A resource for reliable information about significant people, places, events, and things in Minnesota history. African Americans have lived in Minnesota since the s. The local African American population developed from individuals who were born in the state as well as those who migrated to Minnesota from other states in search of a better life. Despite being subjected to discrimination and inequality, African Americans established communities and institutions that contributed to the vibrancy of the state. This article defines African Americans as Americans who are descendants of enslaved black Africans in the U.
The lynching led to the enactment of an anti-lynch law that had been lobbied for by an African American suffragist and civil rights leader named Nellie Francis.
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Inthe City of Duluth built a memorial to honor the three men who were brutally killed. Housing discrimination was rampant in the Twin Cities, and incidents of racially motivated violence occurred when blacks moved into white neighborhoods.
Lena O. Smiththe first black woman to become an attorney in Minnesota, challenged discrimination in the courts. But discrimination continued. White residents tried to get them to sell their home, but they refused. A mob protested outside their house every night, throwing rocks and black paint, shouting threats and racial slurs, and leaving garbage and excrement on the lawn. The harassment continued for two years until the Lees moved to a historically black neighborhood in south Minneapolis.
There were other sporadic incidents of racially motivated intimidation against blacks when they moved into white neighborhoods, including cross burnings. Racial tensions exploded along Plymouth Avenue in North Minneapolis when blacks demonstrated against discrimination and police brutality.
Employment discrimination was pervasive in Minnesota.
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While some blacks worked in skilled trade jobs as stonecutters and bricklayers, many white employers refused to hire blacks. This limited their opportunities to unskilled jobs as laborers, waiters, cooks, and porters in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Blacks who worked for the railroad as porters organized St. Paul Lodge No.
InA. Philip Randolph organized a national union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; Frank Boy who had worked as a Pullman porter sinceorganized meetings for the Brotherhood in St. Boyd was fired for union organizing. Inthe City of St. Paul dedicated a park in his name. The St. Paul Urban League was founded in to address black unemployment and race discrimination. Cassius organized the all-black waiters union at the Curtis Hotel in Minneapolis in after learning that white waiters made more money than black waiters.
A school in Minneapolis is named after Johnson. In the twenty-first century, most blacks live in Minneapolis and St. Inof theblacks in Minnesota, Minneapolis had the largest population with 71, followed by St.
Paul with 44, While some blacks have achieved success, the Twin Cities continue to have problems with racial disparities and segregation. Due to restrictive covenants and discriminatory housing practices in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, blacks were limited to living in certain areas, which created distinct black communities. In St. In the s, the Rondo neighborhood was destroyed and more than six hundred residents were displaced to make way for Interstate The annual Rondo Days and Jazz Festivals commemorate its history.
In the s, some African Americans moved from Rondo and other historically black neighborhoods to new areas in the Twin Cities and the suburbs. The first black churs were organized in the s.
Pilgrim Baptist Church was founded in ; St. Paul was organized in ; St. Peter Claver Catholic Church was organized in African Americans started community centers that provided housing and employment information and recreational activities.
Brown Community Center in Blacks also founded newspapers and publications.
The Western Appeal and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder were the longest running and most successful. The Western Appeal was published from toand John Q. Adams was its outspoken editor.
Inthe paper celebrated its eightieth anniversary and was designated a historic landmark. From tothere were almost twenty black newspapers published in the state. Inthere are only two: the Spokesman-Recorder and Insight News. In addition to newspapers, Walter Scott Sr. Blacks formed social clubs, fraternal organizations, bowling leagues and baseball teams but were historically excluded from private golf clubs and tournaments.
In response, Jimmie Slemmons created the Minnesota Negro Open golf tournament in to give blacks an opportunity to play and compete. The tournament was renamed the Upper Midwest Bronze Amateur Tournament in and attracted participants from around the country. Former heavyweight champion Joe Louis won the tournament in Outside of Minneapolis and St.
Paul, black communities developed in pockets around Duluth and Fergus Falls in the late s and early s. Blacks moved to Duluth in search of jobs created by the railroad, shipping, and mining industries. John Nichols, who moved to Duluth inowned and operated the City Hotel until his death in InReverend Richmond Taylor founded St.
Many social clubs established in the Twin Cities also had chapters in Duluth. There were black newspapers: the Worl published by P. In the s, the U. Steel Corporation recruited black laborers from the South to work in its Duluth plant. However, many workers left because of low wages, segregated housing, and cold weather. He owned a barbershop, founded the local baseball team, and ran for mayor in Ina group of eighty-five African Americans moved to Fergus Falls from Kentucky after being recruited by real estate agents.
They started farms, opened businesses, founded a church, and built homes, but during the Great Depression in the s, many families faced financial hardship and moved away.
Inonly blacks lived in Fergus Falls. African Americans contributed to and achieved success in medicine, education, law, business, politics, and the arts. Some Minnesota trailblazers were Dr. Robert S. He created the Thermo King portable refrigeration unit, which allowed delivery trucks to keep goods cool.
Archie Givens, a business owner and real estate developer, was the first black millionaire in Minnesota.
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He and his wife, Phebe, established the Archie Givens Sr. Collection of African American Literature at the University of Minnesota, which consists of over 10, books, magazines, and pamphlets by or about African Americans. Blacks excelled in the field of law.
Howard Bennett the first black municipal judge; and Stephen Maxwell the first black district court judge. Pamela Alexander was the first black female prosecutor and first black female judge in Hennepin County.
Davis was the first black federal judge in Minnesota; and Wilhelmina Wright was the first black female federal judge in Minnesota. In politics, John Francis Wheaton was the first black elected to the Minnesota legislature; Neva Walker the first black woman elected to the Minnesota legislature; Van White the first black elected to the Minneapolis City Council; Sharon Sayles Belton the first black and first woman elected Mayor of Minneapolis; Bill Wilson the first black elected to the St.
House of Representatives from Minnesota. Prince Rogers Nelson Princeborn in Minneapolis, was a legendary singer-songwriter, actor, multi-instrumentalist musician, philanthropist, and producer. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Harris and Lewis also wrote and produced hit songs for numerous artists, including Janet Jackson.
Grammy-award-winning Sounds of Blackness, a musical ensemble, started in at Macalester College. Grammy-nominated band Mint Condition was started in the s at St.
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Paul Central High School. Penumbra Theatre, founded in by artistic director Lou Bellamy, is credited with launching the career of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. Anderson Cumberbatch, Jessica. Aslanian, Sasha.
Bachman, Walt. Belz, Adam. Brandt, Steve. Brataas, Anne. Paul Pioneer PressNovember 14, Brown, Curt. Delton, Jennifer A. Aby, - Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, Elliott, Paige.
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Foley, Ellen. Green, William D. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, Guo, Jeff. Hendricks, Henry. Heidenrieich, Douglas R. Hightower, Clarence.
Hoffbeck, Steven, ed. Swinging for the Fences: Black Baseball in Minnesota. Kerr, Euan. Kelly, Suzanne. Klauda, Paul. Melo, Frederick. Paul Pioneer PressFebruary 9, Montemayor, Stephen. Judge in Historic Appointment. Nelson, Paul D.
Fredrick L. Phifer, Ivan. Rietmulder, Michael. Shefchik, Rick. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, Sorem, Bill. Taylor, David Vassar. African Americans in Minnesota. Races in Duluth, MN, Races in Fergus Falls, MN, Races in Roster, MN, Federal Census Bureau records for,,, and Paul, - Appleford, Steve.
Arnold, Jennifer. Hage, David. Juergens, Ann. Mackay, Jack.
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Paul Pioneer PressOctober 25, Morison, Bradley. Paul Description: Cassius discusses his career as founder and organizer of the all-black waiters union, Local of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union, his career as an entrepreneur owning restaurants, and his involvement in civic affairs.
OH Description: Johnson discusses her career as founder and organizer of Hotel and Restaurant International Union, Localher activities in the DFL party, and blacks in the union movement.
Pareles, Jon. Shoop, Jim. Penumbra Theatre at Minnesota Historical Society, Volante, Alisha J. Paul, MN: s to Current. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Worrall, Jean. Fedo, Michael.
The Lynchings in Duluth. Mahala, Macelle.
Scott, Walter. Centennial Edition of the Minneapolis Beacon. Minneapolis: Scott Publishing, VanderVelde, Lea. New York: Oxford University Press, Weber, Laura. The population grew from individuals born in the state as well as those who migrated to Minnesota from other states in search of a better life. In the late s and early s, African Americans founded churs, newspapers, community centers, and labor unions.
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