In the Burroughs | Children's Minnesota | The Kid Experts

Equity action: know your history

We can’t talk our way to equity. We have to act. And not just acts of charity. Actions that will change unjust processes and systems. But how did our unjust processes and systems come to be? Understanding how they started is an important step in ending them.  

Growing up, many of us were taught an incomplete version of history that left out defining events. For instance, if you grew up in Minnesota:

  • Did you learn slavery wasn’t just a southern thing?
  • Did you learn lynchings occurred in Duluth, Minnesota? 
  • Did you learn there was a war in Minnesota?
  • Did you know that racial covenants prevented Black, Jewish and Asian people from buying homes in some Twin Cities communities? 
  • Did you know in 1993 Minnesota became the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

What happened yesterday, the good and the bad, shapes who we are today. 

There are lots of books and websites that can teach us our history. But it’s better to learn it with other people. From other people. To have conversations, ask questions, share ideas. 

Here are some ways to learn our history


The race exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota examines the history of race and how this construct affects us today.


Organizations like the YWCA, the Minnesota Humanities Center, and the Minnesota Historical Society offer events throughout the year that invite people to explore our culture and history.


Sacred Sites Tours take people to sacred Indigenous places in the Twin Cities while teaching them about Minnesota history from a Native perspective.

The Minnesota Humanities Center and Minnesota Historical Society host walking tours like this one that take people to the places where LGBTQ+ history happened.

Participating in these equity actions will lead you to meet new people, experience new things and get out of your comfort zone. If we understand our history, we’re less likely to repeat it. And we’re more likely to create the equitable world we want to see.

James Burroughs

James Burroughs
Senior vice president, government and community relations, chief equity and inclusion officer

James Burroughs is the senior vice president, government and community relations, chief equity and inclusion officer at Children's Minnesota. He is responsible for advancing equity and inclusion in all parts of the organization.
Follow James on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Julianna Olsen