A Personal Reflection on Paul Wellstone
by Micah Minnema, SPNN Development Director
Ten years ago this morning I awoke to the sound of my cell phone ringing. I got up out of bed, found the phone in one of my couches’ cushions, and it rang in my hand.
“Have you heard the news?” My sister said.
“Turn on the tv,” she said.
On the screen I saw an overhead shot of wreckage and a caption that broke my heart.
It was in 1996 that Paul Wellstone changed my life. Through a speech he gave at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis he inspired me; so much so that now, these many years later, I can still feel the fire in my gut I felt that first time I watched him stab the air with his finger.
Looking back on it now I know that what I felt wasn’t just about Paul and his politics. I was sixteen years old that first time I heard him roar; I needed something to inspire me to strive to be my best self. That’s what Senator Wellstone gave to me – and to so many others.
And then, on October 25th, 2002, everything changed for many people.
In the days after the crash a slogan emerged--Stand Up and Keep Fighting--and now, these ten years later, I’m proud to say I still am. Not for policies or candidates, but for the many sixteen-year-old youth that walk in SPNN’s doors and leave empowered and changed.
This is, I know, a Cause worth fighting for.
Tonight at 8:00 PM on Channel 19, SPNN will pay tribute to two amazing individuals, Paul and Kwame McDonald, by airing a conversation the two men had in our studio in 1999. It’s like watching two friends talk at a coffee shop; only difference is you’re invited to listen in. We hope you’ll join us for the special presentation.
Anniversaries are, of course, a time to pause and to reflect. What this one has shown me is that yes, we lost a lot on that cold, October morning, but the inspiration he gave to so many can, indeed, live on.
Stand up and keep fighting.