The Rondo Days Festival, inaugurated in 1983, is a reunion of the Black community of the Twin Cities. It memorializes and mourns a neighborhood gone, a neighborhood where residents “learned to fill the gaps in American history (Fairbanks 1999, 141), learned about the contributions and tribulations of their people. The celebration remembers when the creation of I-94 meant the destruction of a vibrant neighborhood, moving hundreds of families from a community of truly gracious homes to “substandard housing with bad wiring” (Baker 1994). Rondo Days celebrates a sense of community sustained in defiance of institutional racism and urban planning run amok. Interstate 94 was created to facilitate the movement of people in a time when cars were becoming more plentiful and traffic more congested. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 promised funding and the cheapest route cut through Rondo. Blacks experienced an otherwise hostile environment in St Paul specifically and Minnesota in general. Rondo Days brings together people who remember Rondo and those who don’t but who come together to build a sense of community. Before I talk about Rondo Days, I must contextualize the festival by briefly outlining the value of Rondo to the residents, the realities of structural racism that made the destruction of this community so devastating, and the story of Interstate 94 and how a Black community was dislocated into a redlined city.
Click, K. (2020, September 18). Rondo days [Conference session]. 2020 Northern Great Plains History Conference, Eau Claire, WI.
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