Rondo Remembered

Entries about Minnesota history from MNopedia are made available through a partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society and with funding from the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Before it was cut in half by I-94, St. Paul’s Rondo was a thriving African-American cultural center

St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood ran roughly between University Avenue to the north, Selby Avenue to the south, Rice Street to the east, and Lexington Avenue to the west. African American churches, businesses, and schools set down roots there in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, creating a strong community. Construction of Interstate-94 (I-94) between 1956 and 1968 cut the neighborhood in half and fractured its identity as a cultural center.

From the beginning, Rondo was a haven for people of color and immigrants. Its namesake, Joseph Rondeau, moved there in the late 1850s from a site close to Fort Snelling, where he had faced discrimination due to his wife’s mixed white and indigenous heritage. French Canadian immigrants followed Rondeau to the area in the late nineteenth century; later, German, Russian, Irish, and Jewish families found homes there.

Beginning in the 1910s and 1920s, Rondo experienced a social and cultural boom. Music and theater flourished. African American newspapers such as the Appeal, the Northwestern Bulletin, and the St. Paul Recorder represented Rondo’s interests and needs. In 1913, St. Paul established its chapter of the NAACP, making it a center for civil rights activity. One member of the chapter, Rondo resident Roy Wilkins, later led the national NAACP.

As Rondo’s Jews advanced economically in the first decades of the twentieth century, they moved to new areas. This left behind affordable housing for African Americans. By the 1930s, half of St. Paul’s black population lived in Rondo. Even during the Jim Crow era, blacks and whites mixed relatively freely; interracial dating and even marriage sometimes took place.

Supported by the booming railway industry and local businesses, Rondo’s black families were upper-middle and middle class as well as working class. Integrated schools, such as Central High School, Maxfield Elementary School, and parochial schools, created a relatively high level of education and literacy among minority residents. This openness in turn attracted southern blacks who faced stark racial prejudice and violence.

Several organizations arose to meet the growing community’s social needs. The Hallie Q. Brown Community Center provided human services and gave African Americans a place to meet and socialize. In 1928, the Credjafawn Social Club began to offer a social and recreational space for young blacks. It went on to create a food cooperative and a credit union that helped residents finance their homes and educations. The Sterling Club, founded in 1919, was a networking association for African American professionals who were often excluded from other professional groups.

In the 1930s, commuters and city planners began to call for a highway linking the business districts of downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis. After World War II, city engineers chose St. Anthony Avenue as the route. This street was located between University Ave and Marshall Avenue, and went all the way to Minneapolis. When the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 promised funding, it set in motion plans to lay down the freeway through the heart of the Rondo area.

Resistance to the freeway plan came quickly. In early 1956, Reverend Floyd Massey Jr. and Timothy Howard started the Rondo-St. Anthony Improvement Association. This group, speaking for threatened property holders, protested the proposed route and pushed for assistance for those forced to move.

The Housing Authority offered to help if the Highway Department would pay $30,000 to cover costs, but ultimately contributed no funds. The St. Paul City Council rebuffed attempts at passing local open-occupancy laws. The association did, however, succeed in changing the interstate’s design from an elevated to a depressed highway with bridges joining the bisected sides, dividing the community in a less pronounced way.

In September of 1956, when construction began, some Rondo residents continued to resist. Police forcibly removed Reverend George Davis from his home when he refused to evacuate and make way for wrecking crews. Construction proceeded, however, and I-94 opened in 1968.

Although the African American community was injured, it maintained a strong identity. Playwright August Wilson lived in the Rondo area in the 1970s and 1980s and wrote many of his plays while living there. In 1983, the first annual Rondo Days Festival was held; in 2006, the Rondo Community Outreach Library opened with a mission to support community engagement.

Green Party Activist in MN on The Front Lines Against Police Brutality

Murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police on memorial day May 25th, 2020. Officer Chauvin sat his knee on the neck of George Floyd for 8 minutes until he killed Mr. Floyd. This sparked Global outrage and civil disobedience. One of the organizers of the first Rally/March/Protest and other events at the capital after that was the Green Party of Minnesota Chair and Green Party of the United States Co-Chair Trahern Crews. The first rally included solidarity and sister rallies across the country with BLM Minnesota and other organizations like the Racial Justice Network, TCC4J, and others.

Darnella Wade Co-Chair of the Green Party of the 4th Congressional District spoke at the capital about why we need to hold police accountable and make sure they all are required to carry personal professional liability insurance so that taxpayers are not paying for police misconduct.

Minister Toya Woodland Green Party of the 5th Congressional District Endorsed candidate for Congress said we need Community Control of The Police. She believes the community should decide who gets hired and who gets fired in our community.Ms. Woodland was out on the scene and played a part in organizing the first protest on 38th street were George was murdered by the police. The location has been occupied by community members ever since. People have come from out of town to take part in the protest others have come to the location as a tourist destination. Athletes, politicians, and entertainers flew in for the George Floyd memorial service.

The civil unrest has prompted lawmakers across the country to start discussing police reform measures. Minneapolis City Councilman and long time Green Party member Cam Gordon became part of a majority of council members who have called for defunding the police. Diverting resources from the police to the community. Trahern Crews a BLM activist and Chair of the Green Party of the United States Reparations working group has been saying at rallies after the murder of Mr. Floyd that the United States government has had its knee on the neck of the American Descendants of Slavery for 400 years and its time to get justice. Mr. Crews said the grassroots community members activist and street organizations did the work on the ground that led to the firing, arrest, and charges of the four officers involved in the murder of Mr. Floyd. Green Party of The United States Co-Chair on the Front Lines We cannot let the status quo come in and change the narrative after we did all the work to make sure this wasn't business as usual, this isn't just about policing this about systemic racism, and the wealth gap in America. The Green Party has the platform to address it which is Reparations for Foundational Black Americans. The murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department has become an international issue and the world is watching.

George Floyd 


Jesse Ventura Discusses Pollution

Microplastics in our lakes rivers streams and oceans are becoming a great problem on our planet. It has become so bad that we are actually eating plastic daily and don't even know it. According to "The researchers estimate that humans are eating about 250 pieces of microplastic per day or roughly 94,000 microplastics in a given year." We know that our oceans are contaminated with plastics but so are our lakes rivers and agricultural land.In this clip at the Green Party of Minnesota headquarters, Jesse Ventura spoke about pollution and the need to get a handle on it.


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Trump Supporters Show Up At The Governors Mansion

Supporters of Donald Trump showed up at Minnesota Governor's mansion today to demand Governor Walz end the shutdown and let businesses open up. One supporter said that he would support a recall effort of the sitting Governor over this issue. The stay at home order began in March was supposed to end May 4th then was extended to  May 18th. Many feel that it is to soon to open back up while the Minnesota deaths are expected to spike in the days ahead however these Trump supporters are ready and eager to get back to business as usual.


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Activist & Family Members Gather At Jaffort Smith Vigil


Family members of Jaffort Smith his Mother Matilda Smith and his wife Kay Smith and Activist gathered for a Prayer Vigil and Balloon release at Cayuga Park in Saint Paul MN in honor of Jaffort Smith. Jaffort Smith was killed by the Saint Paul Police Department on Mothers Day May 10th, 2016. Minister Toya Woodland who is endorsed by the Minneapolis Green Party of the 5th Congressional District in this year's Congressional race lead the group in prayer. Jaffort Smith was a loved Father, Son, Uncle, and a husband who was loved by his family and community. The Green Party Social Justice platform calls for the Demilitarization of the Police, Professional Liability Insurance for the Police and Reparations for Foundational Black Americans

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Jesse Ventura Says Dems are Responsible For Donald Trump

Governor Jesse Ventura speaks with Fox 9news MN about the Democrats blaming other political entities for their shortcomings. He also discusses Donald Trump and the importance of third parties.


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Congratulations To Toya Woodland & Joshua Scheunemann

The Green Party of Minnesota is honored to announce that Minister Toya Woodland & Joshua Scheumann have secured the Green Party Mpls of the 5th congressional District Endorsement in the 2020 Elections. Ms. Woodland who is running for congress in the 5th congressional District on a reparatory justice campaign that puts Minnesota 1st. "COVID 19 shows why our Green Party platform is imperative in the times we are living in," said The Green Party endorsed candidate for US Representative in the 5th Congressional District. Joshua Schuenemann who is running for in a special city council election in ward 6 in MPLS also secured the Green Party of the 5th congressional Districts Endorsement. Mr. Schuenemann is running on a Green New Deal for Minneapolis and is the Chair of the Green Party of Minnesota Environmental committee.


Eric Leitzen Seeks Green Party of Minnesota Endorsement


Green Party of Minnesota Candidate Questionnaire:
1) Have you ever been convicted of a felony, sued successfully, or had a restraining order placed
against you? If so, please explain.
2) Is there anything we should know about your background which could be used against you fairly or
- I was formerly the Houston County (MN) DFL Vice Chair
- In mid-December 2018, days before I had scheduled an informational meeting with AFSCME,
my City Clerk office was put under a full audit. I was found to have forgotten to file an NSF
check and was asked to resign in January 2019.
1) Why are you seeking the endorsement of the Green Party, as opposed to any other party or running
- I believe in the policies the Green Party puts forth, first and foremost
- I believe it is time for a valid third party in Minnesota to rise again like the Farmer-Labor Party
did when confronted with similar crises at the turn of the 20th century.
- I want to see a genuine, people power Left movement take root in Minnesota after too many
frustrating years trying to turn the local DFL away from an ideology more in-line with local
aristocracy than with working people
2) What has been your prior involvement with the Green Party?
- I voted for Jill Stein in 2016
- I recently donated to Howie Hawkins campaign
3) Have you worked on prior campaigns, as a worker or candidate? If so, please describe your role and
what you achieved.
- I have canvassed for Bernie Sanders, and during both the recall of Scott Walker and the 2014
election cycle
- I previously worked with the DFL to field and support candidates for MN Senate District 28 and
House district 28B. I attempted a grassroots, working-class campaign with the DFL but withdrew
my name from consideration after repeated stonewalling from leadership and several pieces of
advice from longtime party members to wait it out for yet another cycle. It has become clear the
local DFL does not want more radical, working-class and proudly left-of-the-dial voices
representing them.

4) How much money do you believe you need to raise to run your campaign successfully?
- I would love to get around ten thousand in the coffers. Jeremy Miller spent $31,500 in 2016 on
expenses alone, but he has big pockets and many friends with even bigger ones.
- I am looking to run an as inexpensive and efficient campaign as possible. With the current
situation as it is, media will be key, but I am already establishing a social media presence online
and wish to spend most campaign money on blunt, take-no-prisoners mailers to voters who are
less online in this rural area. Whenever possible I would like to be in-person to events like council
meetings, county fairs, and other free opportunities to promote the campaign, even if that means
speaking with my three-year-old on my back and my five-year-old at my hip. Senate 28 is looking
at a matchup between two children of the rich from Winona who literally grew up next to each
other, so the shoestring nature of a rebel campaign could possibly be a selling point.
5) What personnel do you believe you need to run your campaign? Who have you approached to be on
your campaign team?
- I will need a treasurer and possibly one or two assistants. I have spoken with a few people who
have agreed to help, but all have balked at the idea of treasurer.
6) What role will the following strategies have in your campaign and how much time will you devote to
these activities: door-knocking, direct mail, phone banking, canvassing, etc..
- COVID permitting, I would love to see a door-knocking campaign utilized: I really think there
is a chance to have a viable third option now that the DFL has put their weight behind the same
sort of out-of-touch oligarch as the GOP. I grew up down here, I know what people are fighting
with, and I really think if we can get through to enough people we can get door knocking, phone
banking, and canvassing up and running. I spoke earlier about wanting to use direct mail, with
possibly additional online advertisements as well.
7) What civic organizations do you belong to? What role have you played in those organizations? Who
will support you from those organizations?
- I am the Board President of Southeast Minnesota Historic Bluff Country, a regional tourism
authority. I have also served as Secretary in the past. I am hoping to channel my work with HBC
into more eyeballs for a campaign as I have essentially been the face of the organization during
the last year or so and overseeing some fairly successful online campaigns.
- My wife and I are active members with a local premier community theatre in La Crosse, and we
have both won Volunteer of the Year in the past. In 2008 I starred in a local zombie movie
(available on YouTube) where I sucked chocolate syrup out of a plastic brain. I am an awardwinning actor and a classically trained tenor with several shows and operettas under my belt. I
am also looking into podcasting.



Jesse Ventura Joins the Minnesota Green Party

We are honored to announce that Jesse Ventura the American politician, media personality, actor, author, retired professional wrestler, and commentator who served as the Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota from 1991 to 1995 and as the 38th Governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003 has officially joined the Minnesota Green Party. Over the past couple of years, Mr. Ventura has shown support for the Green Party and is very serious about addressing climate change.

Last Monday the former Governor tweeted Jesse Ventura @GovJVentura  OK, I've decided I'm going to test the waters. IF I were going to run for president, the GREEN party would be my first choice. I've endorsed the party and I'm testing the waters.

Mr. Ventura met with the Chair of the Minnesota Green Party Trahern Crews and The Co-Chair of the Green Party of the 4th Congressional District and candidate for State Representative in District 65B Darnella Wade. Mr. Ventura was accompanied by Mrs. Ventura who bought and brought cookies and refreshments and Green Party activist Erin Fox. The former Governor spoke at length about JFK, combating climate change and establishing a viable third party in American politics.





Scott Raskiewicz Secures Green Party of Minnesota Endorsement For U.S. Senate


Scott Raskiewicz an author, teacher and long time Green has been endorsed by the Green Party of Minnesota for the 2020 U.S. Senate seat currently held by Tina Smith. Mr. Raskiewicz who identifies as an Eisenhower Lincoln Democratic-Republican Green. During the endorsement meeting, Scott mentioned that the U.S. is ranked 39th best country in the world to raise a family.US Ranked 39th in Child Well Being Study SJR says if he is elected to office his goal will be to cut that number in half and eventually become #1 again. SJR says the essence of democracy, the mission of democracy, and the Measure of democracy is the dispersal and equitable sharing of power-- economic power, media power, and political power. Neo Socialist ELDR Greens are deeply committed to authentic democracy.

Here are the nuts and bolts of SJR's platform.




Defenders of the status quo may argue that these goals interfere with our "free marketsystemOur nation has elements of a free market system. But for the most part, like all modern nations, we have a managed economyThe economy must be managed to benefit ALL Americans, not just Wall Street, corporations, and those on thupper rungs of the socio-economic ladder. Thimeans fair systems of taxation, an end to altaxpayer subsidies for corporations and high-income Americans, and economic democracy--a system in which ALL Americans will have meaningful economic choices. 


An expanded Medicare systethat covers ALL Americans will savmoney, time, human suffering anlives, and improve the quality of life for ALL AmericansWe spend nearly twice as much on health care as do other modern nations. But we trail some three dozeother nations iour health care outcomes. Affordable health care for ALL citizens is a fundamental necessity if we are to create a civilized, authentically democratic society. 


The goaof K-1education must be to instill in ALL students the life-long skill of well-informed rationaanalysis in all areas of life so that they will reach their potential as loving, complex, multi-talented human beings fully capable of contributing to society. This will prevent, solve, or ameliorate all individuaand collective problems. Post high school education and training wilmore deeply engrain this skill and prepare students to reach their potential in whatever careers they might choose. 


Nearly all major U.S. media is controlled by a profoundly inhumane and deeply anti-democratic corporate cartel. This makes authentidemocracimpossible. We must create publicly financed media that Serves public, rather than corporate, interests. Privately-owned radio and tv stations, because they use the public airwaves, must adhere to a re-established Fairness Doctrine


Logic, Reason, and Evidence make clear that the current U.S. goal of world military and economidomination is neither feasible nor moral. We cannot create a stable, peaceful world through threats and violence and invading other nations. We've tried it for decades and it hasn't worked. Diplomacy, humanitarian aidaneconomic cooperation imore effective than military violence and will save lives and hundreds obillions of dollars everyear.





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