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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Keith Ellison in His Own Words

Strib here.

Keith Ellison: The value system that's behind my candidacy
It's about family, faith and a need to work for social justice and the common good.
Keith Ellison

Published: July 19, 2006
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A great deal has been written about me in the press and on political blogs recently. I would like to take this opportunity to speak directly about who I am, rather than have others tell my story.

My passion for social justice comes from my family. My parents worked hard to instill a sense of purpose and pride in me. I grew up hearing the stories of my grandfather who worked with the NAACP in Louisiana, organizing for voting rights at a time when those who stood up could be lynched, and sometimes were.

Our family proudly tells of the time when a young attorney, Thurgood Marshall, stayed in their home, long before he became a Supreme Court Justice.

My grandfather's work helped to inspire my commitment to justice and equal rights. I have always tried to live up to his example as an attorney representing the poor and as a state legislator from north Minneapolis.

As a young man I was outraged and frustrated by the racism and injustice I saw in my community and the world around me. Those experiences propelled me to become a social activist, using my words and actions to draw attention to the very serious problems of inequality, racial injustice and poverty in our society.

As I matured, I had to confront my anger and face it down. I eventually realized that it is easy to be a critic pointing out problems and failings, but it is a far more difficult thing to be part of creating the solution.

As my father used to say, "Any jackass can kick a barn down; it takes a carpenter to build it back up."

Eventually I understood what my father had been telling me, and I committed to being one of the carpenters.

I began to help create a world where everybody counts and where there are no throwaway people.