offered stinging rebuke, impassioned encouragement or wistful wisdom as the occasion demanded, and always informed and entertained his followers.

Rosalyn Carter said, “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” By that measure and others, Ron Edwards was a great leader. We honor his legacy of unrelenting advocacy and will miss him.

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