Demographics of St. Paul
White Black Native American Asian Hispanic
Total Population 66.5% 13.9% 0.8% 12.3% 8.7%
FACTS ABOUT ST. PAUL
1.St. Paul is the capital and second-most populous city of the US state of Minnesota. The city lies mostly on the north bank of the Mississippi River, downstream of the river's confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Minneapolis. The city's population was estimated to be 287,151.
2.On August 20, 1904, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes damaged hundreds of downtown buildings, causing USD $1.78 million ($43.37 million present-day) in damages to the city and ripping spans from the High Bridge. In the 1960s, during urban renewal, Saint Paul razed western neighborhoods close to downtown. The city also contended with the creation of the interstate freeway system in a fully built landscape. From 1959 to 1961, the western Rondo neighborhood was demolished by the construction of Interstate 94, which brought attention to racial segregation and unequal housing in northern cities. The annual Rondo Days celebration commemorates the African American community.
3.River Centre, attached to Xcel Energy Center, serves as the city's convention center. The city has contributed to the music of Minnesota and the Twin Cities music scene through various venues. Great jazz musicians have passed through the influential Artists' Quarter, first established in the 1970s in Whittier, Minneapolis until it moved to downtown Saint Paul in 1994. Artists' Quarter also hosts the Soap boxing Poetry Slam, home of the 2009 National Poetry Slam Champions.
4.The St. Paul Saints is the city's semi-professional baseball team. Originally founded in 1884, they were shut down in 1961 after the Minnesota Twins moved to Minneapolis. The St. Paul Saints were brought back in 1993 as an independent baseball team in the Northern League of the American Association. Their home games are played at open-air Midway Stadium in Energy Park in the northwest section of the city. Four noted Major League All Star baseball players are natives of Saint Paul: Hall of Fame outfielder Dave Winfield, Hall of Fame infielder Paul Molitor, pitcher Jack Morris, and catcher Joe Mauer. The all-black St. Paul Colored Gophers played four seasons in Saint Paul from 1907 to 1911.
5. Saint Paul has a continental climate typical of the Upper Midwestern United States. Winters are frigid and snowy, while summer is hot and humid. As a consequence of Saint Paul's continental climate it experiences one of the greatest ranges of temperatures on earth for any major city. Due to its northerly location in the United States and lack of large bodies of water to moderate the air, Saint Paul is sometimes subjected to cold Arctic air masses, especially during late December, January, and February. The average annual temperature of 45.4 °F gives the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area the coldest annual mean temperature of any major metropolitan area in the continental U.S.
2. New York
9. New Orleans
17. Saint Louis
21. Los Angeles
23. San Francisco
KBEM 88.5 FM Minneapolis, MN Jazz
KMOJ 89.9 FM Minneapolis, MN Urban Contemporary
KFAI 90.3 FM Minneapolis, MN Variety
W225AP (KFXN) 92.9 FM Saint Paul, MN Sports
W227BF (KLOV) 93.3 FM Christian Contemporary
KDWB 101.3 FM Richfield, MN Top-40
WGVX 105.1 FM Lakeville, MN Oldies
WGVZ 105.7 FM Eden Prairie, MN Oldies
KWNG 105.9 FM Red Wing, MN Classic Hits
K294AM (KFAI) 106.7 FM West Saint Paul, MN Variety
KTMY 107.1 FM Coon Rapids, MN Talk
KQQL 107.9 FM Anoka, MN Classic Hits
KQSP 1530 AM Shakopee, MN Rhythmic Oldies
K273BH (KDWB) 102.5 FM Fridley, MN Top-40
A Touch of History
innesota's African American history begins with pioneers who trapped, traded and developed lasting relationships with the Indian nations. In the 1790s, Pierre Bongo (Bonga or Bungo), a free black fur trader, came to the territory and married an Ojibwe woman. Their son, George Bonga, born in 1802, was Minnesota's first recorded African American birth. George became a fur trader, too, as well as an important interpreter who helped negotiate agreements between the Ojibwe and the U.S.
From these beginnings shaped by economic opportunity and relative freedom, Minnesota's African American history was forged. This tour highlights Saint Paul's history as a point of entry for African Americans who came seeking new beginnings and new paradigms from which to create new lives. Here are just some of the stories of individuals and institutions that helped to shape Minnesota's capital city
1.Arnellia's - Category: Jazz/Soul Food Restaurants - The lights are perpetually turned down low and the jazz is always hot at Arnellia's - 1183 University Avenue West, Saint Paul, MN (651) 642-5975
2.Joke Joint Comedy Club - Category: Comedy Clubs - 801 Sibley Memorial Highway, St. Paul (Lilydale), MN (651) 330-9078 - (visit website)
3.The Artists' Quarter - Category: Clubs - A nice jazz place in downtown - 408 Saint Peter Street (at 7th Place, inside the Hamm Building) (651) 292-1359
4.The Soul Tight Committee - Category: Entertainment - The Soul Tight Committee is a ten piece band whose members have found a common love for the old school soul, R & B and dance music of the 70's. - 923 Edmund Ave, Saint Paul, MN (651) 647-0247 - (visit website)
Minnesota State Fair - (mid-August through Labor Day) - (visit website)
Good times and fun for all! One of the largest state fairs in the US.
Rondo Days - (April) - Events that are held include a parade that is located on the old Rondo neighborhood that features a parade in the daytime where a number of drill teams participate prior to the evening's drill team competition.Also people from the community come and join to watch and have a fun time. - (visit website)
Rondo Days is an annual weekend festival held in Saint Paul, Minnesota that commemorates the Rondo neighborhood, an African-American community that was split in two by the construction of Interstate 94 in the mid-1960s. The festival has grown since its inception in 1982 to become the second largest African American sponsored festival in Minnesota.
Saint Paul Winter Carnival - (January) Events take place in Downtown and Como Park. - (visit website)
Celebrating Saint Paul's unique history and emerging heritage through fun and educational experiences.
Taste of Minnesota - (July) - Takes place every year at Harriet Island, just south of Downtown.
Features numerous stages for musical performances.
1.First Baptist Church of Saint Paul - 499 Wacouta Street, St Paul, MN (651) 222-0718 - (visit website)
2.Pilgrim Baptist Church - 732 Central Ave W, St Paul, MN (651) 227-3220.
3.St. James AME Church - 624 W. Central, St Paul, MN (651) 227-4151.
4.St. Peter Claver - 1060 W Central Ave, St Paul, MN (651) 646-1797 - (visit website)
AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE
African American Heritage: Points of Entry
From "Points of Entry: The African American Heritage Guide to Saint Paul," by CultureBrokers Foundation, Inc.
The first significant point of entry for African Americans was in bondage to officers stationed at Fort Snelling. Although slavery was never legal in Minnesota, Army officers were allowed to bring their slaves into the territory. Once here, some…
Saint Paul Early Settler, 1799-1884 - James Thompson arrived at Fort Snelling as a slave in 1827. He married an Ojibwe woman and learned the language. In the 1830s, he was hired by missionary Alfred Brunson as an interpreter. Thompson's…
Robert Thomas Hickman
(1831-1900) When the steamboat Northern arrived in 1863 carrying labor and equipment to defuse a Dakota Indian uprising, it also towed a raft of 76 ex-slaves that had been found drifting. The ex-slaves (considered contraband at the time) called…
Lower (Lambert's) Landing
In the 1800s Saint Paul served as the head of navigation on the Mississippi River. The lower landing provided entry for most of the people and goods coming North. Like many early groups to the region, African Americans settled near the river banks to…
Even though pre-Civil War legislation attempted to restrict the movement of African Americans to Minnesota, free blacks and fugitive slaves continued to come. The highest concentration of blacks resided in the downtown commercial districts where jobs…
Frederick L. McGhee
Minnesota's First African American Lawyer (1861-1912) - One long-gone home, at 665 University Ave., was the residence of African-American leader Frederick McGhee. The McGhee home was a showplace. The large wooden home had open porches and a…
Many skilled black artisans were recruited to Saint Paul to work on buildings going up in the early 1900s. Many of them arrived from Georgia with the marble used in those buildings. Casiville Bullard, a master stonemason, helped build such Saint Paul…
Roy Wilkins Auditorium
A block from Rice Park stands the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Renamed in 1984 for the executive director of the NAACP and longtime civil rights advocate, the auditorium has been an important venue for live entertainment since 1932. Entertainers booked…
Nellie Griswold Francis
A Powerful Political Influence (1874-1969) - Nellie Griswold Francis, wife to William T. Francis (the first black to receive a diplomatic appointment), was a strong political influence in her own right. After leaving her job at West Publishing…
African American Pullman Porters
People arriving in Saint Paul between 1900 and 1940 generally came by train through the Union Depot. In its heyday, this neoclassical structure served 282 trains and 20,000 passengers daily. The depot is significant both as a point of entry for…
African Americans in Office
The State Capitol and Mall represent an interesting political history for Minnesota's African Americans. In 1868, the state's black population reached 759 people. That year, the state amended its constitution to allow blacks to vote in…
Most of the original Rondo Avenue and much of the historic Rondo neighborhood were destroyed when Interstate 94 was built. The street was named for an early settler, Joseph Rondeau. Part of the original street is now the frontage road near the Best…
Hallie Q. Brown Community Center
In 1914 the Union Hall Association was created to meet the needs of the growing black community and to improve relationships with the white community. It built the Hallie Q. Brown Community House between Mackubin and Kent to house its programs. The…
Urban League Building
The first employment services for African Americans seeking entry into the local workforce were delivered out of barbershops and beauty parlors. Most important of these was the Hall Brothers Barbershop. S. Edward and O.C. Hall serviced white…
Frank Boyd Park
Located on the north side of Selby Avenue between Virginia and Farrington Streets, this pleasant, tree-filled square-block park honors St Paul's outstanding African American union leader. In 1973 the Ramsey Hill Association proposed naming the…
Education and Athletic Achievement
The intersection of Lexington and Marshall represents two points of entry by African Americans: education and athletic achievement. In Saint Paul, access to educational institutions was generally available to African Americans, resulting in one of…
"The Dred Scott Decision"
he first significant point of entry for African Americans was in bondage to officers stationed at Fort Snelling. Although slavery was never legal in Minnesota, Army officers were allowed to bring their slaves into the territory. Once here, some slaves sought freedom. The most famous case of this is that of Dred & Harriet Scott. After their owner's death in 1846, the couple, then living in St. Louis, sued for their freedom on the grounds that they had once lived on free soil, including Minnesota. Their case resulted in the infamous 1857 Dred Scott Decision, which held that no black person had ever been, nor could be, a citizen of the United States. This decision propelled the country toward Civil War and launched an influx of African Americans into Minnesota.
Saint Paul Early Settler, 1799-1884 -
James Thompson arrived at Fort Snelling as a slave in 1827. He married an Ojibwe woman and learned the language. In the 1830s, he was hired by missionary Alfred Brunson as an interpreter. Thompson's success on Brunson's behalf prompted the missionary to purchase Thompson's freedom. Thompson became one of Saint Paul's first settlers and a man of property. He eventually donated materials and money in the 1840s for the construction of the city's first Methodist church, formerly at 352 Market Street in downtown Saint Paul.
"Robert Thomas Hickman"
831-1900)When the steamboat Northern arrived in 1863 carrying labor and equipment to defuse a Dakota Indian uprising, it also towed a raft of 76 ex-slaves that had been found drifting. The ex-slaves (considered contraband at the time) called themselves "Pilgrims." They were met by hostile white dock workers and were taken to Fort Snelling for their protection. Soon, they were joined by a second group of 218 escaped slaves. While some settled near the fort, the remainder, led by dynamic preacher Robert T. Hickman returned to Saint Paul. Three years later they founded Pilgrim Baptist Church, one of the oldest continuous black congregations in the state.
"Lower (Lambert's) Landing"
n the 1800s Saint Paul served as the head of navigation on the Mississippi River. The lower landing provided entry for most of the people and goods coming North. Like many early groups to the region, African Americans settled near the river banks to ensure steady work and food. The river was also a route along the Underground Railroad, providing passage to slaves escaping to Canada.
ven though pre-Civil War legislation attempted to restrict the movement of African Americans to Minnesota, free blacks and fugitive slaves continued to come. The highest concentration of blacks resided in the downtown commercial districts where jobs and affordable rents were more readily available. Most workers were relegated to occupations as porter, waiter and laborer. But some blacks owned successful businesses.
One of those entrepreneurs was Robert James Hilyard, who established a popular clothing store and used his success to develop several black institutions. These included the first Masonic Lodge for African Americans in Minnesota and the "Western Appeal," launched in 1885 as Minnesota's first black newspaper. Another was Thomas H. Lyles, one of the city's wealthier citizens, who pursued ventures in real estate, publishing and mortuary sciences. Highly persuasive, Lyles recruited Frederick L. McGhee, and Dr. ValDo (Valdo) Turner, Saint Paul's first African American lawyer and doctor, respectively, to relocate here. Lyle's wife, Amanda, was also influential. She opened The Hair Bazaar at 4th and Wabasha Streets and managed the funeral parlor after her husband's death.
"Frederick L. McGhee"
Minnesota's First African American Lawyer (1861-1912)
One long-gone home, at 665 University Ave., was the residence of African-American leader Frederick McGhee. The McGhee home was a showplace. The large wooden home had open porches and a large balcony. It had bay and stained glass windows and was three stories tall at its highest point. McGhee lived there with his wife and daughter.
McGhee had humble beginnings. The son of slaves grew up to be one of the nation’s first African-American lawyers, a writer, and a pioneer in early desegregation and civil rights cases. Several histories state that he was the first African-American criminal lawyer west of the Mississippi River. He was a contemporary of Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois.
McGhee was born in Mississippi. He attended Knoxville College in Tennessee, and graduated with a degree in law in 1885. After practicing law in Chicago he moved to Saint Paul and became Minnesota’s first black lawyer admitted to the bar. He holds that same “first” in Tennessee and Illinois. He was a highly skilled and sought-after attorney. He is well-known for winning clemency from President Benjamin Harrison for a client who was a black soldier. The soldier was falsely accused of a crime.
McGhee was also a strong advocate for improving race relations and was active at the national level in discussions of racial equality and social justice. In 1905, McGhee, Du Bois and others formed one of the first national civil rights organizations, the Niagara Movement. This opposed the conservative actions and views of Washington. The Niagara Movement was the forerunner of the NAACP.
McGhee was an active republican and was chosen as a presidential elector for Minnesota in 1892. He was replaced due to protests from white Republicans. He quit the party a year later and became a Democratic Party (United States) member. This was another first as almost all prominent Blacks were Republicans.
Although his father was a Baptist minister, McGhee converted to Catholicism at a time when the vast majority of African Americans were Baptists. He was very active in Saint Peter Claver Church.
McGhee died in 1912, at age 50, of pleurisy. A plaque about McGhee is displayed at Western Bank on University Avenue.
any skilled black artisans were recruited to Saint Paul to work on buildings going up in the early 1900s. Many of them arrived from Georgia with the marble used in those buildings. Casiville Bullard, a master stonemason, helped build such Saint Paul icons as the current State Capitol, St. Paul Cathedral, and City Hall. His descendants still live and lead in Saint Paul alongside the progeny of other stonecutters, bricklayers and masons. Some of the buildings they worked on still exist around downtown's Rice Park, including Landmark Center, Saint Paul Public Library and The Saint Paul Hotel.
ROY WILKINS AUDITORIUM
block from Rice Park stands the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Renamed in 1984 for the executive director of the NAACP and longtime civil rights advocate, the auditorium has been an important venue for live entertainment since 1932. Entertainers booked there have included Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington, B.B. King and Herbie Hancock. The original building was designed by Minnesota's first African American municipal architect, Clarence W. Wigington, whose other buildings, Harriet Island Pavilion and Highland Water Tower, are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Roy Wilkins (1901-1981) was born in St. Louis, and raised in Saint Paul by his relatives. Educated at the University of Minnesota, Wilkins went on to edit NAACP's Crisis magazine and eventually lead the national institution. For his work, he received the country's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President Lyndon B. Johnson. Saint Paul boasts two memorials to the "favorite son" of Minnesota: one at the interior entrance to the Roy Wilkins Auditorium and a large interactive monument on the State Capitol Mall.
"Nellie Griswold Francis"
Powerful Political Influence (1874-1969)
ellie Griswold Francis, wife to William T. Francis (the first black to receive a diplomatic appointment), was a strong political influence in her own right. After leaving her job at West Publishing Company in 1914, this Saint Paul activist devoted her energy to securing women's right to vote. No sooner was the 19th amendment passed than Nellie Francis turned her attention to drafting and lobbying for passage of Minnesota's anti-lynching law. Within a year of the infamous Duluth lynchings of 1920, the Minnesota law was passed with little opposition.
Francis's name, along with twenty-four other Minnesota women who contributed their efforts to the women's suffrage movement are commemorated in the Woman Suffrage Memorial Garden on the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol.
"African American Pullman Porters"
eople arriving in Saint Paul between 1900 and 1940 generally came by train through the Union Depot. In its heyday, this neoclassical structure served 282 trains and 20,000 passengers daily. The depot is significant both as a point of entry for African Americans and as an opportunity for job-seekers. Although most black workers were confined to menial roles, the industry did provide educated African Americans with a more respected occupation as Pullman porters. Regardless of job status, black station employees were important ambassadors. They were often the first friendly face for a new arrival, and their networks of information about where to find shelter and a good meal were invaluable.
ost of the original Rondo Avenue and much of the historic Rondo neighborhood were destroyed when Interstate 94 was built. The street was named for an early settler, Joseph Rondeau. Part of the original street is now the frontage road near the Best Western Kelly Inn.
The neighborhoods north and south of Rondo Avenue, extending south into today’s Summit-University neighborhood and north to University Avenue, were always diverse. By the 1950s about 85 percent of Saint Paul’s African-American population lived in the neighborhoods. The old neighborhood was divided into sections including Oatmeal Hill and Cornmeal Valley. The better-off residents lived in the western part of the community.
The freeway location chosen in 1956 along Saint Anthony Avenue took out Rondo as well. More than 600 African American families lost their homes. Numerous businesses and institutions were also lost. The neighborhood is celebrated every July at Rondo Days
"Hallie Q. Brown Community Center"
n 1914 the Union Hall Association was created to meet the needs of the growing black community and to improve relationships with the white community. It built the Hallie Q. Brown Community House between Mackubin and Kent to house its programs. The facility became the second-largest neighborhood center in Saint Paul, nurturing youth and providing a gathering place for African Americans. Later, the name was changed to the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center and a larger facility was built. Today the center includes the Martin Luther King Recreation Center and the nationally acclaimed Penumbra Theatre.
ocial worker and member (later General Manager) of the Penumbra Theatre. Founded in 1976, the Penumbra Theatre is the premier black repertory company of Minnesota and ranks among the nation's top regional theaters. Focused on works that tell of African American struggle and triumph, the theater was among the first to routinely premiere August Wilson's plays. Each year the award-winning company performs to more than 40,000 people and reaches 5,000 students through outreach program.
"Kathryn Corum Gagnon"
"Urban League Building"
he first employment services for African Americans seeking entry into the local workforce were delivered out of barbershops and beauty parlors. Most important of these was the Hall Brothers Barbershop. S. Edward and O.C. Hall serviced white politicians and business leaders. Using these connections, the Hall Brothers posted jobs and personally referred many individuals to prospective employers. Churches began providing a more organized resource for locating jobs and housing through newsletters like St. James A.M.E.'s "The Helper."
In 1887, the Minnesota Protective and Industrial League and later the Afro American League played pivotal roles in improving the economic condition of blacks Out of a confluence of local activities and a national black agenda emerged the Urban League of Saint Paul, founded in 1923 with the help of barber S. Edward Hall. Interestingly, the local white business association objected to the formation of this branch fearing that it would encourage more black migration to Minnesota.
"Frank Boyd Park"
ocated on the north side of Selby Avenue between Virginia and Farrington Streets, this pleasant, tree-filled square-block park honors St Paul's outstanding African American union leader. In 1973 the Ramsey Hill Association proposed naming the park for fur trader and capitalist Norman Kittson. A counter proposal came from the Selby-Dale Freedom Brigade, who argued for Frank Boyd as a fitting and proper designation. On May 1, 1976 the park was dedicated by a group of “labor oriented black citizens of St. Paul” led by Reginald Harris, a member of Firefighters Local 21.
Frank Boyd was born in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1881. As related by Arthur McWatt, a chronicler of African American history, “Boyd arrived in St. Paul in 1904 and found work as a porter in a Black barber shop. He worked there for three years before deciding to try working as a Pullman porter for the Northern Pacific Railroad. During World War I, Boyd joined the Railroad Mens International Benevolent Industrial Association. Boyd helped to organize the local in St. Paul. The local elected George Shannon its president.
After the war, Boyd was instrumental in the organization of a branch of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Union in St. Paul.” The fraternal organization began its formation in New York City in 1919. A.W. Jordon was elected president of the St. Paul branch. Frank Boyd was chosen as its delegate to the Chicago convention that October. On January 13, 1926, Local 3 held its first meeting at the Welcome Hall Community House, located on Farrington and St. Anthony Streets. Mainly through Boyd's efforts Local 3 grew to over 700 members. He died in California on May 2, 1962. His body was returned to St. Paul. He is buried in Elmhurst Cemetery.
Frank Boyd Park is dedicated to the memory of this outstanding leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Union and St. Paul's African American community. A bust of Boyd is located at the southwest corner of the park and a plaque reads: "Frank Boyd, 1881 – 1962. He was a fighter for his Union, his People, his Class."
"Education and Athletic Achievement"
he intersection of Lexington and Marshall represents two points of entry by African Americans: education and athletic achievement. In Saint Paul, access to educational institutions was generally available to African Americans, resulting in one of the most literate black populations in the United States. Central High School, which sits on the northwest corner of Lexington and Marshall and is Minnesota's oldest continuously operating high school, relocated here from downtown in 1911.
Saint Paul Mechanic Arts (Manual Training) High School was another important school that educated black students. Because of their proximity to the racially diverse Rondo community, these two schools became the primary educational institutions for many African Americans during most of the 20th century. Mechanic Arts closed in 1976 when several high schools consolidated.
The second point of entry relates to sports achievement. Central High School's football stadium honors its 1930s graduate, James "Jimmy" Griffin who became Saint Paul's first African American police chief. Most famous of the hometown sports heroes is Dave Winfield. Born and raised in Saint Paul, Winfield gained international attention as a left fielder with several major league teams including the Toronto Blue Jays, where he helped garner their first World Championship in 1992. Winfield was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.