Black Visions Collective (Black Visions) is a radical-left activist organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota that focuses on racial and transgender issues. Since the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police in mid-2020, the organization has focused efforts on defunding the city police.
Founded in 2017, Black Visions and its sister organization, the political organization Reclaim the Block, received an enormous surge in donations in the wake of protests related to the death of George Floyd in 2020. There is an overlap of staff and leadership in the two groups, and members of the Minneapolis community who initially supported Black Visions Collective’s mission have raised questions about whether any substantial distinction exists between the two groups other than their names. Initially funded by TakeAction Minnesota, which is its fiscal sponsor, Black Visions and Reclaim the Block have garnered over $30 million in donations since June 2020. It is also a Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation grantee.
On February 4, 2018, Black Visions organized the blockade of a Minneapolis light rail station near U.S Bank Stadium for over an hour. The protest took place a few hours before the Super Bowl was scheduled to begin at the stadium, and protested the city’s allocation of funds to host the event. Organizers also demanded a shift in funding from the city’s police force to community organizations. The protests resulted in 17 arrests.
Following the death of George Floyd in 2020, Black Visions and Reclaim the Block harassed Mayor Jacob Frey (D) and members of the Minneapolis city council at their homes, attempting to gain access to the houses, planting paper gravestones on members’ lawns, and publishing private cell phone numbers. One council member reported hearing the activists moving outside her window at 3 a.m. This pressure was reportedly brought to bear because council members did not agree within 24 hours to Black Vision’s demand to defund the city’s police force.
Funding Controversy and Open Letter
During a meeting on June 9, 2020 in which a small group of local protesters requested funds for protective gear, community members raised questions about the Black Visions’ fundraising and funding distribution. Black Visions spokesperson Yolanda Hare refused to give specific answers regarding the exact amount of donations the group had received. When asked if Black Visions was willing to donate some of its funds for rent assistance or to purchase air conditioners for poor Minneapolis residents, Hare stated that although Black Visions was still determining how to distribute money to members of the local community, but its primary concern was to finance its employees who were doing policy work relevant to its core mission of defunding the police.
After a private request for a community meeting was denied, community members sent an email to Black Visions demanding a public meeting during which Black Visions Collective would make public the scope of its funding and future plans. Following this exchange, Black Visions released a public statement announcing a plan to shift a portion of its funds to Nexus Community Partners to help distribute grants.
Still dissatisfied with these responses, the group released an open letter criticizing Black Visions and Reclaim the Block, questioning whether they are the same group with two different names, citing an overlap in staff and leadership.
According to its website, by summer 2021 Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block had received over $30 million in combined donations. Much of this funding arose after the Minnesota Freedom Fund halted donation receipts and encouraged donors to support Black Visions/Reclaim the Block and the Twin Cities Justice for Jamar campaign.
Black Visions has received an enormous increase in support following endorsement from celebrities including Lizzo and Fallout Boy, with the latter donating $100,000 to be shared between Black Visions and National Bail Out. Black Visions was also the sole beneficiary of proceeds from a compilation album entitled “Talk-Action=Zero” which featured 100 songs by lesser-known artists such as Superchunk and Prism Tats. In September 2019, Black Visions received a $28,000 grant from left-of-center tech grantmaking organization Voqal.
Grants and Initiatives
The Transformative Black-Led Movement Fund (TBLMF) is Black Visions Collective’s grantmaking partnership with Nexus Community Partners. It was formed to more effectively distribute some of its excess resources following concerns regarding the speed and efficiency with which money was being disbursed. TBLMF closed grant applications on November 23, 2020 after allocating $7.1 million to 121 grantees.
Yes 4 Minneapolis (Yes4MN) is a campaign to dismantle the Minneapolis police department and replace it with a “new department of public safety.” Because the Minneapolis city charter requires a standing police force, the group’s first step is to amend that charter, and on April 30, 2021 Yes4MN submitted over 20,000 signatures to the city council to call for a vote on this amendment.
Black Visions reports that it has donated over $1 million in donations to individuals “for mutual and legal aid,” and $6 million in grants to “organizations, collectives, artists, healers, [and] organizers.” Among other groups, grants have been awarded to SEIU Local 26, Black Immigrant Collective, and the LGBT/climate change/immigration activist group Unidos (also known as Navigate Minnesota).
Kandace Montgomery is co-founder and director of both Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block, as well as the former lead organizer of Black Lives Matter Global Network. In 2013, she was an employee of TakeAction Minnesota, the fiscal sponsor of Black Visions. In 2015 she helped organize a Minneapolis chapter of Black Lives Matter following the death of Jamar Clark. Montgomery’s efforts to “defund” the Minneapolis police departments by shifting over $1 million to efforts like the Office of Violence Prevention preceded an upsurge in violent crime in that city. However, Montgomery dismisses the rise in crime as a “myth” intended to cast aspersion on the groups’ efforts. Montgomery is on record as stating her goal is “transitioning completely away” from policing “across the country and across the globe.”
Miski Noor is a writer, as well as an organizer and co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Minneapolis. Noor was a staffer for then-Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) working in the areas of foreign affairs, immigration, and Muslim outreach.
In an April 2021 interview, Noor stated that she believed the way forward to achieve real justice for African Americans was the complete abolition of the police. Noor then went on to describe an ideal organizational model which would utilize groups made up of disparate members such as sex workers, Somali elders, and queer youth, and would import activists to Minnesota from “the U.S. south and the global south.”
Oluchi Omegoa is a transgender activist and frequent spokesperson for Black Visions. In addition to co-founding Black Visions, Omeoga is the co-founder and senior national organizer of the Black LGTBTQ+ Migrant Project (BLMP). In a July 2020 interview with Minnesota Monthly, Omeoga highlighted the gender-activism angle of Black Vision’s work, saying that the organization was rooted in “queer Black feminism.… I want to make sure that the narrative is that these are queer Black women, these are queer Black youth that are doing this work.”