Interview of Teresa Williamson
Interviewer: 00:03 Alright, so first can I have you say your first and last name and
Teresa Williamson: 00:08 Teresa Williamson. T-E-R-E-S-A W-I-L-L-I-A-M-S-O-N.
Interviewer: 00:14 Okay. Okay, so we’re referring to this map right here. Do you currently, have you lived in this area?
Teresa Williamson: 00:22 I lived half a block from here, 1800 Freemont Avenue North.
Interviewer: 00:26 How long have you lived there?
Teresa Williamson: 00:28 Seven years.
Interviewer: 00:31 Seven years. Okay. So thinking back from when you first moved into this area over here, what changes have you seen?
Teresa Williamson: 00:36 Oh my God. I’ve seen a whole lot of changes. I was here when Annie’s Café, and there was all types of black businesses up and down Broadway. There was bingo halls, there was all kind of convenient stores. It was easy to get an apartment back then, too. Back in the 80s. You didn’t even need to have no kind of, nothing but your word, and people would let you rent property. Right now you won’t because of all the stuff that’s been happening with housing.
Interviewer: 01:04 Okay. Can you name a positive change and just one negative change?
Teresa Williamson: 01:08 A positive change … I think the positive change would be they got a Emerge Works over here, and Emerge is focusing a lot of jobs on young, black men youth. So I like that part about the north side. And the fact that they also have the workforce center now, on this side of town. That to me, to help the young people, is a plus.
Interviewer: 01:30 Okay. What about a negative thing you’ve seen?
Teresa Williamson: 01:34 The negative thing that I’ve seen is the killings and the unfairness and me being afraid for the young black man.
Interviewer: 01:43 Alright.
Interviewer: 01:43 How many years total have you lived in North Minneapolis?
Teresa Williamson: 01:45 I’ve lived in North Minneapolis since 1982.
Interviewer: 01:51 Alright. Wait, wait, wait. I’m trying to count how many years that is.
Teresa Williamson: 01:54 It’s a long time.
Interviewer: 01:55 36 years.
Teresa Williamson: 01:56 I raised my three sons here. I have a 39-year-old, a 37-year-old, and a 29-year-old.
Interviewer: 02:04 What do you feel caused the changes you’re seeing in the area?
Teresa Williamson: 02:09 A lot of negative publicity, a lot of people … I’m not gonna point no fingers at people coming from out of town because everybody needs a place to live … but when you come here and you don’t have no respect for property, no respect for where you live, no respect for people, that brings down the community. There’s no unity.
Interviewer: 02:24 Alright. Why do you feel like there’s no unity?
Teresa Williamson: 02:29 Because we don’t support each other like we should. As people of color, we’ve already been conditioned to be less than what we supposed to be. I feel like if we don’t build each other up, instead of tearing each other down, we don’t have no love for the community, no love for each other hardly anymore.
Interviewer: 02:48 I feel that. So we are gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of historic discriminatory government policies and practices in the area, like housing, transportation, economic development, and more. Examples include housing and employment discrimination in the early 20th century, the war of drugs in the 1990s, and others. What impacts on these policies, or others, had on the community in general?
Teresa Williamson: 03:20 Now break it down to me one more time.
Interviewer: 03:22 So basically, what impacts have these policies, housing transportation, economic development, the war on drugs in 1990s, what impact have they had on the community in general or what have they had on you or your family?
Teresa Williamson: 03:38 More killings, and communities that are trashed out. Properties, sidewalks, no community unity, and that’s why. Also between the police and the community, we afraid of the police, first of all. Let’s get that right. Most of us are afraid of the police because we know they’re afraid of us, so we don’t know what they’re gonna do to us. We have that inside of us already, that when we see a police, we feel like we did something, even when we didn’t. But it’s all this that came down through us that they done hurt so many people for nothing, that it’s impacting me as a person.
Teresa Williamson: 04:16 Hey, I could know people that just be at the wrong place at the wrong time and they can accuse me of something. Because we don’t have no understanding between the police and the community.
Interviewer: 04:26 Right. What impact do you think that had on you or your family personally?
Teresa Williamson: 04:31 On my family, the impact … right now, I have a son that was shot five times with a 357 when he was 15 years old. You know what my son told me when he laid on the sidewalk? The man asked him, I guess his feet had a smell or something. He said, “Your feet are smelling or something.” But my son’s laying on the ground with five shots in him. That shouldn’t have been something that should have even came out of his mouth. I mean, he should have had more compassion for a human being, whether he black, white, Chinese, or whatever. That wasn’t appropriate to me.
Teresa Williamson: 05:06 That was when he was 15, he’s 37 now. So those words have stuck with me through all these years.
Interviewer: 05:16 What changes have you seen in the community that raise your level of stress or are concerned about his future?
Teresa Williamson: 05:23 Not being able to catch the bus at night, because you don’t know who out here’s gonna rob you. You don’t know if a man’s gonna think you prostituting, call you standing on the bus stop. You just don’t know. Back in the day, you didn’t have to worry about that. You could get on the bus at 9:00 at night, you didn’t have to worry about nobody trying to rob you, rape you, anything like that.
Interviewer: 05:44 Okay, what part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in relieving that stress?
Teresa Williamson: 05:49 First of all, they need to start like they’re doing right now. They need to start with more jobs, they need to start with housing, they need to start with education. My thing is like this, a lot of this stuff has been lost, but we’ve got young people just like yourself and we’ve got young kids that are 12, 13, 10, 9. Those kids need to be focused on. We can’t save half the ones that some went on. But we can save them babies that’s coming up and we can teach them a new way, so that their generation will be better than our generation.
Interviewer: 06:18 So what gives you hope for the future in this community?
Teresa Williamson: 06:21 Jesus Christ. And loving people and trying to show love.
Interviewer: 06:28 Amen. What part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in making a more hopeful future?
Teresa Williamson: 06:31 You said what now?
Interviewer: 06:31 What part does the city of Minneapolis need to play-
Teresa Williamson: 06:34 Once again, it goes back to poverty. We’re living in poverty time. We don’t have food, we don’t have housing. First of all, and our more experienced are broke down. We feel more hopeless than we do helpful. We feel like we hopeless because we can’t get a job, we gotta ride the bus, we ain’t got a car, we don’t have an education. So like I said, once again, to me this is my own opinion. A lot of that stuff has went on … but still, it comes to your generation and your children’s generation that this can all change. That’s my focus that I would like to get out to the community.
Teresa Williamson: 07:08 We need more mentors. We need more people that have things, that have money, that have education. We need more mentors to mentor young people. To show them that there’s a different way besides crime and killing and selling drugs.
Interviewer: 07:20 Amen. When you think about this area today, what impact do you still see from these historic government policies?
Teresa Williamson: 07:29 I still see division. We’re divided. If you can’t even walk down the sidewalk, and I’m from Mississippi and we speak to everybody. People don’t even speak to you when they pass by you no more. They’d rather put they headphones and ignore than say, “Hey, how you doing?”
Interviewer: 07:46 Yeah. How would you describe your relationship between the city of Minneapolis and this community over here over the years?
Teresa Williamson: 07:56 I guess they’re trying. That’s all I can say.
Interviewer: 08:00 Right. Okay. What are your expectations for the city of Minneapolis relating to this community? To what extent do you trust the city of Minneapolis to deliver those expectations?
Teresa Williamson: 08:06 My expectations is for them to help build this community back up. To make Broadway back to what it used to be. Broadway don’t have nothing. Soon as we get stores over here, they’re taken away because of theft, crime, and all that. But that punishes the people that do need these stores. So they need to come up with more solutions on security ways that we can keep our stores and stop taking our stores away so we gotta go way out to other communities to do our shopping. We need to be able to spend our money in our community and put that money back into the community for youth and youth programs.
Interviewer: 08:44 Okay. What part do you feel like you could play in creating this more hopeful future?
Teresa Williamson: 08:49 I play a part in it every day because I show everybody love. And I know I understand that we all in the struggle, we all suffering, and we all pain. So being an individual person myself, I see that in people and I let them know I know exactly what you feeling because everybody hurts, everybody in pain, everybody tryin to have some in this life.
Interviewer: 09:05 Okay. That’s the end of the interview. Thank you.
Interviewer: 09:05 Thank you so much.
Teresa Williamson: 09:11 Thank you. And I’m better known as Mother Teresa. I work with
Interview of Tanya Wooten
Interviewer: 00:02 And, who are we interviewing?
Tanya Wooten: 00:06 You’re interviewing Tanya Wooten.
Interviewer: 00:08 We are interviewing Tanya Wooten. Tanya, do we have permission to capture your story on behalf of the city of Minneapolis?
Tanya Wooten: 00:17 Yes.
Interviewer: 00:23 Well, thank you for being a part of this moment so we can capture your story. And so, can we please start with your first, last name and the spelling please? Your first and last name and the spelling.
Tanya Wooten: 00:39 First name is Tanya, T-A-N-Y-A. Last name is Wooten, W-O-O-TE-N.
Interviewer: 00:46 Appreciate that. Appreciate that. We have this map for you. And, it’s a reference map for us of the area that we are collecting the stories for, on the north side of Minneapolis. Can you please identify any area on this map that you have lived, or are currently living in?
Tanya Wooten: 01:26 Well, I grew up over on 12th, 12th over here. But, I find Will Park over there. But, I lived more over here. I used to live right over here.
Interviewer: 01:42 Sounds good, in the College Park area. Yes, 15th Avenue, 14th Avenue, with Morgan. Okay. In that area?
Tanya Wooten: 01:50 Well, no, it’s more like on 20, well, where North Commons is. It’s more like by 21st-
Interviewer: 01:56 21st?
Tanya Wooten: 01:57 So, as you can see, so it’s really not on there. See, I grew up on 12th, so. That’s where my Mom lives. But, that … I grew up over there.
Interviewer: 02:30 Okay. Sounds good. Well, thinking back, from when you first came to this area, to today, what changes have you seen, positive and negative?
Tanya Wooten: 02:39 What do you want first? The positives or the negatives? Which way you … what direction … well, let me start negative and then we end on a good note, I guess.
Interviewer: 02:49 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 02:51 Negative, for me, that we still seem to have a lot of people that like to come in and cause problems in the area that they’re really not from. Or don’t live, you know? Don’t live, don’t really care, they just seem to wander. And, you know they’re probably not from here when they start … when there’s issues in the neighborhood.
Interviewer: 03:14 Okay. Is there a specific story you have surrounding that? Or an experience that you experienced?
Tanya Wooten: 03:27 Bad, yeah. Being li-
Interviewer: 03:28 Would you, would you mind sharing-
Tanya Wooten: 03:31 Well, sure I can. Just living, being, growing up over on the North. I’ve been actually over at North side all my life-
Tanya Wooten: 03:37 … until recently I had to … behind me. Finally leave. But, having issues where I was staying, in the area where I was staying at. Having my house getting shot at with a gun from somebody shooting from across the way and injuring, messing up cars. And then, people hitting the car, going down the street. I’ve had issues like that. Somebody shot through the house and luckily that I had happened to, a couple minutes before that go into the kitchen and get ice water. But, it came through … went straight through the TV.
Interviewer: 04:12 Wow.
Tanya Wooten: 04:15 So, that’s not a good thing, of course. And, just like I said, cars getting hit. You know? And, just being parked and they get hit. And, you go out, bam. What?
Interviewer: 04:26 Wow.
Tanya Wooten: 04:27 And, that happened a couple different times, you know? Being over here, unfortunately.
Interviewer: 04:32 Yeah. Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 04:32 You know, they have good moments. Good moments that they’re trying. Things seem to be getting a little better. I mean it’s been a long process. Being over here and seeing it. And, people are still, you’re on the North side? What are you doing? You know what I mean?
Interviewer: 04:46 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 04:47 It’s getting better. It’s getting better but, the process is so slow. That’s all.
Interviewer: 04:51 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 04:51 That’s the only sad thing.
Interviewer: 04:53 The process is slow.
Tanya Wooten: 04:54 It’s getting … but, yeah. I’m getting up there now and then being from back in the day, I could walk down the street with no problems. Now, you’ve got somebody, you want to buy something? What? You need anything? No. I mean, you know to that type of thinking.
Interviewer: 05:18 Anything else you’d like to add? As far as the changes positive or negative?
Tanya Wooten: 05:22 Well, yeah, just positive would be that they are doing a lot more things. That they’re trying to do different things for people to get involved in, to help the neighborhood, to be a part of, to support. Like the different businesses you have, that I’m reading. When I read, like I said, I’m not overhearing more. But I don’t stay on this side of town now.
Tanya Wooten: 05:46 Just because I had to go. But, just that they’re putting it out there of things that people can get involved in, who are still here, who have been here for a lot of years.
Interviewer: 05:58 Thank you for sharing.
Tanya Wooten: 05:59 It’s good.
Interviewer: 06:00 Yeah. What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in the area over the years?
Tanya Wooten: 06:06 Just people who, elders, and just people … that have a strong feeling for community. That they feel community is a good thing, And if you’re over here, you need to support your community to see that it can get better. It doesn’t have to fall through, you know?
Interviewer: 06:22 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 06:22 We don’t have to be like some of the other places like Chicago and Steel town and we can stand up, give a name for our … you know, for our … for North Minneapolis.
Tanya Wooten: 06:34 Just in general Minneapolis.
Interviewer 06:35 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 06:36 You known what I mean? Just, yeah. I guess.
Interviewer: 06:40 Yeah. I appreciate that. Appreciate that. Yeah. Okay. So, we are gathering stories to increase understanding between city of Minneapolis and the community, and the impact of historical discriminatory government policies, and practices in areas like housing, transportation, economic development, and more. Examples include housing and employment discrimination in the early 20th century, the war on drugs in the 1990’s, and others. What impact, after saying all that, what impact have these policies or others have had on the community in general? And, what impact have they had on you or your family,personally?
Tanya Wooten: 07:29 Some of it’s been a help. Some of it hasn’t.
Interviewer: 07:34 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 07:37 As far as, I’ll put it … I’ll just comment on a couple of them. Employment, being able to have the employment center that was on Plymouth there. But, I don’t remember where it moved to now. You know what I’m talking about. The one that used to be on Emerson and Plymouth. The workforce center. That was a big impact for me when I was going through job change. That did help.
Interviewer: 08:09 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 08:10 That helped-
Interviewer: 08:11 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 08:11 … having that there helped-
Interviewer: 08:14 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 08:14 … at the time. Years back now, it’s been a little while. Its been, what? Ten years, or eight years, whatever it was. Can’t remember now and I had to really use it. But, it was a good thing. And, I think it’s still. I don’t know where it’s located now. But, I know it’s not in that building anymore. But, that has been a good thing. And, I hear still about different, like emerging and they had a couple different spots. And, I still read about that too. And, that’s been a good thing. And, let’s see, what else can I touch on? What did you say?
Interviewer: 08:55 So, there’s the housing, employment discrimination in the early 20th century. And, then there’s the war on drugs in 1990’s. How did that affect the area, the war on drugs? Did that affect it at all, from your personal experience?
Tanya Wooten: 09:10 Well, that wasn’t a role that I really had to deal with. And, I was… that’s a hard thing.
Interviewer 09:21 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 09:21 Just seeing a lot of people who had to deal with that.
Interviewer: 09:24 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 09:24 That kind of thing, and just seeing how peoples reaction. Because, I mean, I had just, neighbors who were strung out on drugs and its just like, watching the craziness of all that.
Interviewer: 09:34 Yeah. Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 09:34 See their life’s change when they did the drugs. But, the good thing about that, a couple of them, they’re clear from the drugs. And, it took them to go rock bottom to get, to pull their self back up. And, that’s a good thing to see.
Interviewer: 09:50 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 09:51 It took them three or four years for that to happen and a lot of bad things to happen to them. But, it made them grow in the end and seeing that’s been a good thing.
Interviewer: 10:01 That’s good.
Tanya Wooten: 10:02 But, for me personally, having to see friends like that. And, I personally, I haven’t had to deal with that kind of thing.
Interviewer: 10:16 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 10:16 Because that … you know?
Tanya Wooten: 10:16 Good enough?
Interviewer: 10:16 Yeah. I appreciate it. I appreciate you taking your time.
Tanya Wooten: 10:16 I don’t know what I’m supposed to be saying. But, I mean that’s-
Interviewer: 10:16 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 10:16 … one of my experience, you know?
Interviewer: 10:16 Oh, yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 10:21 That I’ve had someone have to deal with that. They went down that road and unfortunately, got picked their self back up. Fell, and got back up, so-
Interviewer: 10:27 Right. Amen.
Tanya Wooten: 10:28 So, you know?
Interviewer: 10:32 On that note, how would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and the community over the years?
Tanya Wooten: 10:41 Now, my issue, when you’re saying city of Minneapolis, that’s a broad … are you talking …when you’re saying that I’m like, wait a minute. Am I going in a different direction than he wants me to be?
Interviewer: 10:51 Oh, no.
Tanya Wooten: 10:52 When you say city of Minneapolis are you talking about as a whole Minneapolis scene, the whole big picture with all the different elements? Or what are you meaning?
Interviewer: 11:01 I mean, I’m going to guide the question with the policy makers-
Tanya Wooten: 11:06 Okay
Interviewer: 11:07 … still stay policy focused still.
Tanya Wooten: 11:11 Okay.
Interviewer: 11:12 Those who are making the policies. Those who are kind of anchoring certain laws that affect the community. Those that are kind of behind the programs that affect the community. So, what is the relationship between the members of the community and the members of those that are creating the policies? The structure that-
Tanya Wooten: 11:34 Okay.
Interviewer: 11:34 … we call the city of Minneapolis.
Tanya Wooten: 11:34 Well, my … okay, if you’re putting it like that. I think some of the … some of them I have a problem with. The one basically I found … okay, when you have your home in the city of Minneapolis, it seems like you’re not an owner of your home. There’s always an issue. You know?
Interviewer: 11:54 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 11:54 You’re supposed to be paying on your home but, then they about to tell you what to do if your grass is an inch high. They’re sending you a letter, “Oh, you’ve got to cut your grass.” Or, if you’ve got a tree a little in the alley, they go, “Oh, you’ve got to cut that down or else were going to have somebody come. You only have x amount of days to do it.” In that instance it doesn’t make you feel like you own your home really because they want to tell you what to do. They want to tell you how to do it. I mean-
Interviewer: 12:22 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 12:23 … sometimes, yeah, that happens and I know that’s still maintenance. But, they made it seem … because I have friends now. It’s like my mom. It’s always something. Oh, they’re telling me that I’ve got to do this or this bush is higher than it should be. And this … I’m like, okay Mom. You know what I mean? That’s … I think it comes to that type of thing that’s the only thing that
Tanya Wooten: 12:47 … that’s my issue with the city. I think they’re doing some positive things. I guess. Because we have all these different projects going on. You’ve got the line going through, which that I’m like, what?
Interviewer: 12:58 What’s your opinion on the line? What is your thoughts on the
Tanya Wooten: 13:02 I don’t think its needed over here-… because I think it’s going to get taken advantage of.
Interviewer: 13:08 Okay. Speak more to that. What do you mean by taken advantage of?
Tanya Wooten: 13:11 Well, if you have a line just like you have the train going down.
Now, I’m a little confused. Is it an actual train? Or is it a busline? You know what I’m saying? I’m still kind of confused-
Interviewer: 13:22 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 13:22 … as to what kind of line was it? I really haven’t read enough to really be speaking on that. So, I don’t know. I really shouldn’t speak on it.
Interviewer: 13:32 Okay. Let’s say it was a train. Like in St. Paul, instead of-
Tanya Wooten: 13:36 Like the blue line or the green line-
Interviewer: 13:38 Then again it’s-
Tanya Wooten: 13:38 Yeah. I think that’s going to be taken advantage of. And, I think that’s a big thing to have on North side because I know a lot of people, some people can’t afford that. And they’re going to jump on it like they do it downtown now. To get a free ride, they jump on the train.
Interviewer: 13:53 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 13:53 Over here, I think they can go somewhere and do something and jump right on the little train and they ain’t going to get caught.
Interviewer: 13:59 Wow. Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 14:00 That’s my … I mean, just being where the route, the line, the way that it’s going.
Tanya Wooten: 14:07 That’s my only concern. I hope that it’s going to be beneficial. But, I just … being the area that it’s in, unfortunately, I don’t want to make it as a bad thing. Its just, I don’t know that a lot of people will use it, and use it honestly like it should be used. You know what I mean?
Interviewer: 14:26 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 14:26 Because that’s the money that people have put in to make it happen.
Tanya Wooten: 14:31 And the support. So, that’s my only downfall. But, I mean it’s a good thing if it works. I hope it does. I hope it’s beneficial and-
Tanya Wooten: 14:38 … I mean, I really do. Like the regular buses were for some people. But, I just … that just seems like, okay. That route though?
Interviewer: 14:49 Right. Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 14:50 That’s my only concern. I don’t know.
Interviewer: 14:54 I appreciate your honesty. So, one final question. For a hopeful future, how do you see the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and the community coming together to produce such a hopeful future? So, let’s say there’s hope for the future. What would be the steps needed? Or, a step needed from your perspective, to create a hopeful future? Or, to push the north side forward in a positive way?
Tanya Wooten: 15:25 That they listen to the community more because I think that they hear it but they don’t respond on it. They’ll respond on what they want to respond on. And, they don’t really respond on some of the issues that people have put forth. Because you hear, over the years you’ve seen that. I read things that people talked about. And, that was talked about ten years ago and then now, they want to implement it. Or, they didn’t want to give it shot before. I understand maybe it could have been money issues or something. But, it got put on the back burner. And, now we have the train, now we have the line going through. I mean, You know what I mean? Oh, but, you want to do a new line to keep up with the other cities. I mean, to me that was a tactic, to try to be like the other cities, for me. I mean that’s just me speaking.
Tanya Wooten: 16:26 I just feel that they don’t hear you sometimes. They don’t hear enough of what they should. And, act upon it, and figure out a way. They don’t really give the community … they can go out and say really. I mean, they can send a flyer. Okay. We can have a meeting or two. You only have four people show up. I mean, I understand that’s probably what the problem is.
Interviewer: 16:50 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 16:50 But, I think there’s … I don’t know how to implement that. But, they need to hear more from the community. I don’t think a lot of … enough is being done to get people to support the community and step up for it and say, heres what I want. You know what I mean?
Tanya Wooten: 17:11 And, I understand you only have so many community meetings. You know what I’m saying?
Interviewer: 17:15 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 17:16 I don’t know how to put it, you know?
Interviewer: 17:17 No, I appreciate-
Tanya Wooten: 17:21 I’m sorry. I know got long winded, a little attitude. I know.
Interviewer: 17:23 No, that’s what this is, this is about we want your honest truth-
Tanya Wooten: 17:30 I just really don’t feel that they-
Interviewer: 17:31 … and your honest perspective.
Tanya Wooten: 17:32 … are really giving the community a chance. I mean a lot of them … that’s why a lot of people have a need from the area. Just because their voices haven’t been heard. I have friends that have done that. And, I have some right now that are strong leaders right now that are starting to do big things. Things are happening for them, you know?
Interviewer: 17:53 That’s good.
Tanya Wooten: 17:54 A couple of my people that I went to school with are doing big things and making big changes for the community. I’m just so happy for them and proud that they are taking the initiative to do what they have to do. You know Bobby Joe, you know him?
Interviewer: 18:06 Yeah, that’s good.
Tanya Wooten: 18:07 That’s my guy. I went to school with him. Graduated with him and my girl, Lisa. And I’m like, what?
Tanya Wooten: 18:13 So, yeah, I mean, I have-… friends out there who are doing big things and really wanted to back the community up. And, I feel so happy for them that they are.
Tanya Wooten: 18:21 We need a push-… more people to do some pushing.
Tanya Wooten: 18:26 Instead of complaining like Tanya. But, I’m not complaining. It’s just been a long time. I’ve tried to … I’ve been in some discussions and meetings over the years too. So, maybe I haven’t just because I had to make some changes in my life too. But-
Interviewer: 18:44 Like we all do.
Tanya Wooten: 18:46 Not out of the area, but I still support the North side. But, anyway. Okay.
Interviewer: 18:52 I appreciate you taking your time just to tell your story. That’s what this is about.
Tanya Wooten: 18:55 Okay.
Interviewer: 18:55 Just questions that just provoke, what is your honest experience? I really want you to know that I appreciate hearing your story, from your vantage point. So, blessing to your journey.
Tanya Wooten: 19:13 Yeah, thank you.
Interview of Susan Breedlove
Interviewer: 00:04 May I have your first and last name and spell it please.
Susan Breedlove: 00:06 Susan, S-U-S-A-N. My last name Breedlove, B-R-E-ED-L-O-V-E.
Interviewer: 00:13 Alright. Okay. Looking at the map in front of you, do you currently or have you ever lived this near part of north Minneapolis and if so how long.
Susan Breedlove: 00:25 I’ve lived in this area of north Minneapolis. Right now I’m up on 22nd off Broadway and I lived for 20 some years right next to North Community High School, so I’ve been on the north side since 1969.
Interviewer: 00:42 Thinking back to when you first came to this area today, what changes have you seen, either positive or negative?
Susan Breedlove: 00:48 Just in this particular area?
Interviewer: 00:50 Yeah.
Susan Breedlove: 00:53 I haven’t seen that many changes per se, okay? I see a lot of changes in terms of leaving our community, because it used to be if you went north of west Broadway, that if you were a person of color you have somebody else with you because you might get beat up, shot and so forth. You didn’t leave our community here and go across the river over to northeast, because when my husband went over there one time and he got beat up really bad and left at the riverside.
Susan Breedlove: 01:23 So, you didn’t cross the bridge there unless you were accompanied by other people of color. My husband was African American and American Indian and European American, but identified as African American.
Susan Breedlove: 01:37 So, that’s one of the changes in terms of accessibility and the boundaries of where people are accepted. That has changed a lot. Also, the businesses on north Broadway. We used to have a lot of businesses there that we would use. Now there’s not so many.
Interviewer: 01:56 What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in the area over the years?
Susan Breedlove: 02:02 I would say neglect, a lot of it economic neglect by the powers to be. Not investing the powers to be and corporations in investing in our community. I would say that we did have some people in the legislature that worked really hard for our community. Like if you go down the river you will see the avenue around the water at Plymouth Bridge is named after James Rice who was real active in the community.
Susan Breedlove: 02:32 People coming out of Ascension Church and other churches were really, really active. But then there was lull where people didn’t ge as much done. A lot of it had to do with the corporations, I would say. Also, the attention paid towards crime in our community.
Susan Breedlove: 02:57 My first husband was murdered in 1970. I found out through the grapevine, that’s how you find out who’s on the north side, who had killed him and the circumstances. My grandson, Jason, was killed, let me see, 19, 20. He was killed about 24 years ago. He was also murdered right over on Plymouth Avenue. And then I just lost my, well he was my step son and my grandson was just killed two years ago on 44th. And I don’t expect they will ever come up with any kind of indictment. It’s crazy cuz they’re people of color.
Interviewer: 03:42 I’m really sorry to hear that.
Interviewer: 03:43 Sorry to hear that.
Susan Breedlove: 03:43 Thank you.
Interviewer: 03:46 So in the city of Minneapolis, there was a lot of trouble going on such as housing, drug wars and transportation. What impact have they had on your family?
Susan Breedlove: 03:59 Well transportation has been one that’s gotten better, but in order to get a job at one time it was really desirable to get jobs out of the central area where we lived, but to get the transportation after the job was done at night, in many places they didn’t used to have buses and stuff so that improved somewhat. What are your other areas that you…housing?
Interviewer: 04:25 Yes.
Susan Breedlove: 04:26 Housing. I think that things are looking up but I also see gentrification happening right now, where I see people coming in. I have neighbors next door to me. It’s very strange to me because I can’t even tell you their name and they have been there over a year. Everyone else on our block and going this way and that way, two ways and behind us, we know everybody, but they just don’t mix in and they just don’t, it doesn’t feel right to have them next door because it’s like their own little world and like maybe we’re, they think they are better than us, or I don’t know. But, I notice the gentrification.
Susan Breedlove: 05:14 The establishment of things like bike lanes in places without any input from people, like my grandson doesn’t ride a bicycle. I mean there’s certain things you have to take care of in terms of safety and that kind of thing and you might not want to as a black male be riding a bicycle up and down, you might be identified as a dope dealer and all that kind of stuff.
Susan Breedlove: 05:40 So, I don’t see those kind of things being attended to. What was the other topic?
Interviewer: 05:46 Discrimination.
Susan Breedlove: 05:48 I mentioned some of the discrimination. I work at Henry High and occasionally at North High right now. I was a substitute. And, I’m pretty much invested in Henry right now. I do all the displays and that sort of thing. The kids up there wanted to change the name of the school because they didn’t want it named after Patrick Henry who was a slave owner. And the discrimination really is blatant.
Susan Breedlove: 06:13 A lot of the kids live down in this area and go to school up there and they wanted to do this, but there are so many haters that attend the meetings, it’s just, I mean you go to a site council meeting and it’s just like ice cold, you know. There’s people my age. I’ll be 78 in May and there’s people that come to these meetings and they’re my age and maybe older and they don’t live in the neighborhood anymore, many of them. But, they don’t want the name changed and they don’t understand the whole concept and I really think that a lot of them are very racist. And it’s very evident at our meetings up there. All the other people on the outside. Discrimination has played a big part.
Susan Breedlove: 07:02 I know, I have a friend that passed away, Jeanie Pettiford, and she and I have both been interviewed at the Library of Congress kinda thing that was done. But, she was saying that being as a white woman, she bought the house while her husband was out of town as a musician. He was one of the very famous Pettifords, Ira and Oscar Pettiford, renowned throughout the world, but Oscar and Ira didn’t buy houses themselves. She bought the house and then when they found of he was black, they tried to get it back from her. So, I know that that was really blatant racism back there.
Susan Breedlove: 07:42 When I buried my husband in 1970, I had to have him buried in the black section of the cemetery that’s located up on Penn Avenue. They’ve changed that now, but if you go up and look up in the Humboldt Avenue side of that cemetery, you won’t find headstones because the plots are so narrow and there wasn’t room for headstones and I don’t know if they even allowed them. They don’t bury people up there any more but us poor whites and people of color that were buried up there. So, if you go on the Humboldt side of the Crystal Lake Cemetery, you’ll see the black section.
Interviewer: 08:24 I’m sorry to hear about that. What changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of stress or concern about its future?
Susan Breedlove: 08:35 Well, I must tell you, I’m not that stressed. I’ve had stressful things happen in my life and I’ve had lots of family and lots of friends in the community and I don’t know that there’s any increase in stress right now. Okay? I really I don’t see it or feel it except the old and the new, I guess we’d say the concept of understanding of what racism is all about. And it’s kind of like the political party disconnects that are happening right now. And I think that causes stress too. And, there’s also stress right now in the relationship to the development in the upper Mississippi River.
Susan Breedlove: 09:22 A former student of mine, Ian Thoveran, that graduated from Henry, started a mushroom factory up there using all the green kind of things that you know everything he does is related to the environment and all good things. A whole plan was made by a group of mostly white individuals as to what they’re going to develop up there. They’re talking about putting a hotel up there, an entertainment center and all that kind of stuff without input of the people. And, so that’s causing stress for people that are aware that that’s going on. And they’re talking about maybe there won’t be room for Ian to have his mushroom factory, which sells mushrooms to all the big restaurants and all that kind of stuff.
Susan Breedlove: 10:07 There’s that kind of stress like who’s in control. And, in this particular situation what they did is, they went and got some people to cover for them and decided, I guess, this is my viewpoint and couple other people. They went to Mr. Copeland, a African American who owned a lot of, had a lot of political finesse and so forth and owned quite a bit of real estate, asked him to be backing them up and then they went and asked Deanna Rogers to have kids go out and interview people. In the interviews that they conducted, I’m a sociology major, I’ve got a Master’s Degree, they didn’t use a type of survey that produces anything that’s really viable. They just went up and put little post cards, “would you like to have an entertainment venue on the Mississippi?” kind of thing.
Susan Breedlove: 11:06 So, they got Roger and Deanna, who are African American, they’re an organization founded by them. They’re wonderful people, but they had some kids do that. So, that’s the stress that I can see. I think if you’ve been through a lot of situations like I have in life, the fact that the police aren’t really following up on my grandson from 2 years ago, that causes some stress to us, but we don’t let it capitalize our lives because it’s kind of like we know this is gonna happen anyway. I mean, we knew that it wasn’t gonna get investigated, this is a black youth, I mean that’s just how you look at something. Well, this is the way it is, so I’m not gonna get all stressed over that.
Interviewer: 11:57 What gives you hope for the future in this community?
Susan Breedlove: 11:59 Oh, the youth. My God, that’s one of the reasons, I mean, I’ll be 78 in May and people say, “How come you’re still in the school?”. So I say, “Well, it’s good to be around the youth because they give you hope.” I’m at Henry, like I said all the time, I went up to North for the National History Day judging and it was so good to see all the people in the community. There was like 15 people that came in from the community that came in to do the judging and visiting with the youth up there. I mean, that brings you hope, I mean, young people aren’t going to sit back and let those things happen that have been happening in the past we are speaking of. That’s what brings me hope. Including my granddaughters. I have 2 granddaughters that work for Oasis for Youth and they have young people finding housing and things that they need and so forth.
Susan Breedlove: 12:49 So, yeah, it’s the youth.
Interviewer: 12:53 When you think about this area today, what impacts do you still see from these historic government policies?
Susan Breedlove: 12:59 Ahh! Well, part of it would be- like, there’s a school that did not allow or did not have or make people feel comfortable, all the people of color or Jewish people up there. So, I don’t know what is biologically inherited if we have some of these vestiges of our past in this, you know. Could you repeat that question so I directly answer?
Interviewer: 13:26 When you think about this area today, what impacts do you still see from these historic government policies?
Susan Breedlove: 13:32 Okay. So, I’m not sure it’s just government policies. I also think it’s private, except that the government probably has put their foot in the door for Crystal Lake Cemetery to change, but don’t you see my grandkids when they go out there to see their grandpa’s grave and it takes them two hours to try to find it. you know, and you realize where your grandpa’s made a very thin, you know, that’s got to have some kind of impact.
Susan Breedlove: 14:06 Also, the whole thing around Olson Highway. That whole housing complex, that’s been renewed I think this is the fourth time that everything was taken down and rebuilt and that’s in fact, Maddie Prince’s mom, she’s a relative of ours, was. That’s where she grew up and Richard Copeland grew up in there and all kinds of people you know grew up in there that had become very well known.
Susan Breedlove: 14:42 But, it’s still, you still feel the effects, I don’t know if there still in the air or not, but anyway, I think it’s more of a feeling. And the government has changed so in the area where it was like, hmmm, they did not allow any black people if you go down Plymouth avenue, you’re going to see these stone markers at the end of each side street. That was because that whole area did not welcome people of color or Jewish people for a long time to go into that area. And so you see those old vestiges that’s still there to remind us.
Interviewer: 15:32 How would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and this community over the years?
Susan Breedlove: 15:41 I just saw a former alderwoman here being interviewed and that was, she and her family helped the Camden area for a long, long time which is right next to this area. The city government, it depends who was in charge at that time. I look more at the State Government. We have a young man, named Fue Lee who is absolutely wonderful in the House of Representatives that came out of Henry High, he looks at things holistically. I looked at his bills, all that he authored and he co-authored and I highlighted them all and he has thirty bills had to do with healthy living.
Susan Breedlove: 16:32 So, that is a change and it’s got to filter down to the city government because we have the highest rate of asthma in the state in my community of [inaudible
00:16:46]. The city government has put their foot down on the conderator that was right on the river. It still stinks when you cross [inaudible 00:16:56] but
we’re getting rid of some of the factories that were there with the force of the city government do that.
Susan Breedlove: 17:02 The city government has been part of the part of the discrimination. There used to be a River View Supper Club used to be down there, Broadway Pizza, okay, and that was a wonderful nightclub. That’s where Prince and a lot of people came and got their start and a lot of people from the whole United States came and got their start. But, at that time when River View was put up, they weren’t gonna, the city government wasn’t gonna allow Jimmy Fullen to have that because he was black. But then some people on the north side like Nellie Stone Johnson and a gal named [inaudible 00:17:45] Downy and her husband and they put their foot down on the city, so they’ve had to stay on the city government to deal with their policies. It all depends on the years.
Susan Breedlove: 17:59 All the streetcars that we used to have, there was a factory that was down there on the Mississippi and the city government was complacent. They were involved in that, gave a kickback for all the metal that was taken from those streetcars and they went and hooked up with the underworld, the criminals to get all that. So, it depends on who’s in the city government at a certain time.
Interviewer: 18:30 What are your expectations of the city of Minneapolis relative to this community?
Susan Breedlove: 18:36 Well, I think that Mr. Ellison has his head in the right place. He recently asked some of us to get together and discuss what was happening with the river development. I’m on a board called Community Power that looks at reducing the rates. And we’re working with the city government and there’s some people that really are looking forward thinkers and then there’s other who are backward thinkers or don’t think at all. So, I don’t know right now, we’ve kind of a new group right there and we’ll have to see what happens with the new group.
Interviewer: 19:22 What part do you feel you can play in creating that more hope for the future?
Susan Breedlove: 19:26 Well, being part of the Community Power, of course, is part of it.
Interviewer: 19:32 I would like to thank you for your time and answering all our questions which is getting us one step closer to what we need to do to fix Minneapolis.
Susan Breedlove: 19:40 Thank you so very much.
Interviewer: 19:42 Yeah.
Interviewer: 19:42 I appreciate being invited.
Interviewer: 19:43 Yeah. This was an amazing interview and I just love how you and Barbara Johnson you guys are really from the neighborhood and have so much history and roots here, and that just makes the interview even much more inspiring, you know, because we’re growing up on the north side, so these kids really know where we come from and all those amazing stories you shared were just very impactful, so I thank you for that.
Susan Breedlove: 20:08 Thank you for inviting me. I appreciate it. Glad you all have done this.
Interview of Sharon El-Amin
Interviewer: 00:00 Okay. May I have your first and last name spelling, please?
Sharon El-Amin: 00:06 Sharon, S-H-A-R-O-N, last name El-Amin, E-L, hyphen, A-M-I-N.
Interviewer: 00:17 And do you currently or have you ever lived in or near this part of North Minneapolis on this map?
Sharon El-Amin: 00:27 I do live in North Minneapolis right now. I’m Alpha 33rd, Lyndale over in this area here. Yes.
Interviewer: 00:35 For how long?
Sharon El-Amin: 00:36 We’ve been actually over at 33rd and Lyndale for ten years now, but I’ve lived in North Minneapolis for about 25 years.
Interviewer: 00:48 Okay. Yep.
Interviewer: 00:54 Thinking back from when you first came to this area to today, what changes have you seen, positive and negative?
Sharon El-Amin: 00:58 Positive and negative?
Interviewer: 00:59 Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Sharon El-Amin: 01:04 I’ll start with the positive.
Interviewer: 01:05 Okay.
Interviewer: 01:06 Okay.
Sharon El-Amin: 01:06 A lot more homes that are being built in our North Minneapolis area, the convenience of having the Black On Market, New Market up off of 44.
Interviewer: 01:20 Yeah. North Market?
Sharon El-Amin: 01:21 Yep. That. Having a lot more small on businesses within North Minneapolis, the mosque being in the central area here, as again being like a hub for the North Minneapolis area to be able to provide services for our community that our in need, services like the hot meal, our food shelf, the employment for the men, different things that happen throughout our Masjid here.
Sharon El-Amin: 02:00 For me it’s the community relationships that I’ve been able to build working with like the — owning my own business, which was El Amin’s Fish House for 13 years, building relationships, getting to know my customers, still today in the store people are referring to me today as the fish lady. And it’s just a community feeling that really keeps me bonded here in North Minneapolis, knowing people knowing where you are, and not having to worry. I really have no fear when I’m out and about within my community. Actually, the fear comes when I’m outside of my community, and I don’t know the people. So when I hear people say, “Oh, I don’t go to North Minneapolis,” it’s like, well, why? I mean for me it’s home.
Interviewer: 02:48 It’s normal life —
Sharon El-Amin: 02:50 It’s home for me.
Interviewer: 02:51 — being here?
Sharon El-Amin: 02:51 I know wherever I go I know somebody, somebody knows me, my children, my family. So for me there’s no other place but North Side Minneapolis.
Interviewer: 03:02 Absolutely.
Sharon El-Amin: 03:04 The negative that I see is more of the houses that are being placed in Minneapolis are being overpriced. So it’s pushing a lot of us out of our community because of the housing, the pricing, the influx that has taken place within our community. Now we have the new development, this 2020 project that’s taking place. So you’re seeing a lot of things that are starting to disappear. You have the streets that are becoming more one lane, giving more access to bikers and things like that. But the reality is that’s not a population for us right now. We need more road as opposed to the bike lanes that are being forced into our community.
Sharon El-Amin: 03:58 The negative things that I see is within our schools. Right now our schools are the ones that are — I mean my son is at North High. And a lot of times what I see is that our inner-city schools are the ones that get the new teachers, the inexperienced teachers that come into the most impoverished schools and don’t really know how to relate to our students. So we get these teachers that come in and they want to befriend our students as opposed to being the enforcer, and really teaching them, and educating them, and making sure that they are being prepared for life outside of high school, grammar school, our educational system. There’s no real equity as we hear them talk about a lot.
Sharon El-Amin: 04:49 We have very few teachers of color. Generally, our people that are of color are in more of the educational assistance behavior type roles. I want to see more teachers of colors, more administrators of color, just more so that our students are able to see themselves in those roles.
Sharon El-Amin: 05:14 I work for the sheriff’s department. And there’s so many different programs that our sheriff’s department offer. My frustration comes because the North Side always gets missed. They’ll go into all the other schools and talk about how working in the service industry, community service, giving back to your community, there’s opportunities for internships. And those doors are never really opened for our students within our community.
Sharon El-Amin: 05:45 And the only way we’re going to see change is if we are at the table. If we are becoming more of the teachers, more of the police officers, more of the lawyers, more of the political figures that are holding the spaces. It’s the only way that we can do it. But if we’re not teaching this to our
children, how do we expect it to happen?
Sharon El-Amin: 06:08 There’s quite a bit of crime that takes place, but I think the crime is because of the lack of our needs that are being met. We have to fight so much more harder to get the basic things in life. So we’re forced to fend for ourselves; right? Prices are higher. You go to Cubs across the street here versus Cubs in Brussels Center and the sales vary. You spend more money. You’re taxed higher, homes are taxed higher, the cost of living is higher, but yet we’re the most impoverished neighborhood. What sense does that make?
Sharon El-Amin: 06:54 It’s like you continue to take what we have. So even a person who feels like they’re middle class, they are always stuck in the middle. You can’t qualify for this, but you don’t make enough for that. So you’re constantly playing this tug of war of trying to get ahead. That’s our society. That’s
how they keep us, so — Okay. You’ll probably have to stop me because I have a lot —
Interviewer: 07:23 No, no. You’re fine. What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in this area over the years, and why do you feel this way?
Sharon El-Amin: 07:27 What caused the changes?
Interviewer: 07:29 Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Sharon El-Amin: 07:31 I think for too long we have been sitting in the background, and we have let others come in and start taking over our rights for being here, opportunity for being here. Am I going ahead —
Interviewer: 07:44 Oh, no, no. You’re good. You’re fine.
Sharon El-Amin: 07:49 Okay. Again, we’re not at the table. So decisions are being made, and we are not being involved in those decision-making opportunities. Information comes to us after decisions have already been made. We need more community leaders. We need more community leaders to be able to bring the information back to our community so we can show up and make sure we’re at the table when these opportunities, when these changes are being made
Sharon El-Amin: 08:22 A lot of time information comes about different projects and stuff that are being made, but in our reality the decision to do what’s going to be done is already made by the time it hits us. So we have to just get more involved and be more present within our community.
Interviewer: 08:39 Okay. We are gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of the historic discriminatory government policies and other practices, examples including housing, employment discrimination in the early 20th Century, the War on Drugs in the 1990s and others. What impact have these policies or others had on the community in general? Or what impact have they had on you or your family personally?
Sharon El-Amin: 09:19 Well, I mean, we can talk about the housing industry. Again, the housing industry right now, cost of rent has went up almost twice as much as what it used to be. So it makes it more harder for families to be able to afford to live here in Minneapolis area. And then even just issues like the criminal, the justice system. People in my family that may have felonies or different things on their records, the opportunity to even be able to be placed into housing is basically obsolete.
Interviewer: 10:05 And jobs.
Sharon El-Amin: 10:06 And jobs. It’s like, okay, well, yes, they committed a crime, but they did their time. How do you expect them to come back and r establish themselves if you put the stamp on them that always rejects them. You’re forcing them back out into the criminal world. Right? Because I have to live. I have to eat. I have to provide for my family. But it’s because of our government and those different laws that says if you’re a felony you’re rejected housing, your chances of getting a job, they’ll always keep you at a lower pay. So you can’t really afford to take care of your family or you can’t afford the housing.
Sharon El-Amin: 10:50 So things like that that have impacted me and then just the schooling. The laws and the way that we are promoting — we’re basically pushing our children through the school system. And we as parents have to get more involved in the school to make sure that these laws that are being passed, that our schools become more transparent, that our teachers are being held more accountable, and that our district is being more aware of the needs that we need.
Sharon El-Amin: 11:26 So lots of different things when it comes to our schooling from funding to the curriculum within our schools. Our students are always way further behind than their peers when you put them all in the same group. Right? And that should not be something we have to face. My child should be able to go to North High School and be able to compete with somebody from Wayzata when it comes to any type of competition. But if we keep the curriculums at this very low standard, what are you setting us up for? What are you really trying to build them up to be? Right?
Sharon El-Amin: 12:05 So that’s one of the things that I continue and will always fight for is for stronger curriculums in our school, for parents to be more involved, for us to really just challenge the status quo of one way to teach our students, one way to teach our — because we know as African Americans we learn a little different. We’re more hands-on. You’ve got to show me. I’m going to question what you put before me. You can’t just give me anything and expect me to say, okay, yes, I accept that. So we need culturally competent teachers, staff within our schools to understand our children, to understand our families, our parents, and our needs as African American people.
Interviewer: 12:51 Okay. What changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of stress or concern about its future?
Sharon El-Amin: 13:03 The changes that I’m seeing right now really is basically the gentrification that’s taking place right before our eyes. Again, back to th 2020 plan and the development things that are happening, the over-pricing of the homes that are being put in our community, the fact that they choose to do these bike lanes in certain areas, which is minimizing parking, and the way that we move throughout the city, the high property taxes that have increased on our homes, which again will sometimes cause families to lose their homes because they can’t afford it.
Sharon El-Amin: 13:41 So you really just see the gentrification taking place. And if we don’t, again, get out here and be more involved in the community, we’re going to wake up, and it’s going to be a total different face here in North Minneapolis. From our schools, again, putting the least experienced teachers over in our schools to deal with the most impoverished or the most challenged group of children, students without having the experience to really tap into the potential that we have, right? It has a lot.
Interviewer: 14:20 No. I understand. I definitely, you know, being a north and knowing that a lot of the teachers that was there when I was there as — I was there in 2017, 2016. So when I was there it was a different brand of teachers and everybody knew the teachers. We was all kind of pretty comfortable with the teachers. And now that a lot of those teachers got pulled out and are at different schools, I saw that over the past couple of years when I came back that there is a lot of different teachers and a lot of different things going on. And I know that talking to some other students that they
didn’t necessarily like the changes that were happening. So I definitely understand how that goes.
Sharon El-Amin: 14:57 Good. Good.
Interviewer: 14:59 One last little question.
Sharon El-Amin: 14:59 Okay.
Interviewer: 15:01 What part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in relieving that stress
Sharon El-Amin: 15:07 What part does the city need to play? Transparency. We need to be transparent with what’s taking place. Information needs to go out in a more timely manner to give people the opportunity to be able to attend the different functions that are taking place, utilizing our city radio stations, our city newspapers, the schools, and just different — really reaching to the community and people that have been here to help spread the word and bring the people together when things are happening if they really want to see change.
Interviewer: 15:45 Okay. Yeah. I agree. I agree. And that concludes our time.
Interview of Savannah Thomas
Savannah Thomas: 00:26 Savanna Thomas. S-A-V-A-N-N-A-H T-H-O-M-A-S
Interviewer: 00:32 Alright. And then you can use this map, can you reference where do you live or where do you work?
Savannah Thomas: 00:49 I think around here. 12th and Vincent.
Interviewer: 01:03 Yeah, Golden Valley?
Savannah Thomas: 01:03 Yeah.
Interviewer: 01:04 All right, so thinking back to that area today, what changes have you seen? Positive and negative in that area?
Savannah Thomas: 01:12 So I lived on 12th and Vincent. There’s a park–Folwell, I believe?
Interviewer: 01:18 Yeah
Savannah Thomas: 01:20 Folwell Park like two blocks away from it, and there was always a summer program, We Care Performing Arts, with Ms. Loraine Smaller and every kid in the neighborhood attended it every summer for years, and I don’t believe they do it anymore. So that was a big change because it really brought our neighborhood together; our block. Everyone came to the little last performance. All our neighbors in the surrounding areas.
Savannah Thomas: 01:54 I seen a lot of African Americans moving out because they couldn’t afford the housing in the area anymore. So, a lot of them moved out. A lot of them.
Interviewer: 02:06 Okay. All right, I won’t ask you that because you kind of answered it. So let me just shorten this up. So, the examples that I said like housing, transportation, employment, the war on drugs, even–How do those policies affect you or the community?
Savannah Thomas: 02:31 Well transportation, I mean, it didn’t really affect me as much. I was always just in my own little world, kind of. I went to school farther–I didn’t go to school in the north. So, I was never really in North Minneapolis or never impacted by anything like that. Like I said, I always stayed in my area. I never really went that far off anywhere…North Minneapolis. I don’t know much about it.
Interviewer: 03:05 Have any family?
Savannah Thomas: 03:07 Same goes with them. Me and my brothers, we all went to so it was always farther off, and they were always into sports. It never really affected them, and my dad works at the Minneapolis Urban League. So, we just come home and… It didn’t really affect us like that. Our neighbors either. My best friend is Martin’s daughter, so, she’d probably say the same thing. It didn’t really affect us like that.
Interviewer: 03:46 Okay so, in the community, as of now, do you have any concerns about anything else going on?
Savannah Thomas: 03:59 So, I remember hearing about the historical designation. I don’t know if that’s passed or not? Do you know? That was kind of a big issue I was hearing about. They tried to up the prices of the houses all around there. So–wait can you repeat the question one more time too?
Interviewer: 04:27 Do you have any concerns about the community?
Savannah Thomas: 04:30 I’d say, probably, that’s the biggest one because that’s just like I said: More people of color are moving out because of the increase of housing in the area and-
Interviewer: 04:52 What gives you hope for the future in this community?
Savannah Thomas: 04:54 Wait, what did you say?
Interviewer: 04:54 What gives you hope for the future in this community?
Savannah Thomas: 05:01 For my neighbors, in general, we’re all pretty–we get together a lot. They think of better ways…things to do. They have little meetings. They go to the ARC meetings. And they just find things they can do. We talk a lot. It’s like this little group chat thingy. I think just our neighborhood is all worth the same thing, or most of them. So that’s cool.
Interviewer: 05:38 All right. Do you have any last words about what you want to say about Minneapolis as whole, even, or?
Savannah Thomas: 05:49 I love Minneapolis. I love my neighborhood. I think the get-togetherness is great and how everyone finds different ways to improve it as much as they can. I think that’s cool.
Interviewer: 06:01 All right. That’s all we have for you today. Thank you for coming we enjoyed your time.
Savannah Thomas: 06:08 Welcome. Thank you.