Hello UP community!
My name is Katie Wojda and I’m a senior English and Spanish double major at UP. I’m doing my internship this summer in my home office (my room) in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I was looking for an internship where I could use my writing and research skills, and I found a great opportunity with the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC). The JRLC is an interfaith non-profit organization that works to educate and mobilize it’s Muslim, Christian, and Jewish members throughout Minnesota to be active political citizens who advocate for human dignity and justice.
The murder of George Floyd at the beginning of the summer changed everything about what I thought my internship would be in a really powerful way. I have been working with the executive director Anne Krisnik and the program manager Mary Baumgartner on several projects, many greatly driven by the push to do anti-racist work in our organization. I’ve spent some time getting to know the JRLC, doing grant research and writing, interviewing and writing a feature piece for the website, and keeping up with the local news in a way I never have before. I’ve attended multiple virtual town hall meetings and hearings to keep track of the types of things legislators are planning to do to respond to the righteous outcry of Minnesotans.
Some of these town hall meetings and hearings were hopeful, but they were more often eye-opening events for me to the incredible amount of ignorance that exists both within myself and in our society. Although the JRLC has several “position papers” (documents for our members to refer to about our positions on certain issues as people of faith), Anne realized we lack one that specifically addresses racism in Minnesota.
My most recent project has been working on this new position paper, which will essentially bring together the voices of activists and educators on the history of racism in Minnesota, with a list of resources for our members to continue to educate themselves and advocate for systemic change. At the same time, it is an argument for why we, as members of the Abrahamic religions, have an obligation to do this work.
I’ve absolutely loved working with the JRLC! I’m excited to bring these new skills and perspectives into every facet of my life.