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Rally for racial, economic justice set for today in downtown Duluth

Racial justice groups in Duluth are teaming with a statewide group, Organizing Apprenticeship Project, to rally for racial and economic justice in Minnesota today. Group members will meet at 5 p.m. at the Holiday Center in downtown Duluth.

Racial justice groups in Duluth are teaming with a statewide group, Organizing Apprenticeship Project, to rally for racial and economic justice in Minnesota today. Group members will meet at 5 p.m. at the Holiday Center in downtown Duluth.

Duluth organizer Archie Davis said it's the third year for a local rally that aligns with the Minneapolis-based project. People from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Community Action, Dismantling Racism, African American Men's Group and others will take part.

The rally will highlight the OAP's agenda for the year and offer report cards on local legislators on how they dealt with racial issues in 2011.

The OAP agenda deals mainly with jobs, education, health care, housing, immigration and voting. The OAP supports advances in "racial, cultural, social and economic justice through organizing, public policy and collaborative strategies," its mission statement reads.

Local representatives, who are all Democrats, got average grades from the group. In the House, Kerry Gauthier from District 7B got the only "A" from OAP. Tom Huntley of District 7B and Mary Murphy of District 6B received "B" grades. All three were noted for their grades despite having minority populations under 10 percent.

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In the Senate, Duluth's Roger Reinert of District 7 received a "C."

Reinert said he was "shocked" by his grade considering he's received an "A" the past two years.

"I didn't change," he said.

He said it's difficult to judge those in the minority party when it comes to authoring and passing bills.

He said that while he doesn't "lose a lot of sleep" over the plethora of report cards from groups filed on legislators, he takes umbrage at the grade from OAP. He said the criteria for its report don't include what he and other legislators prevented. Reinert cited how he and others blocked a cut in funding for integration programs at Duluth schools.

The Legislature averaged a grade of "D," mainly, the OAP said, because of the divisive budget cuts last year.

Report card grades were based on 28 bills introduced that parallel OAP's goals. Gov. Mark Dayton received a "B-minus."

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