Celebrating the Second Founding: 150 Years After Passage of the Reconstruction Amendments




  • Event Date: January 31, 2017
  • Event Duration: 5:00-7:00pm
  • Event Location: Normandale Community College, Bloomington, MN
  • Total in Attendance: 300+


On January 31, 2017, in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Reconstruction Amendments to the United States Constitution, the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, the Federal Bar Association, the League of Women Voters Bloomington, and Normandale Community College hosted a screening of the Emmy-nominated film American Denial, to kick off the Second Founding Creative Competition. The film screening was followed by a panel discussion of how these Reconstruction Amendments to the Constitution continue to shape issues important to Americans today.

American Denial is a documentary that presents the work of Swedish researcher Gunnar Myrdal, who in the 1930ís and 1940ís studied social conditions in the Jim Crow South. The film uses Myrdalís insights to pose provocative questions about whether and to what extent social conditions have changed for Americans today.

The reception before the film was well attended and the program itself had a terrific turnout of over 300 people. People from all parts of the community were represented; students, teachers, college administrators, lawyers, and judges all attended and actively participated in the event.

Following the film, Dr. Joyce Ester, President of Normandale Community College welcomed everyone to the Normandale campus. Chief Judge Tunheim introduced the panel. President of the Minnesota Chapter of the FBA, Tara Norgard spoke about a competition in which all Minnesota Community and Technical College Students were invited to participate. Normandale History Professor, Dr. Lisa Rude provided the context of how the union war effort evolved from preserving the union to ending slavery. She clearly captured the essence of how competing visions for reconstruction generated the 13th 14th and 15th Amendments. The film maker, Llewellyn Smith, came to participate in this event all the way from New Orleans. He spoke about events in his childhood in Boston inspired him to make the film.

The panelists were film maker Llewellyn Smith, The Honorable Tanya M. Bransford, Hennepin County District Court Judge; Donald M. Lewis, Shareholder, Nilan Johnson Lewis; Ivery Baynham, MCTC student and Hennepin County probationee. Lissa Jones, host and producer of KMOJ FM radioís Urban Agenda, kept the conversation moving forward, ending with a powerful quotation from James Baldwin. Special guests were invited to pose questions to the panelists. The special guests were the Honorable Tony N. Leung, United States Magistrate Judge; The Honorable Lyonel Norris, Hennepin County District Court Judge; James Burroughs, Chief Inclusion Officer for the State of Minnesota; and Mary Rice, President of the League of Women Voters Ė Bloomington Chapter. The audience was thoroughly engaged and offered thoughtful insights and sophisticated questions of their own.

The event was made possible by a great group of collaborators, which included Magistrate Judge Noel and staff; Magistrate Judge Thorson and staff; FBA members Tara Norgard, Vildan Teske; Kevin Riach; Adam Hanson; Mary Rice with the League of Women Voters- Bloomington Chapter; and the staff and faculty at Normandale Community College.



Event Program
Still Photographs
Media Coverage

For additional information on the District of Minnesota's outreach programs, please contact Rebeccah Parks at rebeccah.parks@mnd.uscourts.gov or (612) 664-5124.