When Sidney Frye II moved to Rochester as an elementary school student, it was rare for him to see another person of color outside of his own family of seven. Not only did Frye not have teachers that looked like him, but his fellow classmates did not look like him either. Although trips to Walmart might have been frequent, seeing another person of color there was a big deal when it happened.

Prior to his current role as program manager for Olmsted County’s Diversity, Equity, and Community Outreach team, Frye’s work with the PACE (Parents and Children Excel) program taught him that while the students have become more diverse, there is still not much diversity within the education system.

Many people of color in Rochester finish school, go to college and find a diverse community where they feel more comfortable rather than returning to Rochester. Frye and most of his siblings bucked that trend and returned to the area after graduating from college. After marrying his wife Psalms 11 years ago, Frye wanted to raise his children in a safe community and help solve equity and diversity issues in Rochester.

Frye believes it is important to have workplace environments that are authentically welcoming and a more collective effort needs to be made to support Black entrepreneurs and attract people of color to Rochester long term in high impact areas such as teachers, social workers, and mental health professionals.

To learn more about Frye’s experiences growing up in a mostly-white community, why he chose to return after college, and how he has seen Rochester change over the past 25 years, listen to this week’s episode of The Other Side of the Table, Season 2, episode #6 Sidney Frye II. There’s a bonus clip at the end of the podcast about Frye’s unusual collection of unique socks that landed him an upcoming feature in the Post Bulletin’s Your Style column.

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