Evelyn Eubanks, 1957-2005

Minneapolis loses a moral compass

class=img_thumbleft>A note posted last night on the online Minneapolis Issues forum notes the passing last week of Evelyn Eubanks, a north Minneapolis mother and a tireless advocate of educational rights. Evelyn, who died of cancer at 47, was incapable of not speaking truth to power, and in doing so rattled cages throughout the Twin Cities. She was a pain in the ass--but always right.

She was memorialized in the note by southsider Doug Mann, her longtime comrade in countless efforts to hold Minneapolis Public Schools accountable for their failure to serve all children with equal vigor.

Evelyn was well known and in high demand as a volunteer advocate for students and parents in the school system, wrote well, and was as an outstanding orator. I especially liked Evelyn's 'angry speeches' to the school board.

Evelyn worked through "the system" for many years, and was probably near the head of the line for a seat on the school board when she endorsed the NAACP's educational adequacy lawsuit in 1995. Evelyn's resume included service on school district improvement committees, on the board of at least one charter school, and as president of the citywide PTA.

Despite Eubanks' willingness to put her energy where her mouth was, Minneapolis School Board members repeatedly attempted to paint her as a crank and a chronic malcontent. I doubt anyone currently employed by MPS or serving on its board would admit it, but Eubanks doubtless deserves much credit for the district's recently acquired insistence that every child be treated as educable, race and class notwithstanding.

Eubanks kicked City Pages' collective ass from time to time, and whenever she did, we would find an injustice that demanded investigating. In recent years several of us have written stories that hinged on her willingness to answer the phone, her penchant for keeping meeting agendas, minutes, fliers, and phone numbers, and her preternatural ability to see through bullshit. Here's a link to one story of mine in which she was willing to say things many people knew, but were too uncomfortable to voice.

Mann's memorial note says that there was no funeral notice or obituary for Eubanks, and yet her services were attended by hundreds. In trying to verify this this morning (which I did), I Googled across a link to a piece in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder marking an July 23 resolution by the NAACP recognizing Eubanks' contributions to the community. Given that past NAACP leaders were among those Eubanks occasionally called out, the recognition must have seemed especially meaningful.

My kids are better off because of Eubanks. Whether you know it or not, yours are, too.

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