Interview of Wanda Austin
Interviewer: 00:05 May I start off by having your first and last name spelling, please?
Wanda A.: 00:09 You want to spell it?
Interviewer: 00:10 Yes, ma’am.
Wanda A.: 00:11 W-A-N-D-A A-U-S-T-I-N.
Interviewer: 00:14 What’s your last name?
Wanda A.: 00:15 Austin.
Interviewer: 00:18 Austin. Okay, good. How long have you been on the north side
of Minneapolis, in the Penn and Plymouth area?
Wanda A.: 00:26 Let me see. My oldest daughter is 30- something. Yup, almost 40 years.
Interviewer: 00:32 40 years. Okay.
Wanda A.: 00:34 Almost.
Interviewer: 00:35 Thinking back from when you first came in this area today, what changes have you seen
Wanda A.: 00:41 There used to be Snow Foods down there, used to be a McDonald’s down there, and so they tore those down and now replaced them with other things.
Speaker 3: 00:53 Do you mind me asking, what are the cross streets that you’ve lived on over the years?
Wanda A.: 00:57 Plymouth and Penn.
Speaker 3: 00:59 Oh, actually Plymouth and Penn. Okay. Yup, you’re right there.
Interviewer: 01:02 What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in this area over the years?
Wanda A.: 01:11 I think they was trying to build it up, I think. But, yeah, I think they was trying to build it up over here. Yeah.
Interviewer: 01:24 What makes you feel that way?
Wanda A.: 01:26 Because that one thing, what is it, UROC?
Interviewer: 01:29 Yup.
Wanda A.: 01:34 I think that’s supposed to be to help people.
Interviewer: 01:36 Research center.
Wanda A.: 01:37 Right. However, there’s no store. You know what I’m saying? You gotta go all the way over to West Broadway. Cub Foods. So it took some of our things out of the area but I guess it was supposed to be for more jobs and stuff and able to help people.
Interviewer: 02:03 What changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of stress or concern about the future?
Wanda A.: 02:13 These children out here running all loosey goosey with guns and stuff and they don’t know what they’re doing and they’re on stuff. I think maybe if there was more jobs for them- no I can’t even say that because they’re jobs everywhere. Maybe if they had a better education they would go in and apply for a job, work that job instead of trying to get some fast money. Because you know right across from the Elks? Woo hoo! My mother called them the people that’s walking the street all night long. That’s what they do.
Interviewer: 02:47 That’s crazy.
Wanda A.: 02:51 All night. Yup.
Interviewer: 02:59 What part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in relieving that stress?
Wanda A.: 03:00 What part of Minneapolis?
Interviewer: 03:02 No, what part does the city of Minneapolis need to play here to relieve your stress?
Wanda A.: 03:08 I think if the corporate people would come down and see exactly what’s going on, not just one day, not just an hour. I think if they came down here and actually talked to people, they could figure out what’s really going on, what the real need is.
Interviewer: 03:26 Right.
Wanda A.: 03:26 That’s my opinion.
Interviewer: 03:28 Okay. We are gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community. We’re just trying to figure out the impact of the historic discrimination government policies in areas like housing, transportation, economic development. And we’re trying to figure out what impact have these policies or others had on the community in general.
Wanda A.: 04:01 I think that housing is too high, I really do. And a lot of people, even if they have Section 8 and I’ve been on Section 8 for years- I’m on the list, not on Section 8. My daughter’s almost 40 years old. I’ve been on the list. I haven’t gotten it yet. So I think housing has a lot to do with it and I think that if it was more affordable housing, we wouldn’t have all these people just wandering around. You know what I’m saying?
Interviewer: 04:42 I agree with you on that.
Wanda A.: 04:46 And we could have better teachers in the school system too.
Interviewer: 04:48 When you think about the area today, what impact do you still see from these historic government policies?
Wanda A.: 05:00 What impact do I see? What impact? I’m just trying to be honest. Where is it?
Interviewer: 05:14 So do you see less change from say maybe in the 60s and 70 where you might have seen more explicit discriminatory policies up until now? Do you see less change in some of those practices or do you see an impact that still lingers from those practices?
Wanda A.: 05:37 Well, I noticed, when was it? Maybe back in the 90s, down there in Plymouth it was more African Americans. Now I see they’re coming back. When I first came here, the Jews over on [00:06:04 Oaks and] Memorial, that’s where they were. But now its, yeah. So they’re taking us out of our community and taking them way out here in no-man’s-land. They have no way to get around. Talking about it’s a better way of life. You take me all out of my comfort zone. Maybe that’s why I didn’t get Section 8.
Interviewer: 06:32 How would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and this community over the past years?
Wanda A.: 06:46 The city of Minneapolis. Say it again, I’m 62.
Interviewer: 06:51 How would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and the community over the last years?
Wanda A.: 07:01 I think it’s kind of gone down hill. When Mayor Rybak was in, I loved Mayor Rybak. But I don’t know, I think it’s kind of gone down hill. I really do.
Interviewer: 07:16 What makes you feel that way?
Wanda A.: 07:19 I don’t know. I just don’t think, well now, the mayor Jacob Frey, I think he might be okay. But he’s just coming into play, so. And I’ve noticed even here he’s came to our services, not just to campaign. He actually came and sat in the service. And Mayor Rybak did it all the time and he and Bishop Howe still have a relationship to this day. I love Mayor Rybak.
Interviewer: 07:52 Okay. What are your expectations of the city of Minneapolis related to this community?
Wanda A.: 07:58 What are my expectations?
Interviewer: 07:59 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Wanda A.: 08:00 I think they should make it more convenient for people living here. Everybody doesn’t have a car and now they done messed up the #5 bus line so them people cannot get to Cub Foods. Give them a store. Give them a store, give us something over there. You know what I’m saying? Besides Mickey’s Liquor and the Elks.
Interviewer: 08:32 To what extent do you trust the city of Minneapolis to deliver those expectations?
Wanda A.: 08:37 I don’t. I’m sorry
Interviewer: 08:37 Don’t apologize.
Wanda A.: 08:43 I really don’t. I hope that they do succeed and I really do, but.
Interviewer: 08:48 What part do you feel you can play in creating that more hopeful future?
Wanda A.: 08:54 I don’t know. You know, I’ve thought about that. We have this one guy, you know MAD DADS, VJ?
Interviewer: 09:00 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Speaker 3: 09:00 Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yup
Wanda A.: 09:01 VJ goes to church here and I thought about reaching out to VJ and asking him can I go out with him and stuff. Yeah.
Interviewer: 09:14 And do[crosstalk 00:09:14]
Wanda A.: 09:14 He begs me to go out with them.
Interviewer: 09:16 Oh, with the MAD DADS thing?
Wanda A.: 09:17 We used to have this support group here before we came to north Minneapolis, our church did. And it was called Rescue Ministry and we actually rescued people whether they was on drugs, whatever their addiction was, whatever their situation was. We came and we rescued them. And I think, that’s what I’m saying, I think if people would come down here, you know what I’m saying, and get to know people, I think that would make a big difference because right now they’re not going to trust you. They’re not going to trust them people: ” What? You looking at me? Oh, I’m not a snitch.” You know what I’m saying? Just to be honest.
Interviewer: 10:05 Yeah, you might be right. Well thank you. That was the end of the interview.
Wanda A.: 10:14 Oh, thank you both.
Interviewer: 10:15 Thank you for your time and I hope you have a pleasant day.