African Americans have charted a unique and storied path in Minnesota. Scroll through the pages below for a glimpse of history told through notable landmarks.
Sixty years ago, Interstate Highway 94 split through the heart of Saint Paul’s primarily African American Rondo neighborhood, dislocating many people and businesses. On Saturday, July 14, 2018, hundreds gathered for the opening ceremony of the Rondo Commemorative Plaza, which was created to honor the Rondo community and educate the youth about its history.
St. Paul historian and Rondo Days co-founder Marvin Roger Anderson partnered with activist Nathaniel Khaliq to transform a vacant plot at 820 Concordia Avenue into a community memorial.
The Plaza features a timeline documenting Rondo’s history, along with a list of the families who lost property after the construction. According to Anderson, the neighborhood was one of about 2500 neighborhoods that were displaced between 1949 and 1973, of which the overwhelming majority were African American. “Our commemorative plaza is the nation’s first plaza constructed to commemorate a community that was destroyed by urban renewal and freeway construction.”
MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle formally apologized to attendees on behalf of the State of Minnesota for the construction of Interstate 94. It’s “something [that] should never have happened,” he said. “We’ve learned our lessons. It’s not about just the past, it’s about where we are now and how to go forward.”