Youth from St. Paul’s historic Rondo neighborhood are getting a lesson in history and film production via a new documentary, Rondo: Beyond the Pavement.
Led by Emmy award–winning filmmaker Bianca Rhodes and audio maker Katharine DeCelle, 10 youth worked to capture the stories of families torn apart following construction of I-94 through the thriving, predominantly Black neighborhood during the late ’50s and early ’60s and how that impact continues today.
The stories were captured by St. Paul’s High School for Recording Arts students Aubriana Jackson, Jasmine McBride, Angelo Bush, Jose Quintanilla, Harvey Bradley, Deonte Jones, Charles Miller, Amina DeLeon, Destiny Roberts and Jevrye Morris.
“Learning about what happened in the Rondo community while interviewing those who witnessed their homes being destroyed was heartbreaking,” said Morris. “It was astounding the resilience they showed.
“It lit a fire in me. Rondo never stopped trying to rebuild what was there,” he continued. “It gave me a lot of confidence in myself to go after what I love to do in life. I learned that I-94 going through Rondo was a power struggle to limit what the Black community could actually do. It didn’t stop us at all.”
The multigenerational project was conceived by Storymobile, led by director Melvin Giles and manager Darius Gray, to collect and preserve the historical memory of the Rondo neighborhood. Georgia Fort provided transcription services and additional editing. Clarence White and Kemet Imhotep provided additional mentoring.
“If we know who we are and who we came from, it helps us to go forward in our lives,” said Donna Evans, who was impacted by the construction. “If we know nothing about our history, then how are we to know about our future?”
A 30-minute film screening will take place Saturday, Nov. 3 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at SPNN studios located at 550 Vandalia Street, Suite 170 in Saint Paul. It will immediately be followed by a Q&A session with the youth filmmakers and their teachers and mentors.
The screening is presented by Saint Paul Almanac, in partnership with SPNN and High School for Recording Arts (HSRA) and is free and open to the public. To RSVP, go here.