Vic Rosenthal Obituary – The city of St. Paul named March 18 “Victor Rosenthal Day” Saturday to honor veteran community organizer and social justice advocate Vic Rosenthal, 68. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter praised Rosenthal as a tireless advocate for racial, social, and economic justice, immigrant rights, marriage equality, and voting rights. The proclamation said he “has made St. Paul a more equitable and accessible place to live” by developing affordable housing, providing light rail access, teaching at Metro State University, and advocating for inclusionary zoning.
“Vic’s determination and unwavering spirit have always been matched by a total unwillingness to hear the word no or stop fighting for justice, regardless of political context, adverse weather, illness, or (having been told no in the past),” the mayor wrote. Rosenthal was executive director of the St. Paul-based Jewish Community Action, which fights poverty, racism, and injustice.
He was on the 1995-founded board of directors before that. Rosenthal applied for and received three legacy grants from the Minnesota Historical Society to write a book and organize the archives in the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives to preserve the organization’s history. In a 2021 University of Minnesota article about his archiving work, Rosenthal said that immigration, anti-racism, and white supremacy—which he linked to anti-Semitism—were important to him because his grandparents were immigrants.
“They were both such dynamic and strong campaigns, and among some of the most remarkable efforts I have ever been a part of, since we were anticipated to lose on both, and we won on both,” Rosenthal said of the organization’s 2012 campaigns against the marriage and Voter ID amendments. We won because we had thousands of volunteers from different organizations working together, which doesn’t happen often.”
In a 2013 Twin Cities Daily Planet profile, Rosenthal said he was still energized by the JCA after four decades. “I helped build an organization that makes a difference,” he said in the article. He concludes, “That’s all you can hope for.” According to journalist Wayne Coffey, Rosenthal “is the embodiment of an unsung hero who has made St. Paul and nearby communities a better place to live.”