Peggy Flanagan is a dynamic trainer, teacher, and community and political organizer with more than 10 years of experience in the progressive movement. She is enrolled in the White Earth Band of Ojibwe and is an urban Indian from the great city of Minneapolis. Her vocation is to ensure that Native American people are heard within all aspects of civic engagement: community organizing, electoral politics, and the creation of public policy.
Peggy is a storyteller at heart and is a sought-after speaker on leadership development and organizing. Peggy is the director of external affairs at Wellstone Action—the country’s largest progressive training center. Before assuming her current role at Wellstone Action, she directed the Native American Leadership Program at the organization.
Peggy also serves as adjunct faculty for George Washington University’s Native American Political Leadership Program. Recently named as one of the top 100 most influential people in Minnesota politics by Campaigns & Elections magazine, Peggy was the First Americans GOTV coordinator in Minnesota for the 2008 Barack Obama Campaign for Change and Al Franken for Senate campaign, and served as the Native American community coordinator for the Minnesota Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004. She was elected to the Minneapolis School Board at age 24 and was the first Native American and youngest individual to serve on that body. In 2008, she was recognized by the Minnesota Jaycees as one of the 10 Outstanding Young Minnesotans.
While it is clear that Peggy has a passion for politics, that passion is rooted in social justice and the teachings of Jesus. Peggy first connected with Sojourners while helping to organize the “Rolling to Overcome Poverty” bus tour and she never looked back. Through her involvement in Call to Renewal and now Sojourners, Peggy has found a home where her faith and politics can co-exist. She often says that she “grew up” through her participation with Sojourners over the years. She’s humbled to serve on the Sojourners board.
Peggy has also served on the boards of several other community organizations, including the Native American Community Development Institute, Native Vote Alliance of Minnesota, and the Young Elected Officials Network.
Peggy is a 2002 graduate of the University of Minnesota and holds a bachelor’s degree in American Indian studies and child psychology. She is a member of St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Maple Grove, Minnesota.
Peggy lives in Minneapolis with her husband Tim and their dog Reuben.
Posts By This Author
Sacking the 'Redsk*ns'
I'VE NEVER FELT as powerful and proud of my community as I was while walking down the middle of Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis on a cold evening in November with hundreds of other Native activists and allies. We were marching from the heart of the Minneapolis American Indian community to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome to speak out against the Washington Redsk*ns mascot.
Hundreds of American Indians and allies rallied outside the Metrodome to demand that Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington professional football team, change the team’s name and mascot in spite of Snyder’s dissent. The owner’s unwavering commitment to keeping the Redsk*ns name became evident when earlier this year he stated, “We’ll never change the name. It’s simple. NEVER. You can use caps.”
Standing among supporters and friends, I looked on as the community joined together in drumming, dancing, and singing, with American Indian Movement co-founder Clyde Bellecourt serving as the rally’s emcee. Several local elected leaders addressed the crowd, including U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, and the mayor-elect of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, days after winning her election for mayor. The two joined an avalanche of elected leaders calling on Snyder and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to change the team’s name.
More than 20 years prior, another protest had been held at the Metrodome for Super Bowl XXVI, a game between the Washington Redsk*ns and the Buffalo Bills. That protest included Clyde Bellecourt’s brother, Vernon, leading the charge with Sen. Paul Wellstone, a friend and champion of the American Indian community. Two decades later, the conversation has changed and momentum is on our side. Even President Barack Obama joined the cause in saying, “I’ve got to say, if I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team—even if it had a storied history—that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”
Behold, The Dreamer Cometh
A few weeks after the October 2002 plane crash that killed Sen. Paul Wellstone, his wife, Sheila, their daughter, Marcia, and five others, a Lutheran confirmation class visiting D.C. from Minnesota decided to stop by Wellstone’s office to pay their respects. As the group went through security at the Senate office building, one of the students—who had worked on the senator’s re-election campaign and was still wearing a Wellstone button—set off the metal detector. The officer took her to the side to wand her. As he was checking her, the guard said, “Not one other senator in this place knows my name; Paul Wellstone knew my kid’s name.” He and the student hugged each other, and both started weeping.
Paul Wellstone touched people’s lives in profound ways, mostly because he genuinely sought to live a life of integrity, in both public and personal matters. He once advised, “Never separate the life you live from the words you speak,” and those who knew him best said he honestly tried to follow that advice. (A Midwest political observer said the Right never knew what to do with Wellstone, because he lived “conservative values” at home while working for progressive change in the public sphere.)
Wellstone’s political career began when, as a political science professor at Minnesota’s Carleton College, he started working with farmers to block electric lines forcibly run through their farms—and he continued to organize and agitate on behalf of regular people for the rest of his days.
Bob Hulteen, a longtime Minneapolis-based activist (and a former Sojourners editor), said that Wellstone respected people more deeply than “any politician, or church leader, I’ve ever met—and, maybe most important, he didn’t take himself too seriously.” But Wellstone never underestimated the seriousness of his work for a better world, which is why, a decade after his passing, we asked several people who have been touched by his life in various ways to offer their thoughts on the legacy of a man who continues to offer a model of inspiration, integrity, and hope—attributes that are profoundly needed, in this and any election season.