A local leader writes “A love letter to the cultural mingling of the Twin Cities”

This article was written by Amanda Dobbs

The first time I heard Dante Jamar Pirtle’s voice was over the bullhorn, bright and early at 7 a.m. Above the sound of cars coming and going, the fire crackling, and the low din of conversation, Daunte’s voice rang true in those crisp, cold mornings during the Minneapolis Educator Strike. His motivational speeches gave others hope, even though he never uses the word ‘hope’ himself. After hearing him speak, I needed to hear more so I asked him for an interview for the Camden News. At first the topic was going to be about our amazing educators and what they need to thrive. After chatting during our first interview, I knew that this is a special story that the community should hear.

Dante doesn’t use the word ‘hope’ because he says that instead he focuses on the ‘now’. He knows that we are trying to build solid change after years of redlining. The lack of resources in underserved communities has led many people to have the “dog eat dog” mentality. Dante believes that we need to grow from the fixed mindset to a growth mindset. He has seen the fruition of his work through the students he’s seen grow and mature. One student even exclaimed during an epiphany of understanding, “Mr. Dante! I get it!” Moments like those are what make the job of an ESP in Minneapolis Public Schools worth it.

Though he currently works in education, Dante Pirtle is also a military veteran. During his time in the military, he learned many skills and most importantly he learned to always keep going. He says that, “You can’t keep a veteran down, it’s that mindset that keeps me going. I ask myself how do I keep people motivated?”

On top of the incredible community work that he engages in, Dante is also an accomplished playwright. His play Urban Musical is “a love letter to the cultural mingling of the Twin Cities.” It is based on a story about a boy growing up in the ‘80s during the era when Hip Hop radio stations set the scene in the cities. There has always been a mingling that seems to happen in the Twin Cities. According to Dante, “We are all dancing as one particular unit but you learn from one another. We teach each other new steps.” The play itself is set in the current day; a radio station is closing and the protagonists discuss current Hip Hop culture on closing day.

He is working hard to bring this play to the community and fundraising is an important part of getting this show to the stage. If $20,000 can be raised, he could get the show going by September. To learn more about this play find info on Facebook at facebook.com/wordtheurbanmusical or follow him on Instagram at instagram/dauntejamarisfocused. There you can find info about the Go Fund Me page and upcoming events. 

Dante Jamar Pirtle’s next project is about a high school in a Black neighborhood named after a problematic historical figure. This historical figure had spent some time in office but just because he served in office doesn’t make him worthy of having a school named after him, especially because he regularly participated in racist activities. This next play will focus on certain events surrounding the #ChangeTheName campaign. Though he has yet to reveal the name of this next production, we eagerly await its debut. 

The Camden neighborhoods are full of talented amazing folks. Dante Jamar Pirtle’s work with the youth at Henry High School touches the lives of many as he provides compassionate support to the students and families that he works with. His work as a playwright elevates what is beautiful about our community and challenges us to make it better. This local leader tells so many stories to uplift others…we celebrate his story.