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Family, friends and community try to "lift your head up" after loss of "key member"

Duluth Branch NAACP/Facebook

Just over a month ago, Xavier Bell was in our KUMD studios for an interview on Northland Morning. 

He walked in with his trademark smile, his cup of coffee, and a hug for the morning host.

The longtime social activist was the director of community engagement for Community Action Duluth before founding the Family Freedom Center in 2014.

There was something about Xavier that was both energizing and at the same time, made you feel you were talking to an old friend.

Community activist Kym Young wrote of her friend:

X taught us about creating social capital in our community. He invested in US! In our young Kings and Queens, our adults and our Elders, monetarily and personally. He made space for US. He gave us a platform of community learning and growth that allowed us all to take part in our futures. He built a table that had a seat for anybody who wanted to come join us. He didn’t just talk the talk-he lived it daily and unapologetically!

That day, just over a month ago, he'd come in to talk about Freedom Start-Ups, a micro-business incubator program to support entrepreneurs Duluth's Black community.

He was excited about it, but you could tell he was also excited about a dozen other projects we had in mind and wanted to talk about.  We made a date to have coffee and brainstorm.

We didn't get to have that coffee.

Xavier Bell died Saturday.  He was 57. 

We will miss his energy, enthusiasm, wisdom and open heart, and the knowledge and insight he was so willing to share with others.  You can find links below this post to several conversations we'd had with him over the years.

There will be a celebration of his life Saturday, November 2, starting at 3 p.m. at the Peace United Church of Christ, 1111 N. 11th Ave. E., where there will be music and dancing and food.

Lisa Johnson started her broadcast career anchoring the television news at her high school and spinning country music at KWWK/KOLM Radio in Rochester, Minnesota. She was a reporter and news anchor at KTHI in Fargo, ND (not to mention the host of a children's program called "Lisa's Lane") and a radio reporter and anchor in Moorhead, Bismarck, Wahpeton and Fergus Falls.Since 1991, she has hosted Northland Morning on KUMD. One of the best parts of her job includes "paying it forward" by mentoring upcoming journalists and broadcasters on the student news team that helps produce Northland Morning. She also loves introducing the different people she meets in her job to one another, helping to forge new "community connections" and partnerships.Lisa has amassed a book collection weighing over two tons, and she enjoys reading, photography, volunteering with Animal Allies Humane Society and fantasizing about farmland. She goes to bed at 8pm, long before her daughter, two cats, or three dogs.
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