As the focus of the NFL turns to Canton, Ohio, for Hall of Fame Weekend, one of the city's native sons, Vikings Hall of Famer and retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page is preparing for multiple upcoming events in the Twin Cities.
Page, who will turn 72 on Aug. 7, has a busy late summer/early fall in the works.
On Sept. 1, he will attend the Justice Page Middle School dedication. The school is changing its name from Alexander Ramsey Middle School after a campaign organized by students.
On Sept. 9, the Page Education Foundation will hold its 30th Anniversary Gala in the Hyundai Club at U.S. Bank Stadium. Signed copies of Grandpa Alan's Sugar Shack, the third children's book written by Alan and his daughter Kamie, will be released that night. A limited number of books will be paired with a bottle of Page's Lake Washburn Maple Syrup.
The Page Education Foundation was created by Alan and his wife, Diane, when Page was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame 1988. It has raised $13 million to provide financial support to more than 6,500 Page Scholars who have volunteered 420,000-plus hours of service.
Page has made a significant commitment to increasing educational opportunities for persons of color through the grants and mentoring.
He and Diane also have collected artifacts, some more than a century old and others dating to the "Jim Crow" South, of the African-American experience.
The Pages will be loaning artifacts to the renovated Minnesota State Capitol for an exhibit called "Testify. African-Americana from the Collection of Diane and Alan Page." The exhibit is scheduled to debut in September and be on display for six months.
It has been two years since Page's retirement from the Minnesota Supreme Court, which has an age limit of 70, and 25 years since he became the first African-American to be elected to the state's high court.
Page's election, time on the court and post-football achievements were recently featured in an episode of *Almanac *on Twin Cities Public Television.
*Almanac's *Mary Lahammer interviewed Page, asking how he completed his law degree during his time as a Viking and revisiting challenges he faced in his campaign.
"For all of your young viewers, I'd say it's unusual but not impossible. People are quite capable of doing more than one thing at once," Page said of graduating from the University of Minnesota's Law School in 1978, his 12th season in the NFL.
Page said opponents tried to use football and race against him.
"The theme became, 'He's just a football player,' implicit but unstated, actually on occasion stated, 'He's just a dumb football player,' " Page recalled. "Implicit but unstated, 'He's just a dumb, black football player,' so there were those who questioned my abilities."
He prevailed in 1992 after a legal decision and garnered overwhelming support in 1998 when he was up for reelection.
"For me, it was never about showing [critics]," Page told Lahammer. "I've had the good fortune to understand when you seek out excellence, whether you achieve it or not, when you seek it, you expand who you are."