Savor Black Minnesota history: 12 notable landmarks

James L. Stroud, Jr./MSR News Arthur Lee Memorial on 4600 Columbus Avenue South in Minneapolis.

Monument speaks to a turbulent time

“Nobody asked me to move out when I was in France fighting in mud and water for this country. I came out here to make this house my home. I have a right to establish a home.” —Arthur Lee, July 16, 1931

The powerful quotation above from Arthur Lee rests on a monument bearing his likeness. For visitors of the site, it serves as a poignant reminder of systemic racism suffered by the Lee family when they integrated what was then an all-White neighborhood. 

In 1931, the Lee family endured picketing, threats, racial epithets and angry mobs that sometimes grew to several thousand when they moved to 4600 Columbus in South Minneapolis. 

Arthur Lee, a World War I veteran and a postal worker, found solace and protection for his family from other veterans and co-workers, some of whom were White. The police also protected the house for a year and eventually the crowds thinned. But after two years of turmoil, the Lees moved on to a predominantly African American neighborhood in Minneapolis.

The Arthur Lee monument, unveiled in 2011 with a big community celebration and commemorative ceremony, honors the pain, determination, and courage of the Lee family, and also serves as an acknowledgement of a turbulent point in the history of Minnesota race relations.

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