Tova StrangeWinona State University
Ms. Strange has taken the public approach and the in-institution approach to issues of racism locally. She has planned and participated in protests on police brutality and institutional racism in public schools, and worked directly with local school officials to specifically address the presence of police in schools and the academic achievement and behavioral reprimand gap between black and white students, leading to removal of police from all Minnesota District 861 schools. She has since joined the District Diversity and Equity Committee to help push the district towards higher inclusivity, closing the behavioral and academic gap, and to make the district a safe place through accountability. She has given talks to classes and church groups on a number of topics ranging from how to get involved in the cause, to how to be an ally rather than a savior. Tova has had conversations with local police regarding the way we utilize policing and the issue of discrimination within the department, which is an ongoing battle to work toward demilitarization and alternative emergency response Tova has the motivation and potential to succeed in developing approaches to address public problems because she has often felt/been on both sides of issues.
I first became involved in organizing around racial justice work in 2020, although my participation in social justice work as a whole goes back to around 2018. In June of 2020, I organized a rally at my former high school exposing the imbedded inequity within the education system and more specific issues regarding the school to prison pipeline. Thanks to a wave of public support, the WAPS District became the second in the state of Minnesota to dissolve their contract with police and remove their SRO. The experience taught me a lot about the structure of institutions and the power community outreach and mobilization has on the decisions made by people in power. Since then I’ve been serving on the WAPS Diversity and Equity Committee and periodically organizing events and protests around racial equity and equality. I have also been working within a local coalition fighting jail expansion in Winona County.