City honors Kirk Washington Jr.

The City Council passed a resolution last week honoring Kirk Washington Jr., an artist with the City’s Creative CityMaking initiative who was killed in a car crash April 4. Mayor Betsy Hodges issued a proclamation in Washington’s honor and named Monday, May 9, Kirk Washington Day in Minneapolis.

Washington, a community organizer, spoken-word artist, poet and storyteller, became an embedded artist in the City last summer through the Creative CityMaking initiative. The initiative pairs City staff with experienced community artists to advance the City’s goal of eliminating economic and racial disparities.

Washington worked with the City’s Information Technology Department on the digital equity project as part of the Creative CityMaking initiative. Disparities in Minneapolis in age, race and income map to geographic disparities in digital access and digital literacy skills. The digital equity project included collaboration with several organizations across Minneapolis to increase access to computers and the Internet and increase technology skills for people in communities of color and low-income communities.

Creative CityMaking is a partnership between the City’s Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy program and Intermedia Arts with support from The Kresge Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Washington was one of 12 poets who contributed to the poem “One Minneapolis: A City in Verse” for Mayor Betsy Hodges’ 2014 inauguration:

“language describes the ideas of the ones who speak it

… the single stories about the 5th ward … & the words we see that narrate gentrification, in real time, say a lot

I speak the gospel of the Northside, with the rage of lovers …

… and perceive in my dreams …

a unified breath that electrocutes fear and misunderstanding

… to remain apathetic is assured enslavement so … precisely, what is a dream?”

Published Apr 19, 2016

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