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.
Interview of Princess Titus
Interviewer: 00:02 Okay. May I have you say your first and last name and spell it out too?
Princess Titus: 00:05 My name is Princess Titus, P-R-I-N-C-E-S-S, last name, Titus, T-IT-U-S.
Interviewer: 00:13 Can you give me two seconds and I’ll be ready.
Princess Titus: 00:16 One, two. That’s it. . I’ve been crying all day.
Interviewer: 00:26 You said you’ve been crying all day?
Princess Titus: 00:26 Yeah. I cry all the time. You’re going to hear it in the story probably. We’ll see.
Interviewer: 00:33 Okay. According to the map right there, do you currently or have you lived near this part? And if you did, how long?
Princess Titus: 00:45 Okay. I lived on Broadway for five years. I work on Broadway. I’ve worked on Broadway for the last six years. I’ve been in Nort Minneapolis for 22 years and primarily lived around the Broadway area.
Interviewer: 01:05 Okay. So the third question is, thinking back from when you first came to this area, what changes have you seen? Positive and negative changes.
Princess Titus: 01:10 When I first came to this area … I’m a refugee from Chicago running from the war that was going on there. When I came here, I was encountered with and greeted by white people who wanted to build community, and primarily they were, so to speak, saying that they were looking at the community as it being us. And then now I’ve seen an influx of people from other states who are also Europeans who have came in and look at community work as community they and not community us. That’s one of the negative changes I’ve seen. One of the positive changes that I’ve seen was compared to Chicago, there was always opportunities in Minnesota. They said it was a state for women and children, and then people said it was a state for white women and children because of how some legal things will go for black women. I encountered that, but I always found that there was something for my children to do, so when my boys were acting up in school in the winter time, I enrolled them in hockey, and being able to open up into that opportunity, being the only two black boys playing hockey, six years later it was a all black hockey team, and then there was a trophy in Harrison Park for hockey that year.
Princess Titus: 02:24 And that hadn’t been done within 10 years, so there’s always an opportunity, I feel like, in North Minneapolis for people to do something, people who still want to do something.
Interviewer: 02:34 Okay. What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in this area over the years? And why do you feel that way?
Princess Titus: 02:42 I think with the negative part with gentrification that happens in every urban area. I remember when North Minneapolis was primarily Jewish community. The Foodscape looked a little different, and now that we had a whole bunch of schools rebuilt some years ago, and then they closed them down because they were like we weren’t in that phase of gentrification yet. But I’ve noticed that I think gentrification being the plan in a lot of the urban areas because of the depletion of the soils and the natural resources out in urban areas where white people primarily live is. That’s why one one of those things has changed. The other reason on the positive change that I’ve saw is that I feel like now, or I think, or I’ve observed now that more of the businesses that are being birthed in North Minneapolis or in this community are by the people, for the people, like IWD, Individuals with Dreams, like Appetite for Change, like Standard Edition Women, like Abundant Life, all those are the people saying, “These are our issues and we can fix them ourselves, so here we are coming.” And we need human resources. We also need financial resources, but I think that we’ve hit our bottom as a people, and I think we got this, and I think we’re going to be okay.
Interviewer: 03:55 Okay. Okay. So we are gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community and the impact of historic 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 1990s and others. What impacts have these policies or others had on the community in general and what impact have they had on you or your family personally?
Princess Titus: 04:32 So my approach to all of these things is … and I love the city. I love Joy and I love, and all of the people because they were once my community when I came here before they were officials within the city. But this is a narrative long overdue. We know why it’s happening. We know that the rhythm and the souls of the black people will not allow us to rise back up and offend the people who’ve done things to damage us. How it’s impacted my family personally, because I feel like if you’re talking about economics, education, politics, religion, sex, entertainment, war, and religion …. I already said religion, but all these areas in which we engage, everybody eats and we’re competing. We’re competing for things to validate our lives when really what we want is life, and in order to live, you have to eat. So we bypass how to care for our environment, looking at the air, the soil, the water as natural resources that will always be here. But the Earth is living too and we must care for her, and I never thought I would be a tree hugger. I’m a gangster from Chicago so I never thought I would be a tree hugger.
Princess Titus: 05:46 But if our soil is not good and our seeds are not sown right, and then our fruit will not produce itself, we can’t eat, and then we’re dependent on somebody else to do that, so I think the company-dependence in our relationship with the system. But from the food that I watch young people consume, because we notice, like you wake up in the morning on your way to school. You got $2. You go where? To the corner store. You get some chips, and a juice. That happens when you have 38 fast food restaurants and corner stores more often than it does in some areas where there’s different laws about zoning and how long restaurants can be open, and how many fast food junkie places can you have. So we’ve got some laws changed within our food justice work and in the environmental justice work that we’re doing. We’ve also got some places closed thanks to Roxanne O’Brien, our unsung hero who’s out here fighting with Northern Metals because they’re recycling cars in our community and they’re chipping up the cars, and spitting in our air, and then we wonder why our children have asthma.
Princess Titus: 06:50 we know that once we leave the inner city, those trash dumps and things of recycling will follow us where we are, and we know that it’s set up that way on purpose. Because of bad food, which is what I was told, I think that’s sometimes part of the reason why we have bad interactions with law enforcement. They eat what we eat. They go to the corner store. They eat at the corner store too. They just got guns and we don’t. I lost my son to gun violence July 4th, 2010, and we grew food. But the young people that he was around were, I feel like the people who are warred upon and they don’t even know they’re being warred upon. So that’s how it’s impacted my family personally. Those are the impacts that the policies have had on these communities, and I believe that the city knows them. We just have to stand firmly in calling it is what it is I the face of the people, even the ones who want to fix this problem with us, and look at community as still being us, that they have to hold …what do they call it? Get your cousins. They have to hold their other counterparts accountable.
Interviewer: 08:00 Oh, yeah. Okay. So what changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of stress or concern about its future, and what part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in relieving that stress?
Princess Titus: 08:12 I have seen children. My son is 25. My last living son is 25 and he has lost 42 friends, and when he lost his brother, that was the 4th of July, so this Thursday we was in Shiloh taking the pictures. And that following Thursday I was in Shiloh burying him. Him and all his friends were expected to just go back to school. When a shooting happens in a Caucasian community, therapists come out and children get to take a break, and they get t decompress. You’re just taught you got to go on with it, so I can’t be mad at you when you pick up a sack or a pint of lean or something like that to just see if you can silence the thoughts and the things that are going on in your mind. And I don’t think our school is funded by our city. Our schools are Minneapolis Public Schools. No. Our schools are funded by the state so different. But still, it says it’s Minneapolis Public Schools but it’s really funded by the state. But there has to be some type of intentionality around healing for those of us who are willing to continue to step out here and do the work with all the pain to drag behind them.
Princess Titus: 09:19 We have to let this go. Hey say it biblically. You have to confess your sins. Just say what happened. Say what you did. Everybody’s avoiding the truth and then they war up on us and they hide it in plain sight. And we act like we don’t see it, so it’s almost a nameless monster. But after you name that monster, then you can fight against it. You know the boogie man?
Interviewer: 09:39 Yeah.
Princess Titus: 09:40 He under your bed, right? He ain’t there when you turn the light on, right?
Interviewer: 09:43 No.
Princess Titus: 09:43 He gone when you turn the light on because you know that’s the boogie man. He in the dark. He in the closet. He in the bed. Now that you know that’s the boogie man, you know you just got to turn the light on, maybe get a teddy bear, maybe have somebody tuck you in. You know how to handle it. We’re avoiding it. We’re avoiding it. We’re dancing around in it. We’re trying to fix it with big words like intersectionality to see if we can get people to meet at a common place. If you eat, then you’re human because regardless of your zip code and the color of your skin, your food processes and comes out looking just like mine. And once we deplete the earth as a natural resource, North side all the way to … I’ve been to Turks and Caicos. Black people are in the same situation in every state after the diaspora, so regardless of where I go, when we can connect with people in that basic need … blacks, whites, if you just eat, and we can meet in that basic need and see that we too are human and have to commit our time to investing back into the earth and into each other, then maybe it’ll be different.
Princess Titus: 10:38 So that’s bigger than city but I just think some healing because I see so many babies that are doing what they’re doing, and I know they carry some pain. And I can’t respect your pain if I aint even respecting my own.
Interviewer: 10:54 You said that your son lost 42 friends?
Princess Titus: 10:57 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Interviewer: 10:57 Was that friends from this community, like North Minneapolis?
Princess Titus: 11:01 In North Minneapolis. And I’m a refugee from Chicago so I left Chicago to avoid my son losing 42 friends, but I came to Minneapolis. I came to St. Paul when I came to Minnesota and they sent me to Minneapolis because they said, “You’re from Chicago. Go over there.” And I never heard anything like that. But then when I got here, they had free backpacks and I could line up and get a turkey, and then that lasted very short. I was off welfare in eight months and had my GED and was working a couple of jobs and since then I’ve got my teaching license and I’ve started a few businesses, so my Chicago hustle was able to put me a little step ahead of this. But then I could see the game too because I’m 44, so I’m in that generation where I knew that immunizations were real and everybody got chicken pox, and you couldn’t look in the sun or you’d go blind, and now none of that’s true. So who gets to tell me my truth? I was talking to the young people I work with and I asked them how old do they think they’ll be when they’ll die, and they said 25. Some said 16. So I remember hearing the narrative when I was younger that black men died 18 or 21. Now them babies is like, if I live to be 35, I’m good, but I probably won’t live to be 16. When did that become the expectation and the standard when I know there’s just as much gun violence in Hinkley as there is in Minneapolis? So the narrative that’s shared, that information that is coming from the city or whoever has to be approved by us because it’s not our true story, and it gets people to see that we’re … they believe it so then they think we’re different. When they approach you on the street they grab their purse and they cross. But I don’t feel that way when I walk up on you, and we haven’t rose up and warred against our oppression at all, because rhythmically we’re not those people. While I have hope for the future of this community because I totally believe that the youth are the truth and like IWD, I don’t know what it is but I’m down. I didn’t even want to come do this because I’m careful with my story. I have to allow you permission to carry my story and I have to know you and trust you to do that.
Princess Titus: 13:05 I carry people’s stories and I ask their permission to carry their stories when I go to the White House or when I go meet Keith in Washington like bro. This urban ag bill. We need land over north that we can buy and own. Not that I can work on and build up, and then have it gentrified from underneath me. So ownership. If we don’t own anything how do we … aren’t we a stolen people with a stolen land and a given culture? So if we can’t own any land, if when people come in and zone and do work in North Minneapolis, we just don’t need black, people working on that crew. I need track instruction to be in on a bid with preference because they’re local. I need the opportunities to make sure that the black dollar gets spent in the black community bettering black people more than not, because we have so many other people coming in and they’re eating. Everytime I look at the city and the streets being redone I’m like, damn, they eating. They eating. They eating. They eating. They eating. My people got to eat and when I say my people, I mean any people that eat food and think that I’m their people.
Princess Titus: 14:05 If you don’t and you see me as different and separate because of my views and opinions, then you’re not my people, but you get to choose. So everybody’s invited in until you by actions separate yourself out. And that’s when you get to see what is deserved for a black baby is different than what’s deserved for a white baby, and sometimes it’s so internal that people just can’t sort it out. They don’t know that I think you lazy just because I’m looking at you and I don’t think you doing nothing because you sitting there. No. I feel like y’all working hard. Y’all just started this business in September. And that’s why I have hope because if we can invest into the younger ones, not necessarily y’all, but like the 11 and under. Showing them something different, letting them start their own businesses, then they grow up to be after 13 young people are done with park board sports. They off into high school. You can’t play sports unless your grades are good. Am I telling the truth?
Princess Titus: 14:56 So then you meet up on the corner, and when you and your guys get into it with the kids on the next corner, now it’s beef. Then a couple of people, we lose them and their mothers lose they mind and they stay in the house. I wasn’t staying in no house. Everybody was going to see me hurt and I’ve given a whole bunch of people permission to hurt outwardly. It doesn’t take anything away from you because you have this pain. My son was 16 for two weeks. Two weeks. And it was beautiful and the children were caught so I could still do my work in the community, but when they went to jail, I didn’t feel like I had won. I felt like I had lost and I felt like there was more work to do. I felt like I lost three men’s lives, so that’s what gives me hope. I think the youth are the truth. And they told me that. And when you give young people a platform on which they can operate within their power, you can’t take it back. Y’all got the answers. Y’all don’t look like it because y’all pants is cut up and y’all rock a curly hair, and you got your bling. You don’t look like it.
Princess Titus: 15:50 You look like you’ve been advertised for me to think you on some garbage, but I know y’all got the answers because y’all tired and we’ve hit our bottom, and there’s nowhere to come from the bottom but up.
Interviewer: 16:01 Okay. What part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in creating a more hopeful future for us?
Princess Titus: 16:09 Allowing us opportunities. You got redlining rules. I can’t buy a house in certain areas. I went through that. Nine months pregnant, I went through that and they bought me a house, and gave me a bad deal. And then when everybody lost they houses I was just scooped up into that. At the same time of losing my son, I was just scooped up into that. If we don’t have access to some of these buildings that cost so much money … what’s the lady’s name? Chante from All Washed Up, the laundromat on Lowry and Penn. She had $30,000 of her own money. She had a house paid off so she had collateral. She had a felon. She couldn’t get a business loan. You know what I mean? So it took all this time for them to get five lenders to match the amount that she had to build out this laundromat so she could have a business so she would need a job to create some revenue and job opportunities for people in the community. That shouldn’t have been that hard. Why do I have to show up and be better than everybody, like double better than my white counterparts, and then still not get the same treatment?
Princess Titus: 17:22 The city has to value a life for a life. The way that black men are being treated by the police without impunity, no consequences, that’s just unheard of. And if the shoe was on the other foot, we would be held accountable so the city has to be accountable and responsible to what they say they value, to the same people who pay tax dollars, because every time you buy something, it’s tax on it, right? So you paying taxes regardless of if your money came from welfare or hustling. You paying taxes. They getting they cut, so they have to invest back into us. They have this disproportionate relationship in everything. I think Minnesota ranked number one over Tennessee and Mississippi on how blacks are rating compared to the white counterparts. But who says they’re the standard? What’s our standard? What do we want? So cooking and eating and talking with the community, this storytelling part, and asking people what they want is one piece. But when people haven’t ever seen anything other than what they’ve seen, how do they dream? Individuals with Dreams. How do they dream?
Interviewer: 18:31 So these last three questions is just like little short [inaudible
00:18:37] questions. You ain’t got to delve deep down if you don’t want to.
Princess Titus: 18:38 Okay.
Interviewer: 18:41 So when you think about this area today, what impacts do you still see from these historic government policies?
Princess Titus: 18:51 I see the people fighting and I see the system doing what the
Interviewer: 18:54 Okay. So how would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and this community over the years?
Princess Titus: 19:05 I think it’s gotten better because of the people that we have in positions of power over there. Like I said, Joy, Julie … even having … what’s his name? Jeremiah … you know. Some of those people, Sean. You know. Just people I know that I know from the hood. I used to give Keith a ride in my old Caravel when he was at the Urban League, so people that I know I can relate with that I’ve broken bread with are now in those positions so I think we’re headed on the right track because they carry our narratives, and they knew our children. And when our whole hood grieves, it impacts them. When our whole hood grieves and these people are working the city that don’t live in the city, they just go home. It’s not the truth. It’s just ours and we’re left to dress it up and make it look … did it look okay?
Princess Titus: 19:53 Dress it up and make it look okay and get back to the work.
Interviewer: 19:56 Okay. What are your expectations of the city of Minneapolis related of this community? To what extent do you trust the city of Minneapolis to deliver on those expectations?
Princess Titus: 20:11 I raise a eye to everything and I feel like even with my young people, I tell them wrong information all the time because they’ll believe me, and then I teach them how to do their research and your research just ain’t Google. It’s talking to your counterparts, your auntie, your mom, your elders, your homies, seeing what people think about it. Do I trust that they’ll do it? That’s always been my question with politics, like somebody run for office and they say, I’m a do X, Y, and Z, when is the date that I get to go to your review and say he did half of X. I don’t know why that he was doing Y. And is Z coming next year?
When do we get to come back and say? And then sometimes their timelines aren’t even right. We got the 2040 plan. You heard about that? The comprehensive plan for Minneapolis, the 2040 plan?
Interviewer: 20:58 Mm-mm (negative).
Princess Titus: 20:58 So where Minneapolis is going to be in the year 2040. And they have like this hard deadline of when they are done taking feedback. I’m a have to go knock door to door or probably do my community organizing at the two and the fourth to get the real people who are being impacted by the issues out of their trauma. I might have to meet them in their trauma and to get them to the meetings because when you’re done taking feedback you’re going to move this agenda anyway and we’re kind of being written out of it, the way it reads to me. There’s laws. I think there’s not laws, but rules about how it can be written and even the verbiage in there, so play them word games with yourself. Come to the people and ask the people what they need. And if you want them to trust you, cook and eat and talk with them, it brings that family feeling. People tell you what they feel like they want or need. They even hold they selves accountable to it because they can offer. Even if they set up a equal situation, we still in a place where we haven’t dealt with our pain, so could we even capitalize on those opportunities? So do I trust them?
Princess Titus: 22:06 I would say yes because I would want to project that into the future. But I’m always going to have four, five plans in the bag on my own.
Interviewer: 22:13 All right. What part do you feel like you could play in making this community right here on this map more hopeful?
Princess Titus: 22:23 Currently, I’m the founder of a couple of different organizations, Appetite for Change, Standard Edition Women. I sit on the board of Abundant Life and Pretty Girls Club. I’m looking now. Do I sit on the board of the Wedge or South side Family Charter School? And that’s over South and that’s over South. Do I sit on the board of the Council on Black Minnesotans or whatever it’s called now? Where do I position myself to make sure that I’m the only black in the room? Because until there’s that first only black in the room, you don’t get more. We have to be at the table or we on the plate. So that’s the message I carry to make sure that whatever happens happens. We applied for this RECAST funding and we didn’t get it. We applied because there was a gun incident at the block party we threw right here in front of Shiloh. And it was peaceful all day but a young man had a weapon because he was afraid because he’s on Broadway, and he was jumping and singing and it fell, and somebody was injured. And our children never got to unpack that.
Princess Titus: 23:22 But the type of youth organization I run is where we found out somebody else got the funding. We just wanted to participate because we knew we all needed healing as well. So even if they didn’t all get chose to tell they story, I would like to ask them some of these same questions. And is this really going to help with the healing? Because this was about trauma, so if it’s about starting a process for the city of Minneapolis, they could fund it and get somebody some programs to run something. That might be cool. I feel like that’s a given, though. That’s what they good for doing, going, yep. We helped you create this situation. Want some money so you can go fix it? We’ll take the money and go fix it.
Princess Titus: 24:06 Wouldn’t you take the money and go fix it?
Interviewer: 24:06 Yeah, I’d rather fix it myself.
Princess Titus: 24:08 But you can fund it. You can make sure I stay in them 13s. Any other questions?
Interviewer: 24:14 I do. Where you get the information about that 2040 thing?
Princess Titus: 24:20 The 2040 com plan? I work with an environmental justice coalition with Sam Grant and James Trice and Roxanne, a couple of hard hitters who do air, water, and land, and Catherine and Micheal Chaney from Project Sweetie Pie. So we had to read the 2040 com plan. It’s 97 areas of interest. It’s just unreadable for me. It’s a lot and they’re accepting feedback, but we’re doing something different. And then even with the accepting feedback, you submit it anonymously and then the city says that they’re not getting feedback from the fifth and fourth ward. How do you know if it’s anonymous? So do I trust them?
Interviewer: 25:00 All right. Thank you for this part. Just because it’s … yeah. So thank you for …
Princess Titus: 25:07 Thank you.
Interview of Portia Jackson
Interviewer: 00:33 Okay, so the first question is may I have you say your first and last name with the spelling too please.
Portia Jackson: 00:39 My name is Portia Jackson, and it’s P-O-R-T-I-A-J-A-C-K-S-O-N.
Interviewer: 00:56 So referring to this map right here, have you lived in this area, do you live, or…
Portia Jackson: 01:03 I live there now.
Interviewer: 01:05 How long have you lived there?
Portia Jackson: 01:05 I bought a house on 15th and Bryant three years ago.
Interviewer: 01:11 Okay, okay, so thinking back from you first moving to this area, what changes have you seen? Can I just get one positive and one negative change.
Portia Jackson: 01:18 Well, I actually have lived off and on in north Minneapolis from, we move here from Chicago in September, September 1992.
Portia Jackson: 01:28 So I lived off and on here for 25 years. One positive, one positive thing that I think when I think of this neighborhood in north Minneapolis is just the community. It is reminiscent of what I was used to living in Gary and Chicago. You know, just having, being able to go outside and you know, kick it on your block and not having to, you know, go to the mall or something like that. I think we chose areas that, you know, people where we knew, people that were like us so we had that comradery and it helped us to kind of get more solidified in this cold, cold place, that is Minnesota. So I think that’s great, that the sense of community.
Portia Jackson: 02:11 So negative things are, I just think the thing is just the stereotype, like not the actual thing that happened, but the things that people think, because you know I’ve worked in a lot of different places, I used to work in Washington County up until like two months ago, and you know, they go oh you live in north Minneapolis, and they just see there’s like a war zone and just like, it’s nothing like that. It’s my home, it’s where I live, it’s where I have my kids, you know, it’s where I have my dogs, it’s where my mom lives, and you know we chose very intentionally to buy over here because we wanted to combat gentrification as much as we could, so yeah, the one thing I think is negative is actually some of that, you know it’s just a mindset and not actually a negative.
Portia Jackson: 02:53 If you’re here and actually in the communities.
Interviewer: 02:55 Right, so, what do you feel caused those changes that you’ve seen in this area? And like, after you answer that, can you tell me why you feel like that?
Portia Jackson: 03:06 Well the changes, well the biggest changes from when we first moved here til now is that north Minneapolis used to be a lot whiter than what it is. Cause the black people, we lived on 31st and Oliver, and across the street all of our neighbors owned the homes, all of em were white, and I just remember that, and you know, that was weird for me cause coming from south side Chicago and living in Gary where there are no white people really at all except for teachers and doctors.
Portia Jackson: 03:32 It was just kind of odd and then over the years it’s become, you know that area that I lived in, has become more of a, you know, a ghetto for a lack of a better term. I don’t think it’s a ghetto at all but just you know, lower income people and housing isn’t as nice as it used to be and a lot of it has been torn down. So I think some of the changes that I see now are that, you know, there are a lot of us here and that a lot of us are still buying homes in Minneapolis, they’re trying to kick us out, they’re trying to price us out but we’re still standing strong and staying here.
Interviewer: 04:12 Right.
Portia Jackson: 04:13 Which is great, and it’s, yeah.
Interviewer: 04:16 Okay so we are gathering these stories to increase the understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of historical discriminatory government policies and practices in areas like housing, transportation, economic development and more.
Portia Jackson: 04:35 Uh huh.
Interviewer: 04:35 Examples include housing and employment discrimination in the early 20th century…
Portia Jackson: 04:39 Uh huh.
Interviewer: 04:39 The war on drugs in the 1990s and others…
Portia Jackson: 04:42 Uh huh.
Interviewer: 04:42 What impacts have these policies or others had on the community in general?
Portia Jackson: 04:49 Well its funny that you should ask because I actually work in housing, I am the program manager for PRG, for their home ownership advising services. We are located in south Minneapolis but we build most of our houses and we have most of our houses in north Minneapolis. I actually bought a PRG rehab house on 15th and Bryant three years ago. So, and the other thing about that is, in my profession I also have ran a home buyer’s club that is for historically black women in partnership with BWWA and Kenyon McKnight High, so we actually have two different sessions, one that started in November one that started in March and the first thing that we did and the whole purpose of us focusing on that particular population was to kind of let people know, black, let black women know that you don’t necessarily not own a home because it was just a choice, there’s a system that was set up for you not to own a home. Like it was just set up for you, it wasn’t for you.
Portia Jackson: 05:45 So that’s why, you know it may not be prevalent, you might not see, you know, these things say oh you know, you see check cashing places and you see rent to own and contract for deed, but you don’t see straight up do you want to buy a piece of land?
Portia Jackson: 05:59 So that’s something that I, even though I was working in Washington County when I was doing it, which is miles away, I can to north Minneapolis to have this home buyer club that was six weeks long, we made sure that we had professionals that came in and looked like us, so most of the realtors and loan officers, and closers and things like that were black women, just so that they could see that, you know, there was redlining and there was reasons why certain neighborhoods are a little poorer or darker than other ones, just because that’s the way it was laid out.
Portia Jackson: 06:33 And what, you know, I wanted people to know is that most times they’re thinking I want to get out of here, I wanna buy in Wrentham Park, I wanna buy in Robinsdale, I wanna buy in
, and my whole thing is, no you want to buy here. You wanna buy here because this is where you are, this is where your roots are, you know, north Minneapolis is right near downtown, like we are in a great spot. Where I live and then north, is a great spot to be and I know that because there’s a house that sold two blocks away from me for 480,000 dollars.
Portia Jackson: 07:02 So, it’s just I want people to take pride in where they’re at, and purchase where they live, and you know, raise their children here. Because, you know, even though we all got bunched in here because of not so great things, because of redline and government practices that kind of discriminate against us, you have to make the best of it, you make the best out of everything else, you know, we take rotten peaches and make peach cobbler. We take the worst part of the pig and make chitlins, like we just, you know, we make lemonade out of lemons all the time. And I feel like even though this started as something that was to keep us from being in the better places, we can make where we’re at the best place possible.
Interviewer: 07:46 Do you feel like they had impact on you or your family personally?
Portia Jackson: 07:49 Aw yeah, cause, yeah, because when I grew up my mom didn’t own a home, my dad did but it was back in Gary so that’s different, you know it’s just different. So here, I just never even thought about it, even as an adult, I’m like I’ll rent it’s fine, it’s cool, that’s just not for me, I’ll never be able to get a loan from a bank, I’ll never be able to borrow that much money, mortgage be too expensive. And at some point, you know, I was receiving Section 8 and they got to the point they’re like, well your Section 8 voucher amount is 1250, like you gotta pay 1250. I said well thank you for your, you know, all the stuff you give me but now you can move on cause I’m paying 1250 I should be able to do private market or buy or whatever.
Portia Jackson: 08:29 So then we went to private market for a couple of years, and that was expensive you know we were paying 1500 dollars to live in a 4 bedroom in south Minneapolis which is very nice, it was a nice neighborhood, but I’m thinking if I can pay this my landlord bought this house for 120, why am I paying him double for what he’s paying for his mortgage. So I started to reach out to agencies that dealt with home ownership, one of the agencies is Billwelth Minnesota, which is in north Minneapolis -shout out to David McGhee. So that’s where I actually got my mortgage from and I bought my house from PRG which develops property in north Minneapolis. So I think that, Minnesota, Minneapolis, [inaudible 00:09:12] County is taking a real stake in saying that we do need to develop, we do need to have green homes north, we do need to have these things for people to stay in the community. We do need to make sure these are only available to people under 80 percent A.M.I. whatever the case may be, and it should be affordable for them to buy. I think that was very intentional, and I think it was great that that happened because without that without having those programs without having the mortgage product that I ended up getting in to, I wouldn’t be able to buy at all and I definitely wouldn’t be able to buy the size of house that I have, because I have five children, there were five bedrooms, 2,000 square foot with a huge lot.
Portia Jackson: 09:49 So, we wouldn’t be able to do that in south Minneapolis, so yeah.
Interviewer: 09:54 Okay, okay. So what changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of stress, or concern about it’s future?
Portia Jackson: 10:00 Gentrification, with a capital G, and an exclamation point at the end.
Portia Jackson: 10:05 Like I said, house sell for 480,000 dollars somebody bought it for 160 and sold it for almost half a million dollars. Which I understand that you have to make a profit, you know, and I’m part of my neighborhood association and this person actually is part of my neighborhood association, so you know we have emails and things. An email came through and was just like, you know, you took an affordable 160,000 dollar home that somebody could have bought and lived in as a family, you essentially flipped it and sold it for three times what you bought it for.
Portia Jackson:10:36 That bothers me and the response to me was, well this house, you know, people use code words, well this house was never meant for people for affordable housing. This house, what this house was built in 1907, so 110 years ago they weren’t thinking about what’s going on now.
Portia Jackson: 10:53 So just because something was intended for a certain population or intended for somebody at this time, doesn’t mean that things don’t change, neighborhoods change and then now this house, in north Minneapolis is 160,000, I believe that it woulda been better suited for someone that is from the neighborhood to go in and buy it. I don’t know who bought it, I’m hoping that it was somebody that is from the neighborhood but most people I know don’t buy 408,000 dollar houses.
Portia Jackson: 11:18 So, to me that’s an issue because I don’t believe that anybody that comes in and does that is gonna take advantage, not take advantage, but just be immersed in the actual community. Yeah you’re gonna be immersed in my neighborhood association because they make it they have wine and cheese parties and all those great things, but it’s not you know, them coming to Shiloh, them having their kids do stuff at [inaudible 00:11:43], like they’re not doing that kind of stuff, that’s not what they’re doing, so.
Interviewer: 11:47 Right, so what part does the City of Minneapolis need to play in relieving that stress?
Portia Jackson: 11:51 I think the City, because of where I work, and I do home ownership advisement so I help people get ready to buy houses, I help them get out of foreclosure things like that. We also do development and we used to develop a lot more houses than we do now because the money isn’t there. Because even though there’s cheap lots, they talk about all these vacant lots in Minneapolis, north Minneapolis especially that are very cheap, if you were to build a house on those lots you couldn’t sell the house for what you built it for. So we can spend 275,000 dollars a house on a house but for the people that we want to live in it we couldn’t sell it for more than 190,000 dollars. So that meants the City of Minneapolis, [inaudible 00:12:27] County, somebody, the state, needs to come in and give us those gap funds so that we are able to do those things for people that need it.
Portia Jackson: 12:37 They even say well if you don’t build new you can just rehab. My house is rehabbed and it cost just as much as it did to build a brand new house.
Portia Jackson: 12:45 So, it’s like the money, we need money.
Interviewer: 12:49 What gives you hope for this future in this community?
Portia Jackson: 12:53 I think young people like you, you know, doing things that are positive. That are, actually looking at issues and saying you know what, I think we got a way to figure this out. Cause you always need somebody fresh and new cause you know like me, I get jaded I get cynical after a while cause you just live through stuff you live through stuff and after awhile you just like ain’t nothin gonna change, it’s always gonna be the same blah blah blah blah blah. But I think just having young people that don’t have that experience of always being pushed down that have the optimism, I mean you have the world at your fingertips. We didn’t, I didn’t even have that 20 years ago as a teenager, so I just think that having the young people to really be able to be creative and flourish in their community and are supported by people and hopefully being funded by people as well to do good work. I think that’s the greatest thing.
Interviewer: 13:45 Okay, what part does the City of Minneapolis need to play in making more hope for the future for us?
Portia Jackson: 13:51 Just really listening to the community. And not just the folks that have the loudest voices cause you know, my association is very loud and they have a lot to say about not having multifamily dwellings being built on their street and things like that. But not just the people that come to the meetings, go to the people that work all day. Cause when I’m out working all day at 5 o’clock at night I’m coming home I’m not coming to the meeting, I don’t wanna do all that. But reach out to those people in any way you can, I don’t care if it’s Facebook, if you can go visit their door, if you talk to the kids and give them something to give to their parents, whatever the case may be just talk to the people that are in the community and not just the people that have the loudest voices.
Interviewer: 14:28 Right. Okay so these last three questions, are top of the mind, you don’t really have to dive that deep.
Portia Jackson: 14:36 Okay.
Interviewer: 14:37 You can tell me if you want to…
Portia Jackson: 14:37 You’re like look, stop talking so much lady.
Interviewer: 14:39 No, I’m saying you want to, go ahead…
Portia Jackson: 14:39 No, it’s all good.
Interviewer: 14:39 But if you don’t want to, you know…
Portia Jackson: 14:39 Right.
Interviewer: 14:44 Just letting you know.
Portia Jackson: 14:44 Okay.
Interviewer: 14:45 So when you think about this area today, what impacts do you still see from these historic government policies?
Portia Jackson: 14:51 I still see slumlords, I still see dilapidated buildings, I still see more white folks owning than black folks, even though this is our community and I see businesses that we frequent all the time that are not owned by us, you know, beauty supplies and chicken joints and all that, like we do, you know, Hook’s is right there, it’s always boomin, like people always gonna get some shrimp, you know, chicken, but we don’t own those things. So it’s just, I think, its just been so much, we’ve just been bogged down by pressure so much that we just don’t even think about doin those things.
Portia Jackson: 15:25 Like we have other communities that come here and they do all kinds of stuff and we just have this, you know, the man won’t let us do it type mentality.
Portia Jackson15:31 And it still is prevalent today.
Interviewer: 15:36 How would you describe the relationship between the City of Minneapolis and this community, north side over here?
Portia Jackson: 15:42 I feel like, I think north siders love north side. Like they ride or die north siders, they love it. I lived north and south, but I do love the north side and I feel like, you know, just cause, I think more of the police presence, because when I think of the city I think of the police, just because you know, the City is the police that’s who employs them. So I think it’s still tension, I don’t think we trust the City. I don’t necessarily trust the City to do what they say they’re gonna do or to put the money where they need to, you know Jacob, the mayor, Frye right, Jacob Frye? He said you know he was gonna give 50 million dollar for affordable housing and then a couple of weeks ago my executive director of my organization at work was there at some dinner and he kinda back pedaled a little bit.
Portia Jackson: 16:28 So it’s like, I need you to not only have a platform to stand on to campaign but I need you to continue having that same energy when you become elected.
Interviewer: 16:37 Right, right.
Portia Jackson: 16:37 So, yeah.
Interviewer: 16:39 So, if so, if you do, what are your expectations for the City of Minneapolis, related to this community? And you just said it, but I still gotta ask you, do you trust the City of Minneapolis to deliver those expectations?
Portia Jackson: 16:54 I do, like I said, of course I’m leery cause of just history and cities and politics and government, all that. But I do think Minneapolis is one of the cities that really does care about its people including black community. And its not, you know, maybe it’s not as big as I would like it to be, maybe it’s not as connected to the community as I would like it to be, but I do think that with the whole 20 year plan or 40 year plan or whatever they got, 20, 40 whatever the plan, something they got goin on now, that they’re talking about what they’re gonna be doing for the next 20 years. I do think that they, you know, you get out there and you say these things and you have to deliver.
Portia Jackson: 17:40 Its not back in the day where we just had newspapers and radio and tv, now everything’s on video, everything’s social media, if you said you gonna do something you gonna have to do it, or you gonna have to come and holla at somebody because you said you were gonna do these things and we are gonna take you to task and I think that that’s what we’re gonna do, so, I’m hoping that through this, through all these conversations and these different things that they’re changing to try to get people affordable housing and jobs and things like that, I hope that that works and I know that we’re going to make sure that if they say they gonna do something, we gonna make sure they do it.
Interviewer: 18:14 Alright, so do you trust them to do what they say they was gonna do?
Portia Jackson: 18:19 I do now because like I said it’s so much, so many people, so many eyes that if you don’t then its going to be a problem. Young people are seeing this and if you tell me you’re gonna do something, next time it’s time to get elected and you weren’t doing it, then we gonna do everything in our power not to elect you again.
Interviewer: 18:36 Right.
Portia Jackson: 18:36 So I really feel like, there’s a lot of eyes watching and a lot of people that are very passionate about these things and passionate especially about affordable housing in north Minneapolis.
Interviewer: 18:47 Okay, so, last question is what part do you feel like you could play in creating a more hopeful future for this north side area?
Portia Jackson: 18:54 Well what I’m doing, hey, I came all the way from Woodbury where I was working at and brought a home buyer club all the way to north Minneapolis, right here and the first one we did in breaking bread, the next one we did at the [inaudible 00:19:05] building, where E.C.M.N. is now
Interviewer: 19:07 Yeah
Portia Jackson: 19:07 They got a very nice meeting space so we use that space, so it’s like I am, my whole thing is education.
Interviewer: 19:13 Yeah.
Portia Jackson: 19:13 If you don’t know you can’t grow. So that’s why I start off, you know the curriculum started off with hey, this is redlining, this is what they did. They took a red and they, you know, they put a box around this and this is where we had to stay. So, and they also did this with the financial institutions, this is why you couldn’t borrow money when you know the war was done and they would do FHA loans and VA loans and GI bills and giving all these people that came home from the war this money and these houses, it wasn’t for us. Even though we qualified for every, like it was qualification was there, it wasn’t for us. Black people. So, yeah, I mean
Interviewer: 19:52 So basically getting out there, basically.
Portia Jackson: 19:53 Yeah, you have, you can’t just you have to be about it, you can’t talk about it you gotta be about it. Get out there do whatever you can, we had over 50 women graduate from the home buyer club and we had at least five people close on houses since November. And they were, and these women, you know, I don’t know if they would’ve went to a lender and asked for the money had they not come to home buyer club. Because I’m a counselor you can come to me and I can tell you hey you ready to do it.
Portia Jackson: 20:17 A lot of them was ready and just needed somebody to say it’s okay, like, I am there with you through the process and you feel like something is weird or janky, come holler at me, I’ll holler at them, I have no problem with being the bad guy. Cause I don’t want you to ever get in to a loan or something that is predatory. And that, you know, I want you to buy a house but I want you to do it the right way.
Interviewer: 20:35 Right.
Portia Jackson: 20:35 So that’s why I bring the education to the people so that they can feel empowered and know when they walk in the door, hey I want to pay 1200 dollars a month, I know at a 5.5 or 4.5 percent interest rate will get me 180. That’s what I want. Now you gonna try to give me 300 cause you wanna make this money, but I want 180 cause I wanna be able to be in this house next year and not be house poor and just working to pay for this house that I’m never in.
Interviewer: 20:57 Right.
Portia Jackson: 20:58 So that’s my whole thing is just bringing the education to people and just giving the community what it needs as far as affordable home ownership.
Interviewer: 21:05 Okay. So you play a big part. Alright.
Portia Jackson: 21:08 I try.
Interviewer: 21:11 Okay that was our last question.
Portia Jackson: 21:12 Cool.
Interviewer: 21:12 Again, my name is Lewis, nice to meet you.
Portia Jackson: 21:15 Thank you very much Lewis, I appreciate you.