Interview of Gloria Reese
Interviewer: 00:01 Can you say your first and last name again and then spell it.
Gloria R.: 00:05 Gloria Reese. G-L-O-R-I-A. My last name Reese, R-E-E-S-E.
Interviewer: 00:16 Do you live on the north side?
Gloria R.: 00:17 I don’t now, but I did. I just moved about five years ago.
Interviewer: 00:22 Okay. Where did you live when you were here?
Gloria R.: 00:25 I lived on Vincent Avenue North, about three blocks from the golf course, the Chalet.
Interviewer: 00:32 What made you move?
Gloria R.: 00:34 Divorce and my house went into foreclosure because of my ex-husband. But I loved the north side.
Interviewer: 00:46 Yeah. So thinking back from when you used to live here and now what positive or negative changes have you seen?
Gloria R.: 00:56 The positive changes are they are getting rid of a lot of the slumlord houses, and they’re building. And I would like to see more people of color. There’s one thing that a lot of people don’t know about north Minneapolis. They think it’s predominantly African-American. It’s always been predominantly white. It’s starting to look a lot nicer. What they’re doing with Plymouth Avenue. They’re still, you know, some things that could be improved. And Broadway is the big one I would like to see. Broadway and Lowry Avenue. Okay.
Interviewer: 01:49 How long did you live in north Minneapolis?
Gloria R.: 01:52 Oh, my goodness. I was born in 1948 and I lived in north Minneapolis until my first marriage and we went to Seattle and I lived there for a year and I came back and I lived. And then I raised my children in Brooklyn Park for 13 years and then I came back. So I’ve always come back.
Interviewer: 02:16 Yeah. So going back to the changes, what do you think caused the changes that we see?
Gloria R.: 02:28 Well, the first change was, I think it was ’66 or ’67, and the riots. Plymouth Avenue completely changed. All the Jewish people, which I grew up with, moved to St. Louis Park or Golden Valley. They left their stores and storefronts. That’s when it first started changing. And then they started building apartment buildings over north. And then, I can’t remember exactly. I think it was the 80’s where they started tearing down the projects and they built Heritage Park. That was a good thing.
Interviewer: 03:23 So we’re gathering these stories to increase understanding between the City of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of historic discriminatory government policies and practice and areas like housing, employment discrimination, the war on drugs, and others. So what impact have these policies, or others, had on the community and you personally?
Gloria R.: 03:48 In the community. I’m trying to think. I’m sorry.
Interviewer: 04:02 Oh, that’s alright.
Gloria R.: 04:02 I think the war on drugs was the reason why they tore down the projects because a lot of the people from out of the states would come here as welfare is much better here and women would come with their children and the children were, their young, their boys, were either not in school or halfway in school and they would come here. And you know when you were in maybe St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee and you weren’t going to school and you were on drugs, and then you could come here, and then they would start. So Minneapolis got, I should say yes, Minneapolis got pretty smart about that and told a lot of the woman and families if your children aren’t in school there and you bring them here, we can’t have that.
Interviewer: 05:03 Oh.
Gloria R.: 05:06 They did a lot. And, what was her name? Sharon Sayles Belton and Cherry Home. When Sharon Sayles Belton was the mayor she got on the slumlords so that they had to either fix their property or sell it. And that was one of the main things that was really good because people could come in here and, you know, drug lords they rent for cheap and have these drug houses and stuff like that. But that was the reason because the slumlords would let anybody live there. They didn’t check backgrounds, anything like that. But once that started happening things started getting better in the north side.
Gloria R.: 06:02 But, there’s still a lot of changes that had to happen. The schools. A lot of our African American families were sending, when open enrollment, they would send their kids to the outer suburbs to go to school because it was a better education. You know when the money leaves the city that hurts your schools. So once you start taking care of the schools in the inner city and the properties and tear down all the raggedy homes and start building, more money starts coming back. People, the Europeans, are coming back now. So, it’s like they leave, they come back. And they want to live … all of us like to live closer because they want to go to work downtown, they don’t want to ride forever. But that’s some of the changes I’ve seen since.
Gloria R.: 07:07 And I forgot. When Ellis was Alderman I worked with him in his first caucus and that was so much fun. But he didn’t win his first one, but he did call me and ask me should he keep running. And I told him, “Yes, keep running. Just because you lose one doesn’t mean you have to stop.” And he said, “Well, what could I do for the north side?” I said, “You could get us a supermarket.” So, that’s when … well Target was here and they left, you know on Broadway, and then he got the Cub there. So, that has helped a lot because all the supermarkets left. We had plenty. And then we were left with none so people had to… there was a new market, or SuperValue but they were so expensive. So, they built The Cub and it helped a lot. It didn’t solve everything, but it helped.
Interviewer: 08:16 How do you feel about the North Market?
Gloria R.: 08:20 I haven’t been there. I haven’t been there yet. So, yeah. And that’s right on Penn and Boom Valley. That one. Oh, no. That’s on 40-
Interviewer: 08:30 Camden Area-
Gloria R.: 08:31 Yes. That’s right there.
Interviewer: 08:31 -and Humboldt.
Gloria R.: 08:32 Yes. I haven’t been there yet.
Interviewer: 08:38 What changes have you seen in this community that raise your stress level or concern for the future?
Gloria R.: 08:47 It seems like they’re forcing all African Americans out and all the Europeans are coming in. And the housing, the prices on them, are so high that it’s unaffordable. Okay.
Interviewer: 09:02 And then what part does the City of Minneapolis seem to play in relieving that stress?
Gloria R.: 09:18 Helping them. Helping African Americans to be able to afford their homes. Helping them with down payments and stuff. And I think there are plans out there for that. Some banks have that. But they could help them.
Interviewer: 09:34 So what gives you hope for this community?
Gloria R.: 09:40 I’ve always had hope for north Minneapolis. I think the Light Rail would help. Not necessarily going up Broadway, but I know going up Wilson Highway it would help. Bring back more stores, storefronts. That would help a lot because if there’s more stores people will buy and the money is here so it stays in the community.
Interviewer: 10:21 Before you ask all the questions. So as a finish up, do you have any last thoughts?
Gloria R.: 10:34 My last thoughts are south Minneapolis has a lot of apartments that are affordable and condos. We don’t have that over north. And that is something that not everyone wants to purchase a home. But a nice town home, or condo would really be nice. And nice, beautiful apartments. That’s my take on it because if I come back and live here maybe I’ll buy a small home. But a nice town home would really be nice.
Interviewer: 11:18 Yeah. That’s great. Thank you.
Gloria R.: 11:21 Hm-mmm.