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'We Have To Stop Segregating Ourselves': Justice Alan Page Reflects On Racism In Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A city known most widely for being cold is now known as a hotbed of social tension in the aftermath of George Floyd's death.

It's a sight that revered Minneapolis resident Alan Page saw coming.

"We are no different than anybody else. The people here are no different than anybody else. We like to think we are. And in some respects, we're marginally different. But the reality is that we have people who are intolerant," Page said.

READ MORE: Alan Page Receives Presidential Medal Of Freedom

African Americans make up 8% of Minnesota's statewide population. This is the state Alan Page choose to make home. The Ohio native was a standout player for the Minnesota Vikings, before getting his law degree and becoming a Minnesota Supreme Court justice. And along with his beloved wife, Diane, he sent more than 6,000 kids to college through a scholarship program. He says his chosen home is far from perfect.

"Our justice system, our treatment of all of our communities of color, we have a history of not doing very well," Page said.

And he says Floyd's death is the ultimate example.

"I see in that video man's inhumanity to man," Page said. "Just an utter lack of humanity. That's what I see," Page said.

Amidst the tears, and amidst the ashes, Page says there is hard work every Minnesotan can do.

"We have to stop segregating ourselves. We do it. We segregate ourselves in our communities, in our neighborhoods, in our schools, in our workplaces. We have to stop doing that. We have to figure out how we're gonna live together," Page said.

READ MORE: 'We Are Moving Backwards': Alan Page Talks 'Take A Knee'

According to University of Minnesota research, the number of segregated schools in the Twin Cities has increased sevenfold since 2000. With numbers like that, Page just wants things to be fair.

"The question is, will we change? And I don't know. I am hopeful. I get my hope from young people," Page said.

Specifically, Page says he gets his hope from interacting with middle school students at the south Minneapolis middle school that bears his name: Justice Page Middle School.

Page will keep pushing for social change through his education foundation for students of color. They've already awarded $15 million in grants.

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