The groundbreaking for the Rondo Commemorative Plaza took place Friday, October 14 in St. Paul. Elected officials, Founders of Rondo Avenue Inc. and community members gathered at a vacant lot on Concordia Avenue — formerly Rondo Avenue — for the occasion. The lot faces I-94, the freeway that destroyed the old Rondo Neighborhood, home to nearly 80 percent of African Americans in St. Paul from the 1930s to the 1960s.
The plaza seeks to “honor the past, seek reconciliation and look to the future” engaging visitors with a multi-media presentation that includes audio-video remembrances of the social, political and cultural life of the “Golden Age” of Rondo, according to organizers.
“The destruction of Rondo was a wound that has never quite healed,” said Marvin Anderson, project coordinator and co-founder of Rondo Avenue Inc. in a press release. “This plaza is an attempt to move forward into an era of reconciliation, and a future that welcomes a growing diversity of immigrant communities to the neighborhood.”
(Below, video highlights from the event by Phil McGraw)
T. Mychael Rambo served as emcee for the program, and the keynote speakerwas a son of Rondo, David V. Taylor, Ph.D., a historian and former dean of the General College of the University of Minnesota. He delivered remarks entitled: “Hallowed Ground:Sites of African American Memories.”
Construction is expected to begin in the spring and be completed by next year’s Rondo Days Festival in July. Funds for the purchase of the land and the construction of the plaza came from a $250,000 Community Block Development Grant from the City of St. Paul, and financial support from the F. G. Bigelow Foundation, Mardag Foundation, Saint Paul Foundation, Knight Family Foundation, 3M African-American Employee Network and the Price Family Foundation, according to press materials.
A reception at Hallie Q. Brown Community Center followed the groundbreaking. Visit https://rondoavenueinc.org/rondo-plaza for more information.
See more photos below by Phil McGraw of Brown Eye Lens. McGraw welcomes reader comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.