Conversations with Al McFarlane will feature the creators and the program participants of the multimedia project Voices from ReCASTon Tuesday, September 22 at 1 pm, broadcast live on KFAI. McFarlane Media and Insight News are project partner-collaborators.
The Resilience in Communities After Stress & Trauma (ReCAST) Minneapolis program is funded through a multi-year grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. ReCAST Minneapolis is intended to assist high-risk youth and families to promote resilience and equity in communities that have recently faced civil unrest through the implementation of evidence-based violence prevention and community youth engagement programs, as well as linkages to trauma-informed behavioral health services. SAMHSA created the ReCAST program to support communities that have lived through demonstrations of mass protests in response to police-involved shootings of unarmed African-American males.
The ReCAST Minneapolis program is a citywide initiative focusing on the nineteen neighborhoods in North, South and Cedar-Riverside areas. While the qualifying event that enabled the City of Minneapolis to apply for the grant was rooted in North Minneapolis, the need to address community trauma and resiliency is necessary in all areas of Minneapolis.
Artwork for the project was provided by Juxtaposition Arts. Juxtaposition Arts envisions the youth of North Minneapolis entering the creative workforce as dynamic innovators and problem solvers with the confidence, skills, and connections they need to accomplish their educational and professional goals, and to contribute to the revitalization of the communities where they live and work.
The Urban Broadcast Association of America (UBAA) and Dynasty Television, the marketing liaison to the UBAA, provided content – print, audio, and video – as partner-collaborators.
The project currently has 30 interviews hosted on the Voices from ReCAST site. Each interviewee shares a personal narrative on living and working in North Minneapolis. The interviews are a part of The Northside Oral History Project, which centers on the stories of residents who have lived in the Penn/Plymouth area for decades. Their stories of resistance and resilience have made the community what it is.
The purpose of this project is to bring residents and City staff together to create asset based systems change.
Conversations with Al McFarlane with Voices from ReCAST will air on Tuesday, September 22, 1 pm on KFAI Radio, and stream live from the KFAI Facebook page as well as the Insight News Facebook page.
Interview of Yonica Jameson
Interviewer: 00:06 Okay. All right. So the first question we’ll ask you is your name, your first and last, and how do you spell it.
Yonci J.: 00:12 My name is Yonci Jameson, it’s spelled Y-O-N-C-I J-AM-E-S-O-N.
Interviewer: 00:18 All right and then on this map, can you reference where you live or where you work?
Yonci J.: 00:23 Well right now I live kitty corner to North Community High School, Irving and 16th and I work actually next door to here at the THOR Building with the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council. But I was raised on Thomas and Farwell area, so not too far from here as well.
Interviewer: 00:44 Okay, so thinking back to when you first had came to this area, what changes have you seen positive and negative?
Yonci J.: 00:51 Positive, I’ve seen the development of businesses along West Broadway, specifically in terms of restaurants and eating and gathering space, so just off top – Breaking Bread, Avenue Eatery, the establishment of Wendy’s House of Soul inside K’s Deli or whatever, just seeing those businesses pop up has been really exciting because now there’s destinations in my neighborhood. And just seeing the Capri develop in terms of performances that it offers and stuff like that. I would also say, I remember when I was a kid, the park by my house when I grew up, it was raggedy for a little bit and then they came and redid the whole park and it’s been like that ever since. So it’s cool because I played in it when it was raggedy, I also played at it when it was nice and new and all the kids get to enjoy that. So just general infrastructural development, I feel like.
Yonci J.: 01:59 But negative, it depends what you define negative as because some people wouldn’t define gentrification as negative or people moving into the neighborhood as negative, because it’s like, “Oh, they see this neighborhood as desirable,” but I think it becomes negative when people get pushed out, people aren’t able to afford to live here anymore and the kind of vibe of the neighborhood is changing because the people who are moving in aren’t trying to preserve the neighborhood rather they’re just trying to kind of making it something that it’s not or make their own community within an already established community if that makes sense.
Yonci J.: 02:36 So, just it’s troubling and it’s hard to kind of come together in terms of housing and stuff like that because there’s a lot of just issues surrounding that, especially after the tornado when a lot of houses got messed up and people weren’t able to make the repairs, then those houses get flipped and sold to just whoever. I think just housing development has been a issue and still even though we’ve had great infrastructural retail and restaurants and stuff like that, just more Northside based entities, I think lack of that has been an issue.
Yonci J.: 03:15 But I didn’t name all of the things that I wanted to name about the positive development, but there’s a lot obviously. But, yeah, I would just say that housing and stuff like that has definitely switched over.
Interviewer: 03:26 All right. Why do you think these changes are happening?
Yonci J.: 03:30 I think it’s natural, just the way of the world, but I also think that as everything becomes more expensive, the people who are low income, they suffer unless we’re prepared to help them thrive. I think it’s happening because there’s not necessarily…I think there’s investment in the Northside, but I don’t think that it’s necessarily the right investment or it’s being invested into the people themselves. There’s investment from outside developers that don’t have the community’s interest at heart, so I think that’s probably why there’s a lot of housing insecurity and gentrification and turnover and stuff like that.
Interview of Wanda Austin
Interviewer: 00:05 May I start off by having your first and last name spelling, please?
Wanda A.: 00:09 You want to spell it?
Interviewer: 00:10 Yes, ma’am.
Wanda A.: 00:11 W-A-N-D-A A-U-S-T-I-N.
Interviewer: 00:14 What’s your last name?
Wanda A.: 00:15 Austin.
Interviewer: 00:18 Austin. Okay, good. How long have you been on the north side
of Minneapolis, in the Penn and Plymouth area?
Wanda A.: 00:26 Let me see. My oldest daughter is 30- something. Yup, almost 40 years.
Interviewer: 00:32 40 years. Okay.
Wanda A.: 00:34 Almost.
Interviewer: 00:35 Thinking back from when you first came in this area today, what changes have you seen
Wanda A.: 00:41 There used to be Snow Foods down there, used to be a McDonald’s down there, and so they tore those down and now replaced them with other things.
Speaker 3: 00:53 Do you mind me asking, what are the cross streets that you’ve lived on over the years?
Wanda A.: 00:57 Plymouth and Penn.
Speaker 3: 00:59 Oh, actually Plymouth and Penn. Okay. Yup, you’re right there.
Interviewer: 01:02 What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in this area over the years?
Wanda A.: 01:11 I think they was trying to build it up, I think. But, yeah, I think they was trying to build it up over here. Yeah.
Interviewer: 01:24 What makes you feel that way?
Wanda A.: 01:26 Because that one thing, what is it, UROC?
Interviewer: 01:29 Yup.
Wanda A.: 01:34 I think that’s supposed to be to help people.
Interviewer: 01:36 Research center.
Wanda A.: 01:37 Right. However, there’s no store. You know what I’m saying? You gotta go all the way over to West Broadway. Cub Foods. So it took some of our things out of the area but I guess it was supposed to be for more jobs and stuff and able to help people.
Interviewer: 02:03 What changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of stress or concern about the future?
Wanda A.: 02:13 These children out here running all loosey goosey with guns and stuff and they don’t know what they’re doing and they’re on stuff. I think maybe if there was more jobs for them- no I can’t even say that because they’re jobs everywhere. Maybe if they had a better education they would go in and apply for a job, work that job instead of trying to get some fast money. Because you know right across from the Elks? Woo hoo! My mother called them the people that’s walking the street all night long. That’s what they do.
Interviewer: 02:47 That’s crazy.
Wanda A.: 02:51 All night. Yup.
Interviewer: 02:59 What part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in relieving that stress?
Wanda A.: 03:00 What part of Minneapolis?
Interviewer: 03:02 No, what part does the city of Minneapolis need to play here to relieve your stress?
Wanda A.: 03:08 I think if the corporate people would come down and see exactly what’s going on, not just one day, not just an hour. I think if they came down here and actually talked to people, they could figure out what’s really going on, what the real need is.
Interviewer: 03:26 Right.
Wanda A.: 03:26 That’s my opinion.
Interviewer: 03:28 Okay. We are gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community. We’re just trying to figure out the impact of the historic discrimination government policies in areas like housing, transportation, economic development. And we’re trying to figure out what impact have these policies or others had on the community in general.
Wanda A.: 04:01 I think that housing is too high, I really do. And a lot of people, even if they have Section 8 and I’ve been on Section 8 for years- I’m on the list, not on Section 8. My daughter’s almost 40 years old. I’ve been on the list. I haven’t gotten it yet. So I think housing has a lot to do with it and I think that if it was more affordable housing, we wouldn’t have all these people just wandering around. You know what I’m saying?
Interviewer: 04:42 I agree with you on that.
Wanda A.: 04:46 And we could have better teachers in the school system too.
Interviewer: 04:48 When you think about the area today, what impact do you still see from these historic government policies?
Wanda A.: 05:00 What impact do I see? What impact? I’m just trying to be honest. Where is it?
Interviewer: 05:14 So do you see less change from say maybe in the 60s and 70 where you might have seen more explicit discriminatory policies up until now? Do you see less change in some of those practices or do you see an impact that still lingers from those practices?
Wanda A.: 05:37 Well, I noticed, when was it? Maybe back in the 90s, down there in Plymouth it was more African Americans. Now I see they’re coming back. When I first came here, the Jews over on [00:06:04 Oaks and] Memorial, that’s where they were. But now its, yeah. So they’re taking us out of our community and taking them way out here in no-man’s-land. They have no way to get around. Talking about it’s a better way of life. You take me all out of my comfort zone. Maybe that’s why I didn’t get Section 8.
Interviewer: 06:32 How would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and this community over the past years?
Wanda A.: 06:46 The city of Minneapolis. Say it again, I’m 62.
Interviewer: 06:51 How would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and the community over the last years?
Wanda A.: 07:01 I think it’s kind of gone down hill. When Mayor Rybak was in, I loved Mayor Rybak. But I don’t know, I think it’s kind of gone down hill. I really do.
Interviewer: 07:16 What makes you feel that way?
Wanda A.: 07:19 I don’t know. I just don’t think, well now, the mayor Jacob Frey, I think he might be okay. But he’s just coming into play, so. And I’ve noticed even here he’s came to our services, not just to campaign. He actually came and sat in the service. And Mayor Rybak did it all the time and he and Bishop Howe still have a relationship to this day. I love Mayor Rybak.
Interviewer: 07:52 Okay. What are your expectations of the city of Minneapolis related to this community?
Wanda A.: 07:58 What are my expectations?
Interviewer: 07:59 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Wanda A.: 08:00 I think they should make it more convenient for people living here. Everybody doesn’t have a car and now they done messed up the #5 bus line so them people cannot get to Cub Foods. Give them a store. Give them a store, give us something over there. You know what I’m saying? Besides Mickey’s Liquor and the Elks.
Interviewer: 08:32 To what extent do you trust the city of Minneapolis to deliver those expectations?
Wanda A.: 08:37 I don’t. I’m sorry
Interviewer: 08:37 Don’t apologize.
Wanda A.: 08:43 I really don’t. I hope that they do succeed and I really do, but.
Interviewer: 08:48 What part do you feel you can play in creating that more hopeful future?
Wanda A.: 08:54 I don’t know. You know, I’ve thought about that. We have this one guy, you know MAD DADS, VJ?
Interviewer: 09:00 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Speaker 3: 09:00 Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yup
Wanda A.: 09:01 VJ goes to church here and I thought about reaching out to VJ and asking him can I go out with him and stuff. Yeah.
Interviewer: 09:14 And do[crosstalk 00:09:14]
Wanda A.: 09:14 He begs me to go out with them.
Interviewer: 09:16 Oh, with the MAD DADS thing?
Wanda A.: 09:17 We used to have this support group here before we came to north Minneapolis, our church did. And it was called Rescue Ministry and we actually rescued people whether they was on drugs, whatever their addiction was, whatever their situation was. We came and we rescued them. And I think, that’s what I’m saying, I think if people would come down here, you know what I’m saying, and get to know people, I think that would make a big difference because right now they’re not going to trust you. They’re not going to trust them people: ” What? You looking at me? Oh, I’m not a snitch.” You know what I’m saying? Just to be honest.
Interviewer: 10:05 Yeah, you might be right. Well thank you. That was the end of the interview.
Wanda A.: 10:14 Oh, thank you both.
Interviewer: 10:15 Thank you for your time and I hope you have a pleasant day.
Interview of Thomas Beasley
Interviewer: 00:05 So may I have your first and last name with spelling please.
Thomas B. : 00:14 Thomas T-H-O-M-A-S Beasley, B as in boy E-A-S-L-E-Y.
Interviewer: 00:26 All right. So we have a map here. In referencing this map could you tell us if you currently live in any of these areas, have you ever lived in these areas or live near part of these areas. And if you have, how long?
Interviewer: 00:45 We have a bigger map right here too.
Thomas B. : 00:46 Yeah, hold up a little bit. Well I can say that I’ve lived in most of these areas, I’ve lived in North Minneapolis for a little over 42 years.
Interviewer: 00:52 Wow, okay.
Thomas B. : 00:53 Yeah.
Interviewer: 00:53 Okay.
Thomas B. : 00:54 So I’ll be… no, more than that. I’ll be 48 so… about 44 years.
Interviewer: 01:00 Okay.
Thomas B. : 01:00 I’ve been in North Minneapolis so I’ve lived in multiple, like
all these areas at some point.
Interviewer: 01:06 Okay. That’s quite a while.
Thomas B. : 01:07 Yeah, I’m from North Minneapolis.
Interviewer: 01:12 Thinking back from when you first came to this area today, what changes have you seen, positive and negative?
Thomas B. : 01:19 Positive changes… there’s some growth, you know, I mean just as far as like housing. The projects are gone and they turned it into, you know, heritage park or you know things like that. Some of it has aesthetically gotten better, a little bit. Negative… in some ways socially, some things haven’t changed at all.
Interviewer: 01:41 Right.
Thomas B. : 01:42 You know, the narrative, the narrative has changed but it’s the same circumstances, so that’s kind of how I feel about the negative stuff.
Interviewer: 01:51 Okay. So what do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in this area over the years and then why do you feel that way?
Thomas B. : 01:59 Some of it is our North Minneapolis proximity to downtown Minneapolis and businesses like the Target Center and the Metroplex, you know the industrial, the business complex of downtown Minneapolis. It’s spreading out, it’s spreading its legs. They had a 20 year kind of plan, where as kind of gone up Dowling up Lowry you know I mean, downtown’s growing just like any other city, it being the center it’s spreading out. North Minneapolis is prime and so, is some aspects it’s gentrified. We had the tornado that literally uprooted and left a lot of people homeless, you know and things like that.
Thomas B. : 02:37 On the positive side like I said, there are some infrastructure, there are more jobs. There’s like Urban League and stuff for people offering skills training. Some people are benefiting from it and youths, next generations are more into school and people are… some people are respecting the legacy of coming back to the community and putting something in and kind of keeping it… creating a legacy in these communities, so that’s the plus side.
Interviewer: 03:04 Okay.
Interviewer: 03:08 The city of Minneapolis would like to understand how these government policies such as drug wars, housing and employment discrimination has affected you.
Thomas B. : 03:18 Drug wars has made… having been in North Minneapolis it felt like… there was a time like in the 90’s especially, it felt like I lived in occupied territory because the law enforcement came in a very paramilitary way, with armored vehicles and you know what I mean, and automatic weapons and you know the war on drugs, well we’re people and we’re all Americans and we’re all citizens, I’m not your enemy, even if there are legal issues going on. Your job is to protect us and to… you know what I mean, help manage you know, with that. I don’t believe in anarchy; without order there would be chaos and it would be a bad place because there are real monsters in this world so I respect the police, I do, we have a need for the police that’s a fact.
Thomas B. : 04:00 But I felt very oppressed in the 90’s, very oppressed and psychology says statistically if you add more law enforcement it actually agitates the situation. When you put more cops, when you put more boots on the ground it actually creates more tension and things tend to get worse.
Interviewer: 04:18 Okay. Is there mainly a lack of trust then like you have more boots on the ground it creates tension?
Thomas B. : 04:23 Well yes. I mean I’m a black man and the story goes back well before me. I been hearing the story of the man who got killed by the cop or the brutality and stuff from my father and my uncle and from the time I was a child all the way up to now. It’s like I said, the narrative has changed but it’s still the same story.
Interviewer: 04:43 Okay. So we’re gathering these stories to increase the understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community, on the impact of the historic discriminatory government policies. So do you want to speak on that a little bit?
Thomas B. : 05:04 That’s a real question. That’s a real question.
Interviewer: 05:05 And a couple examples could be housing, transportation, the economic development. You spoke on the war on drugs already so have you seen other things going on?
Thomas B. : 05:15 Well the big picture… that’s a long answer but the big picture is the social, political, economical situation and the present industrial complex and all these other you know, cliché like circumstances, are real. Things are illuminated and put on media in different ways and stuff, like I said, the narrative or the stories told in different ways but I’m actually… I’m a black man I experienced this first hand.
Thomas B. : 05:41 People say you should just pull yourself up by your bootstraps or you should do this or you should do that but there are institutional things. I mean racism is when the system itself or an institution actually hinders you consciously for its own, for you know, to push itself forward and to push you back or at your expense. I bumped into those things, I’ve experienced those things first hand. I’ve been the guy on the bus and you get off at the same time at night and the lady clutched her purse and took off running, but I’m just somebody’s son, I’m just a regular guy. I’ve never hurt anybody and stuff like that you know so I’ve experienced it from all angles.
Thomas B. : 06:16 I’m afraid for the next generations now and I mean to wrap it up it’s… I don’t see it leading to… I don’t see family building, I don’t see family values, I don’t see enough life skills instruction in generations, it’s not just about black people. That’s just about kind of where things are headed you know, people are kind of apathetic, people have gotten greedy and it’s really about… it’s the school of me, it’s all about me, me, me you know, and I don’t see the life in that, I don’t see the love in that you know what I mean. I don’t see the long term future in that. Everything is being put into technology and everybody’s walking around like this but we’re all in a room together you know what I mean. It’s so impersonal and it’s brought the world together but it’s actually kind of removed each other you know.
Thomas B. : 07:04 So how I feel today is, I feel like everybody should be a functional, law abiding citizen of the United States and play par throughout the course. Stop complaining. Everybody stop lying to each other. We all know that really happened. We all know that… we know the truths and we do all this talking about things and all these sit downs and all these sit ins and all these things. You know we need to just… people just need to be honest. That’s kind of where I’m at, be honest about what’s really going on in the world with each other, even if we don’t like it, you know we’re not all going to be friends, everybody’s not going to like each other we’re not all going to get along but we… about the future of you know, our nation and you know human race. I mean it’s gonna come down to kind of you know, come together or perish. I mean it’s spiritually… I mean it’s written this… it’s a reason but it adds up. It’s gonna come to those points… you know one plus one will always equal two, so this will evolve to an end of if they don’t come together it will perish, it’s going to be one or two things and so I fear for the future.
Interviewer: 08:14 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?
Thomas B. : 08:26 Damn, you’re asking some real questions.
Thomas B. : 08:32 I think the changes that cause stress are… I see big companies like I said, come from North Minneapolis in prime real… not just about the real estate but just like I said, downtown but I see big companies like the construction company that they just built on Plymouth. It’s huge. They just dropped this big, huge monstrosity into the community. It’s taller than everything. It just… off state… you know lots of communities have ordinances where you can only build so high you know can only do certain things because of the aesthetics of the community. It just changed it you know. I mean that’s a dramatic change for your walk, there’s this big huge concrete fortress in the middle. I think one of the changes was that when they built the fourth precinct you know when, they literally… fourth came in the middle, but that’s when they came with the war on drugs and the paramilitary, you know it kind of feels like I said a slow transition to unoccupied territory, it’s kind of what it feels like to me. But…
Interviewer: 09:29 So what did the city play?
Thomas B. : 09:32 The city…
Interviewer: 09:32 What role did they need to play in helping to relieve the stress?
Thomas B. : 09:35 To relieve the stress? I don’t know. A lot of it… I mean, I don’t know if we can depend on outside force entities. I mean I don’t know if a community can depend on the city to facilitate, you know the changes that we want. A lot of the things a person has to end collectively if we could come to, group together literally, not so much in a we shall overcome sense but I mean, investment groups, small businesses, trusting each other and put our money in a pot and you know and buy, you know four new lawnmowers and a trailer, you know what I mean. Then you know we do that, then we hire your son and your son to cut the grass and you know for their summer jobs and get you know what I mean we have to build the structures ourselves no one can really come in and fix it you know for not proactively trying to change things for ourself I think it rests more on the community than the city in my eyes.
Interviewer: 10:25 What gives you hope for the future?
Thomas B. : 10:28 Hope for the future? There are good people in this world. There is good in this world. I mean I could sit here and rattle off all the negative and bad things I see but based on my own life experience I know that there’s philanthropy, people who donate money to save peoples lives for medical research and what not, who’ve never met those people before and they put forth millions of dollars. There are people who raised money you know to help people you know what I mean. Yeah there are good people. There’s still good people, all is not lost. Even the pictures painted kind of morbid, kind of grim but if you stop being distracted and see for yourself there’s just good people in this world. So I think good will prevail overall.
Interviewer: 11:11 Okay. So just kind of off the top of your head with some real quick answers, when you think about the area today what impacts do you still see from these historic government policies that you spoke on earlier?
Thomas B. : 11:30 Gentrification like I said. The communities being kind of bought out and property values are going…its kind of been liquidated especially like after the tornado it all got scooped up and it’s either shoddy slum lord you know rentals or it’s torn down and rebuilt and you know not intended… unaffordable for people in the community. I see that the fear factor hasn’t changed The community is still intimidated by the police. You know the cops I mean like the story of the cops killing I mean Tightcell Nelson, he was a friend of mine you know I grew up with his older brother. I remember when he got killed running round the corner with a screwdriver right down on Plymouth Avenue you know. I was… you know that was my era and since then it’s been this person and this person and this person. You know when you drive and turn a corner, police get behind you even though you got license and everything your heart still drops for a tenth of a second that you have that thought that you know, that whole psychology of being, of oppression. It’s something that hasn’t changed and like the screws got tightened like some of the changes when you think it will get better the infrastructure will come help us rebuild or repair, it was quite the contrary it was kind of a cleansing and move in you know.
Interviewer: 12:51 I have a question for you about… you been talking about police brutality a lot and you mentioned your friend so how do you feel about the mayor now not allowing making it illegal for police officers to take the warrior training?
Thomas B. : 13:03 Yeah I’ve heard about that. I’ve heard about that I’m aware of that. I think that’s the right thing. We’re all not your enemy. You know what I mean. That creates an occupied territory situation, you feel like a soldier would feel if he overseas in Iraq… as an American Citizen shouldn’t feel like that on the ground in the United States of America. You know with his own fellow citizens that he said to protect he shouldn’t feel like everything is a threat to otherwise vetted you know. I’m a man, you’re a man and I’m here this is a community and what not my job is to make sure you feel as safe as I do. That’s not how it is though and them not… the mayor taking that step shows how Minnesota is you know what I mean to take that step but in the 90’s the police were being trained by the LAPD…came in that’s where we got that SWAT tactic paramilitary tactics so it’s time to take… I’m glad to taking you know the boxing gloves the fighting gloves off you know maybe hopefully you know I’m optimistic maybe it’ll make a difference.
Interviewer: 14:07 Okay. Okay.
Interviewer: 14:07 How would you describe the relationship between the city
of Minneapolis and this community over the years?
Thomas B. : 14:15 Sketchy but Minnesota’s a good place. Minneapolis is…I’ve traveled enough to know that it could be worse and I really feel like I said I really feel that accountability is in the hands of the citizens like you know community member you know.
Thomas B. : 14:31 When you do a sit in or you have a situation when you come to the table know what to ask for you know. We can sit there and do a sit in because a cop killed okay we done a sit in okay so now they say well what is it you want?Have you re prepared for that? When you did the sit in you facilitate the whole protester what not. Do you have your… do you have a plan? For it to replace… this is what you want taken out but do you know how to replace that structure and the infrastructure do you have a plan for that, short term and long term? And you have to bring that proposal to the table and then it can be debated or amended or what has to happen but everybody locking arms together is just to get the attention once you got the attention you have to have a plan. And I think that plan is something that the community has to do on its own like I said waiting for the state or the city to help you or to change something what is it that you want? Establish what you want and come up with the realistic path to get there.
Thomas B. : 15:22 Then you make your statement to draw the attention and you know and you’ll maybe blessed with the opportunity to come to the table and when you come to the table make your presentation for your package and negotiate and it will change.
Interviewer: 15:34 So what are your expectations of the city of Minneapolis relative to this community?
Thomas B. : 15:47 I think this community is going to grow and it’s going to flourish. North Minneapolis isn’t going anywhere I think the youth and the college generation is more education there are people who are you know who are in college you know ten years ago who are coming around and coming back to the community and that are able to you know are qualified to play par of the course you know what I mean and I think overall we’re going to come up we’re going to be fine.
Interviewer: 16:09 What extent do you think the city will deliver on their course
Thomas B. : 16:12 I don’t know. I don’t know, but I know Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis facilitates a lot they pay for a lot, they fund a lot. There’re opportunities out there lot of times there are funds assists that are never used for progress for community development for improvement to do stuff people don’t follow through or they don’t they’re not aware that it’s there a lot of the times you know what I mean the urban league has a lot of programs they can’t even… the funding is sitting there but they don’t have enough bodies literally to warrant getting the money to do this program and it’s about community upliftment or education and stuff like that so Minnes…Minneapolis does a lot I mean I’ve been to Chicago I just got back from New York couple weeks ago I been to Detroit I seen things where you just can’t go out and get a job or if you’re homeless you’re just homeless you can’t go to the county and then the county not gives you a hand out you know which some people think you just sit down and the county’s going to take care of you.
Thomas B. : 17:07 The county will help you help yourself in the long run. Will give you some place to sleep, will give you training will help you get a job will give you food stamps and money till you get on your own two feet. You leave Minnesota that doesn’t happen. You leave Mineap… you know it doesn’t happen. So you know. Like I said Minneapolis all in all it’s got it’s negative sides but it’s okay here.
Interviewer: 17:35 What part do you feel you could play in creating a more hopeful future?
Thomas B. : 17:42 Doing what I do, stay positive you know what I mean always stay positive… always find the positive things to talk to youth, talk to young people. From family extended outward. Always… I mean energy what you project is what you draw. You know what I mean and I don’t want to…I don’t want negative energy to come back I just feel like it has to be like I said I’m accountable I hold myself accountable for the things I say the community should do and it’s about education it’s about family. I walk that walk you know. When I see a kid doing something or young people I always got something positive to say. Yeah I get on my soapbox I’m a little long winded but somebody told me these things, somebody gave me that knowledge and through trial and error I know that it works.
Thomas B. : 18:21 You need your education you have to work hard nobody owes you anything at all. You know just the values. You know the core values of what life and what things work the mechanics. I feel like by sharing that with people who may have never been exposed to that you know I can’t expect a kid to go to college if he’s never heard of college never been in a college before or if it’s this mystical up thing but if you can make some things normal and first nature, that starts with communication I think you said the community and family I’m responsible for my nieces and nephews, having, sharing information if I have it. I can’t expect the city or the schools to give them core values and family values and you know have an ethic a work ethic and stuff like that. That comes from the family. So I feel like I’ve grown into that role. With my family and it extends outward to other people.
Interviewer: 19:09 I would thank you for your time. We appreciate it.
Thomas B. : 19:12 Thank you sir. My pleasure young lady.
Interview of Theartrsee (T) Williams
Interviewer: 00:01 Mr. Williams, do we have your permission to take your story
and hear it?
Williams: 00:08 Oh yes. Yes.
Interviewer: 00:09 Awesome. So could you just tell us your first and last name, with spelling?
Williams: 00:16 Yeah, my first name is Theartrsee. T-H-E-A-R-T-R-S-E-E. Last
name Williams. W-I-L-L-I-A-M-S. Generally known as T.
Interviewer: 00:31 Awesome. On this map it shows a location of Plymouth and Penn and some surrounding areas. Have you ever lived near,
Plymouth and Penn in this area?
Williams: 00:46 Yeah I live on Washburn and 13th, 3 doors off Plymouth Avenue.
Interviewer: 01:00 Alright Mr. Williams. Thinking back from when you first came to this area to today, what changes have you seen, positive and negative?
Williams: 01:11 Well, there have been a number of physical changes I think one can look at. Both are either way at this street, along Plymouth Avenue. When we first moved here there were a number of stores, merchants, but they were old store fronts. Some of them were perhaps perceived to be thriving and prosperous. Others were barely hanging on. The area was being vacated.
Williams: 01:46 It was a transition from what had been predominantly a Jewish community, one Jewish community, and it was transitioning to a significant number of African Americans were moving in. So those were the changes that started occurring. We moved there in 1967, and our two neighbors on the south side of us were white and elderly. One on the corner moved out into elder care. The neighborhoods to the south of us, couple down, and people started dying in the neighborhood, and it was transitioning and newcomers were coming in. And actually, it became of more of a community the longer we stayed there, because when we first came in we didn’t know anybody and the people who were near us were looking to move on.
Williams: 03:01 To get out of town. And the people who came in were coming to get rooted. Some came in with younger kids. We had two young children at a time, nine months old, four years old and then we look all around and some people started having children that sort of fitted in with our families. Pretty soon there was a family with six kids. That was a little challenging at times. They played differently than ours. My oldest son was someone who liked to make up rules that no one else understood but him, and he expected the other kids next door to play by his rules, but they didn’t even know. But we saw, there were a lot of kids that came into the neighborhood as our family grew. There were children that came along, friends, they used to walk to school. But before all the schools were closing in the neighborhood. They would walk to Willard School, which was about six or seven blocks from our house. You could see the walking brigade each morning. And then the other thing, they do it on the 4th, not the 4th. I’m trying to remember which one of these holidays. Whether it was Labor Day or one of them, where the whole neighborhood came together in the backyard, which really amounted to three backyards, where an alley came through. And the whole neighborhood came.
Williams: 04:59 The children and all. Where you caught up on the neighborhood gossip and a whole lot of other stuff. And this was really the year, this was 1967. The year of the storm of Plymouth Avenue. We were very close to it. Which was very interesting in thinking about I because I recall my wife and I had been invited to a party out in Wayzata. I was the executive director of Phyllis Wheatley at the time, and because of my situation there, I was invited by a group of corporate executives to participate in a study that lead to the creation of an organization called the Urban Coalition. Which few of you around the table, except on this side, have ever heard of.
Williams: 06:09 Interestingly enough about that, I called Star Tribune and I tried to get through to them, and you know you can’t contact anybody in person now when you call them. You get, you know, voicemail and I will get back to you. They don’t get back to you. But I called the editor asking if they were going to do something significant this year, 1968, which is you know, that was the year of two assassinations. A year of street violence. A year of all kinds of thing happening. And I still haven’t heard back from them.
Williams: 06:45 But he thinks that I’m going to let go of it. I’ve already prepared my mind, the letter, the e-mail that I’m going to send to them. But in other words, getting back to the street violence and living nearby it. That was the year, also, two years after, the other organization that grew out of that, was formed called The Way. So we were invited to this party, took our two children, they said bring the children. We were trying to figure out how best to dress. We’d decided to dress up. My wife said we don’t know these people.
Williams: 07:29 What we did know is that they probably, almost all of them would be white. And so we found our way out to Wayzata, and the invite came from the publisher and the editor at that time of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, John Coales, Jr. So we went out, and it turns out that, it’s good we dressed up because everybody, we were greeted at the door, with people dressing formal, full length. We got engaged into discussion because there was one other black couple there besides ourselves. And of course the talk was about what’s happening. The riots and everything, what’s your opinion, and it got to be a little frustrating at times perhaps more so for my wife than for me.
Williams: 08:22 People who knew best, more than we did about what should be happening in our neighborhood. And I can recall, Mary Louis my wife saying that, you I live there, 24/7, and when I go home, I’m still there. When you come in to do your daytime volunteering, and we appreciate that when you do that, but at the end of the day you go home, and it’s far away from there. So you don’t have to experience what I experience. You don’t have to deal with the issues that I deal with. So don’t tell me what’s best for me.
Williams: 09:07 And so that was a very interesting experience, but it also gave an opportunity to tap into a network that was way beyond my reach. My thing has always been if an opportunity comes to you, jump all over it. To see what good can come out of that. And that was precisely what I did, because I was, as an executive director for Wheatley, Tom, and we we’re underfunded, United Way was the 800 pound gorilla in the room at that time, and the general of the board, the top fundraiser for United Way, …was at that party and I said, “I got to be stupid if I didn’t take advantage and talk to him.”
Williams: 10:02 And I did, and coming out of that we got an appropriation increase, because I told him that we were going to appeal what they wanted us, and we did. We succeeded. So that’s probably more than what you were looking for.
Interviewer: 10:16 Yeah can I just ask some follow up? SO to your wife’s comment about 24/7. Can you just, what do you remember from that time?
Williams: 10:26 Well, it was tense. What I remember is some people were irrational about what was going on and there were unrealistic expectations that things would happen overnight. I remember most about my own participation in the response. What happened, Minneapolis took a different route than many other cities did, following their street violence. They came together more than any others, and it was coming together across economic, social and racial divide. And I had mentioned the
because the Urban Coalition. Here’s the thing about the Coalition, it consisted of, because a colleague and I had put it together, and we deliberately designed it so that you could not avoid people who were experiencing the problems.
Williams: 11:47 It had a large board, 60 people to start with, and it had to be 20, 20, 20. People from the corporate business and the money group. I had 20 seats on the board. The public and large nonprofit, and civic, had 20 seats on the board. And people representing poor people, minorities and civil rights’ group, had 20 people on the board. And they, the meetings were open, the board meetings and one of the things that we said, my colleague and I when we were talking to these finalists, is that, “One option you will not have in going into this, is to walk away”, because people are not going to respect you because you come to the table.
Williams: 12:44 Some of them will vilify you and wonder why did it take you so long to get here? And you will be challenged. You will be called all kinds of evil names, and you’re gonna have to take it an work through that, because what we’re looking for is to get something done that gonna have a significant impact. And so what came out of that was some capacity building. Creating some new institutions that were in the community, and over which people had [inaudible 00:13:15].
Williams: 13:15 There would not be a Northpoint, up on, by the city, if it had not been for the street violence. In 1966 was the initial one, but the organizations in North Minneapolis then, what we wanted was a neighborhood clinic. That was a time that everything was centralized. If you wanted to get medical attention and you were poor, depending upon public assistance, you had to go down to the hospital. And the people said, “No, we want it in the neighborhood.”
Williams: 13:56 The federal government was providing more resources through the war on poverty. That was one of those wars that you probably don’t know anything about. It was a war that we really didn’t win, but there were a lot of resources. Many people got involved in their community because of that because one of the conditions was that, in order to receive federal funds, you had to show what they call maximum feasible participation, and a part of a community residence. For the people who were going to be impacted this, had to be at the table. And that was a challenge because the other people who had traditionally been at the table, weren’t used to having other people there, and would not want to respect them as such. And so this Urban Coalition, this group of people at this large table, who had never been at tables together before, had to work through that. And what happened was that there were some spin outs from that, and as I said because, of who was at the table, more pressure was put on Hennepin County, the commissioners and all, to put that senator there.
Williams: 15:13 And the people from the community had agitated for it, and they had to bust it down and they had to fight. It’s been the last I’d say in 1966, it probably wasn’t until around I’d say 2000, that we really knew for sure, that they weren’t going to pull it out. And so there was this constant battle going on to keep it there. So that’s one part of what grew out of that. And we wouldn’t have that big building that’s going up at Penn and Plymouth now. Depends upon how one feels about this stance and all that other stuff. I think it’s great, that it will bring resources into the community, but it’s going to have a giant footprint on it. You’re in the shadows of it.
Williams: 16:11 And so we’ll have to wait and see. But what was happening 50 years ago, that you follow that through that leads to this, and that four constructions struggling, to get started. And then, an organization that was a spin off from the Urban Coalition called MEDA. Metropolitan Economic Development Association. Focused on helping minorities grow up in business. And that, Copeland got access to some resources that we did not have access to. So one can point those cases throughout.
Interviewer: 16:50 That’s incredible. Mr. Williams, one last question for you What part do you feel you can play in creating a more hopeful future?
With the caveat that it’s an uncertain amount of time. What more can you do?
Williams: 17:11 Well you know, I’ve probably done as much as I could do. But I, really tell my story, and hope that others can see something in it. I taught a class at Augsburg College, in 2015. And it was focused on how Minneapolis responded to its urban crisis, and it looked at that. And when things are happening to us in a tie now, we can’t always see the benefit, and that it is of value. It only takes a retrospective look back at it to see whether or not it had an impact. You want to be able to look back and identify some specific outcomes. So that is what I was trying to do with that, this oral history, and I’ve been working on an oral history product for about five years, myself. And I want to be able to say, I can connect the dots to this, so I can connect the dots to Northpoint, I can connect the dots to the poor people, I can connect the dots to Summit, OIC, I can connect the dots to AIM, I can connect the dots to the Legal Rights Center, I can connect the dots to PPL.
Williams: 18:41 And they all go back to what was happening in the ’60’s, in the summer. A group of young people were upset and frustrated, and things weren’t happening the away they did, and somebody may have thrown a rock or a cop overreacted, and things happen and it put the machinery in motion and people elsewhere. The thing that we have to realize is that, when that is happening, don’t look to the people who are right in the middle of it, who may have thrown the first rock. To be thee ones to point the direction. To be the one to talk about what kind of change we can make. They are the identifiers. There’s someone else that needs to be there to take advantage of that identification, and move forward with, and look for the opportunity to take advantage, or what have you.
Williams: 19:36 Final thing I want to say about that is never let a good conflict or outbreak or whatever it is, go wasted. Be wasted. If it has happened, even if it looks like something that shouldn’t have happened, look for the opportunity to benefit from it.
Interviewer: 19:58 That’s good. That’s really good. Thank you so much.
Interviewer: 20:07 Mr. Williams we want to say thank you. Thank you for telling us.
I feel like that was just a tip of the iceberg and you’ve probably
could have gone a lot more, right?
Interviewer: 20:14 We have another group of questions, that’s fine.
T-Williams – Extended Conversation
Youth: 00:01 I do think that the … I think with young people, we’ve pretty much given up on institutions helping anything. It’s corrupt. Looks what’s happening right now.
Williams: 00:17 That’s wrong because you have to …
Youth: 00:20 Okay.
Williams: 00:20 The institution provides stability and we need infrastructure. That’s our infrastructure there. We need to have someplace to put things and someplace to get things done. It’s one thing to be protesting, but there needs to be some form to the protest so that you identify what the challenges are, what the problems are. You can push, and push, and push, and talk about what needs to be done. For example, what just happened recently about what the police behavior and what the paramedics when they were asking them to sedate people that were being arrested, and as a consequence, the chief, he shifted a policy or saying that they are not to do that. Well, they’re out there. Black Lives Matter was a part of that effort and say, ” Well, that’s … We want more to happen.”
Williams: 01:36 We can say what we want, but somebody has to gather that together and put some form around it and say, “This is what it looks like or could look like, so we’re going to deliver it.” Well, that’s not going to be done by the people that are protesting and saying, “These things ought to be done.” That’s going to be done by some organized entity, and that’s where the institutions come in.
Williams: 02:04 I think the most dangerous thing that is happening right now in our national government is that Trump and his people are destroying critical institutions. They’re literally destroying them. The Department of Energy put in charge this one guy, Scott whatever his name. You put the fox in charge of the chicken house, and he’s eating up all of the chickens so you’re not going to have any chickens left by the time he gets out of there, and we need the chickens. If you want to disrupt things in a society, you destroy the institutions or you reshape them in your own image, and that’s what Trump and his people are trying to do.
Williams: 02:51 We don’t want them delivering the services to the people who need the service. We want them to respond to us and I define what it is you are to do. We open them up to the foxes and let them come in and be in charge and eat up everything, so that what happened here in Minneapolis following 1967, is that we had the protest in ’67. Following that, there was always …Following that from 1967 into the ’70s, mid-’70s there was always someone challenging what was happening. The government and the institutions in our society both public and private were never doing enough.
Williams: 03:49 People were saying that we need to do more, the educational institutions. It’s important to have those forces pushing, but they need to be connected with other forces that can understand the push and they’re right there taking advantage of what is being identified there. You have the lobbyists or the others who are taking this to the legislature and saying, “We need this kind of legislation.” You’re pushing on the corporate institutions and saying that we need some reform there in the corporation. One of them that we need you to pay that you are a corporate citizen, that you are able to sell your goods and services. You need the community for those goods and services. You deliver them to the community and you have the respect and be a part of having a stable community in which you can deliver your goods and services.
Williams: 05:03 When I was involved with the Urban Coalition at the time, I had a head of a corporation of here who said that … I remember talking about corporate … being socially responsible, his corporation, and so on, and that his thinking was that what was most important was for corporations to be concerned about being able to deliver a good product first and not to … They came up around making profit money because they’re accused of gouging the people to make a profit. He said that he didn’t believe that you were in business necessarily to make a profit. You were there to deliver a great product or a great service. If you were organized to do either or both of those then the profit part would take care of itself, so focus not so much on how much I can make off of this good or service but focus on how well we can deliver the service or make the goods. If it’s a fantastic service we’re delivering or making a great product
then the rest of it will take care of itself. But you have to have a community.
Youth: 07:07 But they have to get it to the community.
Williams: 07:12 That’s right. You need to have credibility in the community. That I need to believe that you are … If you’re delivering a good or service in the kind of way that does not bring confidence or credibility to the uses of that then it could be the greatest product in the world, but if I don’t believe what you say about it then I’m not going to use it. You’ve got to be able to produce it well and also present it well, and have me believe that it’s going to do all those magnificent things for me. If I don’t believe it’s going to do that I’m not going to even try it. It becomes important for our corporations to understand the environment in which they produce their goods or deliver their services, which means they need to be a part of that. They need to work towards the stability of it. That was what was happening then and we had more of that at that time than we have now because we had fewer … Well, our corporations in this community at that time were still at a point where they were not as global then as they are now, which meant that the leadership often was local. They were families, the members of the Dayton’s, and the Pillsbury’s and the rest of them. They had grown up here and they had been indoctrinated, and so that was … They felt the responsibility of the community.
Williams: 09:08 But you bring a CEO over from Germany or from India or wherever it might be that they are going to be … Their community’s the global [inaudible 00:09:23] there. They’re going to think far less about what’s going on in their place around them than how that fits into the global schooling. That means that the people in those communities, they might see these large corporations with tremendous assets but don’t feel their local presence. At that time, it was a great opportunity to feel that presence then and to connect with and to know who those people were and to be able to communicate with them. You can’t do that now.
Williams: 10:05 I’ve been having a hell of a time to get a telephone call returned from the editor of The Minneapolis Star Tribune. That wouldn’t have been a problem for me in 1967, ’68, ’69 because I knew who the person was. I could pick up the phone and you didn’t have the automated phone system where a recorded voice would answer the phone and you end up anywhere but to the person that you were calling. We lost something from that. I’m not saying, nor do I expect that we go backwards to that, but there has to be some kind of-
Youth: 10:58 Balance.
Williams: 10:59 … middle ground there. Balance.
Youth: 11:01 I agree. Do you think the north side is pretty connected still as far as accessibility to leaders?
Williams: 11:09 No.
Youth: 11:09 Really?
Williams: 11:12 No. The ordinary people, I think, aren’t. That we may have some of our people who are connected, but I don’t know that we’re any better connected. Probably less so because we are probably a little further removed from that process and those who make the decisions. You don’t know the people as well as we once did. From our institutions on the north side, I’m not … Coming back into one, it feels a little weird because it is so different now than it was then. I have to remember that because I call someone up now, I don’t expect them to necessarily know who I am and that would mean anything to them. 40, 50 years ago it did. Ever since I’m feeling a little bit less important than you once did, but that’s life. That’s what happens. You move onto the next phase and things continue to happen. They’re not going to stop because I want them to. I think what happened is that the younger people … Some younger people. I try not to generalize. My wife always gets on me when I start talking like this. Know less about their community and how it’s structured and how to get things done.
Williams: 13:26 And who is responsible for what. Know almost zero about governance and how that works because you don’t get any information, any exposure to it in terms of your education. You know?
Williams: 13:44 You don’t know how the city government works and its relationship to the county, and its relationship to the state, and its relationship to the feds. So that when you need to try to cut through all of that stuff to get to a person that can be of assistance to you, you don’t know where to go. We don’t spend
any significant amount of time in trying to educate the public to that. You know?
Youth: 14:20 Right. Do you know anyone that does do policy education? Like education on what you just said. How do you go from the city to the county, to the county to the state, and the state to the …
Williams: 14:38 There are a couple of projects. The University of Minnesota over at the College of Education and Human Development has a project over there that’s trying to do some of the civic … They call it a civic something. [inaudible 00:15:02] They had one of these Scandinavian names with few, if any, vowels in it. He has a special project where they’ve been doing some of that, but there’s little of it that is at a level that engages ordinary folks or that’s embedded in our educational institutions at the elementary and high school level. You almost have to be majoring in topic of the subject in college to get exposed to it. Then there are a number of …
Williams: 15:52 A couple of organizations that … I’m a part of a group of old people that’s called the Civic Caucus where we sit and reflect and invite other people in to meet with us and talk about how it used to be done and why can’t we get it done like that again? It’s called the Civic Caucus and we put out a report that has gone out to about seven or eight thousand people. To all of the policymakers at various levels in the state and reflecting on policymaking. Then the legislature does not function anymore. They get over there and they fight and argue, and wait until the last days of the session. Then they take and pile everything into one bill.
Williams: 16:48 Which none of them read, and yet, it’s made into law and the only people … A handful of lawyers then earn a living on trying to wade through that and figure it out, but the ordinary citizen doesn’t have the faintest idea as to what’s in there. They just did that … We had, at our last meeting, a person we had that
came to speak to us at the Civic Caucus had a bill that was … It weighed 16 pounds.
Youth: 17:28 Are you serious?
Williams: 17:30 No. 16 pounds.
Youth: 17:31 Of paper?
Williams: 17:33 Of paper. Everything, including the kitchen sink, was in there. That was going to be passed by law and 90-plus percent of the legislatures didn’t have the faintest idea about all the stuff that was in it. Yet it’s going to become law and we don’t know what’s going on.
Interview of Thandisizwe Jackson-Nisan
Interviewer: 00:06 May I have your first and last name with spelling, please?
Jackson-Nisan : 00:08 It’s Thandi Sizwe. Thandi like Gandhi. Sizwe. T-H-A-N-D-I S-I-ZW-E. Last name is Jackson, like Michael, hyphen Nisan. J-A-C-KS-O-N, hyphen N-I-S-A-N.
Interviewer: 00:29 Do you currently or have you ever lived near or part of North of
Minneapolis? If so, how long?
Jackson-Nisan : 00:36 Born and raised over here in North Minneapolis. Am I supposed to identify the part?
Interviewer: 00:45 Yeah.
Jackson-Nisan : 00:45 Near North, Low End. A.K.A. Low End. Low End or no end, okay? And I grew up on 16th and Fremont, right down the street.
Interviewer: 00:54 Okay, okay. Thinking back from when you first came in this area to today, what changes have you seen?
Jackson-Nisan : 01:03 Okay. I’ve seen some good changes, and I’ve also seen some changes where I’m like, “Okay, I see what y’all are trying to do.” As far as the pros: more resources. I think that we’ve always had resources, but the technology is helping us a little bit in that way. As far as nonprofits, I don’t like all nonprofits cause I think that they try to come in and pimp the community, but there’s some good ones over here. And as far as some of the things I don’t like, they’re trying to gentrify the area, calling it “Know Me.” No, you don’t know me. That’s why you’re saying that; no, this is the North Side. Ride or die. So even breaking bread across the street. That’s a good change. There wasn’t anything like that when I was growing up, and, you know, Sammy’s, some of the food, but it’s still a food desert, so there’s been some changes, but not enough.
Interviewer: 02:11 Okay. What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in this area over the years?
Jackson-Nisan : 02:15 Funding, like as far as the nonprofits, which can be, it can good, and then it can also be bad for people that are poverty pimping and a little greedier than they should be; or you shouldn’t be greedy at all. And as far as the gentrification, I just think opportunity, like right now, the market, the housing market is ridiculous. I’m a housing counselor. That’s my plantation job, but it’s decent. It could be worse, but it’s not what I’m passionate about, but every day, people are coming in trying to buy homes and I’m seeing investors, which is cool, but people that have those resources able to buy those homes and that’s why their able to do what they’re trying to do to the neighborhood as far as the gentrification and even investing as far as businesses, when you have that money, when you have that paycheck, typically you get those opportunities.
Speaker 4: 03:14 So, we’re gathering these stories to try to start to understand the relationship between the community in North Minneapolis and the residents and the City of Minneapolis, entities and so, I’m wondering if you can tell us a little bit about maybe some historical discriminatory practices or policies that you’ve seen over the years and how it’s impacted this community. Maybe in the areas of housing, employment, education.
Jackson-Nisan : 03:46 “Some historical discriminatory government practices in this area.” That’s a good question. And my mom was like, ” there’s an outline.” I don’t know if this is what you sent us, but this would have been a great one to think about. “Historical discriminatory government policies in this area.” And this is one of those questions, “I know it’s a bunch of them,” and it’s like, “why can’t I think right now?” And was there an example? War on drugs in the 90s.
Interviewer: 04:21 And even, I mean, going back to, this is before all of our times, but your mom maybe could speak more into redlining- to do with housing.
Jackson-Nisan : 04:31 Redlining, I was just thinking about that.
Jackson-Nisan : 04:33 Yeah, I can talk about housing. So, my mom lost her house right on 16th and Fremont to foreclosure and sometimes it’s the policies that are put in place and then the policies that are not put in place. And I know sometimes that’s why people like, “well, we have to vote” and “we have to do this,” but I’m kinda over certain things as far as … I feel like there are certain things that shouldn’t be happening. We shouldn’t need a policy for a young man not to lose his life at the hands of a cop in North Minneapolis. That’s ridiculous.
Jackson-Nisan : 05:08 But I remember when she was fighting for her house … well, first of all, she lost the house because someone stole her identity; someone that she trusted. We lived in that home for 23 years, 21 years, maybe, and that was the home that I grew up in. She got it for $40,000. Bought it for $40,000 in 1991, 90 or 1. And when she lost it, it was during the time of the foreclosure crisis and I just remember thinking … I didn’t understand how someone could steal someone’s identity. I mean, she did stop making the payments, but he had refi’d the home and said that she had made this money that she didn’t make and it bothered me because she was going to people in the community that were kinda supposed to be down for the rah rah and she didn’t get the support that she needed. And that was a instance where I was like, “okay, where are these policies?”
Jackson-Nisan : 06:07 And then just the idea that they were snatching people’s homes. It really bothers me when America is in debt, we bail them out. It’s like, home owners go through things too. So, I don’t know, that’s kinda one of the only examples I can think of right now.
Interviewer: 06:24 What changes have you seen in this community that raise your stress level? Or concerns about it’s future?
Jackson-Nisan : 06:31 Oh, and you know what … sorry, just something else I thought about too. I remember back when I was in high school, the police were cracking down on young men … well, anybody, spitting on the sidewalk. Now, I have a big thing with spitting. It’s a bodily function, but if you do it, let’s try … like that little are right there with them red wood chips, that’s a great place to spit in. Ain’t nobody gone be sitting over there. So, I don’t like when people spit in places where folks are walking, but, on the other hand, don’t use that to incriminate us.
Jackson-Nisan : 07:02 I remember I went to North High School and one of my associates, we were walking from North High School to North Commons … which is like a half block, a block away, and he spit, and a cop flashed his lights and came over and wrote him a ticket for that. And I just remember thinking … I was like, “well, sir … ” I was trying to kinda talk to him, [inaudible 00:07:22] also remember thinking, my dad was telling me, “we don’t like the police, but they pull you over, it’s ‘yes ma’am, yes sir.’ Hands where they can see them.” He always put me up on game. But, yeah, that was a big thing for a while. I don’t think they’re still cracking down on it now, but they wouldn’t have been doing that out in Edina and it was for this neighborhood specifically for reasons that I don’t have to list.
Interviewer: 07:46 That’s crazy.
Jackson-Nisan : 07:50 I’m sorry, then you had … I just went back. You had asked me another question. “What changes have you seen in the community that raise your level of stress?”
Jackson-Nisan: 07:57 Changes in the community. You know, it’s interesting because as far as violence … and I don’t even like saying “black on black violence,” because I feel like that’s them trying to tell us that we’re heathens and it’s like, “I may or may not be a heathen, but if I am, I got a reason to be.” You know what I mean? That’s a part of a poem that I wrote so, … she said, “was that a freestyle, girl?” … Okay, but yeah, so I don’t even like using that term, but I do remember in high school sometimes, being scared to walk certain places. Like, “okay, somebody … ” You know, you [inaudible 00:08:31] leaving a party, somebody might get shot. I mean, that’s how it works around here.
Jackson-Nisan: 08:37 But now, I feel like, and I don’t know what the stats are, but I feel like the violence that we, unfortunately, commit against ourselves, people of our own kind, it seems like that has decreased, and it seems like the police shootings have increased. And that scares me because at first I was like, “okay, the police are killing people and it’s such a epidemic right now it’s gonna stop. It’s gone slow down.” Because if I’m a cop, I’m thinking, like, “okay, I don’t wanna be him on TV,” but then again when him or her are not being prosecuted, when they’re not being indicted, then it’s like, “well, I can do what I want.”
Jackson-Nisan: 09:13 But that scares me. That makes me nervous. I mean, every time a cop … not even pulling me over, I feel like I’ve only got pulled over like, once or twice, but even just when they’re in the back of me, I’m getting over to the next lane, I’m turning on Fremont even if I didn’t mean to turn until Emerson; I just feel nervous. It’s frightening that they think that they can … or that they can, that they can shoot people like Jamar Clark and Terrance Franklin in the streets and that people can occupy the precinct and something’s still not happened. Evidence can come out that that person didn’t have that gun or whatever and something still not happen … and, I mean, that’s a whole systematic issue with racism and capitalism, but it seems to happen a lot in Minneapolis and it’s been happening in North Minneapolis since even Tycel Nelson. That was in 1991, so it’s this history and I guess when we look back at it, it just changes.
Jackson-Nisan : 10:16 Slavery, and then Jim Crow, and … you know, they just get us a different kind of way and that hurts because this is the place that I love, so when things like that happen, then memories are associated … every time I drive past the fourth precinct, that’s what I think about. You know what I mean? Literally, every time I think about how it was occupied and … I was there a few days, I wasn’t sleeping outside though, I ain’t even … people be trying to take credit like, “honey, I was not one of those people in a sleeping bag, but I went and showed love.” And literally, everytime, that’s what I think about and those are negative memories associated with the place that I love which is North Minneapolis.
Interviewer: 10:53 What gives you hope for the future of this community?
Interviewer: 11:04 What part does the City of Minneapolis need to play in creating
a more hopeful future?
Jackson-Nisan: 11:09 I don’t have any hope in the city. And I’m really over putting my fate in someone else’s hands and I feel like that makes me sound like a pessimist, but … yeah.
Jackson-Nisan: 11:25 I … I don’t know. I think that … I feel Malcolm, you know? I feel him when he’s like, “the only way they’re gonna listen to us is if we go lower than them.” We can’t go high, we gotta … People like, “let’s go high, and … ” People have different strategies. Some people are like, “well, let’s come together, hold hands and sing Kumbaya.” Kumbaya is cool, I’ll jig to it, you know what I mean? I’ll sing it too, but I don’t know if I’ma come hold hands with y’all because we been doing that for a while. And I also think that, too, people mistake progress for the Freedom Land and the Promised Land. We’ve made some prog … there’s been little bits, but sometimes they give us a lil something so we can shut up too. And they give us a lil something so it can look like something else, but nobody’s free. In my opinion, nobody’s free and one of us can’t be free until everybody’s free.
Jackson-Nisan: 12:16 We came over here together, we can’t be free until everybody’s free and I was just literally … so, I went to Sammy’s before I came here and I was on the Five and it just reminded me … I’m not driving right now … why I don’t like taking the bus. Just my energy. My energy on that bus, two things happened where I was just like, “whoa, look at how they have us.” And I think it’s okay to say, “they” have us like this. And we do have to take some personal responsibilities, but our people are hurting. Our people are hurting and I do believe in post traumatic slave trauma. I do believe that that’s passed down. And I also believe that even though we’re hurting, look at us. Look at what type of people we are. We are resilient, we are bomb, we are determined. The things that we have done in spite.
Jackson-Nisan: 13:03 So, as far as the city, these little grants and they’re giving homeowners 75 hundred dollars to buy in Minneapolis, that’s gre … I’ll take it, I’m trying to buy a house right now. Yes, I will take that 75 hundred, but it’s like, “where’s my 40 acres and my mule to start?” Just to start. Cause now I need 100 acres cause I’m trying to build a farm, cause y’all got us eating this crazy food with all this soy in it so I gotta grow my own.
Jackson-Nisan: 13:31 So, I mean, to answer that question is: I don’t know where I fit in at because I’m kinda battling … for the last couple years, I worked on the Justice for Jamar fight and that broke my heart because there was all this in-fighting in that. We were trying to fight the system and Mike Freeman and we was fighting each other. And I broke down, I went into months of just being depressed because I was like, “this is never gonna change.” And since then I’ve been trying to figure out where out where my place is because I don’t have hope in the city and, unfortunately, I don’t have hope in my people even though I have more hope in my people than I have in the city or the state or the country, this world, the people in charge, the powers that be, but I feel like they got us too bamboozled.
Jackson-Nisan: 14:17 So I don’t know. I think I just do what I can do; my little small bit. I mentor young girls, I teach them about hygiene, I teach them about safety, and foods. I mentor young boys too, but I have a specific relationship with my girls, but just do my little part and try to be the best I can be because this whole MLK,
Malcolm X … you know, this whole worldwide change, honestly, I don’t think it’s gonna happen. Now, I don’t think it’ll happen in my lifetime, but then we got something going on with the planet where the planet is saying, “screw y’all.” That’s what the planet is saying, so I’m like, … people like, “well, it might happen 100 years from now.” I don’t know how much time we have left, you know what I mean?
Jackson-Nisan : 15:01 So that was a good question. I got a little-
Interviewer: 15:04 You good. You good.
Jackson-Nisan : 15:04 Little something, okay?
Interviewer: 15:06 Okay, these are top of the mind thought questions. They don’t have to be long, but when you think about this area today, what
impacts do you still see from these historic government policies?
Jackson-Nisan : 15:25 Is there a specific historic government policies?
Interviewer: 15:30 So all the things that we might have discussed earlier. I know we touched a little bit on housing and we really have already answered a lot of that, but how do you see systemic … and really we’re talking about racism here, is what I heard you mention. But how do you see the lasting effects, even still right now, of some of those things that came into play before we were even born?
Jackson-Nisan : 15:57 Yeah, no, for sure. I just think that we don’t heal as a people …and not just black people. I think that just as a people, we do this thing where it’s just like, “well, gotta get up and go … ” You know, we’re all in survival mode. Monday through Saturday, work, can’t think. Sunday, I’m preparing for work; I can’t think … that’s another poem piece, now that’s I can’t take credit for that, but that’s one of my best friends.
Jackson-Nisan: 16:20 But you know just, when he said that poem and I heard it for the first time, it’s like, “yeah, it’s that survival mode.” So we don’t have time to do all these other things.
Jackson-Nisan: 16:29 Everything is still within us. Even when I think about how they brought crack into our communities. That was a purposeful, strategic plan to say, “this is how we gone get these niggas,” you know? And it was “niggas.” It kind of backfired on them because now these white people in the suburbs with meth and … it’s just interesting the way that things work. But whether that person that put you on to that in the 80s is still alive or not, it passes down. We pass things down generationally. We pass our bad habits, we pass that trauma down. Thinking about housing, if I never saw my mom or father own a home, then that’s the example that I know.
Jackson-Nisan : 17:17 So, just these behaviors I feel like are really passed down to our children and then when we can’t heal and when we’re messed up from what’s happened to us, then that’s when we’re acting crazy. And it’s like, who can blame us? Who can … even the dude on the bus, he … “this bitch,” and he was talking about his baby moms. She was at the front of the bus and he was saying to feed the baby … it’s like, “that’s why you can’t trust bitches,” and … sometimes I’m like, “okay, am I gonna tuck it… okay, I’m gonna tuck it in today.” I don’t wanna … bruh, cause I got my mace on my waist. I’ll give you that business real quick. But that was one of them things where I was like … he did it when we were passing Plymouth … I said, “thank God, I’m about to get off this bus.” Because all of that energy, it’s contagious. And it’s like, who wants to hear a man talking about a woman like that? But it comes from all that trauma, I think.
Interviewer: 18:10 How would you describe the relationship between the City of Minneapolis and the community over the years?
Jackson-Nisan : 18:17 I think it’s been bittersweet. I will say I think that there’s a lot of… oh, it’s raining now … I think that there’s a lot of resources here that I don’t see as a housing counselor. Sometimes when I go to these national trainings, there’s people from New York and there’s people from Idaho and Minneapolis, I will give us credit, we have a lot of resources, a lot of food programs and things like that, but then Jamar Clark happens and we’re like, “okay you can give us free meals Monday through Friday,” but when one of our own is dying, it’s like those free meals don’t matter as much so, I don’t know, it’s kind of like this hate love relationship, and it’s also very bittersweet too.
Interviewer: 18:58 What are your expectations of the City of Minneapolis relative to this community? To what extent do you trust the City of Minneapolis to deliver on those expectations?
Jackson-Nisan : 19:08 I don’t trust the city. At all. I do think if I buy a house and they say, “hey, you got your 75 hundred dollars for home grant,” then I expect them to give that to me. There’s certain lil things… if I show up to a for a free meal, I’m like, “okay, you better come out with that meal.”
Jackson-Nisan: 19:25 But other than that, I don’t trust the city. Even when I just went down to the ticket hearing officers office … and I just hate even going down there. I hate being in court, I hate … I just don’t even like dealing with them. I don’t trust them. I don’t trust them at all and I don’t … The second part was “what are your expectations?” I feel like when you don’t have expectations, or they’re not high, then you can’t get disappointed. So I just really been rerouting and I think, for some people, especially the one’s singing Kumbaya and stuff, I come off as, I don’t know. I don’t know how I might come off, but people might be like, “our sista,” and it’s like, “no.” I’m not gonna be 70 years old still marching. I’m sorry. I’m not gone be doing it.
Jackson-Nisan : 20:11 I hope to be somewhere in the Bahamas or back in Africa. I’ll even take Asia … on a island somewhere, whatever, but I’m not gonna be 70 years old still walking from the precinct to the government center cause another black boy was … I don’t … I’m soft, I’m sensitive, I’ll treat somebody. I’ll put somebody in their place, but I can be very emotional too, so it’s like at the end of the day, I want to make sure I take care of me and mine and if you’re not providing me the tools and the resources and even the dignity to even cover up a young boy’s body when he’s killed, that’s just like, “I’ma do me and know that I gotta kinda move around cause this ain’t gone work.”
Jackson-Nisan : 20:52 So that’s how I feel about that.
Interviewer: 20:56 What part do you feel you can play in creating a more a more hopeful future?
Jackson-Nisan : 21:02 Just what I said cause I don’t wanna be one of those people … a family member that I know, she stays in her house and she doesn’t come out. She suffers with depression. She always got a story like, “well, watch out,” and I’m like, “Auntie, they ain’t …sometimes it ain’t like that. I don’t always gotta watch my back.”
Jackson-Nisan : 21:20 And she’s been like that, I will say, for the past 15 years and I remember just thinking like, “I don’t wanna be like that.” I like to travel, I like to eat, I cook, I love being outside, I’m one with nature, but sometimes I like to be inside too. So it’s just like. me really finding my place. Not my medium, not like a happy medium, but knowing that I’m not trying to be Malcolm X no more, cause I was.
Jackson-Nisan : 21:42 My dad was the Malcolm X of the North Side, Christopher Ross Nisan. He was a activist, revolutionary, he stayed right outside of where Jamar Clark was shot and right outside where Jamar Clark died, the Feds raided his house looking for guns that wasn’t there cause he was doing some business with Cuba and he was threatening what they had going on so I wanted to be just like my pops. I wanna be Malcolm. I wanna be Ella Baker. And it took a quick sec for me to snap back into reality especially … look, okay Malcolm was executed … it’s either you end up poor, broke, and miserable, or you’re dead.
Jackson-Nisan : 22:15 So I was like, “mm.” So it’s like, “where can I find that little … I’m not trying to mess with the political parties, I’m not a democrat no more, I’m not trying to mess with them, but I also don’t wanna be a revolutionary, so it’s like, “where do I land?” And I think, especially with the food piece that I’ve picked up about educating these babies on what to eat, what not to eat, what’s going on with their bodies, the mentorship, the empowerment piece, even black history; we talk a lot about black history. Taking them to Ethiopia, hopefully, in a year and a half. December of 2018 or 2019. I feel like that’s my center ground. Cause I definitely am not one of those people that just likes to sit around, but I’m tired of yelling, and asking, and begging for something that’s like, these human rights.
Jackson-Nisan : 23:07 Is that it?
Interviewer: 23:08 Yes, that is it. Thank you for sharing your story.
Jackson-Nisan : 23:11 Yeah, yeah, thank y’all.
Interview of Teresa Williamson
Interviewer: 00:03 Alright, so first can I have you say your first and last name and
Teresa Williamson: 00:08 Teresa Williamson. T-E-R-E-S-A W-I-L-L-I-A-M-S-O-N.
Interviewer: 00:14 Okay. Okay, so we’re referring to this map right here. Do you currently, have you lived in this area?
Teresa Williamson: 00:22 I lived half a block from here, 1800 Freemont Avenue North.
Interviewer: 00:26 How long have you lived there?
Teresa Williamson: 00:28 Seven years.
Interviewer: 00:31 Seven years. Okay. So thinking back from when you first moved into this area over here, what changes have you seen?
Teresa Williamson: 00:36 Oh my God. I’ve seen a whole lot of changes. I was here when Annie’s Café, and there was all types of black businesses up and down Broadway. There was bingo halls, there was all kind of convenient stores. It was easy to get an apartment back then, too. Back in the 80s. You didn’t even need to have no kind of, nothing but your word, and people would let you rent property. Right now you won’t because of all the stuff that’s been happening with housing.
Interviewer: 01:04 Okay. Can you name a positive change and just one negative change?
Teresa Williamson: 01:08 A positive change … I think the positive change would be they got a Emerge Works over here, and Emerge is focusing a lot of jobs on young, black men youth. So I like that part about the north side. And the fact that they also have the workforce center now, on this side of town. That to me, to help the young people, is a plus.
Interviewer: 01:30 Okay. What about a negative thing you’ve seen?
Teresa Williamson: 01:34 The negative thing that I’ve seen is the killings and the unfairness and me being afraid for the young black man.
Interviewer: 01:43 Alright.
Interviewer: 01:43 How many years total have you lived in North Minneapolis?
Teresa Williamson: 01:45 I’ve lived in North Minneapolis since 1982.
Interviewer: 01:51 Alright. Wait, wait, wait. I’m trying to count how many years that is.
Teresa Williamson: 01:54 It’s a long time.
Interviewer: 01:55 36 years.
Teresa Williamson: 01:56 I raised my three sons here. I have a 39-year-old, a 37-year-old, and a 29-year-old.
Interviewer: 02:04 What do you feel caused the changes you’re seeing in the area?
Teresa Williamson: 02:09 A lot of negative publicity, a lot of people … I’m not gonna point no fingers at people coming from out of town because everybody needs a place to live … but when you come here and you don’t have no respect for property, no respect for where you live, no respect for people, that brings down the community. There’s no unity.
Interviewer: 02:24 Alright. Why do you feel like there’s no unity?
Teresa Williamson: 02:29 Because we don’t support each other like we should. As people of color, we’ve already been conditioned to be less than what we supposed to be. I feel like if we don’t build each other up, instead of tearing each other down, we don’t have no love for the community, no love for each other hardly anymore.
Interviewer: 02:48 I feel that. So we are gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of historic discriminatory government policies and practices in the area, like housing, transportation, economic development, and more. Examples include housing and employment discrimination in the early 20th century, the war of drugs in the 1990s, and others. What impacts on these policies, or others, had on the community in general?
Teresa Williamson: 03:20 Now break it down to me one more time.
Interviewer: 03:22 So basically, what impacts have these policies, housing transportation, economic development, the war on drugs in 1990s, what impact have they had on the community in general or what have they had on you or your family?
Teresa Williamson: 03:38 More killings, and communities that are trashed out. Properties, sidewalks, no community unity, and that’s why. Also between the police and the community, we afraid of the police, first of all. Let’s get that right. Most of us are afraid of the police because we know they’re afraid of us, so we don’t know what they’re gonna do to us. We have that inside of us already, that when we see a police, we feel like we did something, even when we didn’t. But it’s all this that came down through us that they done hurt so many people for nothing, that it’s impacting me as a person.
Teresa Williamson: 04:16 Hey, I could know people that just be at the wrong place at the wrong time and they can accuse me of something. Because we don’t have no understanding between the police and the community.
Interviewer: 04:26 Right. What impact do you think that had on you or your family personally?
Teresa Williamson: 04:31 On my family, the impact … right now, I have a son that was shot five times with a 357 when he was 15 years old. You know what my son told me when he laid on the sidewalk? The man asked him, I guess his feet had a smell or something. He said, “Your feet are smelling or something.” But my son’s laying on the ground with five shots in him. That shouldn’t have been something that should have even came out of his mouth. I mean, he should have had more compassion for a human being, whether he black, white, Chinese, or whatever. That wasn’t appropriate to me.
Teresa Williamson: 05:06 That was when he was 15, he’s 37 now. So those words have stuck with me through all these years.
Interviewer: 05:16 What changes have you seen in the community that raise your level of stress or are concerned about his future?
Teresa Williamson: 05:23 Not being able to catch the bus at night, because you don’t know who out here’s gonna rob you. You don’t know if a man’s gonna think you prostituting, call you standing on the bus stop. You just don’t know. Back in the day, you didn’t have to worry about that. You could get on the bus at 9:00 at night, you didn’t have to worry about nobody trying to rob you, rape you, anything like that.
Interviewer: 05:44 Okay, what part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in relieving that stress?
Teresa Williamson: 05:49 First of all, they need to start like they’re doing right now. They need to start with more jobs, they need to start with housing, they need to start with education. My thing is like this, a lot of this stuff has been lost, but we’ve got young people just like yourself and we’ve got young kids that are 12, 13, 10, 9. Those kids need to be focused on. We can’t save half the ones that some went on. But we can save them babies that’s coming up and we can teach them a new way, so that their generation will be better than our generation.
Interviewer: 06:18 So what gives you hope for the future in this community?
Teresa Williamson: 06:21 Jesus Christ. And loving people and trying to show love.
Interviewer: 06:28 Amen. What part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in making a more hopeful future?
Teresa Williamson: 06:31 You said what now?
Interviewer: 06:31 What part does the city of Minneapolis need to play-
Teresa Williamson: 06:34 Once again, it goes back to poverty. We’re living in poverty time. We don’t have food, we don’t have housing. First of all, and our more experienced are broke down. We feel more hopeless than we do helpful. We feel like we hopeless because we can’t get a job, we gotta ride the bus, we ain’t got a car, we don’t have an education. So like I said, once again, to me this is my own opinion. A lot of that stuff has went on … but still, it comes to your generation and your children’s generation that this can all change. That’s my focus that I would like to get out to the community.
Teresa Williamson: 07:08 We need more mentors. We need more people that have things, that have money, that have education. We need more mentors to mentor young people. To show them that there’s a different way besides crime and killing and selling drugs.
Interviewer: 07:20 Amen. When you think about this area today, what impact do you still see from these historic government policies?
Teresa Williamson: 07:29 I still see division. We’re divided. If you can’t even walk down the sidewalk, and I’m from Mississippi and we speak to everybody. People don’t even speak to you when they pass by you no more. They’d rather put they headphones and ignore than say, “Hey, how you doing?”
Interviewer: 07:46 Yeah. How would you describe your relationship between the city of Minneapolis and this community over here over the years?
Teresa Williamson: 07:56 I guess they’re trying. That’s all I can say.
Interviewer: 08:00 Right. Okay. What are your expectations for the city of Minneapolis relating to this community? To what extent do you trust the city of Minneapolis to deliver those expectations?
Teresa Williamson: 08:06 My expectations is for them to help build this community back up. To make Broadway back to what it used to be. Broadway don’t have nothing. Soon as we get stores over here, they’re taken away because of theft, crime, and all that. But that punishes the people that do need these stores. So they need to come up with more solutions on security ways that we can keep our stores and stop taking our stores away so we gotta go way out to other communities to do our shopping. We need to be able to spend our money in our community and put that money back into the community for youth and youth programs.
Interviewer: 08:44 Okay. What part do you feel like you could play in creating this more hopeful future?
Teresa Williamson: 08:49 I play a part in it every day because I show everybody love. And I know I understand that we all in the struggle, we all suffering, and we all pain. So being an individual person myself, I see that in people and I let them know I know exactly what you feeling because everybody hurts, everybody in pain, everybody tryin to have some in this life.
Interviewer: 09:05 Okay. That’s the end of the interview. Thank you.
Interviewer: 09:05 Thank you so much.
Teresa Williamson: 09:11 Thank you. And I’m better known as Mother Teresa. I work with
Interview of Tanya Wooten
Interviewer: 00:02 And, who are we interviewing?
Tanya Wooten: 00:06 You’re interviewing Tanya Wooten.
Interviewer: 00:08 We are interviewing Tanya Wooten. Tanya, do we have permission to capture your story on behalf of the city of Minneapolis?
Tanya Wooten: 00:17 Yes.
Interviewer: 00:23 Well, thank you for being a part of this moment so we can capture your story. And so, can we please start with your first, last name and the spelling please? Your first and last name and the spelling.
Tanya Wooten: 00:39 First name is Tanya, T-A-N-Y-A. Last name is Wooten, W-O-O-TE-N.
Interviewer: 00:46 Appreciate that. Appreciate that. We have this map for you. And, it’s a reference map for us of the area that we are collecting the stories for, on the north side of Minneapolis. Can you please identify any area on this map that you have lived, or are currently living in?
Tanya Wooten: 01:26 Well, I grew up over on 12th, 12th over here. But, I find Will Park over there. But, I lived more over here. I used to live right over here.
Interviewer: 01:42 Sounds good, in the College Park area. Yes, 15th Avenue, 14th Avenue, with Morgan. Okay. In that area?
Tanya Wooten: 01:50 Well, no, it’s more like on 20, well, where North Commons is. It’s more like by 21st-
Interviewer: 01:56 21st?
Tanya Wooten: 01:57 So, as you can see, so it’s really not on there. See, I grew up on 12th, so. That’s where my Mom lives. But, that … I grew up over there.
Interviewer: 02:30 Okay. Sounds good. Well, thinking back, from when you first came to this area, to today, what changes have you seen, positive and negative?
Tanya Wooten: 02:39 What do you want first? The positives or the negatives? Which way you … what direction … well, let me start negative and then we end on a good note, I guess.
Interviewer: 02:49 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 02:51 Negative, for me, that we still seem to have a lot of people that like to come in and cause problems in the area that they’re really not from. Or don’t live, you know? Don’t live, don’t really care, they just seem to wander. And, you know they’re probably not from here when they start … when there’s issues in the neighborhood.
Interviewer: 03:14 Okay. Is there a specific story you have surrounding that? Or an experience that you experienced?
Tanya Wooten: 03:27 Bad, yeah. Being li-
Interviewer: 03:28 Would you, would you mind sharing-
Tanya Wooten: 03:31 Well, sure I can. Just living, being, growing up over on the North. I’ve been actually over at North side all my life-
Tanya Wooten: 03:37 … until recently I had to … behind me. Finally leave. But, having issues where I was staying, in the area where I was staying at. Having my house getting shot at with a gun from somebody shooting from across the way and injuring, messing up cars. And then, people hitting the car, going down the street. I’ve had issues like that. Somebody shot through the house and luckily that I had happened to, a couple minutes before that go into the kitchen and get ice water. But, it came through … went straight through the TV.
Interviewer: 04:12 Wow.
Tanya Wooten: 04:15 So, that’s not a good thing, of course. And, just like I said, cars getting hit. You know? And, just being parked and they get hit. And, you go out, bam. What?
Interviewer: 04:26 Wow.
Tanya Wooten: 04:27 And, that happened a couple different times, you know? Being over here, unfortunately.
Interviewer: 04:32 Yeah. Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 04:32 You know, they have good moments. Good moments that they’re trying. Things seem to be getting a little better. I mean it’s been a long process. Being over here and seeing it. And, people are still, you’re on the North side? What are you doing? You know what I mean?
Interviewer: 04:46 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 04:47 It’s getting better. It’s getting better but, the process is so slow. That’s all.
Interviewer: 04:51 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 04:51 That’s the only sad thing.
Interviewer: 04:53 The process is slow.
Tanya Wooten: 04:54 It’s getting … but, yeah. I’m getting up there now and then being from back in the day, I could walk down the street with no problems. Now, you’ve got somebody, you want to buy something? What? You need anything? No. I mean, you know to that type of thinking.
Interviewer: 05:18 Anything else you’d like to add? As far as the changes positive or negative?
Tanya Wooten: 05:22 Well, yeah, just positive would be that they are doing a lot more things. That they’re trying to do different things for people to get involved in, to help the neighborhood, to be a part of, to support. Like the different businesses you have, that I’m reading. When I read, like I said, I’m not overhearing more. But I don’t stay on this side of town now.
Tanya Wooten: 05:46 Just because I had to go. But, just that they’re putting it out there of things that people can get involved in, who are still here, who have been here for a lot of years.
Interviewer: 05:58 Thank you for sharing.
Tanya Wooten: 05:59 It’s good.
Interviewer: 06:00 Yeah. What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in the area over the years?
Tanya Wooten: 06:06 Just people who, elders, and just people … that have a strong feeling for community. That they feel community is a good thing, And if you’re over here, you need to support your community to see that it can get better. It doesn’t have to fall through, you know?
Interviewer: 06:22 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 06:22 We don’t have to be like some of the other places like Chicago and Steel town and we can stand up, give a name for our … you know, for our … for North Minneapolis.
Tanya Wooten: 06:34 Just in general Minneapolis.
Interviewer 06:35 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 06:36 You known what I mean? Just, yeah. I guess.
Interviewer: 06:40 Yeah. I appreciate that. Appreciate that. Yeah. Okay. So, we are gathering stories to increase understanding between city of Minneapolis and the community, and the impact of historical discriminatory government policies, and practices in areas like housing, transportation, economic development, and more. Examples include housing and employment discrimination in the early 20th century, the war on drugs in the 1990’s, and others. What impact, after saying all that, what impact have these policies or others have had on the community in general? And, what impact have they had on you or your family,personally?
Tanya Wooten: 07:29 Some of it’s been a help. Some of it hasn’t.
Interviewer: 07:34 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 07:37 As far as, I’ll put it … I’ll just comment on a couple of them. Employment, being able to have the employment center that was on Plymouth there. But, I don’t remember where it moved to now. You know what I’m talking about. The one that used to be on Emerson and Plymouth. The workforce center. That was a big impact for me when I was going through job change. That did help.
Interviewer: 08:09 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 08:10 That helped-
Interviewer: 08:11 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 08:11 … having that there helped-
Interviewer: 08:14 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 08:14 … at the time. Years back now, it’s been a little while. Its been, what? Ten years, or eight years, whatever it was. Can’t remember now and I had to really use it. But, it was a good thing. And, I think it’s still. I don’t know where it’s located now. But, I know it’s not in that building anymore. But, that has been a good thing. And, I hear still about different, like emerging and they had a couple different spots. And, I still read about that too. And, that’s been a good thing. And, let’s see, what else can I touch on? What did you say?
Interviewer: 08:55 So, there’s the housing, employment discrimination in the early 20th century. And, then there’s the war on drugs in 1990’s. How did that affect the area, the war on drugs? Did that affect it at all, from your personal experience?
Tanya Wooten: 09:10 Well, that wasn’t a role that I really had to deal with. And, I was… that’s a hard thing.
Interviewer 09:21 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 09:21 Just seeing a lot of people who had to deal with that.
Interviewer: 09:24 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 09:24 That kind of thing, and just seeing how peoples reaction. Because, I mean, I had just, neighbors who were strung out on drugs and its just like, watching the craziness of all that.
Interviewer: 09:34 Yeah. Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 09:34 See their life’s change when they did the drugs. But, the good thing about that, a couple of them, they’re clear from the drugs. And, it took them to go rock bottom to get, to pull their self back up. And, that’s a good thing to see.
Interviewer: 09:50 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 09:51 It took them three or four years for that to happen and a lot of bad things to happen to them. But, it made them grow in the end and seeing that’s been a good thing.
Interviewer: 10:01 That’s good.
Tanya Wooten: 10:02 But, for me personally, having to see friends like that. And, I personally, I haven’t had to deal with that kind of thing.
Interviewer: 10:16 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 10:16 Because that … you know?
Tanya Wooten: 10:16 Good enough?
Interviewer: 10:16 Yeah. I appreciate it. I appreciate you taking your time.
Tanya Wooten: 10:16 I don’t know what I’m supposed to be saying. But, I mean that’s-
Interviewer: 10:16 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 10:16 … one of my experience, you know?
Interviewer: 10:16 Oh, yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 10:21 That I’ve had someone have to deal with that. They went down that road and unfortunately, got picked their self back up. Fell, and got back up, so-
Interviewer: 10:27 Right. Amen.
Tanya Wooten: 10:28 So, you know?
Interviewer: 10:32 On that note, how would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and the community over the years?
Tanya Wooten: 10:41 Now, my issue, when you’re saying city of Minneapolis, that’s a broad … are you talking …when you’re saying that I’m like, wait a minute. Am I going in a different direction than he wants me to be?
Interviewer: 10:51 Oh, no.
Tanya Wooten: 10:52 When you say city of Minneapolis are you talking about as a whole Minneapolis scene, the whole big picture with all the different elements? Or what are you meaning?
Interviewer: 11:01 I mean, I’m going to guide the question with the policy makers-
Tanya Wooten: 11:06 Okay
Interviewer: 11:07 … still stay policy focused still.
Tanya Wooten: 11:11 Okay.
Interviewer: 11:12 Those who are making the policies. Those who are kind of anchoring certain laws that affect the community. Those that are kind of behind the programs that affect the community. So, what is the relationship between the members of the community and the members of those that are creating the policies? The structure that-
Tanya Wooten: 11:34 Okay.
Interviewer: 11:34 … we call the city of Minneapolis.
Tanya Wooten: 11:34 Well, my … okay, if you’re putting it like that. I think some of the … some of them I have a problem with. The one basically I found … okay, when you have your home in the city of Minneapolis, it seems like you’re not an owner of your home. There’s always an issue. You know?
Interviewer: 11:54 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 11:54 You’re supposed to be paying on your home but, then they about to tell you what to do if your grass is an inch high. They’re sending you a letter, “Oh, you’ve got to cut your grass.” Or, if you’ve got a tree a little in the alley, they go, “Oh, you’ve got to cut that down or else were going to have somebody come. You only have x amount of days to do it.” In that instance it doesn’t make you feel like you own your home really because they want to tell you what to do. They want to tell you how to do it. I mean-
Interviewer: 12:22 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 12:23 … sometimes, yeah, that happens and I know that’s still maintenance. But, they made it seem … because I have friends now. It’s like my mom. It’s always something. Oh, they’re telling me that I’ve got to do this or this bush is higher than it should be. And this … I’m like, okay Mom. You know what I mean? That’s … I think it comes to that type of thing that’s the only thing that
Tanya Wooten: 12:47 … that’s my issue with the city. I think they’re doing some positive things. I guess. Because we have all these different projects going on. You’ve got the line going through, which that I’m like, what?
Interviewer: 12:58 What’s your opinion on the line? What is your thoughts on the
Tanya Wooten: 13:02 I don’t think its needed over here-… because I think it’s going to get taken advantage of.
Interviewer: 13:08 Okay. Speak more to that. What do you mean by taken advantage of?
Tanya Wooten: 13:11 Well, if you have a line just like you have the train going down.
Now, I’m a little confused. Is it an actual train? Or is it a busline? You know what I’m saying? I’m still kind of confused-
Interviewer: 13:22 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 13:22 … as to what kind of line was it? I really haven’t read enough to really be speaking on that. So, I don’t know. I really shouldn’t speak on it.
Interviewer: 13:32 Okay. Let’s say it was a train. Like in St. Paul, instead of-
Tanya Wooten: 13:36 Like the blue line or the green line-
Interviewer: 13:38 Then again it’s-
Tanya Wooten: 13:38 Yeah. I think that’s going to be taken advantage of. And, I think that’s a big thing to have on North side because I know a lot of people, some people can’t afford that. And they’re going to jump on it like they do it downtown now. To get a free ride, they jump on the train.
Interviewer: 13:53 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 13:53 Over here, I think they can go somewhere and do something and jump right on the little train and they ain’t going to get caught.
Interviewer: 13:59 Wow. Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 14:00 That’s my … I mean, just being where the route, the line, the way that it’s going.
Tanya Wooten: 14:07 That’s my only concern. I hope that it’s going to be beneficial. But, I just … being the area that it’s in, unfortunately, I don’t want to make it as a bad thing. Its just, I don’t know that a lot of people will use it, and use it honestly like it should be used. You know what I mean?
Interviewer: 14:26 Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 14:26 Because that’s the money that people have put in to make it happen.
Tanya Wooten: 14:31 And the support. So, that’s my only downfall. But, I mean it’s a good thing if it works. I hope it does. I hope it’s beneficial and-
Tanya Wooten: 14:38 … I mean, I really do. Like the regular buses were for some people. But, I just … that just seems like, okay. That route though?
Interviewer: 14:49 Right. Okay.
Tanya Wooten: 14:50 That’s my only concern. I don’t know.
Interviewer: 14:54 I appreciate your honesty. So, one final question. For a hopeful future, how do you see the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and the community coming together to produce such a hopeful future? So, let’s say there’s hope for the future. What would be the steps needed? Or, a step needed from your perspective, to create a hopeful future? Or, to push the north side forward in a positive way?
Tanya Wooten: 15:25 That they listen to the community more because I think that they hear it but they don’t respond on it. They’ll respond on what they want to respond on. And, they don’t really respond on some of the issues that people have put forth. Because you hear, over the years you’ve seen that. I read things that people talked about. And, that was talked about ten years ago and then now, they want to implement it. Or, they didn’t want to give it shot before. I understand maybe it could have been money issues or something. But, it got put on the back burner. And, now we have the train, now we have the line going through. I mean, You know what I mean? Oh, but, you want to do a new line to keep up with the other cities. I mean, to me that was a tactic, to try to be like the other cities, for me. I mean that’s just me speaking.
Tanya Wooten: 16:26 I just feel that they don’t hear you sometimes. They don’t hear enough of what they should. And, act upon it, and figure out a way. They don’t really give the community … they can go out and say really. I mean, they can send a flyer. Okay. We can have a meeting or two. You only have four people show up. I mean, I understand that’s probably what the problem is.
Interviewer: 16:50 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 16:50 But, I think there’s … I don’t know how to implement that. But, they need to hear more from the community. I don’t think a lot of … enough is being done to get people to support the community and step up for it and say, heres what I want. You know what I mean?
Tanya Wooten: 17:11 And, I understand you only have so many community meetings. You know what I’m saying?
Interviewer: 17:15 Yeah.
Tanya Wooten: 17:16 I don’t know how to put it, you know?
Interviewer: 17:17 No, I appreciate-
Tanya Wooten: 17:21 I’m sorry. I know got long winded, a little attitude. I know.
Interviewer: 17:23 No, that’s what this is, this is about we want your honest truth-
Tanya Wooten: 17:30 I just really don’t feel that they-
Interviewer: 17:31 … and your honest perspective.
Tanya Wooten: 17:32 … are really giving the community a chance. I mean a lot of them … that’s why a lot of people have a need from the area. Just because their voices haven’t been heard. I have friends that have done that. And, I have some right now that are strong leaders right now that are starting to do big things. Things are happening for them, you know?
Interviewer: 17:53 That’s good.
Tanya Wooten: 17:54 A couple of my people that I went to school with are doing big things and making big changes for the community. I’m just so happy for them and proud that they are taking the initiative to do what they have to do. You know Bobby Joe, you know him?
Interviewer: 18:06 Yeah, that’s good.
Tanya Wooten: 18:07 That’s my guy. I went to school with him. Graduated with him and my girl, Lisa. And I’m like, what?
Tanya Wooten: 18:13 So, yeah, I mean, I have-… friends out there who are doing big things and really wanted to back the community up. And, I feel so happy for them that they are.
Tanya Wooten: 18:21 We need a push-… more people to do some pushing.
Tanya Wooten: 18:26 Instead of complaining like Tanya. But, I’m not complaining. It’s just been a long time. I’ve tried to … I’ve been in some discussions and meetings over the years too. So, maybe I haven’t just because I had to make some changes in my life too. But-
Interviewer: 18:44 Like we all do.
Tanya Wooten: 18:46 Not out of the area, but I still support the North side. But, anyway. Okay.
Interviewer: 18:52 I appreciate you taking your time just to tell your story. That’s what this is about.
Tanya Wooten: 18:55 Okay.
Interviewer: 18:55 Just questions that just provoke, what is your honest experience? I really want you to know that I appreciate hearing your story, from your vantage point. So, blessing to your journey.
Tanya Wooten: 19:13 Yeah, thank you.
Interview of Susan Breedlove
Interviewer: 00:04 May I have your first and last name and spell it please.
Susan Breedlove: 00:06 Susan, S-U-S-A-N. My last name Breedlove, B-R-E-ED-L-O-V-E.
Interviewer: 00:13 Alright. Okay. Looking at the map in front of you, do you currently or have you ever lived this near part of north Minneapolis and if so how long.
Susan Breedlove: 00:25 I’ve lived in this area of north Minneapolis. Right now I’m up on 22nd off Broadway and I lived for 20 some years right next to North Community High School, so I’ve been on the north side since 1969.
Interviewer: 00:42 Thinking back to when you first came to this area today, what changes have you seen, either positive or negative?
Susan Breedlove: 00:48 Just in this particular area?
Interviewer: 00:50 Yeah.
Susan Breedlove: 00:53 I haven’t seen that many changes per se, okay? I see a lot of changes in terms of leaving our community, because it used to be if you went north of west Broadway, that if you were a person of color you have somebody else with you because you might get beat up, shot and so forth. You didn’t leave our community here and go across the river over to northeast, because when my husband went over there one time and he got beat up really bad and left at the riverside.
Susan Breedlove: 01:23 So, you didn’t cross the bridge there unless you were accompanied by other people of color. My husband was African American and American Indian and European American, but identified as African American.
Susan Breedlove: 01:37 So, that’s one of the changes in terms of accessibility and the boundaries of where people are accepted. That has changed a lot. Also, the businesses on north Broadway. We used to have a lot of businesses there that we would use. Now there’s not so many.
Interviewer: 01:56 What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in the area over the years?
Susan Breedlove: 02:02 I would say neglect, a lot of it economic neglect by the powers to be. Not investing the powers to be and corporations in investing in our community. I would say that we did have some people in the legislature that worked really hard for our community. Like if you go down the river you will see the avenue around the water at Plymouth Bridge is named after James Rice who was real active in the community.
Susan Breedlove: 02:32 People coming out of Ascension Church and other churches were really, really active. But then there was lull where people didn’t ge as much done. A lot of it had to do with the corporations, I would say. Also, the attention paid towards crime in our community.
Susan Breedlove: 02:57 My first husband was murdered in 1970. I found out through the grapevine, that’s how you find out who’s on the north side, who had killed him and the circumstances. My grandson, Jason, was killed, let me see, 19, 20. He was killed about 24 years ago. He was also murdered right over on Plymouth Avenue. And then I just lost my, well he was my step son and my grandson was just killed two years ago on 44th. And I don’t expect they will ever come up with any kind of indictment. It’s crazy cuz they’re people of color.
Interviewer: 03:42 I’m really sorry to hear that.
Interviewer: 03:43 Sorry to hear that.
Susan Breedlove: 03:43 Thank you.
Interviewer: 03:46 So in the city of Minneapolis, there was a lot of trouble going on such as housing, drug wars and transportation. What impact have they had on your family?
Susan Breedlove: 03:59 Well transportation has been one that’s gotten better, but in order to get a job at one time it was really desirable to get jobs out of the central area where we lived, but to get the transportation after the job was done at night, in many places they didn’t used to have buses and stuff so that improved somewhat. What are your other areas that you…housing?
Interviewer: 04:25 Yes.
Susan Breedlove: 04:26 Housing. I think that things are looking up but I also see gentrification happening right now, where I see people coming in. I have neighbors next door to me. It’s very strange to me because I can’t even tell you their name and they have been there over a year. Everyone else on our block and going this way and that way, two ways and behind us, we know everybody, but they just don’t mix in and they just don’t, it doesn’t feel right to have them next door because it’s like their own little world and like maybe we’re, they think they are better than us, or I don’t know. But, I notice the gentrification.
Susan Breedlove: 05:14 The establishment of things like bike lanes in places without any input from people, like my grandson doesn’t ride a bicycle. I mean there’s certain things you have to take care of in terms of safety and that kind of thing and you might not want to as a black male be riding a bicycle up and down, you might be identified as a dope dealer and all that kind of stuff.
Susan Breedlove: 05:40 So, I don’t see those kind of things being attended to. What was the other topic?
Interviewer: 05:46 Discrimination.
Susan Breedlove: 05:48 I mentioned some of the discrimination. I work at Henry High and occasionally at North High right now. I was a substitute. And, I’m pretty much invested in Henry right now. I do all the displays and that sort of thing. The kids up there wanted to change the name of the school because they didn’t want it named after Patrick Henry who was a slave owner. And the discrimination really is blatant.
Susan Breedlove: 06:13 A lot of the kids live down in this area and go to school up there and they wanted to do this, but there are so many haters that attend the meetings, it’s just, I mean you go to a site council meeting and it’s just like ice cold, you know. There’s people my age. I’ll be 78 in May and there’s people that come to these meetings and they’re my age and maybe older and they don’t live in the neighborhood anymore, many of them. But, they don’t want the name changed and they don’t understand the whole concept and I really think that a lot of them are very racist. And it’s very evident at our meetings up there. All the other people on the outside. Discrimination has played a big part.
Susan Breedlove: 07:02 I know, I have a friend that passed away, Jeanie Pettiford, and she and I have both been interviewed at the Library of Congress kinda thing that was done. But, she was saying that being as a white woman, she bought the house while her husband was out of town as a musician. He was one of the very famous Pettifords, Ira and Oscar Pettiford, renowned throughout the world, but Oscar and Ira didn’t buy houses themselves. She bought the house and then when they found of he was black, they tried to get it back from her. So, I know that that was really blatant racism back there.
Susan Breedlove: 07:42 When I buried my husband in 1970, I had to have him buried in the black section of the cemetery that’s located up on Penn Avenue. They’ve changed that now, but if you go up and look up in the Humboldt Avenue side of that cemetery, you won’t find headstones because the plots are so narrow and there wasn’t room for headstones and I don’t know if they even allowed them. They don’t bury people up there any more but us poor whites and people of color that were buried up there. So, if you go on the Humboldt side of the Crystal Lake Cemetery, you’ll see the black section.
Interviewer: 08:24 I’m sorry to hear about that. What changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of stress or concern about its future?
Susan Breedlove: 08:35 Well, I must tell you, I’m not that stressed. I’ve had stressful things happen in my life and I’ve had lots of family and lots of friends in the community and I don’t know that there’s any increase in stress right now. Okay? I really I don’t see it or feel it except the old and the new, I guess we’d say the concept of understanding of what racism is all about. And it’s kind of like the political party disconnects that are happening right now. And I think that causes stress too. And, there’s also stress right now in the relationship to the development in the upper Mississippi River.
Susan Breedlove: 09:22 A former student of mine, Ian Thoveran, that graduated from Henry, started a mushroom factory up there using all the green kind of things that you know everything he does is related to the environment and all good things. A whole plan was made by a group of mostly white individuals as to what they’re going to develop up there. They’re talking about putting a hotel up there, an entertainment center and all that kind of stuff without input of the people. And, so that’s causing stress for people that are aware that that’s going on. And they’re talking about maybe there won’t be room for Ian to have his mushroom factory, which sells mushrooms to all the big restaurants and all that kind of stuff.
Susan Breedlove: 10:07 There’s that kind of stress like who’s in control. And, in this particular situation what they did is, they went and got some people to cover for them and decided, I guess, this is my viewpoint and couple other people. They went to Mr. Copeland, a African American who owned a lot of, had a lot of political finesse and so forth and owned quite a bit of real estate, asked him to be backing them up and then they went and asked Deanna Rogers to have kids go out and interview people. In the interviews that they conducted, I’m a sociology major, I’ve got a Master’s Degree, they didn’t use a type of survey that produces anything that’s really viable. They just went up and put little post cards, “would you like to have an entertainment venue on the Mississippi?” kind of thing.
Susan Breedlove: 11:06 So, they got Roger and Deanna, who are African American, they’re an organization founded by them. They’re wonderful people, but they had some kids do that. So, that’s the stress that I can see. I think if you’ve been through a lot of situations like I have in life, the fact that the police aren’t really following up on my grandson from 2 years ago, that causes some stress to us, but we don’t let it capitalize our lives because it’s kind of like we know this is gonna happen anyway. I mean, we knew that it wasn’t gonna get investigated, this is a black youth, I mean that’s just how you look at something. Well, this is the way it is, so I’m not gonna get all stressed over that.
Interviewer: 11:57 What gives you hope for the future in this community?
Susan Breedlove: 11:59 Oh, the youth. My God, that’s one of the reasons, I mean, I’ll be 78 in May and people say, “How come you’re still in the school?”. So I say, “Well, it’s good to be around the youth because they give you hope.” I’m at Henry, like I said all the time, I went up to North for the National History Day judging and it was so good to see all the people in the community. There was like 15 people that came in from the community that came in to do the judging and visiting with the youth up there. I mean, that brings you hope, I mean, young people aren’t going to sit back and let those things happen that have been happening in the past we are speaking of. That’s what brings me hope. Including my granddaughters. I have 2 granddaughters that work for Oasis for Youth and they have young people finding housing and things that they need and so forth.
Susan Breedlove: 12:49 So, yeah, it’s the youth.
Interviewer: 12:53 When you think about this area today, what impacts do you still see from these historic government policies?
Susan Breedlove: 12:59 Ahh! Well, part of it would be- like, there’s a school that did not allow or did not have or make people feel comfortable, all the people of color or Jewish people up there. So, I don’t know what is biologically inherited if we have some of these vestiges of our past in this, you know. Could you repeat that question so I directly answer?
Interviewer: 13:26 When you think about this area today, what impacts do you still see from these historic government policies?
Susan Breedlove: 13:32 Okay. So, I’m not sure it’s just government policies. I also think it’s private, except that the government probably has put their foot in the door for Crystal Lake Cemetery to change, but don’t you see my grandkids when they go out there to see their grandpa’s grave and it takes them two hours to try to find it. you know, and you realize where your grandpa’s made a very thin, you know, that’s got to have some kind of impact.
Susan Breedlove: 14:06 Also, the whole thing around Olson Highway. That whole housing complex, that’s been renewed I think this is the fourth time that everything was taken down and rebuilt and that’s in fact, Maddie Prince’s mom, she’s a relative of ours, was. That’s where she grew up and Richard Copeland grew up in there and all kinds of people you know grew up in there that had become very well known.
Susan Breedlove: 14:42 But, it’s still, you still feel the effects, I don’t know if there still in the air or not, but anyway, I think it’s more of a feeling. And the government has changed so in the area where it was like, hmmm, they did not allow any black people if you go down Plymouth avenue, you’re going to see these stone markers at the end of each side street. That was because that whole area did not welcome people of color or Jewish people for a long time to go into that area. And so you see those old vestiges that’s still there to remind us.
Interviewer: 15:32 How would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and this community over the years?
Susan Breedlove: 15:41 I just saw a former alderwoman here being interviewed and that was, she and her family helped the Camden area for a long, long time which is right next to this area. The city government, it depends who was in charge at that time. I look more at the State Government. We have a young man, named Fue Lee who is absolutely wonderful in the House of Representatives that came out of Henry High, he looks at things holistically. I looked at his bills, all that he authored and he co-authored and I highlighted them all and he has thirty bills had to do with healthy living.
Susan Breedlove: 16:32 So, that is a change and it’s got to filter down to the city government because we have the highest rate of asthma in the state in my community of [inaudible
00:16:46]. The city government has put their foot down on the conderator that was right on the river. It still stinks when you cross [inaudible 00:16:56] but
we’re getting rid of some of the factories that were there with the force of the city government do that.
Susan Breedlove: 17:02 The city government has been part of the part of the discrimination. There used to be a River View Supper Club used to be down there, Broadway Pizza, okay, and that was a wonderful nightclub. That’s where Prince and a lot of people came and got their start and a lot of people from the whole United States came and got their start. But, at that time when River View was put up, they weren’t gonna, the city government wasn’t gonna allow Jimmy Fullen to have that because he was black. But then some people on the north side like Nellie Stone Johnson and a gal named [inaudible 00:17:45] Downy and her husband and they put their foot down on the city, so they’ve had to stay on the city government to deal with their policies. It all depends on the years.
Susan Breedlove: 17:59 All the streetcars that we used to have, there was a factory that was down there on the Mississippi and the city government was complacent. They were involved in that, gave a kickback for all the metal that was taken from those streetcars and they went and hooked up with the underworld, the criminals to get all that. So, it depends on who’s in the city government at a certain time.
Interviewer: 18:30 What are your expectations of the city of Minneapolis relative to this community?
Susan Breedlove: 18:36 Well, I think that Mr. Ellison has his head in the right place. He recently asked some of us to get together and discuss what was happening with the river development. I’m on a board called Community Power that looks at reducing the rates. And we’re working with the city government and there’s some people that really are looking forward thinkers and then there’s other who are backward thinkers or don’t think at all. So, I don’t know right now, we’ve kind of a new group right there and we’ll have to see what happens with the new group.
Interviewer: 19:22 What part do you feel you can play in creating that more hope for the future?
Susan Breedlove: 19:26 Well, being part of the Community Power, of course, is part of it.
Interviewer: 19:32 I would like to thank you for your time and answering all our questions which is getting us one step closer to what we need to do to fix Minneapolis.
Susan Breedlove: 19:40 Thank you so very much.
Interviewer: 19:42 Yeah.
Interviewer: 19:42 I appreciate being invited.
Interviewer: 19:43 Yeah. This was an amazing interview and I just love how you and Barbara Johnson you guys are really from the neighborhood and have so much history and roots here, and that just makes the interview even much more inspiring, you know, because we’re growing up on the north side, so these kids really know where we come from and all those amazing stories you shared were just very impactful, so I thank you for that.
Susan Breedlove: 20:08 Thank you for inviting me. I appreciate it. Glad you all have done this.
Interview of Sharon El-Amin
Interviewer: 00:00 Okay. May I have your first and last name spelling, please?
Sharon El-Amin: 00:06 Sharon, S-H-A-R-O-N, last name El-Amin, E-L, hyphen, A-M-I-N.
Interviewer: 00:17 And do you currently or have you ever lived in or near this part of North Minneapolis on this map?
Sharon El-Amin: 00:27 I do live in North Minneapolis right now. I’m Alpha 33rd, Lyndale over in this area here. Yes.
Interviewer: 00:35 For how long?
Sharon El-Amin: 00:36 We’ve been actually over at 33rd and Lyndale for ten years now, but I’ve lived in North Minneapolis for about 25 years.
Interviewer: 00:48 Okay. Yep.
Interviewer: 00:54 Thinking back from when you first came to this area to today, what changes have you seen, positive and negative?
Sharon El-Amin: 00:58 Positive and negative?
Interviewer: 00:59 Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Sharon El-Amin: 01:04 I’ll start with the positive.
Interviewer: 01:05 Okay.
Interviewer: 01:06 Okay.
Sharon El-Amin: 01:06 A lot more homes that are being built in our North Minneapolis area, the convenience of having the Black On Market, New Market up off of 44.
Interviewer: 01:20 Yeah. North Market?
Sharon El-Amin: 01:21 Yep. That. Having a lot more small on businesses within North Minneapolis, the mosque being in the central area here, as again being like a hub for the North Minneapolis area to be able to provide services for our community that our in need, services like the hot meal, our food shelf, the employment for the men, different things that happen throughout our Masjid here.
Sharon El-Amin: 02:00 For me it’s the community relationships that I’ve been able to build working with like the — owning my own business, which was El Amin’s Fish House for 13 years, building relationships, getting to know my customers, still today in the store people are referring to me today as the fish lady. And it’s just a community feeling that really keeps me bonded here in North Minneapolis, knowing people knowing where you are, and not having to worry. I really have no fear when I’m out and about within my community. Actually, the fear comes when I’m outside of my community, and I don’t know the people. So when I hear people say, “Oh, I don’t go to North Minneapolis,” it’s like, well, why? I mean for me it’s home.
Interviewer: 02:48 It’s normal life —
Sharon El-Amin: 02:50 It’s home for me.
Interviewer: 02:51 — being here?
Sharon El-Amin: 02:51 I know wherever I go I know somebody, somebody knows me, my children, my family. So for me there’s no other place but North Side Minneapolis.
Interviewer: 03:02 Absolutely.
Sharon El-Amin: 03:04 The negative that I see is more of the houses that are being placed in Minneapolis are being overpriced. So it’s pushing a lot of us out of our community because of the housing, the pricing, the influx that has taken place within our community. Now we have the new development, this 2020 project that’s taking place. So you’re seeing a lot of things that are starting to disappear. You have the streets that are becoming more one lane, giving more access to bikers and things like that. But the reality is that’s not a population for us right now. We need more road as opposed to the bike lanes that are being forced into our community.
Sharon El-Amin: 03:58 The negative things that I see is within our schools. Right now our schools are the ones that are — I mean my son is at North High. And a lot of times what I see is that our inner-city schools are the ones that get the new teachers, the inexperienced teachers that come into the most impoverished schools and don’t really know how to relate to our students. So we get these teachers that come in and they want to befriend our students as opposed to being the enforcer, and really teaching them, and educating them, and making sure that they are being prepared for life outside of high school, grammar school, our educational system. There’s no real equity as we hear them talk about a lot.
Sharon El-Amin: 04:49 We have very few teachers of color. Generally, our people that are of color are in more of the educational assistance behavior type roles. I want to see more teachers of colors, more administrators of color, just more so that our students are able to see themselves in those roles.
Sharon El-Amin: 05:14 I work for the sheriff’s department. And there’s so many different programs that our sheriff’s department offer. My frustration comes because the North Side always gets missed. They’ll go into all the other schools and talk about how working in the service industry, community service, giving back to your community, there’s opportunities for internships. And those doors are never really opened for our students within our community.
Sharon El-Amin: 05:45 And the only way we’re going to see change is if we are at the table. If we are becoming more of the teachers, more of the police officers, more of the lawyers, more of the political figures that are holding the spaces. It’s the only way that we can do it. But if we’re not teaching this to our
children, how do we expect it to happen?
Sharon El-Amin: 06:08 There’s quite a bit of crime that takes place, but I think the crime is because of the lack of our needs that are being met. We have to fight so much more harder to get the basic things in life. So we’re forced to fend for ourselves; right? Prices are higher. You go to Cubs across the street here versus Cubs in Brussels Center and the sales vary. You spend more money. You’re taxed higher, homes are taxed higher, the cost of living is higher, but yet we’re the most impoverished neighborhood. What sense does that make?
Sharon El-Amin: 06:54 It’s like you continue to take what we have. So even a person who feels like they’re middle class, they are always stuck in the middle. You can’t qualify for this, but you don’t make enough for that. So you’re constantly playing this tug of war of trying to get ahead. That’s our society. That’s
how they keep us, so — Okay. You’ll probably have to stop me because I have a lot —
Interviewer: 07:23 No, no. You’re fine. What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in this area over the years, and why do you feel this way?
Sharon El-Amin: 07:27 What caused the changes?
Interviewer: 07:29 Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Sharon El-Amin: 07:31 I think for too long we have been sitting in the background, and we have let others come in and start taking over our rights for being here, opportunity for being here. Am I going ahead —
Interviewer: 07:44 Oh, no, no. You’re good. You’re fine.
Sharon El-Amin: 07:49 Okay. Again, we’re not at the table. So decisions are being made, and we are not being involved in those decision-making opportunities. Information comes to us after decisions have already been made. We need more community leaders. We need more community leaders to be able to bring the information back to our community so we can show up and make sure we’re at the table when these opportunities, when these changes are being made
Sharon El-Amin: 08:22 A lot of time information comes about different projects and stuff that are being made, but in our reality the decision to do what’s going to be done is already made by the time it hits us. So we have to just get more involved and be more present within our community.
Interviewer: 08:39 Okay. We are gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of the historic discriminatory government policies and other practices, examples including housing, employment discrimination in the early 20th Century, the War on Drugs in the 1990s and others. What impact have these policies or others had on the community in general? Or what impact have they had on you or your family personally?
Sharon El-Amin: 09:19 Well, I mean, we can talk about the housing industry. Again, the housing industry right now, cost of rent has went up almost twice as much as what it used to be. So it makes it more harder for families to be able to afford to live here in Minneapolis area. And then even just issues like the criminal, the justice system. People in my family that may have felonies or different things on their records, the opportunity to even be able to be placed into housing is basically obsolete.
Interviewer: 10:05 And jobs.
Sharon El-Amin: 10:06 And jobs. It’s like, okay, well, yes, they committed a crime, but they did their time. How do you expect them to come back and r establish themselves if you put the stamp on them that always rejects them. You’re forcing them back out into the criminal world. Right? Because I have to live. I have to eat. I have to provide for my family. But it’s because of our government and those different laws that says if you’re a felony you’re rejected housing, your chances of getting a job, they’ll always keep you at a lower pay. So you can’t really afford to take care of your family or you can’t afford the housing.
Sharon El-Amin: 10:50 So things like that that have impacted me and then just the schooling. The laws and the way that we are promoting — we’re basically pushing our children through the school system. And we as parents have to get more involved in the school to make sure that these laws that are being passed, that our schools become more transparent, that our teachers are being held more accountable, and that our district is being more aware of the needs that we need.
Sharon El-Amin: 11:26 So lots of different things when it comes to our schooling from funding to the curriculum within our schools. Our students are always way further behind than their peers when you put them all in the same group. Right? And that should not be something we have to face. My child should be able to go to North High School and be able to compete with somebody from Wayzata when it comes to any type of competition. But if we keep the curriculums at this very low standard, what are you setting us up for? What are you really trying to build them up to be? Right?
Sharon El-Amin: 12:05 So that’s one of the things that I continue and will always fight for is for stronger curriculums in our school, for parents to be more involved, for us to really just challenge the status quo of one way to teach our students, one way to teach our — because we know as African Americans we learn a little different. We’re more hands-on. You’ve got to show me. I’m going to question what you put before me. You can’t just give me anything and expect me to say, okay, yes, I accept that. So we need culturally competent teachers, staff within our schools to understand our children, to understand our families, our parents, and our needs as African American people.
Interviewer: 12:51 Okay. What changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of stress or concern about its future?
Sharon El-Amin: 13:03 The changes that I’m seeing right now really is basically the gentrification that’s taking place right before our eyes. Again, back to th 2020 plan and the development things that are happening, the over-pricing of the homes that are being put in our community, the fact that they choose to do these bike lanes in certain areas, which is minimizing parking, and the way that we move throughout the city, the high property taxes that have increased on our homes, which again will sometimes cause families to lose their homes because they can’t afford it.
Sharon El-Amin: 13:41 So you really just see the gentrification taking place. And if we don’t, again, get out here and be more involved in the community, we’re going to wake up, and it’s going to be a total different face here in North Minneapolis. From our schools, again, putting the least experienced teachers over in our schools to deal with the most impoverished or the most challenged group of children, students without having the experience to really tap into the potential that we have, right? It has a lot.
Interviewer: 14:20 No. I understand. I definitely, you know, being a north and knowing that a lot of the teachers that was there when I was there as — I was there in 2017, 2016. So when I was there it was a different brand of teachers and everybody knew the teachers. We was all kind of pretty comfortable with the teachers. And now that a lot of those teachers got pulled out and are at different schools, I saw that over the past couple of years when I came back that there is a lot of different teachers and a lot of different things going on. And I know that talking to some other students that they
didn’t necessarily like the changes that were happening. So I definitely understand how that goes.
Sharon El-Amin: 14:57 Good. Good.
Interviewer: 14:59 One last little question.
Sharon El-Amin: 14:59 Okay.
Interviewer: 15:01 What part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in relieving that stress
Sharon El-Amin: 15:07 What part does the city need to play? Transparency. We need to be transparent with what’s taking place. Information needs to go out in a more timely manner to give people the opportunity to be able to attend the different functions that are taking place, utilizing our city radio stations, our city newspapers, the schools, and just different — really reaching to the community and people that have been here to help spread the word and bring the people together when things are happening if they really want to see change.
Interviewer: 15:45 Okay. Yeah. I agree. I agree. And that concludes our time.
Interview of Savannah Thomas
Savannah Thomas: 00:26 Savanna Thomas. S-A-V-A-N-N-A-H T-H-O-M-A-S
Interviewer: 00:32 Alright. And then you can use this map, can you reference where do you live or where do you work?
Savannah Thomas: 00:49 I think around here. 12th and Vincent.
Interviewer: 01:03 Yeah, Golden Valley?
Savannah Thomas: 01:03 Yeah.
Interviewer: 01:04 All right, so thinking back to that area today, what changes have you seen? Positive and negative in that area?
Savannah Thomas: 01:12 So I lived on 12th and Vincent. There’s a park–Folwell, I believe?
Interviewer: 01:18 Yeah
Savannah Thomas: 01:20 Folwell Park like two blocks away from it, and there was always a summer program, We Care Performing Arts, with Ms. Loraine Smaller and every kid in the neighborhood attended it every summer for years, and I don’t believe they do it anymore. So that was a big change because it really brought our neighborhood together; our block. Everyone came to the little last performance. All our neighbors in the surrounding areas.
Savannah Thomas: 01:54 I seen a lot of African Americans moving out because they couldn’t afford the housing in the area anymore. So, a lot of them moved out. A lot of them.
Interviewer: 02:06 Okay. All right, I won’t ask you that because you kind of answered it. So let me just shorten this up. So, the examples that I said like housing, transportation, employment, the war on drugs, even–How do those policies affect you or the community?
Savannah Thomas: 02:31 Well transportation, I mean, it didn’t really affect me as much. I was always just in my own little world, kind of. I went to school farther–I didn’t go to school in the north. So, I was never really in North Minneapolis or never impacted by anything like that. Like I said, I always stayed in my area. I never really went that far off anywhere…North Minneapolis. I don’t know much about it.
Interviewer: 03:05 Have any family?
Savannah Thomas: 03:07 Same goes with them. Me and my brothers, we all went to so it was always farther off, and they were always into sports. It never really affected them, and my dad works at the Minneapolis Urban League. So, we just come home and… It didn’t really affect us like that. Our neighbors either. My best friend is Martin’s daughter, so, she’d probably say the same thing. It didn’t really affect us like that.
Interviewer: 03:46 Okay so, in the community, as of now, do you have any concerns about anything else going on?
Savannah Thomas: 03:59 So, I remember hearing about the historical designation. I don’t know if that’s passed or not? Do you know? That was kind of a big issue I was hearing about. They tried to up the prices of the houses all around there. So–wait can you repeat the question one more time too?
Interviewer: 04:27 Do you have any concerns about the community?
Savannah Thomas: 04:30 I’d say, probably, that’s the biggest one because that’s just like I said: More people of color are moving out because of the increase of housing in the area and-
Interviewer: 04:52 What gives you hope for the future in this community?
Savannah Thomas: 04:54 Wait, what did you say?
Interviewer: 04:54 What gives you hope for the future in this community?
Savannah Thomas: 05:01 For my neighbors, in general, we’re all pretty–we get together a lot. They think of better ways…things to do. They have little meetings. They go to the ARC meetings. And they just find things they can do. We talk a lot. It’s like this little group chat thingy. I think just our neighborhood is all worth the same thing, or most of them. So that’s cool.
Interviewer: 05:38 All right. Do you have any last words about what you want to say about Minneapolis as whole, even, or?
Savannah Thomas: 05:49 I love Minneapolis. I love my neighborhood. I think the get-togetherness is great and how everyone finds different ways to improve it as much as they can. I think that’s cool.
Interviewer: 06:01 All right. That’s all we have for you today. Thank you for coming we enjoyed your time.
Savannah Thomas: 06:08 Welcome. Thank you.
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.
Interview of Ora Hokes
Interviewer: 00:02 May I have your first and last name with spelling, please?
Ora Hokes: 00:05 My name is Ora, O-R-A, Hokes, H-O-K-E-S.
Interviewer: 00:10 All righty. In reference to this map here in front of you, do you currently or have you ever lived in any of these areas?
Ora Hokes: 00:17 I have, and I currently do.
Interviewer: 00:24 Oh, I’m sorry. What are the areas, and how long have you lived… How long were you there?
Ora Hokes: 00:31 Well, currently I am… Let’s see. Currently, I am at 13th and Russell.
Interviewer: 00:44 I used to live on 13th and Upton.
Ora Hokes: 00:46 Okay. I’ve been there, I think 35 years. Okay.
Interviewer: 00:53 Wow. That’s a long time.
Ora Hokes: 00:54 Then, I lived at 901 Penn for probably about three years. I lived at 1426 Oliver, maybe about six or seven years, something. Time goes.
Interviewer: 01:20 Absolutely.
Ora Hokes: 01:20 Something like that. But, in that general area. And, let’s see. I lived in the Plymouth Townhouses. That’s at Plymouth and Humboldt. The neighbor across the hallway from me had a fire, and so I had to find a place to live, and I moved on Northway Drive in Brooklyn Center. But, I was determined. I worked in north Minneapolis, and so it was right on the bus line.
Interviewer: 02:00 Absolutely.
Ora Hokes: 02:01 But I was determined to find a place, and I contacted Nerq and they were dealing with housing. And so, that’s how I found the place at 901 Penn. I couldn’t wait to get back on the north side.
Interviewer: 02:21 That’s where you belong, absolutely.
Ora Hokes: 02:21 Yes. Yes.
Interviewer: 02:25 All right. Next question is, thinking back from when you first came to this area to today, what changes have you seen, positive and negative?
Ora Hokes: 02:32 The most changes that I’ve seen has been the removal of what you would call ma and pa shops. Okay? Right at the corner of Penn and Plymouth, we had a clinic, Dr. Thomas Johnson’s office. That was Francis Barber Shop that was there. And with the removal of the clinic, well, we do now have Northpoint. But Dr. Johnson had a personal relationship, I think, with every resident that went to him.
Interviewer: 03:17 Absolutely.
Ora Hokes: 03:18 I always tell people, “You would pack a lunch. Because you might have an appointment, but you’d be there all day.” You got to find out everything that was going on in the community. And so, as they say, what a barber shop is for the update, that’s what Dr. Johnson’s office was. We had, where UROC is now, the shopping center. We lost that. I am a former staff of The Way Opportunities Unlimited, where the police precinct is-
Interviewer: 03:53 Now.
Ora Hokes: 03:53 … you know, now. And we had Young Brothers Barber, and we had Plymouth Avenue Bank. So, there has been… all up and down Plymouth Avenue, as well as Olson Highway, of course. You know, Sumner, Olson, quote, “projects,” is gone.
Interviewer: 04:14 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Ora Hokes: 04:14 And we have on Broadway, a lot of different shops. You know, totally different. But what I’ve noticed most of all is that we have a lot of young people who seem to be wandering the street during the day, as opposed to in school. They look like school aged children.
Interviewer: 04:37 Absolutely.
Ora Hokes: 04:38 And I see a lot of moms pushing strollers, and I see them smoking with their children. I am an anti commercial tobacco advocate. Didn’t used to see that. And I see some young males now pushing strollers with their babies. And so, the transition and the change seems to be that we’re not a family as much as we used to be. We don’t know each other in our community. And there is not that, “Hey, how you doing?” You know, when you meet each other.
Interviewer: 05:21 Absolutely.
Ora Hokes: 05:22 And to stop and greet, and ask how things are doing.
Interviewer: 05:26 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Ora Hokes: 05:26 Right now I’m using public transportation, and a lot of people talk negative about our young men, but this is what I’ve observed. You know they have on public transit, where the seats are supposed to be reserved for the seniors and handicapped?
Interviewer: 05:44 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Ora Hokes: 05:45 I will see the young men get up if there’s a person on there.
Interviewer: 05:50 I was always taught that, as well. Being a young individual, I was raised by a single mother. She always taught me, regardless of where you’re sitting, what you’re going on, if an elder comes on, or if someone that’s handicapped comes on, you move.
Ora Hokes: 06:02 Yes.
Interviewer: 06:02 There’s no questions asked. And I’ve seen… I rode public transportation all my life, until I got my license last year.
Ora Hokes: 06:11 Oh, congratulations.
Interviewer: 06:12 Thank you. Thank you. So I definitely have experienced that, and I’ve experienced people who don’t get up. And that, in my generation, in my opinion, in my household, that’s disrespectful. So, I definitely understand that, as well.
Ora Hokes: 06:22 Yeah. And one of the things that I have not seen to move off of the avenue is the liquor store.
Interviewer: 06:29 Yup. Still there.
Ora Hokes: 06:30 Permanent. Full force. Full swing. You know that’s going on. So, you know. Our unity and our spirit. We’ve lost a lot of our nonprofits, and those kinds of things. But one of the things that I do know, and when I go to meetings and they ask where I’m at, I say, “Northside. Northside pride.” And folks are like, “Okay. I can say Southside.” You know? But, always letting people know that our activism is very strong. What has grown out of the elected officials that we’ve had, of the first? They came out of North Minneapolis, you know. And so, people don’t hear that story or tell that story, about all of the good things and the progress that’s going on.
Interviewer: 07:33 Absolutely.
Ora Hokes: 07:33 One of the things that I have not seen change is the upkeep of North High School’s ground. They will not put flowers there. Not even a dandelion that’s growing there. When you look at other high schools and other schools, they do have some kind of greenery. We don’t have that.
Interviewer: 07:54 Right.
Ora Hokes: 07:54 And so, there’s a neglect still that remains for our high school, that’s permanently in our neighborhood.
Interviewer: 08:02 Absolutely. All right. Moving on to the next question. What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in this area over the years?
Ora Hokes: 08:10 I think they’re due to the system. Elected officials. You know, we elect someone based upon their promise, and then when they get in office, they neglect us. I identify 55411 as 411. That’s emergency.
Interviewer: 08:32 Absolutely.
Ora Hokes: 08:33 The city of Minneapolis has tons of resource, the development and urban renewal, but they do not direct that much resource to north Minneapolis. I learned that the majority of landlords live outside of the state of Minnesota. So you can understand, when people drive by and they say, “Well, why don’t that person keep that house up?” Well, they’re renters.
Interviewer: 09:01 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Ora Hokes: 09:03 We don’t have as much home ownership as we used to have. And so, when you have someone who is underemployed or unemployed, and trying to keep that rent, to keep a roof over their head for their children, and to take care of their medical cares first of all…
Interviewer: 09:27 Absolutely.
Ora Hokes: 09:28 Eh, your budget is a little slack.
Interviewer: 09:31 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Ora Hokes: 09:32 And so, until the city of Minneapolis directs the money, the taxes that we pay to our neighborhoods, we’re going to see that blight in there. It’s people who do not live in near north, or come through, and I’ll see they may throw something out of their car window instead of… So, it’s not us who’s destroying. Sometimes folks come through, you know and I watch to see, “Okay. Does that person look like they living here,” no matter what ethnicity they are. But there are some things that can be done, to help and to strengthen us. When this facility, the University of Minnesota UROC, was coming in, the university is a research institute. It can help our businesses, our childcare providers, our homeowners. All of those kinds of things, and engage them in learning of how to do whatever is needed.
Interviewer: 10:42 Absolutely.
Ora Hokes: 10:42 So, we don’t get the resources, and so it’s limited resources.
Interviewer: 10:48 Absolutely. All right. Moving on to the next question. We are gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community, on the impact of historic discriminatory government policies. These government policies include housing and employment discrimination in the early 20th century, and the war on drugs is another example. What impacts have these policies or others had on the community in general? What impact have they had on you and your family personally?
Ora Hokes: 11:18 Well, the impact on my family… And I can just give an incident.
Interviewer: 11:24 Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Ora Hokes: 11:25 I have a son, and he and his friends were going to a house party that they had invited to. So, it’s fashionable that you arrive late, of course. He wasn’t driving. His friend parked round the corner, where parking was.
Interviewer: 11:41 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Ora Hokes: 11:42 They’re walking to the place. As they’re heading there, people are running away from the place. So, by the time the police arrived, they get whoever they can. They’re asking them questions. They can’t answer the question. They haven’t even been into the party yet, so they don’t know what’s happening.
Interviewer: 12:00 Right. Right.
Ora Hokes: 12:01 Okay. So they take them downtown, question them. The police officers that question them began to tag them, and when they would see them on the street, they would pull them over.
Interviewer: 12:15 Wow.
Ora Hokes: 12:16 So, my son left and went to Atlanta, and stayed for about 15 years.
Interviewer: 12:24 Wow.
Ora Hokes: 12:26 That was the impact. The loss of my son. Because he was harassed just because, you know, “Well, since you didn’t give us the information we want, I’m going to make your life miserable.”
Interviewer: 12:37 Right.
Ora Hokes: 12:38 You know? And that’s unfair, and I know that happen to a lot of young men. But, I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember when the Minneapolis had the drug task force? It had to be abandoned, because they were doing more harm than the drugs were. We know that, as they say, we don’t have any pharmaceutical company. We don’t have any poppy fields. We don’t have any weapons manufacturing. So, the bringing in of weapons, drugs, and other illegal activity into our community has harmed. Now, one of the things that the state of Minnesota and Minneapolis forget, when they talk about African-Americans and drugs and crime… They forget St.Paul, and that it was crime city. That Elliott Ness from the FBI had to come. So, it was already built in with the criminality. You know, the James gang coming from the west up here. So they forget that, but then they want to attribute all crime and violence to us. Okay?
Interviewer: 13:54 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Ora Hokes: 13:56 So, if you send me to prison, and I’ve got a record, and when I get out, you tell my parents, who live in subsidized public housing, that they cannot have anyone felon living with them or they’ll lose, and I don’t have a job, because I have a record, I can’t get a job, I can’t get a place to stay… So, what
alternatives do I have?
Interviewer: 14:24 Right.
Ora Hokes: 14:25 So, the system has built it in to re-criminalize people for that.
Interviewer: 14:33 Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely.
Ora Hokes: 14:33 When you’ve done your time, that’s supposed to be it. We don’t have that advantage. And so we become stigmatized, and the cycle is repeated over again.
Interviewer: 14:49 Absolutely. Wow. That’s powerful.
Ora Hokes: 14:49 Yeah.
Interviewer: 14:52 Next question is, what gives you hope for the future of this community?
Ora Hokes: 14:57 Well, I live on hope. My faith is built on hope. I know who my creator is. I serve a risen savior, and I know that everything that’s happened, happens for a reason. The thing is, Ora, what are you going to do to make things better? So, each of us have to take an individual inventory. Each of us were given with certain gifts and talents to make a difference. Excuse me.
Interviewer: 15:35 All right. Unfortunately, that’s the last question I had, and we are out of time. Thank you so much for being able to speak with me.
Interview of Michael Chaney
Michael Chaney: My name is Michael Chaney, C H A N E Y.
Interviewer: So, do you live in North Minneapolis?
Michael Chaney: I don’t live in North Minneapolis, I work and own property in North Minneapolis. But I’ve been an activist in North Minneapolis for about the last 40 years.
Interviewer: Oh wow, so basically you mentioned we’re doing this project on the City of Minneapolis wants to know, wants to connect, wants to get an understanding between the City of Minneapolis and the North Side. So thinking back, so you’ve been here for 40 years, so you’re very involved here, yeah-
Michael Chaney: Right-
Interviewer: Yeah, so what changes have you seen, positive or negative changes have you seen in North Minneapolis?
Michael Chaney: Well, I haven’t really seen much, the struggle today is the struggle then, struggle for identity, a struggle for artistic expression, a struggle for economic empowerment and so, that’s why I can say, I’ve been an activist in the 80s. I was the founder of the North-Side Juneteenth celebration.
Michael Chaney: In the 90s I started a project called the Video Brigade at North High and created training programing. In 2010, I created a project called Project Sweetie Pie.
Michael Chaney: North Minneapolis is going green, give us a call, and learn what we mean. We’re one sly urban blight, now sits luscious garden sites, gardens without borders, classrooms without walls, architects of our own destinies. Access to food, justice for all. So, I’m a activist, I’m an organizer, I’m a freedom fighter for the African American community.
Interviewer 2: I’m sorry, I’m not supposed to interrupt the interview, but I had to, it’s just that, you say you’re a freedom fighter, look at my tattoo-
Michael Chaney: Alright brother.
Interviewer 2: Yeah, yeah.
Michael Chaney: I like it.
Interviewer 2: I can’t wait to connect after this.
Interviewer: So the changes that we’ve mentioned, what do you feel caused the changes over the years in the community?
Michael Chaney: Well, like I’ve said, I don’t know if there’s been much change, you know the struggle today, the struggle continues, struggle that African Americans have had ever since they’ve landed on the shores of America, by forced coercion, and so a struggle for resources, a struggle for jobs, a struggle for access to capital. Minnesota leads the nation, and many disparities, it’s one of the lowest states in the country, around disparities, around education, disparities around health, disparities about home ownership.
Michael Chaney: And though there’s this façade of progressive social altruism, the reality, if you look at the facts, look at the numbers, you’ll find that it’s quite the contrary that African Americans in Minneapolis, and in Minnesota are not faring well, and it’s by design.
Interviewer: Can you tell me more about government policies, such as housing and transportation in North Minneapolis, and employment?
Michael Chaney: Well again if you were to go back, of course historically there was the home of the riots in North Minneapolis that was before my time here and even in Minnesota, but going back to leadership of guys like Spike Moss and folks that started the way, Vusi Zulu and folks that were again, organizers who saw the disparities then and lack of access, not only here, but across the country with either the Civil Rights Movement, and the assassination of Martin Luther King. Minneapolis was no different and folks were outraged, and lead toward rebellion to fight against those who have historically been oppressed against.
Michael Chaney: And so, it’s the same today, all these many years later, we have had some, there’s been maybe some opportunities here, programming, but by and large I would say that the circumstances, the situation from housing, may right now, there’s a real fear of displacement, of folks coming in and moving out the indigenous people from this community, African-Americans, communities of color.
Michael Chaney: There are those who really now want to gentrify and move forward to take over this valuable land as we sit overlooking Downtown Minneapolis. We can look at instance like the Homeland decree, and all kinds of examples of federal lawsuits that, going back into the 60s where there was red-lining and looking at housing covenants that in certain communities in Minneapolis only white folks only need apply.
Michael Chaney: So much of that same kind of processes, practices and policies, that are destructive and that are not helpful, do not give voice to the African-American experience.
Interviewer: Since I’ve seen you going back in time, can you tell me a bit about the war on drugs in the 1990s, what do you know about that?
Michael Chaney: Well, again, most of the work that I do, I see myself as a cultural nationalist so much of the work as the founder June 10th celebration in the 80s. Much of my work has really been to really celebrate the guests, the talents of the black experience, so I’ve been more focused on doing proactive rather than responding to things like police brutality, things like that I have been less, the fight against drugs.
Michael Chaney: Much of those realities are contrived and here to oppress black people, and so I’ve tried to celebrate our gifts, our talents and tried to build education and educational programming, youth programming. The food program here in Oak Park was something that I started here-
Interviewer: Oh wow-
Michael Chaney: In 2010, and so I have birthed ideas that can try to help support marginalized communities, people who are poor and oppressed. I have tried to do programming, come up with ideas to educate people and help lift them up and out of poverty.
Interviewer: Wow, what gives you hope about this community?
Michael Chaney: I love black people, so… that’s it.
Interviewer: Amazing. Do you have any thoughts in the closing interview?
Michael Chaney: Yeah, I would urge us all as positive, progressive African-Americans, that to realize that we control our own destiny and that just like the Maroons in the islands and freedom fighters all over the world, we must keep on, we must put up the fight to resistance and we must work to help to advance our race of people.
Interviewer: Well that’s it for the interview, thank you so much for your time and thank you so much for coming here.
Michael Chaney: And thank you.
Interviewer 2: Thank you so much sir.
Interview of Marcia Johnson
Interviewer: 00:21 Yeah, just to see if you’ve lived in that area.
Marcia Johnson: 00:26 That’s why I was trying to find it, 9199 Broadway. Where’s that at?
Marcia Johnson: 00:51 Right here, this district 55411 over here.
Interviewer: 00:55 How long have you lived in this area?
Marcia Johnson: 00:59 Off and on it’s a been a steady 3 years, but I’ve come up here at least 15 to 20 years. Yeah because I’m originally from Wilmington, Delaware. Yeah, my area code’s 55411.
Interviewer: 01:23 Back to the second question. You said about 15 years, right?
Marcia Johnson: 01:29 Yeah, but I’ve been steady where it counts where I get a paycheck and all that stuff now, past 5/6 years, but back and forth. You know, when you stay at someone’s house more than 5 to 30 days you become a resident, cause you got mail coming there so that’s been over 10/15 years.
Interviewer: 01:49 Before we dig too deep, can we just have you state your first and last name, and spell it for us.
Marcia Johnson: 01:53 My first name’s Marcia. My maiden last name is Harden, cause I got married up here of course. I’m doing a lot better. I got married 2013, which is now I use my married name Johnson.
Interviewer: 02:16 Congratulations on the marriage.
Marcia Johnson: 02:17 Thank you. I married my childhood sweetheart. My first and my last. We’ve been together since we was kids.
Interviewer: 02:27 Thinking back to when you first moved in this area to date, what changes have you seen?
Marcia Johnson: 02:31 Oh my gosh. It’s been a lot of changes. I’m not ashamed to say when I first moved here I used to get high. I used to smoke, I used to sniff dope. I used to smoke crack. Crack really never been a twist of mine, but I can remember, going down on Lake street and place. They would set up in Wendy’s restaurant and actually smoke the pipe, while people ordering. Now it used to be Sears over there in the parking lot, like the living dead. People walking around, and I just remember a whole lot of stuff. A lot of stuff is cloudy from being high all the time.
Marcia Johnson: 03:12 A lot changes been made, and then the changes really was made when I changed myself. See that’s the thing, when people as a individual change they self, then that’s when the changes are being made in your neighborhood. Because you don’t see nothing change until you change yourself, the individual self, you have to change. You can live in the same household for 30-50 years and see a person keep sticking stuff in they pocket and you know they’re a thief, where if he stops sticking it in his pocket, then he’s no longer a thief no more. You understand, you have to change. I started seeing changes, I’m gonna say, past, let me see when I stopped, about 8-9 years ago, since I stopped using. I no longer seen people getting high, walking the streets and stuff, because I wasn’t a part of that life anymore, but every now and then you still see, you know the look, you ain’t stupid. I still see some, I can identify some of the ones still out there and to me this is the, where I’m from you have a better chance of making it up here and doing something with your life. This is a very good state.
Interviewer: 04:37 I know you mentioned changes in what you saw on Lake street and Wendy’s. What about over here? What’s your experience with those types of what you’ve seen?
Marcia Johnson: 04:49 This is really crazy. I can remember when I first got up here my husband which I married was my childhood sweetheart. We’re from the same state. He came up here because his job brought him up here, and I was always in denial, “No I’m not using or doing it.” I came up here, I was always back and forth because the drugs wouldn’t let me sit still. When I finally decided to sit still, when I started backing away from it, I wanted to get out late one night. We had stayed over in northeast at the time. I don’t know nothing about Minnesota, but for some reason I knew that I could come on Broadway over here and buy drugs. That’s crazy, from hearing people talking, being on the bus, watching people. I’m a watcher. I kept it in my middle mind there and next thing you know, I didn’t know nobody but I found myself going by McDonald’s over here and bought what I wanted.
Interviewer: 05:54 McDonald’s where?
Marcia Johnson: 05:55 On Broadway.
Interviewer: 05:55 On Broadway?
Marcia Johnson: 05:56 Yeah, right there where they got Little Caesar’s pizza and stuff. Yeah, buy whatever you want. I was just shocked that it was so easy. But it’s changing now because they’re not hanging out. Let’s say it’s change in the past couple years. You get more customers outside of McDonald’s than you have inside of McDonald’s. You did! And it was sad because most of it was workers, people that go to work in the morning. State workers, you’d think they were going in to buy a coffee and stuff, but those were the ones that were using and selling, believe it or not. You could pick out the ones that didn’t fit being in there because either they was too young or way way too old. You’d say okay they’re doing drug or they’re selling drugs. Broadway has changed a lot. We would go for rides and stuff, you would see the girls walking up and down the street at night, and even for me, we would take the co-workers and drop them off and you’d be hollering up and down like, “Oh my god!” So it changed a lot.
Interviewer: 07:11 Next question. What do you feel caused the changes over the years?
Marcia Johnson: 07:14 Say that again?
Interviewer: 07:15 What do you feel caused the changes over the years?
Marcia Johnson: 07:20 From good to bad? What do I think caused the changes? It’s the individual that causes the changes. If you’re tired, if you get enough people that’s tired, when they wake up from whatever it is they’re doing, and they’re tired, then that’s when your changes are being made. Because you know right from wrong, it’s just sometimes it’s harder when you still have other people in that same group still pulling, it’s like pulling teeth. If you not ready to stop doing your shenanigans, or whatever it is that’s keeping you from being part of society, it’s going to be hard to have a change in your neighborhood. That’s for anything. It’s like hitting a brick wall.
Marcia Johnson: 08:14 Cause you’re gonna have people rebuild, or all kinds of stuff, where if you get enough, that’s why they’ll say they got this thing where they say white people can live together and do better than black people in their neighborhoods or whatever, it’s because they all know how to cut out the shenanigans and want the same thing in their neighborhood. You got a handful of people over here who want to be able to go outside and have their children play in the park and have a nice time. Then you got this side over here, they want their children play in the park have a nice time, but they still want to get high and hang out in the street, but you all know if you’re getting high what bring that problem, the prostitution and the drugs and everything else. You can’t mix that with children too, so that’s what bring the problem. But then when you get tired and you step over here and you get enough to come over here, then you got less and less of that will start spreading out, and then you start seeing changes in your neighborhood, because half those people that you see standing around I guess ain’t there. That’s how I see it.
Interviewer: 09:23 What changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of stress, or concerns about the future?
Marcia Johnson: 09:30 They getting younger. I know you can’t help from the way you was raised cause that was not your choice, but at a certain age you’re able to make a decision for yourself to know right from wrong and they’re getting younger with the violence and not finishing school. Everybody knows a good education is the only thing you have going for yourself. That’s the only job you have as a young adult anyway, is your education. It’s to maintain that to have anything in life. So it’s just getting worse, they’re getting younger.
Interviewer: 10:22 We’re gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of discriminatory government policies and practices i the area like housing, 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 have these policies or others had on the community in general?
Marcia Johnson: 10:49 As far as low income housing and people living in them? Sometimes it’s the worst because most people they have a… it’s like being cliché, they think, my grandma used to say, “Just because you live in the projects don’t mean you have to act like you do.” I don’t know.
Interviewer: 11:11 Have you seen any type of discrimination in housings or economics that have impacted your life or your family’s life?
Marcia Johnson: 11:21 I think there is a lot of that here. But it’s not the people that funding or the foundation of it, it’s the people in among themself that’s doing it. It’s like okay, if you’re not Somalian you can’t live here. But it’s not the government that’s doing it, it’s the people themselves, you know what I’m saying? We’re separating ourself, you know what I mean? That’s the only way I can put it.
Interviewer: 11:55 What hopes do you have for the future of this community?
Marcia Johnson: 11:59 That it gets better. That young people have to realize that if you go to school, you get a better education, what’s on TV is called entertainment, you don’t make it part of your life. I don’t know. I just would rather for young people to just grow up and respect theirself. If they respect theyself, I’m quite sure that everything else would be respected around them, if they know how to respect theyself.
Interviewer: 12:39 What part does the city of Minneapolis needs to play in creating a more hopeful future?
Marcia Johnson: 12:44 I’m sorry?
Interviewer: 12:44 What part does the city of Minneapolis can play in to make the community better?
Marcia Johnson: 12:50 Better? I don’t know. What part can play in to make the community better? Actually, any part that terrible I guess. To me, none of it’s terrible, I mean really I don’t see none of it’s terrible. It’s just the people, the individual that’s there, you know.
Interviewer: 13:11 When you think about this area today, what impact do you still see from these historic government policies?
Marcia Johnson: 13:22 What do I think about the area now, today? I don’t know, sometimes it has it’s good days and it has it’s bad days. So it’s like I don’t know.
Interviewer: 13:37 How would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and the community over the years?
Marcia Johnson: 13:42 I think some people are being more heard now, from what I’ve
experienced being up here. My people being heard, being taken more serious now.
Interviewer: 14:07 What are your expectations of the city of Minneapolis related to this community?
Marcia Johnson: 14:15 I don’t know. Well actually, what they need to have more, well see that’s a hard thing to say because what people are asking for is actually here, like things for people to do, it’s just that people need to get up and go analyze the things here that’s offered here. “You gotta have more parks, you gotta have more programs,” all that stuff is actually here. Can’t lead a horse to water unless it’s thirsty.
Interviewer: 14:54 To what extent do you trust the city of Minneapolis to deliver those expectations?
Marcia Johnson: 14:56 Say that again? I’m sorry, can you rephrase that? I didn’t understand.
Interviewer: 14:57 How much do you trust the city of Minneapolis to live up to your expectations?
Marcia Johnson: 14:58 It’s alright with me. I feel like I did what I supposed to do with myself.
Interviewer: 15:04 So how much do you trust them?
Marcia Johnson: 15:06 The state of Minnesota?
Interviewer: 15:07 The city of Minneapolis.
Marcia Johnson: 15:27 It’s okay. If it was up to me, everything that’s offered here is up to me, so it’s alright with me. I just hope that anyone that was a user or just down on their luck or whatever or just analyze the things that’s here cause it’s here and you just gotta use it.
Interviewer: 15:53 Take advantage.
Marcia Johnson: 15:53 Yeah, take advantage and just go ahead and do what you’re supposed to do for yourself.
Interviewer: 15:58 So what part do you feel you can play in creating that more hopeful future?
Marcia Johnson: 16:04 Well, just as ordinary as they are. I hung out in streets like they did, I been through a lot of abusive situations growing up, and I’m no different from the next person but I utilize the things that are here offered to you.
Interviewer: 16:25 So you feel like you don’t have nothing special you can give out to the community to make it better? Like if you could have a chance to have a upper power in the community. What would you do?
Marcia Johnson: 16:42 I don’t know. Because what constantly just tell a person… I don’t know what could I do. Because basically I don’t know. Just let a person know, I’m just as ordinary as they are, just let em know that they can make it. Making it ain’t mean like you rich and famous and all of this, but you can be content, you know, ordinary content. Live within your means.
Interviewer: 17:25 Well that is the end of the interview. Thank you for your time, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.
Marcia Johnson: 17:25 Okay.
Interviewer: 17:25 Thank you so much.
Marcia Johnson: 17:25 Alright. I feel weird.
Interview of Makram El-Amin
Interviewer: 00:20 Yeah. So, can you tell us your first and last name, and spell it?
Makram El-Amin: 00:23 Yes, my name is Makram El-Amin, that’s M-A-K-R-A-M. El-Amin, E-L hyphen A-M-I-N.
Interviewer: 00:33 All right. So, can you look at this map and tell us where you live, around this area?
Makram El-Amin: 00:42 Okay. So, I’ve lived in a couple places.
Interviewer: 00:47 Right.
Makram El-Amin: 00:48 I currently live just north of Lowry. So, Lyndale, and a lot of what is in this area, North Market is a little far. So, I live probably right in this area right here, right now. Just off the expressway right here.
Interviewer: 01:08 Oh, I see that.
Makram El-Amin: 01:08 Yeah.
Interviewer: 01:09 Yeah.
Makram El-Amin: 01:10 Yeah. But I grew up right up on 8th Avenue, which is just below, on this map here, North High School. And I’ve lived right across in Harrison neighborhood. Right across over on the other side of Olson Highway.
Interviewer: 01:28 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 01:29 I’ve lived there as well. And bought my first home on 2711 Girard Avenue.
Interviewer: 01:36 I live on Girard Avenue.
Makram El-Amin: 01:37 Do you?
Interviewer: 01:38 Yeah.
Makram El-Amin: 01:38 Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, I’ve lived, and I’ve owned property in and around there.
Interviewer: 01:42 Yeah.
Makram El-Amin: 01:43 So, I’ve lived all over-
Interviewer: 01:45 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 01:45 … basically.
Interviewer: 01:45 So, how long have you been living in North Minneapolis?
Makram El-Amin: 01:50 Let me see. My family moved to`… we moved to basically the projects.
Interviewer: 01:58 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 01:59 And this is 1976 when we moved here. My dad came before we came, we were in Chicago still, so my dad came up probably three, four months, just to kind of find us a place, start his job, and all that. Then he brought us up here then, right. So, it was ’76-ish, right?
Interviewer: 02:16 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 02:17 You know, ’76, ’77, is when we actually came up here.
Interviewer: 02:24 Okay.
Makram El-Amin: 02:24 We’ve lived in North Minneapolis, we’ve grown up here. For a short stint of time there was a couple years we lived in Brooklyn Center.
Interviewer: 02:34 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 02:34 My family, not my parents, my family.
Interviewer: 02:36 Yeah.
Makram El-Amin: 02:36 My wife and my children. We’ve lived in Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park area for a short time.
Interviewer: 02:42 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 02:45 But then we missed it, so we came back. We came back, and we’ve been back for 10 years at least.
Interviewer: 02:55 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 02:55 You know what I mean?
Interviewer: 02:56 Nice.
Makram El-Amin: 02:56 Yeah.
Interviewer: 02:56 So, thinking about from one month here-
Makram El-Amin: 03:00 Yes.
Interviewer: 03:01 … what positive or negative changes have you seen so far?
Makram El-Amin: 03:06 You know, it’s interesting. When we moved here all of my family was in Chicago. So we were kind of like the defectors. We kind of broke the gang up-
Interviewer: 03:14 Mm-hmm (affirmative). (laughs).
Makram El-Amin: 03:14 … and came up here, right? I can remember distinctly being very sad.
Interviewer: 03:22 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 03:23 Thinking there’s nothing like Chicago. I mean, what are we doing?
Interviewer: 03:29 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Interviewer: 03:29 Right.
Makram El-Amin: 03:30 All that kind of stuff. First time riding on the airplane, to come up here, you know. But when I got here, we had this, I don’t know what it’s called, it’s like a bunker mentality. You know, where it was us against the world basically. We’re here, we’re in a new space. Our family was very, very close, tight knit.
Interviewer: 03:52 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 03:53 I can remember growing up having family meetings, and all that kind of stuff. Just making sure we’re touching down with each other and all that. And so my experience kind of grew out of that, right?
Interviewer: 04:06 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 04:07 And what I’ve found is a community. That’s what I found, I found a community. I found when I got over, mind you, I was a kid then, right? So, was I kind of getting over my initial loss of thinking I’m leaving my cousins, I’m leaving all that kind of stuff. I found I opened up and kind of embraced it for my own self. I found a community.
Interviewer: 04:35 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 04:36 I found people who were close.
Interviewer: 04:41 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 04:42 And tight knit, particularly there in [inaudible 00:04:44] area, it’s Heritage Park now.
Interviewer: 04:45 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 04:46 But it used to be the projects. And that’s where we grew up, going to Phyllis Wheatley, Bethune, went to all that kind of stuff. I can remember going there for the community center type stuff, you know what I mean?
Interviewer: 05:01 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 05:05 And I met friends there that I’m still friends with today, even all these years later, you know what I mean? I found community. We found that, coming from Chicago, and coming up to North Minneapolis, and people talking about negatively, and that sort of thing. It’s like, what you talking about? This is heaven up here, you know what I mean? In fact, I remember growing up, this sounds crazy, we used to say, you know, the saying in New York that says “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” right?
Interviewer: 05:45 Yeah, yeah.
Makram El-Amin: 05:46 We said about Minneapolis, we said “If you can’t make it here, you can’t make it nowhere.” Where we thought it was opportunities, it was plentiful, it was a lot from what many of us kind of experienced before. Not to say, we weren’t well-to-do or about any stress. We lived in public housing. So, we weren’t well-to-do anything, the pride of public housing we shared. We were kind of like live-in guests who had a house, and almost like a guest house connected, and our family stayed there until we approved for our public housing. Again, I found community. I found a lot of people I who I can really relate to. Minnesota began to grow on me, and grow on me to the fact that when I went back to Chicago, they said “Man, ya’ll talk different now. What’s wrong with ya’ll? What’s up, ya’ll talk proper.” Stuff like that, we hear that kind of stuff from our cousins, who just a few years earlier, you couldn’t tell us apart type stuff.
Interviewer: 06:57 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 06:58 So yeah. Those are some of my early memories, yeah.
Interviewer: 07:01 Yeah. So, the community that you found back then, do you see any changes compared to back then?
Makram El-Amin: 07:07 Certainly. Certainly. I think it’s becoming more densely populated, there’s a lot more people here now. The black community ha grown. You could basically find us all in one spot almost, but now … Just say you lived in Brooklyn Park back then. It was like, damn, what’s the zip code out there? How many buses did you take? It was like that.
Interviewer: 07:34 Right.
Makram El-Amin: 07:35 It was like that because back then there was no development. There was not even Brookdale and all of that. That stuff was still to come. Back then that stuff was wide open. It was like farms out there.
Interviewer: 07:52 Right.
Makram El-Amin: 07:53 It was still like that. So, I remember what happened with a friend, he said “I live in Brooklyn Park.” Brooklyn Park? Dang, I mean, it just seemed like you had to go on a road trip.
Interviewer: 08:02 Right.
Makram El-Amin: 08:03 When basically it’s just straight, basically. Brooklyn Park is the hood now.
Interviewer: 08:06 Right.
Makram El-Amin: 08:06 That’s the hood, so that’s the change. That’s the change. Where things seemed to be so distant have people living now, not just in North Minneapolis and South Minneapolis, but living in Richfield, and Roseville, and New Hope, and Crystal, and all that has become the hood. And there’s really no real differentiating that now, but back then, oh man, I was like you’re crossing lines basically.
Interviewer: 08:38 (laughs)
Makram El-Amin: 08:38 Obviously with that, the population, folks coming from everywhere. There’s a situation where we’re from Chicago, it used to be kind of thing where everybody used to talk about how everywhere else was better.
Interviewer: 08:56 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 08:57 But yet, we’re all here. It was kind of like that whole-
Interviewer: 09:00 Right.
Makram El-Amin: 09:00 … that whole contradiction.
Interviewer: 09:02 Right.
Makram El-Amin: 09:02 And ain’t anybody going nowhere. That kind of thing,
because life is better here.
Interviewer: 09:08 Right.
Makram El-Amin: 09:08 Say what you want. Say what you want. Even now I enjoy travel, my work is taking me all over the world. But man, I’ve got to come home, I got to touch down. I think that that is when I began to know when I began to miss it. We used to go back and stay in Chicago for summers. At least a good chunk of the summer, and I would miss home.
Interviewer: 09:37 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 09:40 I can remember kind of feeling sort of weight about that. Like, my loyalties was a little-
Interviewer: 09:44 Yeah (laughs).
Makram El-Amin: 09:46 One time, the Vikings and the Bears were playing football, and I’m cheering. I want the Vikings to win. And my cousin’s look here like, “Who are you?” And at that point I had basically crossed over. (laughs).
Interviewer: 10:00 You knew it was official.
Makram El-Amin: 10:05 Yeah, it was official. It was official, man. I was, even now my wife’s from Chicago-
Interviewer: 10:11 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 10:11 … from Chicago, I went back to Chicago after high school, went to college there for a couple years.
Interviewer: 10:16 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 10:16 That’s where we met, in college. But even now, she moved
up here with me, and then go back, we can stay three days, four days, but then it’s time to come home.
Interviewer: 10:30 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 10:31 It’s time to come back home now.
Interviewer: 10:32 Right.
Makram El-Amin: 10:35 I know you didn’t ask for all that, but I’m just, you know.
Interviewer: 10:37 (laughs) No, that’s fine. It’s fine. So, we’re gathering this story to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community.
Makram El-Amin: 10:46 Yes.
Interviewer: 10:46 Yeah. The impact of historic discriminatory government policies-
Makram El-Amin: 10:53 Sure.
Interviewer: 10:54 … and practices in areas like housing-
Makram El-Amin: 10:58 Yeah.
Interviewer: 10:58 … transportation, economic development, and things like that.
Makram El-Amin: 11:02 Yes.
Interviewer: 11:03 So, can you tell us what impact have you seen in others-
Makram El-Amin: 11:09 Yeah.
Interviewer: 11:09 … or even in your life in the community?
Makram El-Amin: 11:12 It’s interesting. We’ve seen the historical divestment within North Minneapolis. In fact, there’s a program on, I think Carrie Levin did this, it’s maybe a month and a half, two months ago, when they talked about North Minneapolis, you may have saw that. And they talk about the old maps that was in the city planner’s office, not just somebody’s map. It was in the city planner’s office, where they had our area as the quote the negro area, the ghetto, right?
Interviewer: 11:42 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 11:44 And the same thing, in the same part, where Rondo and all that over there, that area, same-same. Same-same.
Interviewer: 11:49 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 11:50 But there was a historical way to where the investment, and all that kind of stuff, economically and all that kind of mess coming about. It was all around that space. In fact, even the way we were designed, North Minneapolis was cut off.
Interviewer: 12:07 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 12:08 In many ways, it was cut off and disconnect, even from downtown, as close as we are.
Interviewer: 12:12 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 12:13 It was disconnected. That seemed like a different world.
Interviewer: 12:16 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 12:18 So, we saw that. Even along West Broadway. If you think about West Broadway and Lake Street being on par, as far as economic corridors and whatnot.
Interviewer: 12:31 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 12:32 You see the investment that happened over on Lake Street, and how Lake Street has just transformed. That still has not happened, definitely not happened, definitely not the scale-
Interviewer: 12:43 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 12:44 … as what other places had happen. So we’ve seen those kind of things all the time. We’ve seen programs come, and programs go. This program name, it’s like putting lipstick on a pig type thing. Where they kind of try to dress it up, whatever, but it’s still is trash. It’s garbage, right? And they would present various things as though it’s going to redo this kind of stuff. All that stuff comes and goes. No real substantive change has happened for years. For years. So, when you get folks speaking out politically, social activism, community organizing and what not, coming against these sorts of, I would say oppressions really.
Interviewer: 13:29 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 13:31 These things are not figments of people’s imagination. They’re not. These things have historical contents, historical reference from my appearance to others. Even my children, they’ll come to know, I think seeing things happen now is great. We love to see development, but you can see how they would do it. They’ll develop North Loop.
Interviewer: 13:55 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 13:56 And still not North Minneapolis. And that was all warehouse stuff, we’d just ride our bikes through that kind of stuff. It was like an adventure, because it was junk basically. It was all junkyards, and all that kind of stuff around too. Now, you can’t afford to live over there. Which is just another form, or another reiteration basically, of the same old stuff. You know what I mean? And it’s just so close, which makes it even that much more frustrating, you know?
Interviewer: 14:34 So, what changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of trust and concern? And what do you think the city of Minneapolis can play in relieving that stress in the community here?
Makram El-Amin: 14:43 Yeah. There’s the issue of crime and safety, it’s just a real issue. I figure that’s just intensified over time. Whether it’s homicides, those sorts of things, I mean, those things happen.
Interviewer: 15:02 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 15:04 The drugs, how drugs ravage the community. I can remember even in the ’80s. In the ’80s, I graduated from North High School in 1988.
Interviewer: 15:18 Oh wow.
Makram El-Amin: 15:18 This is just for time’s sake, right?
Interviewer: 15:21 Right.
Makram El-Amin: 15:21 Okay, so ’85, ’86, and ’87, right around that time, crack was booming. Crack hit the scene, it was booming, right? And it was plentiful, everybody had it. Even square dudes, like, look man, this ain’t your… They all in, you know what I mean? It was craziness, and that brought about another level of viciousness, and of violence that took place. Gang violence. Then we had the Crips, came from West Coast, they were here and all of that. Vice Lords, Disciples, all that kind of stuff was in it. Which even predates honestly, predates crack, right?
Interviewer: 16:09 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 16:10 Vice Lords, the Disciples, the Crips was a little after that. But even then, even the street life was a little more organized than what it is today. You know, today is kind of hit or miss Helter Skelter, in terms of it’s a little more cliquish. Now, it’s territorial, low end, high end, that kind of stuff. Whereas for us, we walked around, there was certain areas… Well, it’s territorial, you didn’t necessarily want to hang out at Willard too much because then there was those other guys up there. That’s going to be a situation. But nonetheless, it still had a little more order to it. I will put it there. It was a little more order to the chaos.
Interviewer: 16:56 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 16:56 If that makes any sense, right? So, that’s the difference that I see. I think that even the levels of policing. All the code fours, and we used to have helicopters and stuff flying all around the hood, that kind of stuff. Real aggressive tactics in terms of stopping, harassing, it’s the whole broken window concept. Where they was nuisance kinds of stuff. It was basically to kind of harass. People talk about the issues with policemen. And I’m a chaplain for the Minneapolis police right now, all right? So that’s something, knowing my history, I felt that at this point in my career, and what I have vested in this community, that I need to be in places and spaces that matter.
Makram El-Amin: 17:52 So, I wanted to get into that space, and help liaise between the community and the department a bit, because clearly historically that relationship has been broken, to say the least, right? But people remember, a lot of guys who grew up, we remember guys, cops, we didn’t know their name. Their name was Batman, and Robin, and Wild, and West, and people like that. To where they are just as much as part of North Minneapolis as we are, in terms from a historical perspective. And when I say that, their names or whatever, it wasn’t because they were good guys. It was because those the guys that, if you got caught up, you was going to pay a price-
Interviewer: 18:45 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 18:46 … with these guys. They made no qualms about that. It’s common language for those who are kind of out here though. It seems like everything else today. I mean, everything is caught on social media now, and all that. It’s like, you asked a question. Is it happening more now? Or can we see it now? I think there’s tension between those two things, because many of us argue that, man, this is just kind of how it’s been.
Interviewer: 19:12 Right.
Makram El-Amin: 19:12 We just didn’t have iPhone’s.
Interviewer: 19:14 So, what are your concerns for the future then?
Makram El-Amin: 19:16 I would say that at some point in time, like now, that we have to, particularly when it comes to issues about policy, issues around crime and safety, and things like that. I think that these things should be more handled by the people that it’s directly affecting. I love to see an African American police chief. I think we need to see more on his down line. I’ve talked with them, spoke with them, working on very serious problems with him, right? But he readily admits, it’s the culture there, too, right? So, I think that that, city hall or what not, it’s kind of seen some changes in this last election. that sort of thing, I think that that’s just the way, that’s where it’s going to go. And I think it needs to continue to go there. I think more of our kids, my sons included, right? And his friends going into civil service. You need to be police officers, you need to be fire…
Interviewer: 20:21 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 20:21 You need to get into those sorts of areas as well. That was never presented to us when we was in school as a viable option. That’s basically like, we settled. We settled, if you didn’t go to college and all that kind of stuff. But now, people got college degrees that can’t even get work. You
know what I’m saying? And now you’ve got trades, and things that people, that they frowned on, but they steered us away on that kind of stuff here. But now, so much is needed now. If we could only have just seen what the future would bring, many people would be in better positions.
Interviewer: 20:56 So, how do you feel the city of Minneapolis can help with…
Makram El-Amin: 21:01 First of all, I think this is a great step by beginning to help people tell stories, right? Because I think that in that you’re going to find, really, the gem. I don’t believe that it is any entity like this that is going to come in and solve no issue for us, right? I think, if anything, facilitating sorts of things that allow them to come from the community, I think, is really the best hope for the city of Minneapolis or anything like that. I think that there is a underutilization honestly of communities of faith, of ours as well. Whether it’s from the city, or the school board, for all that. I said it to the mayor, and I said it to the superintendent of schools. Look, you don’t ask enough of us either. We have hundreds of families we deal with every day. And really, we’re like first responders, to be honest with you. When someone is having a crisis, when somebody is having an issue in their home or something, whatever, we hear that stuff first.
Interviewer: 22:04 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 22:04 We hear that stuff first. And I think that partnering more strategically would be something that could help, as far as a role the city could play, because they have resources. And they can mobilize in that way if it’s done correctly.
Interviewer: 22:22 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 22:22 If it’s done correctly. That’s my hope. That would be my hope.
Interviewer: 22:29 And speaking of hope, what gives you hope about this community?
Makram El-Amin: 22:30 You know what? I think, first of all, I have faith. I’m a person of faith. So, I think that that comes inherently with that, right? But I also believe in people. I believe in people, and I live among people. And I walk these streets with these people, right? And I know that these are good people, and I know even when I encounter somebody who is struggling, whether it’s homeless, or something to do with an addiction, I can see through the rough stuff as well. I’ve been sensitized to do that by my parents and others who were invested in me. You know, we don’t have throw away people.
Interviewer: 23:16 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 23:18 So, it gives me hope when I can actually be a part of the change as well.
Interviewer: 23:23 Mm-hhmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 23:24 And I think that’s what we try to do as an institution here.That what I try to do personally, and instill in the folks who I can touch and influence in any way. So, I’m very hopeful. I’m very, very hopeful. And the more hopeful I become, the more vocal I become also with things that ain’t right. So, I don’t want people when they hear me on the one venue, try and say that he’s not hopeful. I’m very hopeful. That’s what I’m pushing. If I wasn’t hopeful, we’d probably lay down and just let it, you know. But that’s not who we are, and that’s not what we’re going to do.
Interviewer: 24:04 And as we finish up, do you have any last thoughts?
Makram El-Amin: 24:09 I will say that this community is an untapped gem. If we think about what it has produced in terms of the human resources it has produced, just the quality of human people that’s come out of this community, I think that speaks to the strength of the community, you know? Do we have to change some things for the health and well-being of the community? Sure we do. Certain, we do. But I think that, again, projects like this and others, can help us find our voice, when it’s going that way. And the more people that we talk to, man, the more you’re going to hear. Especially those folks who’ve lived here for some time, and they’ve been able to see things, like the before and after’s scenario. And I think that that would be really helpful. I wish my father, unfortunately he’s hospitalized right now, I wish you could talk to him, and what he saw when he, basically, and our mother decided to bring us up here from Chicago in the ’70s, and him being in his ’80s right now.
Interviewer: 25:27 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 25:28 He has a story to tell.
Interviewer: 25:29 Yeah.
Makram El-Amin: 25:30 He has a huge story to tell, right? I’ve been blessed to come from a lot of story. I have some good storytellers. Folks that could help us create narratives around things, and I think the community could benefit from folks like him, too.
Interviewer: 25:48 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Makram El-Amin: 25:49 So yeah.
Interviewer: 25:49 Yeah, well thank you so much for-
Makram El-Amin: 25:50 My pleasure.
Interviewer: 25:51 … your time.
Makram El-Amin: 25:51 My pleasure. Thank you all for doing this. This is amazing. Amazing, yeah.
Speaker 1: 00:00 And can you state your first and last name for us with spelling?
Kevin Jenkins: 00:04 Kevin, K-E-V-I-N Jenkins, J-E-N-K-I-N-S.
Speaker 3: 00:15 Got you. Thank you. All right. First question, one second. If you’d refer to this map, do you currently live or have you ever lived in this general area?
Kevin Jenkins: 00:24 Let’s see. Have I ever lived in the 55411 area. I lived on Penn. I lived… no. Yes, I do. I live right on Penn and Broadway, and I’ve been a North-Sider basically all my life. I’m 62 years old. So I’ve been here. I ain’t leaving.
Kevin Jenkins: 00:46 So… I’m somewhere in here.
Interviewer: 00:49 But anyway, they don’t got Broadway on here.
Kevin Jenkins: 00:52 Penn and Broadway.
Interviewer: 01:04 Since you’ve been here, from when you came til today, what positive and negative changes have you seen in the community?
Kevin Jenkins: 01:12 Positive change, I mean, I mean positive changes, and I’m going to speak from the 70s.
Kevin Jenkins: 01:16 Because I was 62 years old and that’s my era of time that I grew up in. Positive areas that we had was, we was very unified. It didn’t matter what went on in the community, we all was onboard with it.
Kevin Jenkins: 01:34 We had the riots. We had to rebuild our communities. We had community centers. We had restaurants. We had clothing stores, bowling alleys. You name it, we had it. We had different festivals, like now we have Juneteenth. We had something called Freedom Days, that was on Plymouth Avenue that the Wade Community Center did. We also had a bank that was First Plymouth National Bank that basically also did a festival on Plymouth Avenue.
Kevin Jenkins: 02:10 So, there was a lot of different things that we had going on during that time period and, again, we all was in-sync. We had different community centers such as the Hospitality House, Jerry Gamble’s Boys and Girls Club, North Commons, Park, the Wade Community Center, Phyllis Wheatley, there was numerous… we just had lots of stuff that the kids could do and the parents didn’t have to worry about where their son or daughter was at because they were at a community center doing something and at these community centers, like, I grew up through the Hospitality House and one of the things that we did was we had a game room that you learned how to played pool, bumper-pool, ping-pong. We played table games; we had cooking classes (we really loved cooking classes, those cooking classes were good). We had a choir. We had Bible study. We were one of the first community centers that had a traveling basketball teams and baseball teams. Our baseball team went up to… not Lino Lakes. Ugh, I can’t remember the… it was a facility that, you know, people that were incarcerated, and they had a baseball team. We played against them, and everything like that. So, we had a lot; we were just unified back then.
Kevin Jenkins: 03:51 K-U-X-A-L was our radio station that started at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and it was over with at 6, so nobody was on the streets from 4 to 6 because that was the only time we could hear some soul music and then we got KUXAL so KUXAL was there. Then, we ended up getting KUXL and the KHMO, which is the radio station that we have now.
Kevin Jenkins: 04:25 So we have had, there was a lot of different things that were going on but we were very, very unified. People were born into the community; they stayed in the community. We didn’t have a lot of people coming from out-of-town that was coming into Minnesota at that particular point. So, the neighbors knew each other. If you did something down the street, Miss Jo was going to be in your butt and then bring you home and then your parents was going to do what they needed to do for you and to you.
Kevin Jenkins: 05:12 So the neighbors, we all knew each other and we all believe in being unified so this way that as we were growing up, everybody basically grew up together. We went to the same schools together, so this was how it was back in the 70s.
Kevin Jenkins: 05:38 When we move and march into the 80s, that’s where the changes started happening at. We started migrating to different schools that were not in our communities anymore. We started migrating out of the community to other places to live. We had now a fluctuation of people from Chicago that were coming in, D.C. that was coming in, and Kansas City was coming in, so we had a fluctuation of a lot of now, new people, but what was happening was that they didn’t stay. So, they’d be here maybe a year and then after that, they would move.
Kevin Jenkins: 06:33 So, all of a sudden the community that was like “this”, solid, “fingers-together”, started splintering and started tearing us apart… and that’s then when the drug scene started coming in. That’s when we started seeing more African American folks dropping out of school. That’s when we started seeing this change of no emotion, no feeling. Instead of fighting with the fists, we started fighting with the pistol and we start… we saw people laying out there and people, all of a sudden they was like “Oh, another person dead.”
Kevin Jenkins: 07:27 We never was like that back in the 70s-
Kevin Jenkins: 07:30 … because one of the things that our parents taught us was one… respect, believe in god. Another one they taught us was, stick together, regardless, stick together.
Kevin Jenkins: 07:47 And we feared. At that ha… I mean, our thing was, we didn’t have a cell phone; we didn’t even have a pager at this point. We knew when the street lights come on, you’d better be on your way, no… not on your way, you needed to be on the porch of your house.
Kevin Jenkins: 08:08 That was our clock, was the streetlights… and you didn’t have like you have now, the disrespect of a lot of the teens that don’t listen to their parents. They’re going to do whatever they want to do. They started thinking life ended at 21. I don’t quite get that part, but… that how many of them thought. And so then they didn’t fear. Fear left the North Side and when fear left the North Side, now we had nothing but chaos and now you had leaders fighting against each other. You had the police department that could do whatever that they wanted to do, but we wasn’t unified like we used to be.
Kevin Jenkins: 09:06 So those are some pieces, right there that we had. One of the things that we had and I’m pretty sure you remember this… is, there was a parade called the Aquatennial and we had one or two drill team groups that were in the Aquatennial and we liked to follow the drill team. Well, at a point in time the police said “you guys can’t follow them”. They had the dogs out there, the horses out there and the water hose out there… and one of the things that we came up with was… Okay you don’t want us down there? That’s fine.
Kevin Jenkins: 09:55 And, so we had something called the Summer Fun Festival, which was at the Phyllis Wheatley Community that the Wade Community sponsored and this was all the bands that were back at that time period, so, we didn’t want to go downtown because we had our own entertainment right in our own neighborhood. And, so that’s the whole thing of the unity that we had and that’s the change that happened when we, when other people started coming in to Minnesota and part of it was, and this is just my thought, so I don’t know if this is true or not…but part of it was our welfare system. We had a great welfare system here and people that were coming from other places they were like, I want to go to Minnesota because we could be on welfare and live really good until they put the new law in to say you could only be on welfare for five years.
Kevin Jenkins: 10:57 So, again, there was a lot of great things that we did back in the days and where it started crumbling was when we started dividing ourselves.
Interviewer: 11:11 So, we’re gathering some of these stories to gain some understanding about the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and the community so I hear you touching on some of the things like economic issues that you saw back then. So, as you’re thinking about policy and things like housing policy back in the 70s, when you were growing up or even in the 80s and employment and discrimination in regards to some of those things.
Interviewer: 11:49 I’m wondering what impact do you think those things had on the community… things like housing discrimination, unemployment rates or lack of employment opportunities for folks in our communities and even lack of transportation to get people back and forth between those?
Kevin Jenkins: 12:10 Okay. Well that’s a loaded question.
Kevin Jenkins: 12:13 I’ll try to get… and if I don’t answer part of it-
Kevin Jenkins:12:18 … we come back into it. Housing, well, let me start with housing.
Kevin Jenkins: 12:27 We… growing up here, we never really saw a housing issue, because our parents either they stayed in the projects, or you stayed in a duplex or apartment or a house and growing up, we didn’t really see that we were poor because we always a roof over our head, we always had clean clothes, we always had something to eat. We might only have one TV, but the whole thing was is that we didn’t really see that there were issues where you could live and where you can’t live at.
Kevin Jenkins: 13:15 So, that didn’t show up in the 70s because base… and part of it was that everybody stayed in their own neighborhood. You know, so the North Siders stayed on this side of Broadway and all the way down to the project area. That was basically us as African American folk.
Kevin Jenkins: 3:39 We stayed right there; we might have moved from one place to another place but it was in our hood, basically. So, we didn’t see that type of discrimination but I’ll come back to that because I was going to go with the jobs situation.
Kevin Jenkins: 13:59 We had a program called M.Y.C… M.Y.C. if you were 14 years old, you could get an M.Y.C. job. Everybody basically had a M.Y.C. job. I’m not quite sure what it stood for but it was like a summer youth job that you could work at a community center; you could work at a park; you could work at a barber shop. I
mean, it was like places and basically you showed up for work, they taught you what you needed to learn and then you did the job.
Kevin Jenkins: 14:36 And everybody looked forward to that two weeks because that way you got your check and then we was down at Kiefers, Browns, the V store. These were some of the places that we shopped at. Flag Brothers was another one we could love to order stuff out of the catalog there.
Kevin Jenkins: 14:59 So we had jobs back then. Jobs… Then when we got more into the mid-70s. That’s when we started seeing some of the discrimination.
Kevin Jenkins: 15:19 We were like, I graduated in 1974, so at this point I wanted to get a job and there were criteria that you had to have or it would school you knew that got you in the door. So, if you was not ambitious and a person that could sell their selves, you didn’t get a job.
Kevin Jenkins: 15:48 There was not, at this point, an encouragement to continue to keep your education going so we wasn’t really going to college as much during this time. We were going to vocational schools because at this time trades were still in. So, you could get… so I’m a tailor by trade, so I learned how to sew, I learned how to do measurements, I learned how to fit clothes onto people, this and other. And so, basically, that’s what we… that’s what I did. I went to trade school, but once we got into the 80s, that’s when the push became more- go to college, go to college. If you didn’t have the money, they had things called grants that you didn’t have to pay back.
Kevin Jenkins: 16:45 So a lot of what we were pushed into is to like, okay, we need to further our education and in order to do that, we need to get some grants. There were some people that were very fortunate to get scholarships either from academics or, as far as from the arena of what they did, as far as… they played either basketball, baseball, ran track, whatever.
Kevin Jenkins: 17:12 So, we started going that way, there, but where the doors started shutting at was… okay but how are you going to pay this bill?
17:26 And, now the parents were stuck with… we got to make a little extra money so Kamal can continue his education. Well they couldn’t do it, so Kamal had to stop his education, or Susie, or whoever… and lack of money started becoming an issue and then we ran into the area of the split families.
17:59 We ran into the area that here, the mother is raising three or four kids and the father is nowhere to be seen, except when it was time for the birthday party or for the event. “Oh here was there?”
18:17 But… the family unit started crumbling, again, because everybody wanted to do their own thing and they lost sight of what the unit of the family was supposed to be about. So, again, the whole thing was there was a lot of stuff that we wasn’t addressing in the community but we were putting the blame on
somebody else, and like Michael Jackson said it really well: “The Man in the Mirror”.
18:56 Don’t look around you to blame somebody. Look at what’s in the mirror because what’s in the mirror has caused either something good or something bad. Stop blaming. Come back to self.
Interviewer: 19:12 Right. Change yourself before you change the world.
Kevin Jenkins: 19:15 Okay, I don’t know if I answered all that but-
19:17 Okay, okay, alright. [crosstalk 00:19:19].
Interviewer: 19:27 What part do you feel you can play in creating that more hopeful future?
Kevin Jenkins: 19:36 What part do I feel I have-
19:38 … Okay. Being a community person, being a Godly man, what I learned was, it’s not about what you say, it’s what you do.
19:55 What you do is going to speak more volume versus this. So what I had to learn was, I can’t be at every march or rally. I can’t be at every protest, but what I can be is, I can be an example of somebody that grew up on the North Side. I don’t know about the near thing but the North Side, that’s what we knew we was… that was able to be successful by making good choices, never feeling like you were ever better, always feeling like I can help somebody.
20:48 So, I really think that has been the theme and I spoke with other older people than me and that was one of the things that they said, that, you know, they don’t have that kind of energy out there doing stuff, but what they can do is to show you that if you stick with it, this is what’s ahead of you and it’s looking good, but if you quit, then, basically you stop right here.
21:24 And then they share with you what things that they went through. So, I’m going to bring you to a movie, a series, “Roots”. Basically the elders made sure that the kids understood where their peoples came from and the struggles that their peoples had to go through, and by being able to do that, those kids now
become adults. They learn from what the mistakes that their parents made or the victories that their parents made and then they share it with their kids.
22:09 Well, the sharing process was when we were here. Many of the young people don’t want to hear stuff. They think, oh, that was back in YOUR time. Believe you me, what you’re experiencing now is what we experienced then. It’s just another name, another shade, but still, if you don’t stick together, we’ll crumble.
Interviewer: 22:39 Can I… I was… I actually want to ask one last question.
Kevin Jenkins: 22:43 If you have another question, you can ask me, okay. I… you can go on. [crosstalk 00:22:48].
Interviewer: 22:48 I’m wondering, in your opinion, so you see a need for community to come together, to see transformation, and I’m wondering what you would envision the city of Minneapolis and their role with the community to build stronger community.
Kevin Jenkins: 23:08 I think part of their role should be… How can they give back to the community?
23:19 You’ve taken from the community a lot. How can I come… How can we give back?
23:27 We had a program called “Something to be Thankful For”. I don’t know if you remember that one or not.
23:34 Came out of the Oak Park Neighborhood Center and what we did was we invited every youth leader… it didn’t matter if they came out of the Way, Hospitality House, Jerry Gambles, the City Incorporated, we invited everybody to come together and what we wanted to do was do a joint function for the young people.
24:03 We received money from the city to be able to do that and by being able to do that, what it did was, it tore down these divisional walls that this community is better… this community center is better than this community center. “Oh you guys ain’t got it together.” We work together, but there was money
available for that. So, I think that what possibly could happen is that the community centers, the community organizations come up with a strategy, a plan to figure out some type of a program that you can get funding for. Bobby Joe said it really, really good when we lost our target, he said basically, if we’re not at the table when decisions are being made, then we’re on the table, which basically meant was, we wasn’t invited so we didn’t know and so basically they took our target away from us.
25:19 Now yes, we have Cov. But that used to be our target there. Because we wasn’t involved in the planning and the structure of how the North Side was going to be redeveloped.
Interviewer: 25:32 Yeah, we had no say in that.
Kevin Jenkins: 25:36 Right, so that’s some of the things that I think that the city can do is to be able to look at different programs that are coming out of the North Side and to be able to say, okay, what we want to do is we want to fund this particular program. What is the monies that are available and hold the city accountable, because the city dropped the ball at the Superbowl.
Kevin Jenkins: 26:06 There was supposed to be multiple jobs for small businesses, Mom and Pop shops, this that and the other, and all of a sudden they came to the table and there was all these criteria, and they didn’t meet it. But you said you was going to put so much money into making sure that the Superbowl had people of color that were represented, but then you made these stipulations.
26:34 That’s why we have to be at the tables. That’s why we have to support our mayor, our different governors, our congresspeople. We need to support them because they’re the ones that, when it comes time for the voice, they’re the ones.
26:51 I’ll give you another example. When the shooting happened with the young man on Plymouth Avenue and the group Black Lives Matter blocked off Plymouth, and all they wanted was tape, the mistake that they made… they didn’t listen to Keith Ellison; they didn’t listen to the mayor, they didn’t listen to the
ministers that were out there, that you’re going about it the wrong way in order to get the tape.
27:25 And… when they got the tape was when everybody got the tape, when the decision came down. You got… young people have got to listen to the elders that basically have been on those fighting grounds so that way that the young people don’t make the same mistakes that we made.
27:48 Those are some key pieces, right there and so I could share that with you there. [crosstalk 00:27:54].
Interviewer 27:54 I’m gonna go into a question that I had [crosstalk 00:27:57] got the time, we did already went over.
Kevin Jenkins: 27:59 Okay, alright. I’m sorry. I like to talk. So, go ahead.
Interviewer: 28:02 I was going to say, like, you talk about we need to support the, like, the black mayors and stuff like that and the city can do all of this fund money for these programs.
Kevin Jenkins: 28:14 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Interviewer: 28:14 But what can we do to get our own people involved, because yeah we can have the workshops and the programs-
Interviewer: 28:21 …but what’s going to make them show up? Because I feel like as a youth, we’re real disengaged right now.
Kevin Jenkins: 28:34 I think… the way that what you’re all doing right now, having conversation, because, again, how you all conversate… we’re right across the table from each other and we’re texting. We need to talk to one another. This is what we did and that’s why we could cry and you would know that this person is hurting right now. That’s why the sister upstairs said we need to go through more of an exercise, okay, that’s talking, not this texting. Because, when we knock- out the communication of texting, then, basically the young people aren’t going to understand how to talk to one another.
Kevin Jenkins 29:39 This is one of the reasons why trying to solve problems is… but we haven’t come to the table to talk about, how do we manage our anger? How do we go about developing these right tool that we can use? Maybe I haven’t been to college yet, but what can I do? I want to be able to go and get educated. What can I do…and these are things that like, I think with what you guys are doing right now is, we need to go back to what things worked for us and part of it was that we came together as a community. We talked to one another. We loved on one another. We prayed together. If you need some sugar, hey, I’ve got some sugar.
30:36 You know? And that’s way, way back, but the whole thing was that we wasn’t afraid of one another to conversate or touch. That’s what I think that what you guys are doing is that start right there. It’s starting to have these kinds of conversations so that way that you can look at… these are our situations that
we’re seeing that we would lack to tackle. Whatever that is, you’ve had some time, you’ve had time to organize.
31:15 Develop some type of plan. You just don’t walk into it. You just gotta make sure that you develop some type of plan because the biggest thing is, is that without a plan, it crumbles. It crumbles.
31:31 Supporting the North High Basketball team, supporting Henry High School Basketball team or whatever sports that they are, being there, supporting those young people that are doing some positive, great things. Yes, in this day and time there’s more young people going to college, more African American
folks that’s going to college than back in my time, but the whole thing was… is that those individuals got support and they believe in the people that were backing them and then they made things happen for them.
Kevin Jenkins: 32:12 One last story. I’m sorry, I’m okay… okay… a brother by the name of Trent Bowman… I don’t know, I know you know Trent, of you’ve heard of Trent before? Okay, he went to North High School. He got… he went to college and there was like about four or five, six people that, they all went to college for real estate. What they did when they graduated… they didn’t go to E. Dinah, they didn’t go to Richfield, they didn’t even go to Brooklyn Park or Brooklyn Center, they brought it back to the North Side.
Kevin Jenkins 32:49 They said “we need to help our community”. So, what we want to do is, we’re going to set up meetings, we’re going to talk to you, we’re going to check to see what your credit record looks like, your bank account… we’re going to find affordable housing that you own, not rent, own, and that was something that our parents didn’t teach us, was ownership. We’ve learned rentership or lay-away.
33:18 You know? And I’m being real, I’m being real. So what Trent and them guys did, they brought it back to the community and they helped brothers like myself that’s much older than them to be able to own a home.
33:36 So, that’s what we need, is people to bring back whatever that they earned or they got their degrees and stuff of this nature, to bring that back to the community. Don’t move away, come back to the community.
33:54 And that’s what… that’s my story.
Interviewer: 33:58 Well thank you so much-
33:59 Thank you, we really appreciate it.
Kevin Jenkins: 34:00 Okay.
Interview of Kenneth Rance
Interviewer: 00:11 Alright, so first we’ll just ask you what’s your first and last name with the spelling?
Kenneth Rance: 00:16 My name is Kenneth Rance and that’s K-E-N-N-E-T-H R-A-N-C-E.
Interviewer: 00:24 Alright, so this will be a fifteen minute interview.
Kenneth Rance: 00:27 Sure.
Interviewer: 00:33 On the map, do you see where you live and where you work?
Kenneth Rance: 00:38 Yep. So I live in Lin Park, so on this map, it would be closest to 14th street and Lyndale
Interviewer: 00:50 So thinking back to that area today, what changes have you seen? Positive and negative.
Kenneth Rance: 00:58 Well, I’ve seen more gentrification of whites in my neighborhood. I have seen the property values go up. I see how the north loop is growing and rising exponentially and I believe that some of the carry over is spilling across Plymouth Avenue and down toward the Washington business corridor. What I think is most tragic is that there is a lot of drug activity from the corners of Lyndale and West Broadway from West Broadway to let’s say Penn Avenue. And I think that it is a travesty that the fourth district of the Minneapolis Police Department is not doing enough, in my opinion, to curtail some of that negative drug activity.
Kenneth Rance: 02:11 When you take a look at the Fourth Precinct crime statistics which I receive from who is our community liaison, you will see that from 18th and Lyndale to West Broadway in that area on the Near North is just a hotspot with Cub Supermarket. I applaud Cub for being in the community, unfortunately in a lot of urban communities you have food deserts and more lack of opportunity for them to buy fresh produce, things of that nature. So I think that they should be applauded for continuing to remain on the north side, but it goes without saying that it does have its challenges.
Kenneth Rance: 03:01 But my qualifier is this, born and raised on the north side, I love the north side. There is no other place I’d rather want to live. I have the resources to be able live in other communities, but I have made a very conscious choice and decision to live where I do.
Kenneth Rance: 03:27 Those are some of the changes that I have seen on West Broadway.
Interviewer: 03:32 Alright. Why do you think those changes are happening?
Kenneth Rance: 03:35 Well, I think that with gentrification some of it is strategic to let some of the property values go down and then have whites move into the community. And there has also been some economic development taking place on the north side.
Kenneth Rance: 03:59 When you take a look at the number of millennials that live in the Near North and they’re going to put a elementary school in Downtown East. What that says to me is that those families are not going to have children and those children have to have places to go. And so I think that, when you take a look at the real estate market here in Minneapolis and you take a look at the lack of affordable housing, okay, a two-bedroom apartment on average here is about $1200, right?
Kenneth Rance: 04:32 So North Minneapolis is one of the last few, I think, bastions of the city of Minneapolis where people can really afford home ownership. South Minneapolis is saturated, right? You’ve got the Phillips and some other areas, but really you’ve got the lakes and so on and those are very expensive. Also too, when you take a look at some of the pernicious ways a lot of these banks have refused to loan to people of color for them to be able to even afford homes, that is very strategic in locking them out. That’s why Minnesota is 50th out of 50th for black home ownership for people of color. That’s horrible. And we have the resources and the ability to do that and so now you have more of an influx of people moving in to Near North, Willard-Hay, Jordan, Cleveland.
Kenneth Rance: 05:32 You have all this development through the Greenway project, from the that’s gonna come right through north Minneapolis. It’s also bridging the gap between the Van White Bridge and the Kenwood area over there by The Blake School, right? You take a look at what they’re doing with the-
Interviewer: 05:50 I was looking for the lady at the front desk.
Kenneth Rance: 05:58 So you’ve got all that going and what I think it’s gonna do is it’s gonna disenfranchise more people of color through increased property taxes and higher rents and values and it’s gonna be harder for them to live within the city.
Interviewer: 06:19 Yep. So this is a long question, so I’m gonna sum it up. So policies such as housing, transportation, I know you mentioned product development and the war on drugs and other things that was happening in the 1990s. How do you think those policies impacted the community or even
Kenneth Rance: 06:43 Well, look, so when we talk about Ronald Reagan’s the War on Drugs and if you read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander it does a very great job of kind of laying out what’s taking place. So when there are racial biases in this war on drugs and locking people up is not the solution. It’s been proven that drug [inaudible 00:07:10] is on par in black communities as it is in white communities.
Kenneth Rance: 07:14 If you take a look at the ACLU study of Picking Up the Pieces in 2012, you find that north Minneapolis District Four are policed at a much higher level than they are in other aspects of the city. So you lock up a father or a mother and that has an impact on their ability to earn and take care of their children and you then have them displaced and so you have more transient and you have more homelessness. Those stresses can lead to substance abuse problems.
Kenneth Rance: 07:50 And then the amount of bias that takes place in the Minneapolis public school system where they have concentrated schools and community schools for people of color and so they’ve had all the concentrated poverty in schools on the north side whereas, when we take a look at the schools on the south side of the city, they’re more inclined to put those students out or make it more challenging for them to be able to have access to the school. So they take out busing for high school, so now students then have to go to schools that are closer to them just due to the fact they don’t have the transportation. For middle school students and elementary school students, well if the parents have resources, like my family has been blessed to do, then we can afford to drive our children outside of the local schools they have more opportunity.
Kenneth Rance: 08:45 You also have to take a look at where the resource is going to. Where are the better teachers? Where are the teachers that are more seasoned and experienced? I believe that if the Minneapolis school system did a better job at dispersing whether it’s- not Title 9- Title 1 students, free and reduced lunch, and the entire school system had to proportionately kind of deal with those students with those specific needs or what not, I think we would have more equity, we’d have more balance, and we’d have better educational opportunities for all of our students.
Kenneth Rance: 09:36 And when it comes to economical development, the development is coming, but will we be a part of that? And public transportation has a lot to do with that, as well, when you take a look at the Bottineau Line.
Kenneth Rance: 09:53 When I grew up, there are people of color living in places in Minnesota that was just unheard of. Chaska and Burnsville and Apple Valley and Champlin and now that Section 8 volunteers aren’t in fashion anymore in the city of Minneapolis and they’re literally displacing of and just putting us anywhere.
Kenneth Rance: 10:23 And so as long as there’s a functional bus line to be able to take them from there back into the city to be able to work for low wage jobs is, for some people, it’s sufficient. The problem is is that right now, living in the city of Minneapolis, one out of every four people is a person of color, but as we grow towards a minority majority, the population of whites in Minnesota is declining. The future growth will come from minorities and immigrants. Well, if it is not deceptive to immigrants and if there are not opportunities for people of color, how will the state of Minnesota maintain its quality of life? And I think that there are some people in leadership that are aware of those analytics and those metrics, but it’s disturbing that not enough is being done fast enough. Because you cannot have all these people here without healthcare, education, and employment opportunities and expect to have a functioning civil society.
Kenneth Rance: 12:00 Did that answer your question?
Interviewer: 12:03 Yes.
Kenneth Rance: 12:03 I know it was a lot.
Interviewer: 12:04 It was a lot, but it’s good. That was good. Okay, what changes have you seen in the community that you have concerns about? Anything.
Kenneth Rance: 12:16 The gentrification is one thing. You have a lot of seniors that are living on fixed incomes that cannot continue to maintain their homes and now they’re selling them. And then you have people from other communities coming into the neighborhoods and they’re trying to change the culture of that community and I think that that can be very dangerous, I think that can be very rude, that can be very disrespectful, I think that that can cause a lot of conflict. I mean, take a look at the case with the gentrification that’s taking place in the Shaw-LeDroit Park area in Washington D.C. and Howard University and the residents want to walk the dogs on campus and they wanted to stop the Go-go music that’s been playing there for the last twenty years. Those things are not good and when you take a look at law enforcement and how heavily policed we are and taxes here.
Kenneth Rance: 13:26 I think what they’re doing with Northpoint I think is just awesome and with 150,000 people a year they see. I mean, it’s just enormous the amount of great work that Stella’s doing over there and the 70 million dollar project and the are all things that need to be supported and with these Promise Zones and Opportunity Zones and these Green Zones and I strongly encourage leadership in the city to be able to provide opportunities for people to have affordable housing and then the corporations need to do their fair share as well in being able to make home loans affordable to people of color and not pricing them out. And also being able to provide more public private partnerships and more access to jobs with livable wages. And a greater respect for our environment here and so what concerns me is that there’s empirical data that shows that if Minnesota doesn’t get it together, they’re going to have some serious problems on down the line with the number of Baby Boomers that are retiring. And it’s very expensive for retirees to live here, but people of color have to have their opportunities as well.
Kenneth Rance: 15:26 One last point, the state of Minnesota, I believe, had over a billion dollars worth of contracts last year. What percentage of them went to black businesses? It was less than a tenth of one percent. Yet, businesses in the state of Minnesota are skyrocketing. How is that equitable? It’s wrong and there’s certain mandates and laws on the books that say otherwise, that certain monies are entitled to those disenfranchised communities of color, but they have not the leadership, the governor to others have not been held accountable.
Interviewer: 16:25 I’m gonna ask you one last thing.
Kenneth Rance: 16:26 Sure.
Interviewer: 16:29 Do you have any last words? How would you wrap it up?
Kenneth Rance: 16:41 How would I wrap it up? I just think that there are certain powers that do not see the value of black people here in this state. And I think that it is time that they be recognized and be given a fair shot and opportunity to, as Snoop Dogg would say, “Live their best life.” You know what I’m saying? And, unfortunately, there are powers at be that are day in and day out trying to impede our progress, that are trying to snuff out our community, that are trying to displace us, and it’s wrong. And with all of this Minnesota nice that we talk about, it’s really Minnesota ice. And the numbers and the populations are growing and they’re changing where it has been shown, I was reading a study from Deloitte, that companies who embrace diversity in thought and in leadership do better.
Kenneth Rance: 18:39 Just the bottom line, they do better. And Minnesota will do better when they have equitable opportunity around the table to be able to take a part of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and all of the values and virtues that we pride ourselves on as a nation. And if they don’t, we’re in big trouble.
Interviewer: 19:14 Alright, well thank you, we enjoyed your time.
Kenneth Rance: 19:16 Thank you.
Interview of Jewelean Jackson
Interviewer: 00:26 Okay, may I have your first and last name the spelling, please?
Miss Jackson: 00:40 Jewelean, J-E-W-E-L-E-A-N, no middle initial, last name Jackson, J-A-C-K-S-O-N.
Interviewer: 00:51 Okay, nice to meet you.
Miss Jackson: 00:51 Indeed.
Interviewer: 00:52 Do you or have you lived in this area in the last 10 years?
Miss Jackson: 00:58 I have lived, played, worked, and prayed in this area for 40 years.
Interviewer: 01:03 Okay. From when you first moved in this area what changes have you seen over the years?
Miss Jackson: 01:09 Oh, even though they say the statistics say otherwise, it seems like there are more non-black folks, more Asians, more Somalis and it also seems as though there may be a little more negative behavior, be it us killing one another and/or the police killing us.
Interviewer: 01:34 I agree. So do you feel that’s a negative or a positive change?
Miss Jackson: 01:41 Well, I think it’s a double edged sword. I think part of the concern is that there seems to be a lack of value in human life too often amongst us and it’s reciprocal among the other folks as well. Now, I think in terms of Euros, it has more to do with they still think of us as animals, they still think of us as 3/5 human, they still think that we’re just a beast. The flip side of that is one of self hatred. The physical shackles were removed but we still have shackles on our minds.
Interviewer: 02:19 I agree with you, by the way. What do you feel caused the changes?
Miss Jackson: 02:21 Oh gosh. Some would say it was all the transplants from Gary, Indiana. Some would say it’s the transplants from south side of Chicago. I am not sure. I don’t know if it’s specific to Minneapolis and north Minneapolis as much as it seems to be different pockets of the country, be it Chicago, be it New York, be it Los Angeles etc. I think part of what makes it seem like it’s more is that with social media you get it faster, quicker, all at once. One of the things that seems to be different is I always tell my scholars, it wasn’t as though we didn’t fight and duke it out with one another, but if you and I had an issue, you beat my behind, I didn’t run home and get Pookie and Mom and them and a gun and come back and try to kill you.
Interviewer: 03:10 To kill you, right.
Miss Jackson: 03:11 Typically, it was done. So you beat my behind and so be it and we shook hands and we went on.
Interviewer: 03:17 And that’s it.
Miss Jackson: 03:20 And I don’t know if this is different either but I think this whole thing of babies having babies, they haven’t been raised so how are they going to raise another little person. And so therefore you pick up all of those bad habits, non-habits, and so with the work that I do I always try to incorporate home visits because I can think about what it might be like but, oh my gosh, once I get into the home it’s like, okay, know what’s wrong. And certainly I’m not researched or haven’t studied it but these are just some of my observations.
Interviewer: 03:53 Okay. And what makes you feel that way?
Miss Jackson: 03:58 One, I think integration did us in. I think that in yesteryear we were forced more to get along and be along because all we had was one another.
Interviewer: 04:12 Exactly.
Miss Jackson: 04:12 Now we figure that we had the civil rights movement and we fought for equal rights and now on the one hand you have too many of us trying to be like them and outdoing them at being themselves, ie. Europeans. And on the other hand you have this whole sense of hopelessness that I’m not sure where it came from.
04:30 I just asked one of my third grade scholars the other day, I said, “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” And he said, “Miss Jackson, I want to be alive.” Oh, okay so where, when, and how because in our darkest days as slaves we still wanted to do better. We wanted to learn how to read and write. Today we’ve got to drag our kids to school to get them there, get them there on time and get them there without them throwing chairs through windows and those kinds of things. So, it’s pretty complex, it’s pretty complex.
Interviewer: 05:01 Okay, so we are gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of historic discriminatory government policies and practices in 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 impact has these policies or others had on the community in general?
Miss Jackson: 05:27 That was a mouthful. Was I supposed to remember all that?
Interviewer: 05:31 Basically, what changes have you seen in the housing, transportation, economic development since back in the day until now?
Miss Jackson: 05:40 Well, it’s only been recently that they have removed legal language saying that we can’t purchase property.
Miss Jackson: 05:47 People are very surprised by that, white and black. It’s only been recently that the language has been removed in terms of redlining in the district. So I don’t know how soon you would say that’s happened. Are we talking 2018, we’re talking about 1990, etc.? Because, again, I think all of what ails us is this whole thing of racism at its best, sexism at its best, white folks and black folks think we’ve truly arrived. We have not. And the Willie Lynch syndrome is alive and well.
Miss Jackson: 06:22 And I think that’s kind of the underpinning of everything that ails us and I don’t think even with affirmative action at its best that we’re going to catch up. I’m not going to see it. I’m not sure if you all are going to see it either. My child, the one I birthed at 27, oftentimes she says, “You know what? It’s an upstream battle.” And I don’t that even me or my children will be around to see it.
Miss Jackson: 06:46 And as dismal as that sounds that doesn’t mean we work any less hard in terms of change. And again, it still goes to that whole thing of how you feel about folks because even with laws changing and written information changing, attitudes are slow to follow. And so it may be another 200 years before they even allude to the civil rights movement. I mean they still have on the books that we’re not allowed to vote. That’s still on the books.
Interviewer: 07:14 I didn’t know that
Miss Jackson: 07:14 And then on the one hand as a long time head election judge I have to drag my folks kicking and screaming to vote, to register to vote, to pledge to vote, to know where your polling place is. Folks will get to the polls at 7: 50 the polls close at 8:00, you’re at the wrong poll, then you cuss me out going out the door because you can’t get to the right poll. Well come on now, come on.
Miss Jackson: 07:38 So it’s a lot of that. I had one of my 5th grade scholars two years ago tell me, “Well Miss Jackson my daddy says it’s stupid to vote.” Now I ain’t going to take on what his daddy said but I made note, okay there’s some other things I have to do with this little 5th grade scholar of mine in terms of getting him to
see things differently. But it’s hard because I have them, what, 3 or 4 hours a day? Then they still gotta go home to whatever madness that is.
Interviewer: 08:01 Yup, that is true.
Miss Jackson: 08:03 Did any of that make sense?
Interviewer: 08:03 Yeah, that did. I understand it completely.
Miss Jackson: 08:05 Okay. The other piece with housing, with the foreclosure piece that hit a few years back and I lost my house as a result of it. One of the things that I keep telling people that they need to do in terms of policy is that at the end of what I went through, and I fought a hard fight but I lost after about 6 years, they still said they wanted $300,000 from me for my house right around the corner, 1618 Freemont Avenue. But then they turned around and sold it to the white boy for $40,000. What’s wrong with that picture? What is wrong with that picture?
Interviewer: 08:37 Are you serious?
Miss Jackson: 08:39 Serious. And it wasn’t as though he was going to come and move into the community. What he did is he carved it up to rent it out-
Interviewer: 08:46 To make-
Miss Jackson: 08:46 To make more money for a whole lot more than he should have been charging, that’s about policy.
Interviewer: 08:53 That’s crazy.
Miss Jackson: 08:53 You know. And even now the other thing, there seems to be a whole lot more vacant houses as well than there used to be and that’s another policy piece. The city finally heard us a year and a half ago with some listening sessions that we did. We said okay so, what do we do with these vacant houses, these vacant lots? So they said oh okay well we hear you, let’s come up with this system. And I don’t remember all of it verbatim but it was $75,000, I think, if you were a first responder, you could get free money, $50,000 if you were in education, $25,000 if you were a resident in the community. What’s wrong with that? Flip it!
Miss Jackson: 09:29 Flip it! That is policy. And they didn’t even have that before we had these listening sessions a year and a half ago. That’s all policy. That’s the city of Minneapolis.
Miss Jackson:09:40 So.
Miss Jackson: 09:40 I get animated sometimes. Forgive me.
Interviewer: 09:43 It’s okay. We need that. So what impacts have that had on you or your personal family?
Miss Jackson: 09:53 Well, part of it’s my fault and/or part of it’s the system but I have spent most of my darned near 70 years really embracing my community, doing for my community which meant that most of my life I’ve either totally given it away for free or for little or nothing. And so for me if I walked out this door and I broke a hip or whatever I’d be expected to live off of $900 a month social security. What do you do with $900 a month social security? Not much. But, it’s still on me. From that perspective I’m kind of a sick puppy, if you will, because people that volunteer at my level for that length of time got three, four sugar daddies somewhere paying the bills.
Miss Jackson: 10:35 But at the same time, I think that it’s important and it’s a dirty job but somebody’s got to do it so when I think back on the Miss Black Minnesota pageant that I produced and directed for 15 years, a founding mother for Twin Cities Juneteenth, founding committee for the Minnesota Freedom Schools’ Children’s Defense Fund, founding committee for the National Night Out, at some point part of my legacy will be there she lay, but look at all this good stuff she left behind.
Miss Jackson: 11:02 But in the meantime it would be nice to be able to make a decision and be able to write a check and make it happen as opposed to fundraising and seeing who I can submit a proposal to, so.
Miss Jackson: 11:15 They say God looks out for babies and fools. I think I fall in the fool category which God has decided that, with that, he has given me my health. And so we have figured out that for the next decade, I have until I’m 80, to make up for that social security piece. Because I still have my health and when you have your health you can attain the other stuff or get it back.
Interviewer: 11:39 So what changes have you seen in this community that raised your level of stress or concern about its future?
Miss Jackson: 11:44 Well, recognizing that the police have never been our friend, it seems as though they have become a lot more blatant and I tell the chief and all of the boys in blue often, “Y’all are sharp shooters.” So you mean to tell me I’m supposed to believe that he’s running away and whatever level of his black face, you can’t shoot him in the legs and stop him or tase him or something? It’s always shoot to kill our folks, especially our black boys and the young black men.
Miss Jackson: 12:13 So that seems to be more overt and it’s scary to the point of when I found out I was pregnant I said, “God don’t give me a boy. I don’t want a boy.” Because I did not want to have to think for the next 21 years that knock on the door in the middle of the night that my child- Although, I got a girl, I’m not good with hair either because I have none, but she’s had the police pull guns on her. So it’s not specific just to the sexes.
Miss Jackson: 12:44 So that seems to be a little worse. That’s probably the main thing just in terms of the police and the way that they- I mean I’ve even had them tell me- because you hesitate to even call them, even if you need them, and I’ve had them tell me when they’ve gotten there, “Well, just move out of the neighborhood. Well, you decided to live here.” They don’t do that out in their neck of the woods.
Miss Jackson: 13:08 And I don’t think that more police are necessarily the answer to that because many of them are still, and even with our new police chief, he’s still got this horrible system that he’s stuck with. And so I just heard something recently of how we finally allude to moving forward is we’ve got to have the Thurgood Marshall’s, you all know who that is, right?
Interviewer: 13:27 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Miss Jackson: 13:28 Which I just found out today he had 32 cases of which he won I mean, yeah. So he was saying that you have to have those like him that deal with the system but you still have to have the Martin Luther King Jr.’s who can speak it, who can mobilize, who can organize. And until we have a consistent, incestuous like relationship between those two strategies, I don’t know, it’s going to be a hard time coming. And a long time coming.
Interviewer: 13:56 All right. True that, true that. What part does the city of Minneapolis need to play to relieve that stress?
Miss Jackson: 14:05 For me personally?
Interviewer: 14:05 Yes ma’am.
Miss Jackson: 14:07 Part of it has to do with, and I’ve gotten pretty creative. When you don’t have the check book, so I know where all the food shelves are, I know where the food distributions are, I even know where there’s a free clinic where we can get free acupuncture, free chiropractic, free massage, free counseling, etc.
Miss Jackson: 14:24 And so for me part of relieving my stress is to know that it’s not going under the knife. It’s not taking another pill. It’s dealing with some of these other strategies to help me with my mental and my physical. As a matter of fact, we’ve actually decreased my meds for high blood pressure in half by the acupuncture.
Miss Jackson: 14:43 If we could have more of that I think that that would help because, one of the things that I said is if the real revolution happened tomorrow, we’re such a sick people you wouldn’t be able to carry me and I wouldn’t be able to carry you. Let alone pick up a gun and do it at the same time. And so I think those are a few of the things and then just this whole thing of, this whole unity thing. One of my other hats is I’m the current lifetime national Miss Kwanza and part of my platform is teaching Kwanza, the Kwanza principles as a way of life.
Miss Jackson: 15:15 KMOJ, 50 years ago started with unity, umojah, etc. But we are such a far cry from that at this point and we’re still like crabs in the barrel etc. so I think it’s a combination of us coming together as a people and us figuring out what we have to do in terms of our mental and physical mindset.
Miss Jackson: 15:38 The other part of the unity piece is we got to organize and mobilize and get, and yeah, I’ve said it to them, these Asians that we continue to give our money to that treat us like you know what. But years ago we had a black salon down here Reverend Charles and Marie Graham, Marie Graham sings with the Sounds of Blackness, they didn’t last because we didn’t support them. But we run to the other folks to give them our little bit of money. So that’s another piece that’s sorely lacking.
Interviewer: 16:10 Okay, okay. Moving on to the next question. What gives you hope for the future of this community?
Miss Jackson: 16:17 You young folks. You youngins. I think part of what’s going to help too is with the energy of the young folks and the wisdom of us old folks, if we could truly come together it would make a difference. I don’t know if any of you were involved with the fourth precinct occupation?
Interviewer: 16:33 Mm-mmm (negative)
Miss Jackson: 16:34 Well, a lot of my community children were and the one that I birthed was also part of that. But it was us old folks that did those young people in. What they did is in the middle of the night they ran downtown to [mossa 00:16:45], the city bureaucracy, and literally dismantled it in the middle of the night. Yeah, that’s how it happened.
Miss Jackson:16:55 And I’ve said that to some of those old folks, as well, because what I say, I say it to the source as well. So that’s a huge piece, this whole divide and conquer and I got more education than you and my eyes are lighter than yours and my hair’s straighter than yours and it’s crazy. So until those things begin to change, it’s not going to change. So it’s on y’all. But we have to have the good sense to give you what we know, give you the baton and get the hell out of the way so you can do what you need to do that we’ve trained you to do. Oops, bleep. Okay. The helicopter out of the way. Sorry.
Miss Jackson: 17:34 But there are the John Brown’s too though. You all know who John Brown was right?
Interviewer: 17:39 I do.
Miss Jackson: 17:39 Okay, so he led any number of the insurrections during the slavery times, white boy. And I say that because even during my time with my foreclosure, there was a young Jewish guy that had walked with us through that whole process and what we did is we strategized and we said so when the sheriff gets here and they come, we know that they will react differently to your white face than my black face. And so I’m not saying that it all has to happen with all black folks. There are some white folks too that we need to also coalesce with.
Interviewer: 18:24 Yeah. What part does the city of Minneapolis need to play to create that more hopeful future?
Miss Jackson: 18:30 I think it’s all of the city because too often people think well, it’s them. No, it’s all of us. And I think that all of the city has a part to play When they did Rondo in, in St. Paul, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that story or not.
Interviewer: 18:44 Mm-hmm (affirmative). I heard about that.
Miss Jackson: 18:44 Well initially when that was on the drawing board it was going to be Rondo and Prospect Park. Now the white folks in Prospect Park had the wherewithal and the resources to fight so it didn’t happen to them, whereas we did not and we saw what happened, so. So all of us are affected, contrary to popular belief but, yeah.
Interviewer: 19:14 When you think about this area today, what impact do you still see from these historic government policies?
Miss Jackson: 19:17 Ask me that again.
Interviewer: 19:27 The impact of the discriminatory policies that have been in place historically.
Miss Jackson: 19:31 Oh, okay.
Miss Jackson: 19:34 Well when you look at so often, white folks and black folks, “Just get over it. That was then, now is now.” Well you can’t just get over it because it continues. So that when my significant other says that excuse me but we’re going to this wedding and it’s a young white couple and the parents have given them their house, we don’t have that to bring to the table, let alone be in a position to give it to our children.19:59 And so that kind of policy continues on. People don’t recognize that when they say, “Well it’s not me.” Well of course it’s not you, it’s institutional racism, it’s institutional sexism, it’s all that institutional madness that Trump and the Trumpettes are solidifying and undoing all of the things that Obama did.
20:20 Now the flip of that in terms of hope. I mean I jump for joy. All these young folks we’ve got on city council, get these old folks out of the way. Now, will they have all the answers? No, but at least it’s new blood and it’s young blood and so far I’ve been very impressed with Phillipe and Jeremiah and Andrea’s not as young but, nevertheless, he brings another perspective. I think that’s what’s going to help.
Miss Jackson: 20:48 Did that answer?
Interviewer: 20:49 Yes. How would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and the northside community over the years?
Miss Jackson: 21:00 It’s been up and down, mainly down. Again, the system looks at us as less than human. The system looks at us in a paternalistic way when they do, it’s like, “Well I know what’s good for you poor slobs over there.” The system thinks of us as a detriment. Everything is always in the negative. An yeah there are issues but there are issues everywhere, there are issues everywhere and I don’t know what it’s going to take to change that.
Miss Jackson: 21:29 And, again, we’ve got a new young mayor, St. Paul has not only a young mayor but a young black mayor and a young black male mayor. Matter of fact he taught my child her first story. He was getting ready to go to college and she was still in middle school? Yeah, middle school. Elementary school. Whatever. So I think the new blood is going to help.
Miss Jackson: 21:48 But what happens is even when you come in with all of these ideas, you too can get caught up in the system. Even with Obama, I told people he wasn’t going to be the Messiah, but I voted for him because he looked like me. I didn’t care what his policy was. He looked like me and that was a historical moment.
Miss Jackson: And you saw what happened. But lord of mercy I’ll tell you he has proven to be the most gracious, and they couldn’t even dig up anything on him in terms of sexual scandal, and I am so pleased, you’d think he was my own child.
Miss Jackson: 22:17 But, ultimately it may happen and then again it may not. But even with the real revolution, I can’t think of a historical revolution where it’s been a real revolution and then the folks that overturned the previous folks didn’t turn out to be like the previous folks they overturned. So, what do you do?
Interviewer: 22:37 Okay. What are your expectations of the city of Minneapolis related to this community?
Miss Jackson: 22:44 Well, I mean, they need to either do it or get off the pot. You all know that expression, right?
Miss Jackson: 22:51 Okay. But we also have to force the issue. People still tell me, “My vote won’t count. Why should I vote? Well I don’t like who’s on the ballot.” And I try to tell folks then if that’s the case you at least get to the polls, register to vote, you pledge, you know where it is, you get to the polls, and write in your own name. Write it Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck because then people know that you at least exercised that a right that we have as Americans because what we don’t realize is when we do vote, we jump to the top, to the presidential. More times than not, the stuff that’s going to affect us is the local. How often are the streets plowed? Who gets the nicer looking parks and those kinds of things. But it’s continuing to try to educate, re-educate, un-educate.
Interviewer: 23:37 I understand that. I agree with you there too. To what extent do you trust the city of Minneapolis to deliver those expectations?
Miss Jackson: 23:54 Oh, that’s funny. Let me first say that there has been changes let me recognize that but the more things change the more they stay the same. And power is not given, you have to take it and people have to be in a position and willing to make the sacrifices to take it. I don’t trust them to just say, “Oh, here’s your part of it.” I mean when they took out Martin Luther King Jr. why was that? Because he started talking about economics. Economics. Hit them in the pockets. I’m still waiting for my 40 acres and my mule, not with bated breath but nevertheless. But that gives you an idea. And everybody has gotten the reparations except for black folks. Well the Natives have been done in too, but everybody else has got- And when we talk about reparations it’s like all of a sudden we’re talking Chinese. But everybody else has gotten them.
Miss Jackson: 24:44 So I don’t trust them to do a doggone thing. That doesn’t mean though that I don’t continue to work because someone still has to be at the table because I tell my scholars, “If you ain’t at the table you’re going to be on the table.” And when they get to slicing and dicing- So I don’t know that we’ll ever get our fair share.
Interviewer: 25:04 What part do you feel you can play in creating that more hopeful future?
Miss Jackson: 25:08 Working with the babies, working with the young folks. Trying to train the young folks, trying to help them with empowerment because once you have the empowerment piece, you have a sense of who you are, you’re unapologetically black, you ain’t trying to do Michael Jackson and change all of that then the more apt you are to say, “Hey, this isn’t right. I’m standing my ground. I’m going to fight.” And even with my foreclosure and some other things that I’ve gone through, [claw in 00:25:35] the case is back against the wall but fighting back.
Miss Jackson: 25:39 I had to sue a former employer. Everybody said, “Ahhh,” and I won’t mention their names because y’all know who they are but everybody kept saying, “You’ll never win.” Whether I never did get one thin dime, and I did win, and they had to write a check, and it was substantial but I knew that I had the- I won’t use that word, I was going to say I had the testicles to fight back but, I guess I could have used another word but I didn’t, but I at least stood my ground and if I had not done one thin dime. They knew that I stood my ground and I had the backbone to do it. And more people have got to do that and we’ve got to stop thinking this whole I, me thing. It’s all of us, it’s a collective.
Interviewer: 26:14 Yeah, a team. Well that’s the end of the interview and we do appreciate you taking time out here to come talk to us. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.
Miss Jackson: 26:23 Thank you. So what’s the next step? What will y’all do with all this valuable information?
Interview of Jenese Thomas
Jenese Thomas: Jenese Thomas. J E N E S E T H O M A S.
Interviewer: Alright and reference to this map, do you, or have you ever lived in or near any
of these parts of North Minneapolis and if so, how long.
Jenese Thomas: Yes, the North Community High School area and 4 years.
Interviewer: Alright. Thinking back from when you first came to this area, to today, what changes have you seen? Positive and negative.
Jenese Thomas: The reconstruction of Plymouth, Penn, Broadway, and no positive change.
Interviewer: Okay. Why do you say there’s no positive change? What makes you say that?
Jenese Thomas: Cause the education is still horrible, the violence is still horrible. Well, the only positive changes are different community centers, You Rock, Oak Park. Different places where you can go.
Interviewer: Alright so more youth, just more things for youth to do, like stay off the streets.
Jenese Thomas: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Interviewer: More important. I see that. Next questions will be, what do you feel caused the changes in this area over the years and why do you feel this way?
Jenese Thomas: The violence caused most of the change. I feel this way cause it’s getting out of hand.
Interviewer: Yeah, Absolutely. I can see that. We are gathering information for the City of Minneapolis and they want to know how these policies, for example: housing, transportation, economic development and others, and employment discrimination, how these policies impacted you and your family personally.
Jenese Thomas: Like I said, I really never had a problem getting a job, I don’t have a felony. Nothing on my backgrounds.
Interviewer: No discrimination during employment?
Jenese Thomas: No.
Interviewer: Okay. That’s good.
Jenese Thomas: As far as education, I believe my kids are in good schools, but who to say when they get in high school it will be the same. Because suburb schools are learning more and graduating faster than our schools in the cities. As far as housing, I was homeless for seven months, but I really didn’t have a problem finding anything it was just finding something based on my income. Income is scarce.
Interviewer: Yeah. Absolutely.
Jenese Thomas: Section 8 for black families in North Minneapolis is not a go-to thing. You giving people section 8 vouchers but they’re not being able to find places because a lot people are not accepting section 8 now, or they’re accepting it and they raise the rent.
Jenese Thomas: It’s a lose, lose situation for a lot of other families in the North Side.
Interviewer: How do you feel about the war on drugs policy. Do you feel like that policy…
Jenese Thomas: The what?
Interviewer: The war on drugs.
Jenese Thomas: War on drugs?
Interviewer: Yes, that’s the policy that basically tries to, trying to think of the right words, it tries to compact on drugs and crack in the black communities and tries to make sure that ..
Interviewer: Targeting black people.
Jenese Thomas: For example the 100-1 ratio, crack to cocaine.
Jenese Thomas: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Interviewer: You know about that. That’s pretty much the war on drugs. Has that effected you or this community in any way that you can think of?
Jenese Thomas: I don’t think it changed. This neighborhood right here that we in now is horrible with drugs.
Interviewer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jenese Thomas: I don’t think anything changed with that. There’s still a lot of crack heads, still a lot of whatever, drug dealers and people on drugs. It’s just different drugs coming out now.
Interviewer: Right, it seems like your saying that it effected the community a lot.
Jenese Thomas: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Interviewer: What changes have you seen in the community that raise your level of stress or concern about it’s future? And what do you think the City of Minneapolis can do to relieve that stress?
Jenese Thomas: The violence has raised my stress. I’m not sure what the community can do or what the city could do about the violence, cause I don’t think they ever was able to control it. They can’t control the people that are supposed to be in position to stop it, cause they doing it to. I don’t think anything happened.
Interviewer: How would you describe the relationship between the City of Minneapolis and the community?
Jenese Thomas: Horrible.
Jenese Thomas: Not good.
Interviewer: I do believe that I agree with you. What are your expectation for the city of Minneapolis? Relative to this community.
Jenese Thomas: My expectations are that they keep us safe, are we talking about as far as police, law enforcement?
Interviewer: All the higher powers, government officials, all of the above. What can our elected officials and people that are supposed to protect us and anybody that’s supposed to protect us, what can they do to help us? Or to help this community.
Jenese Thomas: Just try to keep us safe and not kill us.
Interviewer: That’s real.
Interviewer: It is.
Interviewer: To what extent do you trust the city of Minneapolis to deliver on those expectations?
Jenese Thomas: Say that question again.
Interviewer: How much do you trust them to actually follow through with that?
Jenese Thomas: I don’t.
Interviewer: I believe it.
Jenese Thomas: I don’t, there’s been too many of black men dying in the hands of them. Half the time it’s the things that are happening is not okay. These black men, most of them ain’t got guns on them, ain’t got no weapons on them and you shooting to kill. Like, no. You can shoot em, my thing is you can shoot them in the arm, shoot them in the leg, you can shoot them anywhere. You shooting to kill. You shooting in the head, you shooting in the chest where the heart is. You shooting to kill.
Interviewer: A lot of times, it’s multiple shots.
Interviewer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jenese Thomas: Right.
Interviewer: Not just one or two.
Jenese Thomas: You had to shoot him twice you had to shoot him three or four times.
Interviewer: Had to shoot him 30 times.
Jenese Thomas: Right.
Interviewer: Doesn’t make sense.
Jenese Thomas: Yeah. I don’t trust them, I don’t think they can do anything, like get some new cops? New government officials. Definitely a new president.
Interviewer: A whole new policy.
Interviewer: Yeah. What part do you feel that you can play in creating a more hopeful future?
Jenese Thomas: Doing my job, staying at home. Going to work. Teaching my kids right from wrong. I also want to put out there, when I was going to school they had D.A.R.E. What happened to D.A.R.E?
Interviewer: Now that you say that I remember that.
Jenese Thomas: McGruff, McGrath from Chicago Illinois 60612. They had all them programs, they don’t have non of them in school no more. They took them out completely.
Interviewer: Seems like especially with D.A.R.E, I feel like that was definitely to letting people know, of course they know they’re not supposed to be doing these drugs, they’re not supposed to be doing these things but it just, it still just enforces it like keeps it fresh and lets you know like at school you know.
Jenese Thomas: If you’re teaching your kids this, they coming home like mom, you’re not supposed to be doing that. It helps.
Interviewer: It’s going to influence you to stop doing.
Jenese Thomas: Mom, I know that they said that you’re not supposed to do this, this is not what you’re supposed to do. So it’s like why did they take these programs out of school. I believe some of the reason why they took programs out of school, they really want to have us be the first teachers. We’re supposed to be teaching our kids good touch, bad touch, all this, all these different things.
Interviewer: That’s true, you’re supposed to be teaching your kid that but when they come to school, and they’re at school what, eight hours out of the day, by the time you get home your tired, you’re ready to go to bed, you feeding them and taking them and putting them to bed. You’re not gonna sit down to talk to them about things you know, you’re trying to take care of your household. It’s the teacher job to teach. To enforce things and to let them know, what is, what’s good and what’s bad as well. That’s going to be their second home, they’re in school for 12 years you know.
Jenese Thomas: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Interviewer: It’s levels to it, but I feel as if, you know.
Interviewer: That’s all the questions we have for you. We appreciate your time.
Interviewer: Thank you so much for answering our questions.
Jenese Thomas: Thank you.
Interview of Gretta Maxwell
Interviewer: 01:10 All right, thank you. So before we begin, can you spell your first and last name?
Gretta Maxwell: 01:15 First name Gretta – G R E T T A. Last name Maxwell – M A X W E L L.
Interviewer: 01:24 All right, you mentioned that you lived in North Minneapolis, how long have you been living there?
Gretta Maxwell: 01:26 I’ve been in North Minneapolis since 2001, so 18 years.
Interviewer: 01:30 Where did you move from?
Gretta Maxwell: 01:32 Chicago. Chicago. When I first came here, it was so nice, I just wanted to visit but my sister stayed up here. It was quiet, compared to Chicago it was so quite. Nice. Everybody was in at ten. And all that until I got up here. Like totally good, but it’s nice, I like it.
Interviewer: 01:51 Okay so thinking back from when you first to this area to today, what changes have you seen, positive or negative?
Gretta Maxwell: 01:58 Oh there’s a lot of things changes. The neighborhood changed. I guess the kids got older, so the neighborhood changed. Everything changed, it’s like the buildings, we got a lot more abandoned buildings than we had when we first got here. It’s a lot more things that happen now. I think the kids were younger then so it wasn’t a lot of, it wasn’t as much killin and shootin as it is now. I think they’re doing more shooting now, they killing each other now more than they was when we first got here. So it’s been over ten years, there been a big change in ten years.
Interviewer: 02:31 Yeah, what do you think caused all these changes over the years?
Gretta Maxwell: 02:31 It’s more just the kids gang-bangin. I don’t know what it is but they just against each other. Oh that’s mine, good Lord. They just against each other. I guess that’s what it is, the drugs.
Interviewer: 02:57 Yeah, so I’m just gonna read off the paper. All right. So we’re gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and North Minneapolis, the community here, on the impact of historic, discriminatory government policies in areas of housing, transportation, economic development, and examples like that and the war on drugs and things like that. So the question is, what impact have these policies affected you or others in the community.
Gretta Maxwell: 03:39 It’s probably the drugs and the housing. The housing, I don’t think when, it ain’t up to standard for a lot of people and then the ones that is, they’re probably going to tear down anyways. There’s not enough housing, then they ain’t got enough schools, and then there’s a lot of drug selling. On the north side there’s a lot. It’s mostly, I think it’s the housing, they ain’t gotta look like, the housing, it’s not enough that they can afford. There should probably be more low-income housing for the people in the neighborhood or something.
Interviewer: 04:12 If you don’t mind me asking, have you personally had any experiences in the housing area?
Gretta Maxwell: 04:19 Where I’m in, I been there for a minute so I ain’t really had that problem but it have been when I couldn’t find, it have been a place where you can’t find no where to go. Ain’t no where to go and if there is somewhere to go you can’t afford it and the ones that probably could afford it, their credit score or something not high enough. I have struggled before I moved out of where I was, I struggled, had no where to go. I lost my job. Folk here is no work. Times get hard we just got to work through it.
Interviewer: 04:50 Mm-hmm (affirmative) Yeah. So what changes in this community raise your level of stress or concern you about the future in North Minneapolis.
Gretta Maxwell: 04:57 The guns in the neighborhood. I think it’s the guns. If they can do more, I don’t know how or what they can do, but if we get rid of a lot of the people with the guns, get the guns out the neighborhood, that’s probably sellin the drugs, get the drugs, well all the drugs, I know you can’t do that but I know it might be different. They got to stick together and get the neighborhood, more a place like this, community things to get together so people can stick together and do things. A lot of people gotta get involved, once they get involved and see what’s going on, it might be a change but a lot people ain’t really involved in a lot of stuff.
Interviewer: 05:31 Yeah, what part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in relieving the stress and fixing the things? The City of Minneapolis?
Gretta Maxwell: 05:44 What part of it?
Interviewer: 05:45 Yeah, what can they do to help the community here?
Gretta Maxwell: 05:50 Get more programs, get more activity for the kids, somewhere for them to go or something to do. You gotta have something for them kids to do. The YMCA and stuff is good but a lot of kids parents probably can’t afford it so they don’t send their kids there so their kids just be out runnin around. You gotta get something for the kids so they can go and play computer games and video games, they don’t have to be outside. You gotta find something the kids gonna get them involved in something. A lot of more free activity for the kids. Then open up places where people can drop off their kids is this kind of activity one for the kids without the drugs and all this and everything it might change, it might be a change, I don’t know.
Interviewer: 06:30 Yeah. What gives you hope about this community?
Gretta Maxwell: 06:31 What gives me hope? I’ve been here for a minute. I’ve been in this community so I’m used to it and I like it, I like the North side. I like being on the North side, but I don’t know, I guess the whole just being here, I don’t know what gives me hope for being on the North side. I just like being, I been here all the time. I’ve been here and then my kids, I’ve raised my kids and I don’t have no trouble with it but my kids I know we go through problems it’s a lot of things that do happen I know my kids have problems. It’s just something they just got to work through.
Interviewer: 07:07 I should finish up, do you have any last thoughts? Things you wanna add?
Gretta Maxwell: 07:13 Any last thoughts?
Interviewer: 07:13 Yeah
Gretta Maxwell: 07:15 No, we just need to, no I ain’t got no last thoughts. I just think they should come up with more things, just something to do. They need something on the North side for the kids, there ain’t nothing on the North side for them to do. You know? Ain’t no where for them to really go or hang out and play. No gangs. More parents gotta get involved. People gotta get involved in something, do something for them. Maybe that, I don’t know.
Interviewer: 07:43 Well thank you so much for your time, thank you for coming here. And that’s it for the interview.
Interview of Gloria Reese
Interviewer: 00:01 Can you say your first and last name again and then spell it.
Gloria R.: 00:05 Gloria Reese. G-L-O-R-I-A. My last name Reese, R-E-E-S-E.
Interviewer: 00:16 Do you live on the north side?
Gloria R.: 00:17 I don’t now, but I did. I just moved about five years ago.
Interviewer: 00:22 Okay. Where did you live when you were here?
Gloria R.: 00:25 I lived on Vincent Avenue North, about three blocks from the golf course, the Chalet.
Interviewer: 00:32 What made you move?
Gloria R.: 00:34 Divorce and my house went into foreclosure because of my ex-husband. But I loved the north side.
Interviewer: 00:46 Yeah. So thinking back from when you used to live here and now what positive or negative changes have you seen?
Gloria R.: 00:56 The positive changes are they are getting rid of a lot of the slumlord houses, and they’re building. And I would like to see more people of color. There’s one thing that a lot of people don’t know about north Minneapolis. They think it’s predominantly African-American. It’s always been predominantly white. It’s starting to look a lot nicer. What they’re doing with Plymouth Avenue. They’re still, you know, some things that could be improved. And Broadway is the big one I would like to see. Broadway and Lowry Avenue. Okay.
Interviewer: 01:49 How long did you live in north Minneapolis?
Gloria R.: 01:52 Oh, my goodness. I was born in 1948 and I lived in north Minneapolis until my first marriage and we went to Seattle and I lived there for a year and I came back and I lived. And then I raised my children in Brooklyn Park for 13 years and then I came back. So I’ve always come back.
Interviewer: 02:16 Yeah. So going back to the changes, what do you think caused the changes that we see?
Gloria R.: 02:28 Well, the first change was, I think it was ’66 or ’67, and the riots. Plymouth Avenue completely changed. All the Jewish people, which I grew up with, moved to St. Louis Park or Golden Valley. They left their stores and storefronts. That’s when it first started changing. And then they started building apartment buildings over north. And then, I can’t remember exactly. I think it was the 80’s where they started tearing down the projects and they built Heritage Park. That was a good thing.
Interviewer: 03:23 So we’re gathering these stories to increase understanding between the City of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of historic discriminatory government policies and practice and areas like housing, employment discrimination, the war on drugs, and others. So what impact have these policies, or others, had on the community and you personally?
Gloria R.: 03:48 In the community. I’m trying to think. I’m sorry.
Interviewer: 04:02 Oh, that’s alright.
Gloria R.: 04:02 I think the war on drugs was the reason why they tore down the projects because a lot of the people from out of the states would come here as welfare is much better here and women would come with their children and the children were, their young, their boys, were either not in school or halfway in school and they would come here. And you know when you were in maybe St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee and you weren’t going to school and you were on drugs, and then you could come here, and then they would start. So Minneapolis got, I should say yes, Minneapolis got pretty smart about that and told a lot of the woman and families if your children aren’t in school there and you bring them here, we can’t have that.
Interviewer: 05:03 Oh.
Gloria R.: 05:06 They did a lot. And, what was her name? Sharon Sayles Belton and Cherry Home. When Sharon Sayles Belton was the mayor she got on the slumlords so that they had to either fix their property or sell it. And that was one of the main things that was really good because people could come in here and, you know, drug lords they rent for cheap and have these drug houses and stuff like that. But that was the reason because the slumlords would let anybody live there. They didn’t check backgrounds, anything like that. But once that started happening things started getting better in the north side.
Gloria R.: 06:02 But, there’s still a lot of changes that had to happen. The schools. A lot of our African American families were sending, when open enrollment, they would send their kids to the outer suburbs to go to school because it was a better education. You know when the money leaves the city that hurts your schools. So once you start taking care of the schools in the inner city and the properties and tear down all the raggedy homes and start building, more money starts coming back. People, the Europeans, are coming back now. So, it’s like they leave, they come back. And they want to live … all of us like to live closer because they want to go to work downtown, they don’t want to ride forever. But that’s some of the changes I’ve seen since.
Gloria R.: 07:07 And I forgot. When Ellis was Alderman I worked with him in his first caucus and that was so much fun. But he didn’t win his first one, but he did call me and ask me should he keep running. And I told him, “Yes, keep running. Just because you lose one doesn’t mean you have to stop.” And he said, “Well, what could I do for the north side?” I said, “You could get us a supermarket.” So, that’s when … well Target was here and they left, you know on Broadway, and then he got the Cub there. So, that has helped a lot because all the supermarkets left. We had plenty. And then we were left with none so people had to… there was a new market, or SuperValue but they were so expensive. So, they built The Cub and it helped a lot. It didn’t solve everything, but it helped.
Interviewer: 08:16 How do you feel about the North Market?
Gloria R.: 08:20 I haven’t been there. I haven’t been there yet. So, yeah. And that’s right on Penn and Boom Valley. That one. Oh, no. That’s on 40-
Interviewer: 08:30 Camden Area-
Gloria R.: 08:31 Yes. That’s right there.
Interviewer: 08:31 -and Humboldt.
Gloria R.: 08:32 Yes. I haven’t been there yet.
Interviewer: 08:38 What changes have you seen in this community that raise your stress level or concern for the future?
Gloria R.: 08:47 It seems like they’re forcing all African Americans out and all the Europeans are coming in. And the housing, the prices on them, are so high that it’s unaffordable. Okay.
Interviewer: 09:02 And then what part does the City of Minneapolis seem to play in relieving that stress?
Gloria R.: 09:18 Helping them. Helping African Americans to be able to afford their homes. Helping them with down payments and stuff. And I think there are plans out there for that. Some banks have that. But they could help them.
Interviewer: 09:34 So what gives you hope for this community?
Gloria R.: 09:40 I’ve always had hope for north Minneapolis. I think the Light Rail would help. Not necessarily going up Broadway, but I know going up Wilson Highway it would help. Bring back more stores, storefronts. That would help a lot because if there’s more stores people will buy and the money is here so it stays in the community.
Interviewer: 10:21 Before you ask all the questions. So as a finish up, do you have any last thoughts?
Gloria R.: 10:34 My last thoughts are south Minneapolis has a lot of apartments that are affordable and condos. We don’t have that over north. And that is something that not everyone wants to purchase a home. But a nice town home, or condo would really be nice. And nice, beautiful apartments. That’s my take on it because if I come back and live here maybe I’ll buy a small home. But a nice town home would really be nice.
Interviewer: 11:18 Yeah. That’s great. Thank you.
Gloria R.: 11:21 Hm-mmm.
Interview of Floyd Smaller
Interviewer: 00:06 Could you spell your first and last name please?
Floyd: 00:08 F-L-O-Y-D S-M-A-L-L-E-R.
Interviewer: 00:14 All right. And reference to the map in front of you there, do you currently or have you ever lived in or near this part of north Minneapolis? And if so, how long?
Floyd: 00:22 Yes, I live at 1121 Vincent. Approximately, I’d say 49 years.
Interviewer: 00:29 Any other places have you lived? I think, I can’t talk today.
Floyd: 00:33 It’s okay, no I haven’t.
Interviewer: 00:35 Okay. Thinking back from when you first came to this area to today, what changes have you seen, positive and negative?
Floyd: 00:45 Negative it’s like, I mean all the blacks have, they’re moving a lot of black people out, and it’s like gentrification. They’re moving a lot of white people in, and it’s like they’re taking over the community, and some of them are nice, some of them are not. It’s different now. I don’t understand what’s really going on. But when I was coming up as a youngster on the north side, it was basically balanced. You had your whites and you had a lot of blacks, and you had black businesses that were flourishing. We don’t have that anymore, and we don’t have a store close to the Northside right here. You have to] go all the way to Cub Foods to get groceries, and for the people that live down this way it’s extra hard. But if you had – I think it would help out a lot – if we had a grocery store closer to the community. When we did have a grocery store it was black owned. But I helped get rid of it because the guy was selling drugs to little kids in the store.
Interviewer: 02:13 Wow. What was the name or location of it?
Floyd: 02:17 It was down here on – what street was that? Close to Russell down here. It was the Sweet Shop, that’s what i was called. Yeah it was a long time ago, you guys probably never heard of it.
Interviewer: 02:31 I’m doing some historical research on north Minneapolis so it’s good to know those things.
Floyd: 02:35 Yeah it was called the Sweet Shop and this guy, this black dude who was in there, I think his name was Jesse. Me and this other guy got rid of him. We got the police involved. I didn’t like what was going on because young kids shouldn’t be exposed to that. Messes up your mind, you can’t think straight. You get confused and a lot of things happen to you. I think the north community has a lot of good things too. People work together and show love towards one another and there’s a lot of good things happening here. I think if we all just took together and made things work out right, we could all make things work.
Interviewer: 03:29 Definitely. So I hear you saying there was some positive and some negative changes. Could you identify what caused some of those changes?
Floyd: 03:40 Well, let’s see. I say people moved from Chicago or in Indiana to get on this easy welfare up here, not really wanting to work, not really wanting to produce. It brings the community down. When you really don’t produce things and do things for yourself and try to do anything, you don’t get any good results. Part of that is hard work. When you do hard work, you get results. I learned that as a young kid and I know how to work, and knowing how to work is a good thing because you can always produce for yourself. Do something, live for others too, like this old lady I help her all the time. She lives by herself. She can’t really move things. Can’t really do things. So I help her out a lot. But I know there’s a lot of people that don’t care about the elderly here on the north side. They don’t try to help them. They play their bang bang music, I don’t like that. Ride down streets smoking dope, smoking weed. That’s bad for a community.
Floyd: 04:59 I mean if you want a nice community, you want educated people in your community. People that are doing things. People that are trying to help one another. Educated people – doctors, lawyers, businessmen. You don’t want dopeheads running around messing with your children and messing with the community. [crosstalk 00:05:24] I think another negative aspect is that thing that where the buses run, that they’re like little blocks of something, with poles standing up. I don’t know if you guys noticed them when you’re driving in your car. Where the buses run now, you guys know what I’m talking about? That’s a hazard because that can cause accidents for bikers. If you got a biker on the side of the road driving, the bus comes, don’t see them – bam! He’s gone.
Interviewer: 06:06 You’re talking about that little indent that goes from this. They did so much construction right there on Oak Park.
Floyd: 06:13 I don’t understand that.
Interviewer: 06:14 They just literally just extended the sidewalk, and then continued it.
Floyd: 06:18 Yeah. Why would they do that though? Do you guys know?
Interviewer: 06:20 No. I don’t understand. I never understood why they did it. That’s the type of question I should be asking because they took so long just to do that.
Floyd: 06:30 That is so retarded dude. I don’t get that. Northside has changed for some better though, because it used to be a lot of gang violence here. I don’t know if y’all know that or not. That has slowed down a lot. The north side got some good parks, good recreation, good community centers. North High School, that’s a good high school. I went to Saint Paul Central, I ain’t go to North. I live over north, and I have to function over north, and I like it over north, so I’m not going to move from over north. I like the people over north. But I don’t like some of the things some of the guys do. But ain’t nothing I can do about that. I’m not God. I have to deal with it just like everybody else. I ain’t nothing special out here. I love my people though. I ain’t gonna lie about that. I love my black people. That’s just the way I feel.
Interviewer: 07:39 So we’re gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of historic discriminatory government policies.
Floyd: 07:56 Yeah, discriminatory is right because another thing I want to bring up. There was a McDonald’s here years ago, up on Pin and Plymouth. I worked up there and I was discriminated against. I was fired because the white manager told me to do something, but it was like, “G outside and pick up the garbage.” And I looked at that like, “Wait a minute.” It’s like he had an attitude about saying it. And I was young and in my teens, so I took an attitude I’m saying, “Wait a minute. Go outside and pick up the garbage? Stay out there until it’s all picked up?” I took like it’s not my dad. I’m here to do burgers and fries, dude.
Interviewer: 08:49 Right, and not to pick up garbage.
Floyd: 08:51 I’m not out here to pick up garbage and throw it in the garbage all day long. So he got rid of me. That’s how life is. So I got fired and I lost that job. It was a good job at first, until the black manager left and then the white manager came. I was like, “I’m done with this. I’m done.” Then I went looking for another job. Then I worked at Mars and Building Maintenance Company.
Interviewer: 09:19 I worked there before.
Floyd: 09:22 I messed my hands up, so I was gonna sue them, because the chemicals got on my hands. I got a big rash. I’ve been through some changes y’all.
Interviewer: 09:34 I see you talking about employment. Some of the examples I was going to give like transportation and housing.
Floyd: 09:40 Yeah, transportation – I take the bus everywhere because I don’t have a car. But I manage, and I do yard work now to relax me because I’m old. 53, I mean I ain’t no teenager no more. I try to make it best I can. My mother is sick right now. She could go at any time.
Interviewer: 10:05 I’m sorry to hear that.
Floyd: 10:16 Oh boy. I don’t know. Life is funny. Real funny.
Interviewer: 10:24 Appreciate the time we do got.
Floyd: 10:24 I appreciate your time you gave me. It turned out to be a good thing. I got to release all my tension. I am a little pissed off. These white folks moving up here, taking over shit.
Interviewer: 10:37 That’s part of my next question I was going to ask you. What’s going on in the community that raises your level of stress?
Floyd: 10:49 Well, the white folks moving up here. They act like they run everything. It’s like they don’t have to speak to you. They can belittle you. I don’t like that. I have the Audi you don’t, so I’m better than you are.
Interviewer: 11:04 Absolutely.
Floyd: 11:06 I have the Mercedes you don’t, I’m better than you are. I moved into your neighborhood, I’ll take it over. I’ve been living here for 40 years. I might not have the Audi, I might not have the Mercedes, but I got a house. I got a place to live. I got a roof over my head. I eat everyday. Ain’t like them begging in the streets. So I feel I’m just as good as you.
Interviewer: 11:29 That’s true.
Interviewer: 11:29 Absolutely are.
Floyd: 11:31 God gave us both the same insides, so how are you so much better? What makes you so much better? My ancestors suffered for 400 something years. They made this country for you to live in. But you push us to the side. What’s up with that?
Interviewer: 11:59 What gives you hope for the future of this community?
Floyd: 12:02 Black people get together and stick together. We can rule this mother.
Interviewer: 12:07 That’s what I’ve been thinking everyday.
Interviewer: 12:17 How to build the community and how to make everybody continue to be on the same page.
Floyd: 12:18 I see we on the same page.
Interviewer: 12:19 Absolutely.
Floyd: 12:22 I’ve told you before, I love my black people. I don’t never turn on black people. I’ll be downtown, and somebody will say, “Dude, can I get change?” If I got it, then you got it. Now if you’re white, I figure you already got money. You don’t need to ask me for money.
Interviewer: 12:37 If you ain’t got money, you got privilege. You got something.
Floyd: 12:40 Privilege, man. You came from rich. What do you need me for? You know what I’m saying?
Interviewer: 12:48 Can I get a dollar?
Floyd: 12:49 Kick me out some 20’s, man! Shoot. I don’t turn on my black people. A girl yesterday went out to my mom’s house. She’s in foster care, and her parents kicked her out of the house. She ran to our house, so we took her in for a minute. Then my mom talked to the foster kid. The parents, they came back and got her. She was crying and scared, and when you in the foster program, you don’t see your real parents. You don’t know what it’s like to really have real parents. I think that’s unfair too. I think it’s unfair that a lot of black men don’t get to see who their fathers are. Their mothers. Or if they come from a single parent home. I think they deserve the same rights as a person with a two parent home. I think they deserve that right. I don’t think black kids should be cheated. I don’t think none of that should be happening. I don’t like that kind of stuff.
Interviewer: 13:54 These next couple of questions are just –
Floyd: 13:59 You can shoot as many as you want.
Interviewer: 13:59 Absolutely. They’re just meant for quick and short answers. So first question I’m going to ask is when you think about this area today, what impact do you still see from these historic government policies that we talked about?
Floyd: 14:14 What impacts? You mean positive?
Interviewer: 14:15 Positive, negative, just the ones you were talking about like the war on drugs –
Floyd: 14:20 Well the negative is they got rid of the black barbers shop on Plymouth. The reason they did that is so they could get a white person to buy the place so they can take it over and make more white businesses. That’s negative. Now, far as positive, we got a barber shop on Broadway that’s black. Black owned, black everything. That’s where I get my haircut at. I ain’t letting a white boy cut my hair, I’ll be looking like alfalfa probably. Shit, the part down the middle. I ain’t pulling that. I do need a haircut and I’m getting one this week. But now as far as positive things is going, we got a nice downtown. Broadway is flourishing with more stores for blacks. People like y’all. Nice people you can open up to. I feel like I can open up to y’all, I feel good about it.
Interviewer: 15:24 That’s good.
Interviewer: 15:24 We appreciate that.
Interviewer: 15:24 Appreciate that.
Floyd: 15:29 I could sit here with y’all all week. I ain’t lying.
Interviewer: 15:36 Next question for you. How would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and the community over the last couple of years.
Floyd: 15:44 That’s hard to say. The relationship between the community and Minneapolis. I’d say crime has went down. Crime has went down. I don’t know what else to say about that one.
Interviewer: 16:06 That’s fine.
Interviewer: 16:06 We can go and stop it right there.
Interviewer: 16:11 No, I’ve got one last question.
Floyd: 16:12 You can shoot me with three more if you want.
Interviewer: 16:15 I hear you talking about you’re for the people a lot and want to do positive things for black people. So what part do you feel you can play in creating a more hopeful future for our community?
Floyd: 16:26 Create more activities for black kids to get into, and help them to get along with one another better and not hate on one another. That they call hate unity more, because that’s what’s messing us up. Some kid will have a nice pair of tennis shoes on, and you’d look at him and roll your eyes at him. Mean mugging, they call it. Because he’s got something better than you got on. All you gotta do is get a job and go get the same thing. You ain’t gotta go do that. We’ve got a lot of that going on in the community. Lot of mean mugging. That could lead to fights, and then later on, a murder. Occasionally it happens. That’s why when I’m out I don’t roll my eyes, mean mug, or cutting my eyes at people because you don’t know what could happen.
Floyd: 17:25 It feels good to be on the safe side when you’re trying to live longer, because a lot of guys get in these hip hop cars and hip hop things, and they want to handle it. It goes to their head, and I don’t know man. I got a cousin that got shot in Saint Paul. Getting in that hip hop life, it couldn’t handle it. Shot right over by White Castle. I miss him dearly. But he was killed because he was out there. When you’re out in that life, a lot of things happen to you. A lot of guys on the north side are in that life, that drug life. That’s not a good life. But you got a lot of positive black women here. A lot of positive black men here. So I can’t knock the north side at all on that. A lot of black men are taking care of their kids. A lot of black men are working. A lot of black men are doing a lot of good things. There’s a lot of good things happening here, y’all.
Floyd: 18:40 There’s a lot of bad things happening, undercover things. Abuse from kids. A lot of things go on. That’s unheard about, and that’s not good either. But I have a daughter now. I’m a grandfather.
Interviewer: 18:57 That’s a beautiful thing.
Floyd: 19:00 I’ve lived a long life. Some of my high school friends are dead that I went to high school with. I’m still here. I thank God every day for waking m up. Bless you, Lord. He don’t have to wake me up. He can put me to sleep any time. Put you to sleep any time. We all could take a nap tomorrow. But he brought you in and he said, “I want you to interview somebody. You can interview them.” Thank God you’re here. Thank the Lord that you are here.
Interviewer: 19:31 We definitely appreciated and your story.
Floyd: 19:40 I appreciate you too.
Interviewer: 19:41 Unfortunately that is the last question we have for you.
Floyd: 19:46 Well, ask me one more. How do I feel today?
Interviewer: 19:49 How do you feel today?
Floyd: 19:51 I feel great. How do you feel?
Interviewer: 19:51 I feel wonderful.
Floyd: 19:53 I feel wonderful too now.
Interviewer: 19:53 I appreciated that.
Interview of Donald Johnson
Interviewer: 00:01 Okay, we’re going to start off with you having, give me your first and last name spelling, please.
Donald Johnson: 00:11 Donald Johnson. D-O-N-A-L-D J-O-H-N-S-O-N.
Interviewer: 00:16 Nice to meet you Donald. Do you or have you lived in this area in the last 10 years?
Donald Johnson: 00:22 2006.
Interviewer: 00:25 2006? Okay, thinking back from when you first came to this area to today, have you seen any changes?
Donald Johnson: 00:33 Worse.
Interviewer: 00:34 Worse?
Donald Johnson: 00:34 Yeah.
Interviewer: 00:36 What makes it worse?
Donald Johnson: 00:38 The drug activity and stuff like that.
Interviewer: 00:45 Okay. What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen over the years?
Donald Johnson: 00:47 Construction.
Interviewer: 00:47 Construction?
Donald Johnson: 00:47 Yeah.
Interviewer: 00:47 Okay.
Donald Johnson: 00:47 They do a lot of construction over here.
Interviewer: 00:56 What makes you feel that way?
Donald Johnson: 00:57 Cause I can see it.
Interviewer: 00:58 You can see it?
Donald Johnson: 00:59 Yeah.
Interviewer: 01:00 Okay. So, we are gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of historic discrimination government. I’m sorry, the discriminative government policies and practices in areas like housing, trepidation, economic development, and more examples including housing and employment discrimination in the early 20th century. What impact have these policies or others had on the community in general? So to break it down, if you’ll have a clear understanding.
Donald Johnson: 01:35 Yeah, break it down one more time.
Interviewer: 01:38 So basically, what changes have you seen in the last 10 to 20 years about housing, transportation and employment?
Donald Johnson: 01:49 Well, housing-
Interviewer: 01:50 Anything that’s been like discriminatory in housing that you’ve seen.
Donald Johnson: 01:56 Yeah, I see that all the time-
Interviewer: 01:57 Or in jobs.
Donald Johnson: 01:59 Oh, well jobs, I don’t think it’s that bad in the jobs, but a lot of people say there’s not no job because they don’t go look for one. What I did, I didn’t have no job, I joined the military. That was a job enough for me, you know. So, other than that, as far as the jobs, there’s jobs, there’s a lot of jobs. You just gotta get out there and get it. You know, that’s what I can see.
Interviewer: 02:31 Do you have any feedback on the housing part?
Donald Johnson: 02:33 You can get a house. I done and had two houses since I’ve been here since 2006, you know.
Interviewer: 02:40 Okay, okay.
Donald Johnson: 02:41 A lot of people just don’t wanna, “Well I can’t get no house, I rather choose to go stay at the Salvation Army” and stuff like that. You know, but I didn’t want to do that. You know what I’m saying. But like I said, the military helped me out a lot.
Interviewer: 02:55 That’s good.
Donald Johnson: 02:56 Yeah.
Interviewer: 02:58 What impact have they had on you or your family personally?
Donald Johnson: 03:04 See my nephew, he got four or five buildings, so I would stay in one of his houses, you know and stuff like that. Housing wasn’t really a problem for me. You know, cause the military helps me out still, you know. So housing for me wasn’t a problem. But, like I said, people just want to choose to stay at Salvation Army, or live under the bridge.
Interviewer: 03:26 They ain’t trying to go get it, they just trying to…
Donald Johnson: 03:26 Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It get cold out there, partner.
Interviewer: 03:36 Okay, so what changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of stress or concern about the future?
Donald Johnson: 03:42 My level? Stress, jobs, housing, that stress people out, you know. Robbery, drugs, you know, all that kind of stuff.
Interviewer: 04:05 So how did that effect you personally? How does it like, bother you?
Donald Johnson: 04:13 Cause I see it happening everyday, and I feel sorry for them, but I can’t do that all the time because you gotta help yourself. You know what I’m saying. And so, I can just say look at this, look at that over there, you know, okay, he about to go stay up under the bridge, go to the Salvation Army, or go out there and work for McDonald’s. You know, put a couple dollars away and got your family to help you out, you know, it’s stressing me out thinking. I hate to see people do that. You know, but if live, it’s up to you in, join the military. Go to jail. You know, I see a lot of guys do that.
Interviewer: 04:50 Go to jail?
Donald Johnson: 04:51 Go to jail through the winter.
Interviewer: 04:52 Live there for free.
Donald Johnson: 04:53 Some states, you gotta pay to go to jail. Yeah. Like Colorado and stuff, if they put you in jail for like three or four months, and if you getting a check, you don’t get that check while you in jail. The government get that check.
Interviewer: 05:07 And they pay … Oh my God.
Donald Johnson: 05:10 You pay to live there.
Interviewer: 05:10 Right basically.
Donald Johnson: 05:13 Right, yeah. You know
Interviewer: 05:14 Okay what part of the city of Minneapolis needs to play into relieve that stress?
Donald Johnson: 05:19 South side and north side and the south side.
Interviewer: 05:23 So like, what should they do specifically to help you relieve that stress?
Donald Johnson: 05:28 Well, get me a job.
Interviewer: 05:30 Exactly.
Donald Johnson: 05:30 Get me a job.
Interviewer: 05:33 Okay. What give you hope for the future of this community.
Donald Johnson: 05:46 Well, give me some hope, well, I can’t answer that one right now.
Interviewer: 05:50 Okay. We can just come back to it.
Donald Johnson: 05:51 Yeah, come back to it.
Interviewer: 05:51 When you think about this area today, what impact do you still see from these historic government policies?
Donald Johnson: 06:00 The government take a lot of money and put it, I’d say schools. They need to improve these schools. And they got enough construction going on. They cutting out a lot of bus stops. And that’s not going to help them, cause if you gotta get off right here to go to work, you gotta go way down here to get off and come back. Or get off here and walk way down there. You know, but really just the schools and the churches and stuff.
Interviewer: 06:32 Okay. How do describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and the community over the years? Specifically talking the north side.
Donald Johnson: 06:40 The north side is, it’s improving, but like I said man, they need to put some jobs over here. You know, that’s the only thing I can see. If you give a person a job and keep them off the street, they’ll stay off of drugs and breaking in your house. You know.
Interviewer: 06:59 I agree with you.
Donald Johnson: 06:59 Okay. All right. Yeah.
Interviewer: 07:05 What are your expectations of the city of Minneapolis relative to this community?
Donald Johnson: 07:08 What is it?
Interviewer: 07:10 Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Donald Johnson: 07:11 I just like to move around. You know.
Interviewer: 07:14 So, what do you expect from the city of Minneapolis?
Donald Johnson: 07:17 To give me a job. Let me be a firefighter and all of that, you know.
Interviewer: 07:26 So, to what extent do you trust the city of Minneapolis to deliver those expectations?
Donald Johnson: 07:32 None.
Interviewer: 07:33 Okay.
Donald Johnson: 07:33 Nope. Nope. Not right now.
Interviewer: 07:35 Not at all?
Donald Johnson: 07:36 Not right now.
Interviewer: 07:38 What makes you not trust them?
Donald Johnson: 07:40 Huh?
Interviewer: 07:40 What makes you not trust them?
Donald Johnson: 07:40 Do I got a job? No, I just, well the city, they’d rather put five or six police on the street and then get one person a job to work watching the police car. You know what I’m saying. I don’t trust that, you know.
Interviewer: 08:01 Okay, what part do you feel you can play in creating that more hopeful future?
Donald Johnson: 08:07 I’m going back to the same thing, get me a job. Let me work, let me work. And get with some people up on the ladder and then I can help them, you know.
Interviewer: 08:20 So, if you was already up there at the top of the ladder what specifically would you do?
Donald Johnson: 08:23 What would I do?
Interviewer: 08:25 Yeah, if you had a job, if you was at the top of the ladder.
Donald Johnson: 08:25 You know what I’d do?
Interviewer: 08:25 What would you do?
Donald Johnson: 08:29 I’d build an orchard. And y’all wanna pick some apples, tomatoes, that’d give you something to do.
Interviewer: 08:33 Right.
Donald Johnson: 08:37 Instead of standing on the corner. People can’t even ride the bus stop cause you got five or eight people in the bus stop, you gotta stand in the rain, you waiting on the bus to go to work. They just want to sit in the bus stop and drink.
Donald Johnson: 08:49 You know what I’m saying? That’s what I would do.
Interviewer: 08:51 Okay, well back to the other question.
Donald Johnson: 08:53 Okay, bring it on.
Interviewer: 08:55 What gives you hope for the future of this community?
Donald Johnson: 09:00 What give me hope? Can I tell you what I hope for then?
Interviewer: 09:03 Yeah.
Donald Johnson: 09:04 like I said, I would hope for the kids to be more protected on the buses. You know, and you got the dogs running around not chained up. I went walking down here today, this lady let her dog go, I went to the store, I came back, there’s a big old turd about that big [inaudible 00:09:24]. I would have her to clean that up. You know what I’m saying. But hope, [inaudible 00:09:30] what would I hope for? I would hope that kids can just be kids in the park and all that, without all this gang banging and all of that stuff.
Interviewer: 09:40 Yeah, grow up a little bit too fast.
Donald Johnson: 09:40 Keep them in the house then. But you can’t. How you gonna keep kids in the house in the summertime? They gonna run out that backdoor.
Interviewer: 09:49 Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Donald Johnson: 09:49 You know. I know that.
Interviewer: 09:49 Yeah, me too.
Donald Johnson: 09:56 But the north side is, the north side I think is a lot better than the south side. You know, cause I done lived over there too and you know, yeah.
Interviewer: 10:09 What part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in creating
that more hopeful future?
Donald Johnson: 10:15 What part of Minneapolis?
Interviewer: 10:17 No, what part of the city of Minneapolis, like the city of Minneapolis, what could they do to make our community better?
Donald Johnson: 10:28 Back to the same thing man, get a job and more activities, a job is activity, but just give them something, you know, to help old ladies cross the street, you know, go to Cub Food, and that old lady, help that lady to her car.
Interviewer: 10:46 Put her groceries in the trunk.
Donald Johnson: 10:49 Exactly. You know what I’m saying man? I used to do that kind of stuff.
Interviewer: 10:51 I do every blue moon.
Donald Johnson: 10:54 Okay, yeah.
Interviewer: 10:57 I don’t do it too often.
Donald Johnson: 10:59 But you know, I would go to Cub Food, we didn’t have Cub Food in Chicago, we had Jewel. I go to Jewel, sit around for them ladies to come, or “do you need some help ma’am?” You know, and stuff like that. It makes you feel good. And the lady might say, “Well, here go $2 dollars, $3 dollars.”. “No, you keep your money.” You know, something like that, you know. Go cut some grass for them. Shovel snow for them, stuff like that. All that man. You know, it helped me a lot. Where’d you end up? I still went to the military.
Interviewer: 11:34 Maybe that was your time, it was good for you.
Donald Johnson: 11:36 That was something I wanted to do all my life though, go to the military, play G.I. Joe.
Interviewer: 11:41 Well, that’s my last question that I have for you.
Donald Johnson: 11:43 Okay.
Interviewer: 11:44 Thank you for coming and…
Donald Johnson: 11:43 All right, man. Have a good one.
Interviewer: 11:45 Enjoy the rest of your…
Donald Johnson: 11:44 Okay.
Interviewer: 11:45 Thank you for your time.
Donald Johnson: 11:50 Okay. All right, y’all got my picture?
Interviewer: 11:51 Yeah I got your picture.
Interview of Deseria Galloway
Interviewer: 00:28 Before you start, my name is… What’s your name?
Speaker 2: 00:37 Deseria Galloway.
Interviewer: 00:38 Nice to meet you.
Deseria : 00:39 Nice to meet you.
Deseria : 00:42 Okay, Deseria Galloway.
Interviewer: 00:45 Okay, so [inaudible 00:00:46].
Speaker 3: 00:45 Well thank you for coming in. We just want to go over some of the questions just about your experiences in North Minneapolis.
Deseria : 00:58 Okay.
Interviewer: 01:01 Okay, so can I have you say your first and last name with the spelling, please?
Deseria : 01:07 Deseria Galloway. D-E-S-E-R-I-A, Galloway, G-A-L-L-O-W-A-Y.
Interviewer: 01:15 Okay, so referring to the map right there, do you currently live or have you lived near this part of Minneapolis?
Deseria : 01:24 I lived in North Minneapolis for approximately 12 years.
Interviewer: 01:27 About 12 years?
Deseria : 01:28 Yes.
Interviewer: 01:30 Okay. So part two, thinking back from when you first came to this area til today, what changes have you seen, positive or negative changes?
Deseria : 01:40 I would have to say they’re negative.
Interviewer: 01:42 Negative?
Deseria : 01:43 Yeah.
Speaker 3: 01:45 What type of changes?
Interviewer: 01:46 Yeah, I was just going to say that.
Deseria : 01:54 Respect, level of respect for the elderly or the older persons in the community. The youth are disenchanted and feeling like they have nothing to lose so they live their life like that. So they don’t respect themselves and they don’t respect others. And will say, not just youth, I think that our adults and our elderly …Our older persons, not necessarily our elderly, but the older persons in the community have contributed to that because whether they’re just working two or three jobs to keep ends meeting, keeping food on the table, whether that is just going out to the bars on the weekend getting a break from their kids. All those factors contributed to the deterioration of North Minneapolis.
Interviewer: 02:44 Okay. What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in the area?
Deseria : 02:49 Well, as I just said some of them.
Interviewer: 02:50 Yeah, you did.
Deseria : 02:55 And I guess part of it is the deterioration of the family. You’ve got young mothers having young kids and then that continue to spiral out of control. And so I will say that I do believe that service providers in the area don’t always provide services equitably to everyone, especially children of color or youth of color, whether they don’t … Whether they’re fearful, whether they don’t care about them I don’t know, but i have seen agencies get the money but they don’t do the work.
Interviewer: 03:39 Right. You don’t know why you feel this way?
Deseria : 03:44 Because I’ve seen it happen.
Interviewer: 03:46 Okay.
Speaker 3: 03:46 And what type of agencies?
Deseria : 03:50 Human services agencies and that includes the medical professionals in this area as well. Our mothers, our young moms are afraid to go and get prenatal care, fearful that they’ll end up in child protection. I understand the importance of child protection. I used to do it for 24 years as an investigator, but I think we need to figure out a way to engage with our young people in a different way, in a creative and innovative way so they’re not afraid to come forward and get the help that they need.
Interviewer: 04:28 Okay. So I’m going to this?
Speaker 3: 04:28 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Interviewer: 04:35 All right. We are gathering these stories to increase understanding between the City of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of historic discriminatory government policies and practices in the areas like housing, transportation, and economic development and more. Examples including housing and 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? What impact have they had with you?
Deseria : 05:25 Well, wow. The War on Drugs I think was manipulated and abused, and they targeted our youth and our families. A lot of the mass incarceration has contributed to the War on Drugs. And so, with that in mine, I understand the need to manage illicit drugs in the community but the way it was done … There could’ve been another way to have done that. We have hundreds and hundreds of young men who now have felonies. They cannot get a job. They cannot get houses. It starts with that … The War on Drugs … a lot of them got those felonies and now they’re stuck. And if they don’t have a second chance program, such as Wellspring or other agencies then it makes it difficult for them to be able to move forward, propel forward, to live their life even after they’ve changed, even after they’ve gotten their second chance scraping and scrambling and getting the churches in the community to come forward to help them.
Deseria : 06:41 Housing, discrimination as far as employment, they all go hand in hand. Housing is just one major factor. Why is it that North Minneapolis has an outrageous number of sex offenders in the area? Can somebody tell me why they drown this area with that? How can an area like North Minneapolis thrive and be successful when you overly populate that community with those kind of people? You know what I mean? I know they have a need to place to go, but it should be equitable across board All communities should get a piece of that, not just North Minneapolis. It’s an excessive amount of people in this area with those charges.
Deseria : 07:31 The war on drugs I think … the issues with drugs, because I’ve served the community of North Minneapolis … People say I do the drugs … Some do the drugs so they can just go home and not have to contend with tomorrow or the [inaudible 00:07:50] next to them. People do it to escape. People do drugs to feed their kids because they can’t get another job because they have a felony. So it’s a cycle that continues to go through the washer and it doesn’t get clean. You just have to keep washing it and washing it and it never comes clean. The stains remain and they’re not given a second chance. Even though we say we give them a second chance, the felonies does not allow them to get a second chance.
Deseria : 08:22 So our housing discrimination is allowed to continue because that is a discriminatory practice. Just because they have a felony does not allow them to … They’re not dogs. They’re not animals. They deserve a place to lay their head. If a person does not have a place to lay their head, how do you expect them to get up and go to a job? To go get a job? That’s a basic staple in a person’s life, to be able to lay your head down safely in a clean apartment so you can get up in the morning and go look for a job, but if you don’t have that staple as housing, that’s a problem.
Deseria : 09:01 Transportation, that’s a joke. I can speak to that all day. The transportation for North Minneapolis … I think they’re targeted. The police wait for them to get off the buses and they watch where they go and that’s a done deal. So transportation, which a lot of our people of color in North Minneapolis has depended on is a problem. I don’t put my kids on public transportation. I wouldn’t put my kids on that public transportation due to the behaviors that go on on the bus. So I know that the police is necessary on what part of it but on the other end I think there’s some issues there, too.
Deseria : 09:43 People have a tendency to do like the Romans do. So, if one person’s acting like that, they’re all going to act like that. So, that’s kind of my spill on the … The War on Drugs I think was a catapult to some of the other problems that we’re seeing though.
Interviewer: 10:01 Okay. What changes have you seen in this community that raise a level of stress or concern about it’s future?
Speaker 3: 10:06 And what part does the-
Interviewer: 10:09 Yeah, what part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in relieving that stress?
Deseria : 10:13 What part does the City of Minneapolis need to play? Give our young men and women jobs, livable wages, not minimum wage, livable wages. And give everybody … Everyone deserves a second chance. A person’s mistakes should not define them. Jobs, that’s a huge piece. I know there’s some brothers out here that would take a job if they were offered a job, okay? So, that’s number one. Employment is one. The other one is housing. If you’re going to give them a fresh start, give them a real fresh start. You know what I mean? We can do a pilot even of housing for ex-offenders. If you’ve got a felony we’ll rent to you but it’s kind of like on a pilot. If you can demonstrate that you’re working and you’re trying to do better then let them get the apartment just like normal Joe could get an apartment, okay?
Deseria : 11:16 So I think those are the kind of things that we need to readdress. Housing for everyone, equal opportunity. You know what I mean? Equal opportunity employer, give them a job. You know what I mean? The homeless, we should be … They wouldn’t be homeless if we gave them a job. They stand on the corner for sometimes eight hours collecting money. Give them a job. Walk up to that young man or woman and say, “Do you need a job?” That’s what the City of Minneapolis … If you’re going to put some money into something let’s direct it to those disenfranchised individuals like the homeless, like the people with felonies, like single moms who can’t get a job because they don’t have no day care. Day care’s just … That’s a huge … That’s why we leave our babies with people that shouldn’t have our kids, crack addicts. That’s why we leave our kids with people that don’t need to care for our kids for day care.
Deseria : 12:11 These are things … If you want to invest, make it affordable for everybody who wants to work to have their kids in day care, not just some people, those that can afford it. Everybody should have a right to put their kids in day care. So that’s just … The City of Minneapolis, if you want to do something and contribute to the recovery and help this community thrive again, you’re going to need to be creative and innovative and willing to give everybody a fresh start no matter what their background is.
Interviewer: 12:44 Okay, you basically said it, but what gives you hope for the future of this community and what part does the City of Minneapolis need to play in creating a more hopeful future?
Speaker 3: 12:56 It sounds like we got the City of Minneapolis part.
Deseria : 13:00 Well, and stop putting us … Why don’t we do stories on people who are doing well in the community? It is so discouraging to see the news and watch the news, and when a crime is committed we shiver in our boots saying, “I hope they’re not black.” We shouldn’t have to say that. That is so sad. And so, giving hope to the community would come with honesty and transparency. We’re here to help, not to judge. I think the City of Minneapolis needs to work a little bit more closely with community organizations, non-profits. Not just give funding to the designated few that provide the services now. It needs to be more equitable, minority lead, women lead, male lead that are of minority descent. Give it to those who are doing the work and who’s out here hitting the trenches doing the real work instead of giving it to the agencies who keep getting money on top of money and they do less and less work.
Interviewer: 14:21 When you think about this area today, what impacts do you still see from historic government policies?
Deseria : 14:32 Historic government policies. Well, we talked about it. There’s rules on the books that prohibit people to get jobs and that’s the felonies. We got Ban the Box. I congratulate us in our success as the State of Minnesota. We got that Ban the Box, but there is other ways that people are figuring out how to eliminate that person with a felony. And actually, to be honest with you, the talent pool of people who have felonies is huge. What am I saying? Those that made a mistake when they were teenagers or near teenagers, 18 years old and they got that felony that’s now on their record as an adult, that’s a talent pool that we’re missing. You know what I mean?
Deseria : 15:26 We got artists, we got engineers, we got people with creative minds that could be doing some great things in the City of Minneapolis if given a chance. That is a talent pool that we need to tap into. We’re missing the boat when we eliminate them. So we need to tap in and maybe come up with some kind of program. If you have a felony, we got jobs for you. You know what I mean? And there not just … I’m not talking about McDonald’s and Burger King. I’m not talking about those kinds of jobs. I’m talking about livable wages jobs. If they have a felony, some of them can’t even go to school, get a higher education because of their felonies. That’s the kind of stuff that we need to be working on, changing rules and regulations that are prohibiting them to live their life like a normal human being.
Interviewer: 16:22 How would you describe the relationship between the City of Minneapolis and this community over here over the years?
Deseria : 16:28 I don’t think people trust the City of Minneapolis. Look at some of the people that have been killed in the North Minneapolis area. And so I don’t think that it’s communicated effectively and with transparency and authenticity that they care about this community. We are a rich community. Pull the covers back and you’ll find them. You know what I mean? So I think that the relationship right now is strained. I think that we need to do a better job of hitting the streets, talking to the community agencies that are doing the work and asking them, how can we help? How can we better collaborate to make a greater impact within the city of North Minneapolis? You sitting down at City Hall, you don’t have a pulse of North Minneapolis. You need to be talking to the persons who have the pulse of North Minneapolis, those that are providers in this area, community agencies that are providers. The faith-based community is huge. These are starting points. Listen to what we have to say so you can get a better understanding so we don’t keep going in this spinning wheel and not getting anything done. So, it’s strained. I would just have to say it’s strained.
Interviewer: 18:00 Yeah, I feel you. What are your expectations of the City of Minneapolis related to this community? To what extent do you trust the City of Minneapolis to deliver on those expectations?
Speaker 3: 18:11 You kind of touched on that.
Deseria : 18:14 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Deseria : 18:20 I don’t think North Minneapolis believes that they care. If they cared they would do something about it.
Interviewer: 18:28 Yeah. So last question. What part do you feel you can play in creating a more hopeful future?
Deseria : 18:40 I’m a philosopher of second chances as you’ve probably already picked up. I truly do believe that everybody deserves a second chance. This community unfortunately is overwhelmed with people with felonies, overwhelmed with people with issues whether it be addiction, whether it be homelessness. This is the community that’s getting hit at a higher rate than any other community, and until we address that … And I think that community agencies such as ours, we will continue to work very hard and diligently trying to extend hope and let them know that we are here. You know what I mean? But in order to continue the work we have to get the monies to continue the work. The churches have to continue in collaboration with the City of Minneapolis. The community agencies need to be in collaboration with the City of Minneapolis. I’m hopeful because I happen to be a community agency. I’m hopeful because I know my … I legitimately love the City of North Minneapolis. I attend Shiloh Temple International Ministries. I love my church and I watch us put the energy into the community. Sometimes it’s come back because we don’t have the funding to continue. We can start something, to launch something, but if you don’t have continual funding that makes it difficult.
Deseria : 20:10 So the community agencies such as Shiloh Temple, that’s a faith-based organization but there are many other organizations such as Wellspring Second Chance and Antioch Ministries that does the work but we can’t do it all by ourselves. It’s going to take a collaborative effort and funding, monies, time, energy to do that, to bring that to pass. I’m hopeful that if they’re doing this that the City of Minneapolis will listen and hear our cry in the plight of North Minneapolis.
Speaker 3: 20:47 Well thank you for sharing with us today.
Interviewer: 20:48 Thank you for sharing.
Speaker 3: 20:49 I really appreciate it.
Deseria : 20:51 Thank you. All right.
Interview of Beverly Propes
Interviewer: 00:37 Yeah so I’m going to go ahead and get started, so, I’m an adult facilitator on this project, she’s the youth facilitator, and this is project that we’re doing. We’re ReCAST Minneapolis, and it’s called Nort side oral history, and it’s focused on gathering information from the North side community on how certain government policies affected the communities in the past. And the reason why they’re doing this is to have a better understanding, try to bridge the gap in the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and the community. So, we most definitely appreciate you being a part of this interview, and I’m just here to really oversee, be like the backbone, but she’ll be the one doing the interview and asking the questions.
Beverly Propes: 01:24 Okay.
Interviewer: 01:25 Okay so the first question is your name with the spelling.
Beverly Propes: 01:29 My name is Beverly, and that’s BEVERLY, and my last name is Propes, PROPES. I should say my married name is Propes, PROPES.
Interviewer: 01:42 Okay, and then on this map are you able to tell where you live, or anything that involves you where you work, anything of that sort?
Beverly Propes: 02:00 I’m on 12th and Thomas, and, it would be not too far from here. This is going Valley Road, so I’m about right here.
Interviewer: 02:14 All right, okay so, thinking back to when you first came to this area today, what changes have you seen that can be positive or negative?
Beverly Propes: 02:23 Okay, I’ve been a resident at my home for 47 years, and that’s 1141 Thomas Avenue North, it sits on a corner across from a park. It’s down the street from Al McFarlane who publishes the Insight News… when we moved here, I had two children, and I was pregnant with a third child, who is now 47. And the park when we moved here, was in, there was no grass, there was no play activities, the housing was very, very nice, we were told it was because there was many individuals at least in my house, of Jewish descent. And that neighborhood in of itself, many of the Jewish individuals had moved as a result of a riot that occurred on Olsen highway. We moved, we were not part of the riot, because the riot had occurred before we moved. But it was enough for the community that lived close to that area to move, so our house was the third house on that block, that was owned by a Jewish family.
Beverly Propes: 04:00 The house was in very good condition, it has three floors. It has a basement, one level, and then it has an attic area. And all of those areas had been kind of finished off, so it was able for us to have a three bedroom, two bathroom…home at that time, with living room and fireplaces on all three floors.
Beverly Propes: 04:26 Some of the changes that occurred when we moved was we immediately connected with our neighbors, other people that we knew moved in, and across from the park was a soon to become city council person, Jackie Cherryholmes, she still lives there. So the first thing that we did because of her responsibility is to meet with her about redoing the park, and she did, I can’t tell you what year it was, but it was a long time ago because my youngest one was about… he might of been three or four, because we wanted to make sure the park was scaled in such a way that it would serve preschoolers, as well as young people, as well as older people. So we had a swing, a wooden swing put there, we did not want a basketball hoop, because we knew that would draw more young people that weren’t in our community, and we didn’t want that to happen.
Beverly Propes: 05:36 The other changes that have occurred in our neighborhood, was at one time we had mostly African American families, and as of two years ago, we began to see an influx of families from other cultures. What was interesting about that is that there is a large… Hispanic or Latin American or Mexican community that lives further West from us and the only way we knew we had such a diverse community is that every year when we had night out all the people around the park would come and that’s when we knew we had a real diverse community.
Beverly Propes: 06:27 But there was seldom a lot of European people that attended and in the last, I want to say five years, we’ve had a lot of families that have bought into our community. I think that one of the reasons is that we did have a tornado in our community which destroyed not so much in our community in terms of housing and roofs, although my roof was damaged, but beyond Plymouth and Penn Avenue there was quite a lot of damage, and of course that damage brought attention of the opportunities to build new housing, and I believe that is why we have so many families, more diversity in our community then we have had.
Interviewer: 07:17 I’m not going to ask you why you think these changes are happening because you had such good answers so I’m skip to five, so we are gathering these stories to increase the understanding of the city in Minneapolis community, and the impact of the historical discrimination of the government policies, so we wanted to ask you the… war on drugs, the employment and housing in the early 20th Century. How did those policies impact you for the community itself.
Beverly Propes: 07:52 Okay, give me if you could a date when you talk about early 20th Century.
Interviewer: 08:02 1990’s.
Beverly Propes: 08:03 Okay, good. All those issues that really impact the work that I do, I am a public health nurse, and so early in, probably about 1995, there was increasing evidence that the people in my community were suffering for what are being called social determinants of health. What that meant to me, as a public health nurse provider, was that the people in my community were at high risk for shorter life.
Beverly Propes: 08:42 So, also around that time… close around that time the whole issue of crack was brought into our community, and it wasn’t so apparent in my neighborhood until one of the children, I also have developed an early childhood program in North Minneapolis, and I noticed that one of the children’s parents seemed to have changed in terms of her behavior. And she happened to live right across from the park, and so, slowly but surely it was apparent that she was suffering from addiction.
Beverly Propes: 09:27 And that actually was the closest in my community that I observed at that time. As a public health nurse, other issues such as diabetes, other issues such as cancer, were issues, infant mortality, were all issues that I was very much involved in to have a voice in our community, on th city, and the state, and even at the University of Minnesota. One of the things that I continue to be involved in is those committee discussions that discuss the despaired health in our community.
Beverly Propes: 10:12 Now I can say that in my neighborhood, which is 1141 Thomas, that the surrounding communities, most of my neighbors know that I am a nurse. And they will come to me and ask me about ear infections of their children, and lumps in their breasts, and what they should do when they find out they’re pre-diabetic, and usually as a resource I’m able to steer them. Also, at that time I was in involved in what was then called Pilot City, and I served on an advisory committee to talk about how we could improve the outreach health efforts for the North Minneapolis community. And the result of that we change the name, and it is now called North Point and it’s health and it’s wellness, and the reason why it’s wellness because as a public health provider encourage the committee to be thinking about how we can increase the wellness in our community despite all the illness, and that includes drugs, infant mortality, teen pregnancy, blood pressure, poor nutrition, and those are all things that North Point addresses today.
Beverly Propes: 11:31 Once I was on the board, I was able, I was appointed to the board, and I served as the president of the board, called the chairman at the time. We were able to encourage the community to be looking for a wellness effort, and that also included what I ask Mr. Hayden to think about instead of calling it chemical dependency call it chemical health, and so that is now one of his goal areas in the work that he does. Though he did not live directly in my neighborhood, he did develop some programs to address some of the drugs that were increasing in our community.
Beverly Propes: 12:14 With the issue of crack, early when it began to penetrate our community I had gotten a call from one of our nurses in the hospital at Hennepin County, because she knew that I was on several committees addressing health as an issue, telling me that more and more North side women were leaving the hospital right after the birth of their babies and though they could not diagnose why, it was apparent that it was because they were on crack usually the babies were born too small, usually the babies were born still involved in crack because of the parents use. And so that really started an activity to link with someone like Mr. Hayden to reach those populations, and I think as I look back 20 years, a lot has changed as a result of his involvement. Now it’s opioids. I’m not as connected any longer in the community as it relates to drugs, but I do know that there are still babies born that parents have ingested, not so much crack, but opioids, smoking, and alcohol. And so part of my campaign is to encourage young women to have well babies by taking care of themselves.
Beverly Propes: 13:46 In terms of policy, I would say that because of North point and the voices that came out of that from the community board, there was a lot of policies in the City of Minneapolis, that began to look at how they could provide funding to address those issues. Through at that time they used to call the City of Minneapolis had a health department and so did the state, and so does the county all have health departments that get dollars from the federal as well as from the city, and with a couple of conversations could see value in providing some of those dollars to some organizations in North Minneapolis so we can address directly the culturally needs of our community.
Interviewer: 14:40 Is there anything that’s new that has developed? I know you mentioned, what did you say, opioids?
Beverly Propes: 14:51 Opioids.
Interviewer: 14:52 Okay so in the community is there anything that you have concerns about?
Beverly Propes: 15:01 I do, and like I said earlier I know there is a committee that’s kind of looking at strategies and I know that there’s money been allocated. And for the most part from a policy prospective that’s the kind of things that is a standard procedure, best practice, so you know oh we’re going to have to solve a problem, what should we do, we should have a committee and so you bring people together and they learn by talking to individuals that may have direct connection with individuals that are suffering from that addiction and you get that information.
Beverly Propes: 15:39 My concern is that that takes a long time, and my biggest concern is the children that may be exposed to a parent who is challenged by the responsibility of parenting, challenge because education has not been a path that she’s completed, challenge because it’s easier to not do anything because of depression, and having children is sometimes overwhelming if you don’t have parent or other support to help you. And so sometimes those things result in people taking action, that change their perspective and their mood, which often is drugs.
Beverly Propes: 16:29 So my concern is the children that may be in those households, and I know that just from people that I’ve talked to that, and working in the schools, that kids bring that to school and there’s so much… bullying, and if somebody hits you, you hit them back, and “I don’t like this I only want to eat hot chips.” Those are all things in my view, have a direct influence as to the environment in the home that they’re in, and it’s a real challenge to try to change that, and part of my work in the schools I would work doing that, I would have meetings with parents, I would tell parents you know, when you come in the building and you’ve been smoking, I can smell it, and I know everybody else can, and you go back in your car and your child smells it, and that’s not a good thing.
Beverly Propes: 17:31 And what I’ve found is when I have those conversations it’s necessary. And parents will listen, it’s just I have not had the chance to talk to parents that have gone from one drug to now opioids, and I guess heroin too is now easier, to me do something to change that, since children is our future and we’re not helping them if they’re in those kinds of environments.
Interviewer: 18:09 Okay you just kind of answered it but could you go more in depth, what gives you more hope for the future in the community?
Beverly Propes: 18:15 Oh that’s a good one, I want to say just being interviewed by you young people, because I can tell by your demeanor that what I’m talking about are things you know need to be talked about. And the work that you’re doing based on NRRC, I use to be on the board in NRRC, and one of the things that I advocated for was for them to include a goal in their efforts, because they’re interested in housing, yes, and they’re interested in economics, yes, but they also need to be interested in the environment. Which is what you’re doing around water, and the food, because in my view, is how we can help parents be more responsible and knowledgeable about what they need to do to help their children grow.
Interviewer: 19:05 Okay, that’s all we have for you today.
Beverly Propes: 19:05 Okay.
Interviewer: 19:11 Thank you for your time, we really appreciate it.
Beverly Propes: 19:14 You’re welcome, you’re welcome, I hope I helped, and I hope you get more information about what we should do to have a healthier community.
Interviewer: 19:21 Yeah.
Interview of Azucena Ortega
Interviewer: 00:41 Nice. All right. So the first question that I asked you is your name and the spelling.
Azucena: 00:50 Alright. So my name is Azucena Ortega, A-Z-U-C-E-N-A. Last name Ortega O-R-T-E-G-A.
Interviewer : 00:59 All right. Are we supposed to be timing?
Interviewer : 01:05 Timing it?
Interviewer : 01:05 Yeah.
Interviewer : 01:06 I think you are. It’s what I heard.
Interviewer : 01:08 We are? Who got the timer?
Interviewer : 01:10 Okay.
Interviewer : 01:10 I’ll have to time me. I’ll time it though. That way you can do your thing. I got you.
Interviewer : 01:15 Okay. So it’d be a 15 minute thing. They try not to make it too long. Okay. So on this map that will you, can you see light where you live, where you work, anything like that?
Azucena: 01:29 Let’s see. So this is Lindel. I used to live on knowledge and Gerard, I lived on 26 and Aldrich. Now I’m on 617 Thomas, this is you rock, this pen. So I probably live like around right over here. Here. Let’s see some around over here.
Interviewer : 01:54 All right.
Azucena: 01:55 MM-hm.
Interviewer : 01:56 Okay. So thinking back from when you first had came to this area today. What changes have you seen now? It can be positive and negative.
Azucena: 02:04 Well, so my family came here to the United States when I was a year old and since we lived here, we’ve always lived on the north side. We used to live, I’m not sure if you guys are familiar with the native American projects that come was over by where the Mississippi original park is that. So it used to be projects there before the project on the north side came about. So I remember we lived there and those projects were dismantled and I think that they g ave families like a certain amount of money to be able toleave. And my parents, and they’re buying their first home on 26th and Aldrich.
Azucena: 02:44 That area right now, are you guys familiar with 25th and Aldridge where they build the school?
Interviewer : 02:47 I grew up on 23rd.
Azucena: 02:48 Okay. So after that we moved to Dowling and Gerard and then I ended up buying my house on sixth, six and Thomas, and that’s where my significant grew up. So what changes have I seen? A lot of changes, a lot of changes both good and bad. But I would say like right now the changed that I’m seeing is just the gentrification on the north side. I’m seeing a huge shift and change and the people that are buying the properties and who now are my neighbors. And one thing that I think is really interesting is like if you have a dog, you should walk your dog facts, right? But I’m starting to see a lot of people walking their dogs and a lot of people that I know that weren’t in this neighborhood this entire time.
Azucena: 03:36 So it’s just really interesting to see that dynamics. Like I said, it’s not necessarily a bad thing cause it’s, you know, it’s good, but it’s just like I’m seeing a lot of white folks walking their dogs and their neighborhood now and I never used to see that before. So I think the main thing is the gentrification on the north side. On the positive note, I am seeing a lot of community come together when it comes to the arts and just really being more open about what’s happening on the north side and how we can be inclusive in some of the organizations that are trying, not trying but shifting and changing the way North Minneapolis looks. So that’s, that’s great. So juxtaposition is one that I had been really just impressed with the work that they had been doing in the community. I think that we have to reach out to youth, that that’s our next generation to really create the changes that we want to see in our communities.
Interviewer : 04:25 Alright. Why do you feel like these changes are happening?
Azucena: 04:28 Which ones?
Interviewer : 04:29 All of them.
Azucena: 04:31 Well I think I kind of touched already maybe a little bit. As far as the community we want to see, we want to see a change and we want to make sure that those that are on the north side stay on the north side. As far as the gentrification I think is just an opportunity that people are seeing that there is. So capitalizing on, you know we have here in our communities.
Interviewer : 04:53 All right. Okay so, we are gathering information to understand the city of Minneapolis in the community in the impact on the historical discrimination, government policies such as employment, the war on drugs, housing and like other things like that. So we wanted to know how
did that impact you or the community itself? Like what have you seen personally?
Azucena: 05:25 Could we rephrase that question?
Interviewer : 05:27 Yeah. So basically those things, those policies, the war on drugs, employment, housing, transportation even, and just like things in the 1990s how did that effect impact you or the community?
Azucena: 05:41 So I think first there is a lack of education on all those points that you brought right now. Even for myself, you know, I’m 37 years old and I feel like there has been a big disconnection with some of those policies war on drugs, transportation. And now I feel like I’m getting more involved in what’s happening just because there’s a lot of like our team and a lot of other organizations that are really trying to do community engagement and have people be aware about what’s happening. So like the Harvard for an example or something happening with the, what is it called? NCR Neighborhood Community relations, the 2020 so there’s all these things that are happening and I just think that we need to continue to educate ourselves and be aware of what’s happening to really have more say so on how do we feel about these things and changes that are happening, if that makes sense. Does it make sense? Okay.
Interviewer : 06:38 Okay, so as far as the community now, what concerns do you have about it?
Azucena: 06:47 I think housing, affordable housing is one. I also think that bringing like employment to our neighborhoods and to the north side is really important. Just to make sure that you know that the money that’s like instead of going out for breakfast somewhere outside of the north side, let’s invest in the business that are already here and want to continue the business growth and finding other ways to make sure that people, that there’s just more employment on the north side. Could you read that question again because I had something else in mind and just kind of slipped my mind.
Interviewer : 07:27 What concerns do you have about the community?
Azucena: 07:30 What concerns? I don’t know if I have any like specific concerns that come to mind right now, so we’ll just leave it like that.
Interviewer : 07:44 Okay. What gives you hope for the future of this community?
Azucena: 07:53 You all, that are doing what you’re doing right now? Because I think that this work is important. Education is power and the more that we can inform ourselves, the better position that we can be in to really make an impact and change.
Interviewer : 08:07 All right. And then is there anything, any last words that you want to say?
Azucena: 08:14 Any last words that I want to say. I feel like you’re putting me on the spot right now. So I know that Martine talked about some of the history that has happened here with the riots on Plymouth and I think that my daughter was actually a part of a research history on that. And I think, I think that it would be a good idea to further expand on that education piece, especially with the recent events that seem to have happened. And it just seems like it’s keeps happening in just different ways, different times. And, and I think it’s important to talk about those things because we have historical trauma generational trauma and trauma within, you know, the room and our experiences and these things are just being swept under the rug and there’s been much conversation about it.
Azucena: 09:12 So, like I said, I’ve been on the north side for a long time and I have had … being who I am, you know a woman. I’m very light, you know, and Latina, I have like over 36 moving violations as far as like speeding tickets. If there was a time on the north side back in the day where like they were trying to dismantle the gangs and I just remember that I got pulled over so many times just for looking like I was part of the Latin Queens. And you know, I’d be riding with my homegirls and then they would ended up giving me tickets for … I remember this one time I got eight tickets. And I’m just like eight tickets for what? So it just, it was just this continuous thing that happened and I think that it, my brother and I’m getting like in one stop like 23 tickets
and all of a sudden those tickets like disappeared.
Azucena: 10:05 So it was just like some weird stuff that was happening and I think that that project or whatever the police department was doing and kind of went away. But I’ve always had these issues, like I’ve been pulled over, I’ve been man handled by police officers. Like it’s just crazy. I’m just like, I’m a woman and I’m young and I’m just like, not, not that anybody should be going through that, but I’m just like, it was just really weird to have those experiences.
And like after the, the Demar Clark thing happened, we were part of the movement that was happening. You know, I brought my kids there and so it was both empowering and at the same time I was kind of like checking myself, should I be a part of. Just because there was, I remember there was one day where like you had police officers on top of the building and they had their guns pointed to like everybody. And I’m just like, that’s creating more trauma. But at the same time we have to stand up and speak up and making sure that we are standing in solidarity.
Azucena: 10:59 But circling back, I recently was pulled over after that at Brett on Plymouth and Thomas, I was making a left to go home and I jus remembered, I guess I had rolled over else the stop sign out and make a complete stop. And my son was so terrified and he literally was getting ready to open the door and just run. And I had to like, it was like a very scary moment for me, and he’s nine or he’s nine now. So he was what, seven at that time? And it was just like, it just, it just brought up a whole bunch of like triggers for me, you know, and really, really bad ones and ones that I didn’t think that still existed because times have changed for me at least. I don’t get pulled over like that anymore. How I used to. And it just brought up a whole bunch of things that really didn’t feel good at all.
Azucena: 11:45 So, you know. Yeah. So I guess I would like to see more conversation about those issues that have occurred and then just educating ourselves about what’s happened in the past and what we recently have experienced and how do we move forward and heal from that as well.
Interviewer : 12:07 All right.
Interviewer : 12:07 Yes. That was dope. Thank you. Thank you.
Interviewer : 12:07 Thank you. That’s all we have for you today.
Interview Transcript of Alma Reed
Interviewer: 00:01 So first, can I have you say your first and last name, and spell it out for me?
Alma Reed: 00:06 Alma. A-L-M-A. Reed. R-E-E-D.
Interviewer: 00:10 Okay. So, referring to this map right there in front of you, on this paper, do you currently, or have you lived in this area?
Alma Reed: 00:18 I’ve lived all over Minnesota.
Interviewer: 00:21 Okay.
Alma Reed: 00:21 This north side.
Interviewer: 00:22 Yeah. How long have you lived over here, over in the north side?
Alma Reed: 00:26 I got here in ’91. I lived on Lyndale and 26th for four years. I lived on 38th and Thomas for three years. I lived on 18th Street, and now I’m on Washington. I’ve been Colfax, Bryant. I lived on Bryant, down the street. Yeah.
Interviewer: 00:51 Okay. So, thinking about where you lived, over here on Bryant, when you first came to that area, what changes have you seen recently? Positive or any negative changes?
Alma Reed: 01:05 Outrageous. There was no Cub Food Store there. There was no McDonald’s. They tore down White Castle. Mervyn’s had a restaurant in it, it don’t have no restaurant no more. It done upgraded. The Murder Station ain’t so Murder Station no more. If you all remember the Murder Station? Do you?
Interviewer: 01:24 No, I don’t remember.
Alma Reed: 01:24 Do you?
Speaker 3: 01:24 I do.
Alma Reed: 01:27 Yeah, yeah, yeah. We got the mall, or a little strip mall, we got a Walgreens, that’s beautiful down there. It looks good. The north side looks good, now.
Interviewer: 01:38 Have you seen any negative changes lately?
Alma Reed: 01:41 Negative changes?
Interviewer: 01:42 Yeah.
Alma Reed: 01:44 Negative mean bad, no?
Interviewer: 01:46 Yeah, yeah, bad.
Alma Reed: 01:47 No, it hasn’t gotten worser, I don’t think.
Interviewer: 01:50 Okay.
Alma Reed: 01:52 I don’t think so.
Interviewer: 01:53 So it’s increasing. That’s not too bad.
Alma Reed: 01:55 Yeah, it’s good. It has prospered and it’s going up.
Interviewer: 01:57 Okay. What do you feel caused those changes over the years?
Alma Reed: 02:03 Oh, I don’t know. You can put a little unity in it, a whole lot of money, people come together, churches always help. And just, I don’t know, because it’s been rough.
Interviewer: 02:19 Okay. Why you feel like unity helped those changes?
Alma Reed: 02:21 Because those churches. Churches bring unity.
Interviewer: 02:24 Amen. So, we’re gathering these stories to increase the 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
including housing, employment discrimination in the early 20th century, the war on drugs in the 1990s and more. What impact have these policies or others had on your community in general?
Alma Reed: 02:56 Housing has improved. There was a lot of housing that has improved. People got jobs now. I retired so that ain’t my problem. More people got jobs now. Money is always flowed in Minnesota. So that right there is a good thing.
Interviewer: 03:14 Okay, what impact do you feel like they have on you and your family, personally?
Alma Reed: 03:19 I can’t put no finger on that one, now.
Interviewer: 03:21 Okay.
Alma Reed: 03:21 Yeah.
Interviewer: 03:24 Okay, what changes have you seen in this community that raised the level of stress and a valid concern in our future here in Minneapolis?
Alma Reed: 03:34 The level of stress?
Interviewer: 03:35 Yeah.
Alma Reed: 03:36 Changes that have stressed me?
Interviewer: 03:38 Yeah.
Alma Reed: 03:39 I can’t. I’m not into it like that.
Interviewer: 03:40 Yeah, you’re not into it. Okay.
Alma Reed: 03:43 I’m out the way.
Interviewer: 03:44 Alright, so if you did have stress, what part do you feel like the City of Minneapolis could play to relieve that stress, if you had stress?
Alma Reed: 03:53 I don’t know. Our police force is wishy washy.
Interviewer: 04:03 Right.
Alma Reed: 04:03 So, it would just have to be those people come together.
Interviewer: 04:07 Okay. So, what gives you hope for our future in urban …
Alma Reed: 04:12 Our kids.
Interviewer: 04:12 Our kids?
Alma Reed: 04:13 Our kids and education.
Interviewer: 04:16 Alright, what part of City of Minneapolis do you feel like they could play to help our community do better?
Alma Reed: 04:24 Just keep it on the north side, baby. Keep it the north side up.
Interviewer: 04:28 Yes, of course.
Alma Reed: 04:28 Yeah.
Interviewer: 04:28 Okay. So, these last few questions are simple questions, you don’t have to dig down deep if you don’t want to. But, when you think about this area today, what impacts do you still see from these historic government policies?
Alma Reed: 04:49 Impact like what? Is it for the better or the worse?
Interviewer: 04:54 It could be both.
Alma Reed: 04:55 It’s for the better. Things have gotten much better. So, impact is good, but like I said, police force don’t help.
Interviewer: 05:06 Right. So how would you describe the relationship between the City of Minneapolis and this north side community over here and where you live now, over on Bryant? Alma Reed: 05:17 There ain’t now. There ain’t now.
Interviewer: 05:24 Ain’t no love, huh? So, what are your expectations for the City of Minneapolis, relative or related to this community? And to what extent do you trust the City of Minneapolis to deliver on those expectations?
Alma Reed: 05:37 Oh, wow. I can’t answer that. I’m too old, I’d hate to have something happen and I might be gone. I’m just hoping for the best.
Interviewer: 05:47 Alright. Do you trust the City of Minneapolis to make this north side community better?
Alma Reed: 05:54 Yeah, that’s real doable. It’s very doable.
Interviewer: 05:57 Okay, so do you feel like you could play any part in making a hopeful future for this north side Minneapolis?
Alma Reed: 06:04 I could, depending on the what’s ups. I could, yeah. Because I teach my kids and my grandkids and all of that is a part towards getting out here and watching and protesting and stuff. Sometimes I’ve done some of that but it just … You never can tell. You all just keep doing what you all are doing.
Interviewer: 06:26 Right.
Alma Reed: 06:26 And we’ll try to do what we do.
Interviewer: 06:27 Thank you. Alright. So that was the end of the interview, Alma.
Alma Reed: 06:30 Okay.
Interviewer: 06:30 Alma, right?
Alma Reed: 06:33 Alma, yeah.
Interviewer: 06:33 Alright.
Interview of Alika & Ralph Galloway
Interviewer: 00:01 May I have your first and last name with spelling, please?
Alika: 00:07 Alika Galloway. A-L-I-K-A is the first name. Galloway G-A-L-L-O-W-A-Y is the last.
Ralph: 00:13 And Ralph Galloway. First name R-A-L-P-H and second name G-A-L-L-O-W-A-Y.
Interviewer: 00:25 So in referencing this map that we have, do you currently live in any of these areas or have you ever lived in any of these areas and if you have, how long did you live here or how long do you… Have you lived there if you still there?
Ralph: 00:40 Okay, since we live in the same household, I’ll just speak for us both.
Alika: 00:48 Great.
Ralph: 00:49 We lived in the area near UROC, as I see this kind of is one of the points of reference. I actually at 1623 Washburn, Avenue North. And we’ve been at that location for probably about 24 years now.
Interviewer: 01:17 Thinking back from when you first came to this area to today what change have you seen, positive and negative?
Ralph: 01:37 Well some things that I’ve seen that I think are positive is there seems to be an effort to garner more input from the community, from the citizens of the community. There seems to be more structure to be able to do that. I was looking at the … Oh I forget… North Side, I think, Urban Development, I can’t remember the part of the name of the organization, but I was pretty impressed with the … I looked at the website with the purpose, getting input from the people that live in the neighborhood, and to be able to get suggestions to inform proposals that would be written, to be able to get resources that will really make a difference in terms of impacting lives in North Minneapolis.
Ralph: 02:58 Part of my concern, so this is on the other end of the question of what hasn’t happened or what have you seen that hasn’t happened and is a concern I have, is that those instruments might be … And I’m talking about the people that make up the committees and that, might be stacked with people that aren’t enough people or rooted in the community. So thereby the outcomes might be a little skewed because it might not represent the citizenry of the North Side.
Alika: 03:49 I would ditto that. I think that the … Well two things I would say as I think about it is Pastor Ralph and our son and both of our daughters attended North High School and I’m not originally from Minneapolis, so when they prepared to close North Minneapolis when that was grounds for to close it, I was very grateful to see the community in action. And so for me that was really positive to see this organic ground swell of people so invested in this, the symbol and the power of North High School. And so ’cause often times I haven’t seen that kinda action and activity and I was very impressed with how smart people were about it and how strategic they were and how they owned the heritage of North Minneapolis and North High School, like how they identified so heavily.
Alika: 05:03 So that was one of the reasons why we wanted to do thisproject with ReCAST was because North Minneapolis and North High School was so invested.
Alika: 05:14 And then I, along with my husband, would say the re-gentrification like on our block now… So we are 16th and Washburn but 17th is primarily white, and we call that the White Lane. And the people don’t speak to … Like when they walk ’cause … So we’re so Washburn [inaudible 00:05:36] in the parkway so they’ve got to walk down our street, they walk down in order to get to the parkway to walk their dogs, and we rarely see them without an animal. And the animals are trained as if they’re threatened. So it’s like they’ve come to possess the land, repossess the land. They didn’t come to join a community. They came to get good housing stock. And I know that …So part of what Pastor Ralph’s role has been in terms of community is trying to be a community organizer. I look at things often through his lens, so they’re not there to develop community, they’re there for tax breaks and that kind of thing. And I feel like that’s unfortunate because with regard to the community, the community took the action, those that were invested with both heart and mind around North High School. They’re just invested in getting good land stock, good housing stock.
Interviewer 06:47 So what do you feel then caused the changes that you’re talking about over the years?
Ralph: 06:57 You know, I think part of what caused changes in terms of input are the turbulence, and the resistance that has come out of the community in terms of getting more input and more info as to how the resources would be spent. I think it has to do with people just raising hell, saying that they’re not represented. I don’t think it was something that came out of the hearts of the politicians. And although, I know there was some good, great hearted people there, but I think it had to do with people pushing and pushing. You know kind of indicative or represented of seeing, demonstrated in the revolts, you know, 1968 and continuing with more of that kind of process. Not necessarily the damage of property but people voicing themselves. And it pushed a dial towards something positive.
Ralph: 08:06 I think with the re-gentrification process, it has to do with pressure on the cities to get the pack space up, get people in that have money to make for a whole general investment and … the word alludes me now but return. I rely on city property in general, getting more wealthy and so it makes sense to encourage people to come in that have a good middle class or upper-middle class income. So pressure on the city to do that.
Alika: 09:01 I’m good, I’m good.
Interviewer: 09:03 The city of Minneapolis is gathering information to try to understand how these government policies such as the war on drugs, housing and employment discrimination has affected you?
Ralph: 09:18 Can you repeat it again?
Interviewer: 09:19 The city of Minneapolis is gathering newer information to try to understand how these government policies such as the war on drugs and housing and employment discrimination has affected you?
Ralph: 09:35 Okay, so that’s a question?
Interviewer: 09:38 Yeah.
Ralph: 09:39 Okay.
Interviewer: 09:41 You can kind of like split it up and talk about the war on
drugs or housing and employment discrimination or …
Ralph: 09:50 Yeah.
Interviewer: 09:51 So kind of like how has the historic discriminatory government policies affected the community and then just a couple of examples are like housing, transportation, economic development, the war on drugs, things like that; so how has that affected the community you’ve been living in for the past 24 years?
Ralph: 10:11 Okay, you wanna take that on?
Alika: 10:16 Yeah. Do you wanna go too?
Ralph: 10:18 Yeah, and then I’ll dove tail. I need to think about that a little bit.
Alika: 10:20 Okay, so, I would say part of what we do at Liberty is we are liberation theologians and we are Christians ’cause people hear that and say, “Oh no, you’re not a Christian.” Yes, we are. But we really uniquely believe that God is on the side of the poor, and the oppressed and that God is really concerned about discriminatory practices, so the work that we do out of this church is to really bind up and systems of oppression that hurt people and hurt communities at large such as housing discrimination.
Alika: 11:03 A lot of the work … So our church, while we have a worshiping community. We also have a large community engagement such as 21st Century Academy in Northside Healing zone, and the number one issue in terms of the opportunity gap that we see with our children is housing discrimination They’re un-sustainably housed. So they’re couch hopping. They’re moving from one dwelling to another dwelling to another dwelling. And that just decreases they’re opportunity in school because they’re unstable. So if you have not had a place to live, a place tosleep, you’re not secure, you’re not going to do well in school. It is just a question of survival. So the disparities around housing in North Minneapolis, the rents, the ghetto, landlords, all of that has a direct impact. And we believe that God is very concerned about that, that God isn’t just concerned about us going to heaven but is in fact concerned about us and our call is to usher into the kingdom of God here.
Ralph: 12:25 And I have just some concerns related to the housing comment that Pastor Alika just made. When they raised the housing projects, they’re on Lindell and that area, it was supposed to be able to create mixed income housing and give opportunity to those of low income as well. But with what we see here with so many people without housing, you kind of wonder how effective that has been by taking those units down and raising new housing, you know, heritage homes etc. but we just question whether the low income side of that really got it’s just do. We’ve seen it in other cities too. I used to do duty organizing in Atlanta and in Atlanta many of those housing projects were raised, and I returned a couple of times and asked the government, some of the leadership, “Where did those people go?” The lower income people and nobody has really good answers for that. Many went to the suburbs, and the suburbs were really tooled to handle them, didn’t have the services, the wrap arounds. So people were on buses all over the place. So part of my concern is for our people here too.
Ralph: 13:55 You know, that we have opportunities, further out but not the accommodations to make that work. And related to the drug conditions, we just … It seems like at some points in this area the amount of drug trafficking that’s gone down, but we’re not sure if it’s gone down or if it’s just gone under.
Interviewer: 14:28 Like it’s hiding itself.
Ralph: 14:29 Yeah, like it’s hiding. That it’s more cloaked, it’s more disguised now. So we have some concerns. We see that there’s a sustainable period of time where it seems peaceful, a bit more placid then we maybe getting to think maybe there’s an effect from law enforcement strategies to community cooperation to help cartel some of that.
Interviewer: 15:04 So in reference to affordable housing and the drugs, do you think the new minimum wage policy, with minimum wage gonna be 15 dollars an hour soon, do you think that will help benefit the community in any sort of way? Or housing or maybe it might help deal with some of the drug problems or something like that if people are making mor money?
Ralph: 15:24 Definitely.
Interviewer: 15:24 Okay.
Ralph: 15:26 Definitely a correlation between more money and more opportunities. I think 15 dollars an hour minimum wage is a great thing. It’s a good start, and I don’t think that’s where we should plateau. But it’s a good start ’cause our people, people we serve are just suffering from lack of adequate income. And so to get that income up would do a number of things. It will mean that perhaps some of our parents will have to … Would be able to work less rather than three jobs maybe they can do two jobs and make ends meet, have more time for their children. To not have to then have their children under latch key or have one of the older child watch the younger children. So I think it would make for a more secure environment for our parents. And then they can begin to look at other opportunities in the good that economic base up a little bit more. I definitely think it would make a difference and probably have some residual effects to on drug trafficking, sex trafficking because all of that has so much to do with low income levels. I definitely think it would impact.
Alika: 16:58 Me too.
Interviewer: 16:59 So my last question on the topic then is so the economic development part that has a direct correlation to a lot of the community problems, right?
Ralph: 17:10 Yes.
Interviewer: 17:11 Okay, so then what changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of stress or concern about the future and then the second part is what part does the city of Minneapolis need to play to help relieve some of that stress?
Ralph: 17:29 It seems like that’s connected to the other questions in a sense.
Alika: 17:41 Can you repeat it for me?
Interviewer: 17:43 Yes, you want me to do the first on first and then…
Alika: 17:45 You’ve just do both of them together.
Interviewer: 17:47 Okay, what changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of stress or concern about it’s future? And then the second part is, and what part can Minneapolis play in relieving some of that stress?
Alika: 17:59 Okay, so there are higher levels of trauma in this community and they continue to be untreated and unmitigated and so part of what we are doing at Liberty is opening a hearing center directly related to trauma healing at 2100 Emerson. And I think that the curve in terms of people recognizing that we are under high levels of trauma very much similar to the questions that Pastor Ralph answered in terms of discrimination and economic disparities and housing and all of that, all that is traumatic. And it embodies us, it gets into our bodies and we’re hearing that on a daily basis and then passing that on from generation to generation. And, so when we’ve been in contact and conversation with ReCAST, one of the things that we have said collectively and as a church community is that we’re hoping that the city will continue to work on its trauma issues and raise that up in terms of the health disparity and then our big, there used to be something called our big, hairy audacious… Audacious goal?
Interviewer: 19:30 Yes. Big, hairy audacious goal.
Alika: 19:33 Yes, is that Minneapolis will be known as a city that treats and heals and recognizes trauma. And so that when they talk about Minneapolis so whatever it is that they call it, and I’m proud. I’m very grateful to be a part of the Minneapolis community. Even though this is not my community of origin, I’ve adopted it but I would like to see Minneapolis be known with, besides prints and the lakes and, you know, 10 000 lakes and good wildlife that we would be known as a city who treats trauma and takes trauma seriously.
Ralph: 20:18 And I know what brings stress … Another aspect, if I could just make a point somewhat related to the point Pastor Alika made is the … And it goes back to the re-gentrification question, we’ve seen on our corners here to the east, we’ve seen probably three families moved in and out in each of those houses there. And they’ve had to move under duress and part our concern is that then the landlords because they haven’t owned homes, they rented them, will flip it and sell it to re-gentrifiers. Which we don’t have an issue with people but we have a concern of diversity, we have a concern with what’s gonna happen to those families. And so it brings a lot of stress and we’ve had for those families, a few of them that were members of the church, but they’ve had to move far out and we’ve lost touch, the location is broken. So we’re concerned about the degree of isolation that takes place, you know, with family members that have to move under duress.
Interviewer: 21:37 Re-gentrification?
Ralph: 21:38 Re-gentrification. The pressure to get people in that will bring up the tax base and then maybe the lack of resources or a lack of consciousness to deal with those families that have been misplaced that they live in isolation and then are prone to all the negative stuff that can happen when you’re under stress or experiencing trauma. Concern.
Interviewer: 22:06 What gives you hope for the future of this community?
Alika: 22:09 Can I answer that real quick ’cause Yanis keeps walking back and forth.
Ralph: 22:13 She’s wanting[inaudible 00:22:14]
Alika: 22:14 Yeah, and then I’m gonna come out. So I thank you guys very much for this time. Y’all give me hope. Our young people, our next generation gives me a lot of hope that you will see things differently and that you guys will have your visionaries and that you’ll be able to establish your vision of a just and hope filled community. Y’all give me hope.
Alika: 22:45 Alright, go check on your daughter.
Ralph: 22:47 Okay, yeah, that’s the same with me. ReCAST what you’re doing, input, the mechanisms that are developed as I said earlier to garner input from the community. I think that’s always to me a great thing when they’re balanced. I’ve seen community groups that are formed that the power structure seems to resemble the power structure of the nation when you look at who’s calling the shots. But it seems like … And what I mean by that is middle class white people kind of assuming control of community groups without enough diversity in them. But it seems like there’s an effort to get a full mix of representation in our community structures. That gives me hope for a better tomorrow. The input channels and groups of communication.
Interviewer: 23:44 So how can Minneapolis play a part to create that?
Ralph: 23:49 Well, I think that by what it’s doing now with these effort to get input to really hear from different groups within the community from different geographical locales, to hear, and then to put income behind it, to fund it, you know, to fund these efforts. When I read about the North Side Redevelopment Corporation, I think is the name, and then actually having the money set aside to fund projects in the city gives me hope. To hear that North Commons got some of the … The North Commons YWCA got some of the money from the NCAA being here to redo … That gives me hope to see where there are large projects that come into the city be able to get some of that profit to the communities in the area when those events have long since gone. That gives me hope. So I think in that regard Minneapolis is progressive. So I guess a couple of words: keep the dollars flowing to everyone and it seems like we’re working harder to have that happen in the city of Minneapolis.
Interviewer 25:21 Last couple of questions, if you could just give us a short quick answers and then we’ll be out of your way.
Ralph: 25:28 Okay, okay.
Interviewer: 25:30 So when you think about this area today, what impacts do you still see from the historic government policies?
Ralph: 25:40 Historic government policies?
Interviewer: 25:42 Yes.
Ralph: 25:43 Like policies of past?
Interviewer: 25:45 Yes.
Ralph: 25:45 Is that kind of the word for…
Interviewer: 25:46 Yes.
Ralph: 25:46 Okay, well, I think one is the re-gentrification piece. You know to me that looks a lot like a new form of discrimination called something different, packaged in a positive way, but I wonder if it’s thought out fully enough to see to it that those who are displaced by that process are fully taken care of. So that I see as maybe still a historic kind of looming residual of white supremacy because those who are re-gentrifying are basically from the European ethnicities.
Interviewer: 26:34 How would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and this community over the years?
Ralph: 26:42 I think it’s gotten better. I remember a time, you know, I grew up in the housing projects that’s why I referenced them earlier. You know way back and one of the things that we felt was a real hostility between the city and our community and family. I knew my mother would always say, “When somebody with suits on knocks on the door, you don’t answer that door. Don’t answer it, don’t look out the window, make sure that your father’s slippers are hid, put somewhere else,” because we were on welfare. So there seemed to be a we against them sort of mentality. And I think that that has, and there’s still some of that, but I think it’s decreasing. There’s not as much hostility in seeing people who are kind of affiliated, representatives of the city with those who are living in the communities. I think that gap has lessened. And I think a lot of that has a lot to do with having people of color in those systems that the city runs. There’s nothing like being able to see somebody that looks like you affiliated with the city operations.
Ralph: 28:12 Mayor Sayles Belton when she was the mayor, Erin
, the now police chief, I know this is Saint Paul but mayor Coleman of Saint Paul. Still I think you know it says something about the twin cities. Just seeing people that look like you. Am I still on point with the question? ‘Cause but I forgot what the question …
Interviewer: 28:41 You’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine.
Ralph: 28:45 So you know, I see represented there that there is some traction, and I think as long as we try to keep the communication … Lines of communication open between city residents get some good feedback, allow for positive conflict to take place, constructive differences to be voiced and mitigated. I think the future looks bright.
Interviewer: 29:16 So what are your expectations of the city of Minneapolis? I think you kind of answered this one, so I guess the question is gonna be: what are your expectations of Minneapolis relative to this community? And I think you kind of answered that so I’ll just go to the second question which is to what extent do you trust that they’ll do the things that you expect them to do?
Ralph: 29:41 Well my trust is great as long as there’s input. Real, sincere, just input, communication’s open, representation of various levels of the city government from the citizenry at large. I’m very, very hopeful. Very, very, very hopeful.
Interviewer: 30:08 Okay, so on a scale of one to ten, where do you put them at with the input?
Ralph: 30:15 I’d say about a six. Yeah, I’d say about a six. But looking historically back I would you know … So it’s come from probably in my mind, a one or two to a six. But still a long ways to go.
Interviewer: 30:32 Alright.
Interviewer: 30:35 What part do you feel you could play in creating that more hopeful future?
Ralph: 30:42 That’s a good question. I think that Pastor Alika said it earlier that we are liberation theologians, I think if we continue to do our job here in that the church that will help because our call’s consistently to work towards freedom of the people from abased work, challenging systemic oppression, we’re doing a North Side Healing Space program that we’ll hear of and begin some time in the near future. If we continue to do that, that will contribute to the city becoming a better place to live. And as we continue to tell our people to resist, resist, resist, resist, don’t feel like you don’t have any power. As one community leader told me in the south of Atlanta, female, about the housing projects she said, “Just say it. Whether your verbs line up or not, just say it. Just keep on talking and keep on expressing where your position is.” So if we continue to empowering people to speak out, to continue to reach out, make coalitions, build partnerships for the sake of justice, fairness, inclusion then the city will move in the right direction. But we’ve got to do our part and that is to work towards that end together. It’s not just the city, it’s all of us.
Interviewer: 32:11 That is all of our questions for today, Pastor.
Ralph: 32:14 Okay, great, great. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful work that you’re doing.
Interviewer: 32:18 Thank you.