Moving to Minnesota: Immigrants tell their stories
Stories can transform the past from words in a book into the light in an old man’s face and the longing in an immigrant’s voice. Across the distances of time, place, culture, gender, race, religion and language, stories help us understand differences and recognize common ground. They give us a chance to ask questions and start conversations.
When seven ThreeSixty Journalism teens set out last summer to interview immigrants – including three black elders who migrated from the segregated South to Minnesota – we hoped they would learn that most people have stories to tell and are eager to share them.
Reporter Maddie Colbert was inspired by Betty Ellison-Harpole. As a black child growing up in Memphis, Mrs. Ellison-Harpole yearned to drink from “white” water fountains. She grew up to be a kindergarten teacher who “celebrated” all her students and helped them earn some of the highest scores in the city.
We also wanted our reporters to discover that when they ask questions, good listening is required. As writer Kalia Yang told ThreeSixty reporter Jada Pulley: “You can only talk if people listen.”
At a time when Minnesota’s population is more diverse than ever before, we need to ask more questions and listen to more stories. We hope you enjoy these stories and invite you to gather some yourself.