The Day Marvin Gaye Died

Emmanuel Ortiz performing spoken word at a January 2013 Lowertown Reading Jam. (Illustration: Ta-coumba Aiken/

Every generation has its historical moments
Of collective grief and disbelief
Moments we forever remember
Exactly where we were when . . .

The deaths of Kennedy, King, Clemente
The space shuttle Challenger explosion
When the planes hit the towers on 9/11...

What's in a Name?

Yusef Mgeni (Photo courtesy Metropolitan State University)

Growing up as young Black men in Saint Paul’s Rondo neighborhood, we learned a lot from the generation of Black men who preceded us. We, like they before us, were simply known as “the Rondo boys.” Rondo was where we learned to survive, to grow and develop—it was where we learned the value of our extended family membership, where we fell in love and got our hearts broken. It was also where we learned what’s in a name.


Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo: Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram staff photographer/Library of Congress)

Gathering in St. Paul 40 years after Selma,
the speakers’ arms pump and flail;
the voices of the preacher and senator ring out
and we step into the stream like revelers,
cheerful on the buoyant morning,
walking the half-mile from Central High School
to Concordia College.