Skip to main content

Somali refugee who blazed political trail in Minneapolis dies of leukemia


Hussein Samatar, who fled a civil war in his homeland to become the first Somali-American elected to public office in Minnesota, has died at age 45.

As KARE-11 reports, Samatar lost his fight with leukemia, which doctors diagnosed in March.

A statement from the Minneapolis Public Schools mourned Samatar's passing and praised his commitment to the city's children, especially those in new American communities.

MPR reports Samatar was educated in Somalia but left that country in 1991 amid the war that killed friends and family members. Once settled in Minneapolis he found success in the business world, eventually founding a non-profit group called the African Development Center to help fellow immigrants start businesses.

Samatar was elected to the Minneapolis school board in 2010. MPR says his election was likely the first for a Somali-American in the United States.

Last fall he was considering running for mayor of Minneapolis. But his leukemia diagnosis ended that prospect.

Outgoing Mayor R.T. Rybak was among those who used Twitter to express condolences following Samatar's death.

Next Up

mpd aldi incident screengrab

Video shows MPD officer grab, throw Aldi customer

The department says the matter was referred to the Office of Police Conduct Review.

US Sec Defense Flickr - Joe Bide Nov 11 2021

Biden lays out wintertime plan to curb COVID's spread

It comes as the U.S. reported its second case of the omicron variant.

Willow River DOC

MN Dept. of Corrections offering $5K bonuses as it seeks to hire 200

The DOC is offering hiring bonuses for new employees and for referrals.


3rd federal medical team to join COVID-19 fight in Minnesota

There are more than 1,500 people with COVID-19 admitted to Minnesota hospitals.

hospital, emergency room

Driver killed after other motorist crosses into opposite lane

The head-on crash occurred early Thursday, just north of the Twin Cities.

shot clock

MSHSL approves shot clock for Minnesota varsity basketball

Shot clocks will be required at all varsity games beginning in 2023-24.

Redmons Popcorn Colbert screengrab

Popcorn shop featured on 'The Late Show' has to close 2 days later

A county inspection after the national TV appearance found code violations.

covid, vaccine

Minnesotan infected with omicron was vaccinated, had booster shot

The Hennepin County man received his booster shot in early November.