Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: No, Not Martin Luther Who Started the Reformation…


January 21, 2013 by meximo70

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have heard, in certain circles, that Minnesota is the “whitest” state in the continental United States. Perhaps that’s true, but on this day where we celebrate the life of one man who had a dream that all men, no matter what color, could live as equals among each other; lets look at how African Americans faired in HotDish Hell through out history….

  • Stephen Bonga

    Stephen Bonga

    In 1802, the first black fur traders were born in Duluth, MN. Pierre and Stephen Bonga.

  • In 1820, some of the first freed slaves came to Fort Snelling. One of those settlers, Eliza Winston, was the first and only black member of the St. Paul Settlers Association.
  • In 1849, when Minnesota became a U.S. Territory, there were 40 recorded free persons living in MN. 30 of them lived in St. Paul and Maria Hayes, was the only black person living in St. Anthony which is present day Minneapolis. By 1863, 78 more African Americans moved to Minneapolis.
  • From the 1860’s to the 1870’s, the African American population tripled, as many freed and fugitive slaves migrated to Minnesota for work and land.
  • martinlutherkingrondoareaIn 1890 the black population grew sixfold to over 1,400. Many settled in what was known as the “Rondo” area of St. Paul/Minneapolis.
  • James Hilyard

    James Hilyard

    Mortician Thomas Lyles and Musician James Hilyard started literary clubs and Republican clubs and also the first black newspaper

    Thomas Lyles

    Thomas Lyles

    called “The Appeal” in 1902. These two were instrumental in bringing black professionals to Minnesota, including the state’s first black criminal lawyer Dr. Valdo Turner, and John Quincy Adams who edited “The Appeal”.

  • Dr. Robert S. Brown was the first black doctor to practice in
    John Quincy Adams

    John Quincy Adams

    MN. J. Frank Wheaton was the first black to be appointed to the Minnesota State legislature in 1899.

  • Clubs and foundations were started in the early 1900’s to help the black population in education and vocation. Two
    J. Frank Wheaton

    J. Frank Wheaton

    new black newspapers were started.

  • The war caused a need for a labor force in the Twin Cities. Thousands of blacks migrated to Minnesota for work. Because of the increase of wages, many African American families in Minnesota were able to afford college for their children.
  • Minnesota African Americans by 1950 had the lowest rate of illiteracy in the United States.

In 1970, African Americans made up 1% of the population of Minnesota with over 35,000. Today, that number has tripled.


In the advent of Black History Month, i am in awe of the efforts of those who helped integrate Minnesota to be a welcoming place to African Americans everywhere.


6 thoughts on “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: No, Not Martin Luther Who Started the Reformation…

  1. Lill Robinson says:

    Great reading on a great day. LKR

  2. Jack Flacco says:

    I enjoy reading history. Doesn’t matter what it is, I just enjoy reading about the past and the lives of people, how they settled into a place, raised their families and how they achieved success. Having said that, this post does an excellent job documenting the immigration of black professionals in Minnesota. I enjoyed it. Loved reading about Mortician Thomas Lyles. You made me google him, which, in turn, revealed a slew of info. I found he arrived in St. Paul and worked as a barber in 1874. Then opened a real estate agency in 1887. And finally, in 1906, he became a mortician. Once he died in 1920, his wife Amanda continued to run the funeral parlor. Like I said, I find that stuff fascinating. 🙂

    • meximo70 says:

      Hey, Jack! History was one of my favorite subjects in school. I think it’s because my teachers were so passionate about history that it just lit my fire for it.
      Any chance i get to do research on a subject regarding history, i’m rabid about it. I used to write college papers just for fun on topics regarding history. i should dig out my old “real history of Christmas” paper i wrote a few years ago. oh that was pure bliss!

      • Jack Flacco says:

        Haha! You should post the real story of Christmas! Years back, I did the same thing. I was just curious. I mean, what on earth does a Christmas tree have anything to do with Jesus’ birth? I found out all sorts of gnarly things like Jesus wasn’t even born on Dec. 25th. If anything, he was born in October because the shepherds still had the sheep and hadn’t brought them in for the winter. Or the star on the tree is actually Baal worship, or the presents had to do with an ancient festival named Lupercalia or, or, or…lol Aw, heck, you already know that anyway! But it is a great story to tell 🙂

      • meximo70 says:

        yes, the festival of Saturnalia. The Romans practiced 12 days of debauchery, at the end of the festival (DEC 25) they would choose one person to be used as a sacrifice to appease the Gods. Usually killed with mistletoe. When the christians got involved and tried to change things, they allowed the debauchery but asked to keep the 25th holy as an observance of Christ’s birth. Some Roman precincts kept the end sacrifice, but killed jews instead of their own. oh, fine, i’m going to figure out how to present my Christmas Story in HotDish Hell style…

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