MINNEAPOLIS -- The snow never stopped during a socially distant conversation with Angela Rose Myers in her south Minneapolis backyard last week.
After nearly an hour, Myers joked the floppy flakes had turned her Afro mostly white.
“I grew up in the Twin Cities, so I am not afraid of this weather.”
Myers returned to Minnesota after college and worked at the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice at the University of Minnesota.
She also became involved with the Minneapolis branch of the NAACP, rising to a leadership position. At Monday’s meeting, she was elected president, succeeding Leslie Redmond.
Myers feels honored to step into the role at age 25 and said she is constantly learning about love and strength from the Black women in her organization and around her.
“I think it is time for Generation Z to start holding leadership positions,” Myers said of her peers born in the mid-to-late 1990s. “We are ready to make our own future.”
Myers knows she is taking on the job during an exceptionally difficult time in history. As elsewhere, Minneapolis faces an escalating coronavirus pandemic. The city became the center of international attention following the police killing of George Floyd in May. Floyd’s death and the pandemic highlighted existing racial inequities in Minnesota. The summer brought historic levels of hunger and gun violence in many Minneapolis neighborhoods.
“People are dying,” Myers said with tears in her eyes. “COVID-19 has shown us when everyone hurts, African Americans hurt the most.”
Myers doesn’t know anyone who doesn’t know someone who has died from COVID-19 or become ill. The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately impacted Black people in the United States.
“White supremacy actively erases, creates its own reality and erases history,” Myers said. “I don’t want the people who died from COVID to be forgotten.”
Myers said she hopes to serve as a bridge between Minneapolis residents and state and local government leaders and policy makers. She is in the process of creating the chapter’s policy agenda for 2021 and will keep a close eye on issues related to COVID-19 and housing stability when the Minnesota Legislature convenes in January.
“We weren’t prepared, and still, months later, we are not prepared for another [COVID-19] spike.”
The spike in gun violence across Minneapolis also concerns Myers. She looks forward to working with Minneapolis police Chief Medaria Arradondo to implement transformative policies within the department.
“It’s imperative,” Myers said. “He has a Herculean task to get his department in order and win back the trust of the community.”
Myers said she would need to see a concrete plan for alternative public safety to assess her support for any calls for defunding the Minneapolis Police Department. “I hope to see a plan, but at this point we have police on the street.”
Despite the many unprecedented challenges facing Minneapolis, Myers hopes that all residents of the city can dig even deeper in the coming winter months.
“This summer we saw so much unity in our community, we saw people stand arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder to say ‘we want change and we are ready to create our future,’ ” Myers said. “We need to start with refueling ourselves on love and generosity and compassion and kindness, because that is sustainable.
“What is not sustainable is hatred.”