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Alan Page to speak at BSU next month

BEMIDJI -- A Minnesota icon is scheduled to speak at Bemidji State University next month.

Alan PageAlan Page, who rose to become the state’s first black Supreme Court justice after a legendary career with the Minnesota Vikings, will speak about the value of education from 2 to 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, in the university’s Beaux Arts Ballroom.

Beyond statewide renown on the field and in the courtroom, Page has a personal appeal to one BSU employee in particular. Brian Xiong, who was hired last school year to run the school’s Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, said he thinks of Page as a father figure.

Xiong was one of a growing number of Page Scholars: Minnesota students of color who are awarded $1,000 - $2,500 annually from the Page Education Foundation for post-secondary education, provided that they do so in Minnesota and volunteer for at least 50 hours with students in grades K-8.

Xiong, whose parents passed away when he was a student, said Page encouraged him to work in higher education and helped him as he earned a bachelor’s degree, then a master’s and then a doctoral degree.

“He just told me to just go and I will support you, I am behind you even though you don't have your parents...I'll be here for you,” Xiong recalled Page saying. “So I went all the way, getting my doctor degree from Minnesota State University Mankato, and it's all because of him. He's become a father figure. And someone like that, who inspired me so much -- I think that he needs to share that, his legacy, his story, to other students at BSU.”

Page was on Notre Dame’s 1966 national champion football team and earned All-American honors that year.

He was a stalwart defensive lineman for the Vikings for more than a decade, during which he played in four Super Bowls and was the first defensive player to be named Most Valuable Player while studying law at the University of Minnesota and working at a Minneapolis law firm.

He was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992 and retired in 2015.

Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen covers education (mostly K-12) and American Indian affairs for the Bemidji Pioneer.

He's from Minneapolis, earned a degree from the College of St. Benedict - St. John's University in 2009, and worked at the Perham Focus near Detroit Lakes and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis before heading to the Pioneer.

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