Longtime activist and resident of St. Paul Vic Rosenthal gave his own day in St. Paule

Longtime community activist and resident of St. Paul, Vic Rosenthal, 68, was honored by the city Saturday by declaring March 18 “Victor Rosenthal Day” in honor of his decades of community organizing and social justice work.

In the proclamation of the mayor of St. Paul, Melvin Carter, Rosenthal has been lauded as a champion of racial, social and economic justice and a tireless advocate for immigrant rights, marriage equality and voting rights.

He “made St. Paul a fairer and more affordable place to live,” through his work to build affordable housing, provide access to light rail, as an educator at Metro State University and as an advocate for inclusionary zoning and more, the proclamation said .

“Vic’s tenacity and unwavering spirit were always accompanied by a total inability to hear the word no or stop fighting for justice, despite any political environment, adverse weather, illness or (having been told no in the past)” wrote.

From 2000 to 2017, Rosenthal served as executive director at St. Paule Action of the Jewish Community group, an organization working to address the root causes of poverty, racism and injustice. Before that, he was a member of the board of directors of the group, which was founded in 1995.

Rosenthal wanted to preserve the organization’s history in perpetuity and applied for and received three legacy grants from the Minnesota Historical Society, which allowed him to write a book about the organization’s history and organize the group’s archives into the Jewish Archives of the Upper Midwest.

One article 2021 of the University of Minnesota, about his archival work, Rosenthal said immigration was among the issues particularly important to him because his grandparents were immigrants, along with anti-racism and white supremacy, which he said was linked to anti-Semitism .

Rosenthal also noted the organization’s work against the marriage and voter ID amendments in 2012, saying, “Those were both such vibrant and powerful campaigns and among some of the most amazing efforts I’ve ever been a part of, for that we were expected to lose. both and I won both. We won because we had thousands of volunteers come together from many organizations to work together and opportunities like this don’t come around that often.”

In a 2013 profile in the Twin Cities Daily Planet, Rosenthal said that after four decades with JCA, he still felt energized by the work.

“I helped build an organization that makes a difference in people’s lives,” he said in the article. “At the end of the day, that’s all you can hope for.”

A friend, journalist Wayne Coffey, said in an email to the Pioneer Press that Rosenthal “is the epitome of an unsung hero who made St. Paul and the surrounding communities a better place to live.”

The statement was read to Rosenthal on Zoom on Saturday because he has cancer and was moved to hospice on Friday, Coffey wrote.

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