January 21, 2013 by meximo70
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….
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.
- In 1890 the black population grew sixfold to over 1,400. Many settled in what was known as the “Rondo” area of St. Paul/Minneapolis.
Mortician Thomas Lyles and Musician James Hilyard started literary clubs and Republican clubs and also the first black newspaper
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
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
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.