St. Paul's oldest African-American neighborhood is named after French Canadian fur trader Joseph Rondeau. After the civil war and during the reconstruction period in the south, many African Americans sought a better life and moved north. Some arrived in St. Paul, Minnesota, where jobs in the railroad and lumber industries were plentiful.
Starting a new life on Rondo Avenue, residents became entrepreneurs, opening businesses and catering to the local community. Bonds were formed and frienships developed. A tight-knit neighborhood of people committed to education and opportunity evolved. Families looked out for one another.
Then in the 1960s, construction of Interstate 94 divided Rondo--shattering the community and displacing thousands of African Americans into a racially segregated city and discriminatory housing market. It radically changed the landscape, and erased a now-legendary neighborhood.
Rondo still exists and its persistence and growth are celebrated through events like Rondo Days and the Jazz Festival.
On Wednesday, Feb 19, at 7:30pm, MinneCulture presents an audio documentary on the History of Rondo, produced by Allison Herrera with assistance from Stuart Rosen. MinneCulture is made possible by a grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Photos courtesy of the Minnesota History Center and Allison Herrera.