20th Century, Black History, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Minnesota, omnipresent history

The Unrestful Night on Plymouth Avenue

Knox Food Market, 1819 Plymouth Ave. William Seaman | Minneapolis Star and Tribune Negatives | Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society. mprnews.org

On the night of July 19, 1967, racial tension in North Minneapolis erupted along Plymouth Avenue in a series of acts of arson, assaults, and vandalism. The violence, which lasted for three nights, is often linked with other race-related demonstrations in cities across the nation during 1967’s “long hot summer.” *

For those in the hippie or peace movements, 1967 represented the “Summer of Love”. Simultaneously, black Americans living in the centrums of the great cities of the United States had much different experiences alleging: chronic unemployment, unlawful detainments by their local police, and poor housing demonstrated uneven enforcement and application of the law. The hope created in the Civil Rights movement met the reality of deferred and disrupted implementation. These unmet expectations spilled over in 159 racial riots across our nation during the months of June and July of this year in: Atlanta, Buffalo, Cambridge, Cincinnati, Portland, Riviera Beach, Saginaw, Tampa, Detroit, Birmingham, Chicago, New York City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Britain, Rochester, Plainfield, Toledo, and Newark. **
But what were the local effects of the “Long, Hot Summer” of 1967? Susan Marks, in her article for the online MNopedia of the Minnesota Historical Society provides us an outline to put this event in proper context. ***

“Chronology

1950s
Unequal housing and job opportunities strain previously friendly relationships between the Northside’s black and Jewish communities. Though many Jewish people move out of the neighborhood, several Jewish-owned businesses remain open on Plymouth Avenue.

1965
African Americans make up 4 percent of Minnesota’s population. A large number of newly arrived immigrants settle on the “Near North Side.”

August 1966
After incidents of looting and arson in North Minneapolis, Mayor Arthur Naftalin meets with representatives of the black community and promises to help improve local conditions.

1966
The Way Opportunities Unlimited, Inc. (The Way) opens in North Minneapolis. It attempts to empower the black community and provide economic opportunities.

Summer 1967
Opportunities for black citizens in North Minneapolis remain poor.

July 19, 1967
Violence erupts on Plymouth Avenue just before 11:30 p.m. Knox Food Market, a Jewish-owned business, is set on fire.
11:30 p.m.
Molotov cocktails are thrown at the home of Minneapolis Fifth Ward Alderman Joe Greenstein.
11:48 p.m.
Riot police arrive in North Minneapolis to restore order.

July 20, 1967
At 12:15 a.m., a crowd moves toward the Homewood Theater, a Jewish-owned venue. Police make several arrests.
11:30 p.m.
Alderman Greenstein’s garage is set on fire, but saved.

July 21, 1967
Samuel Simmons, an African American man, is shot at Wayne’s Bar at 12:30 AM.
12:30 a.m.
Silver’s Food Market and Country House Market—two Jewish-owned businesses— are set on fire.
1:05 a.m.
Police arrive and form a skirmish line.
9:15 a.m.
National Guardsmen arrive.

July 22, 1967
The unrest ends. National Guardsmen continue to occupy North Minneapolis for one week.”

We find another outstanding primary source of information on these nights of unrest in North Minneapolis from the archives of ABC News, as cited by Hezakya Newz. This original newscast, about 25 minutes long, is a plethora of interviews of locals and their take on what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. The most compelling interview, in the opinion of the author, is found at 11:52 – 13:58 of local Civil Rights leader; Mr. Harry S. Davis. Please read the transcript below.

“Q: Mr. Davis, how do you size up what happened here last night?

A: It started, because, for about three weeks now rumors have been flying around through the power structure, for one, that there was going to be a riot.
…For instance, the police had a riot control training program just Tuesday of this week…
Now, understanding the emotions of men, especially policemen, who are on the police force for a number of reasons, and the slightest little thing that would happen would force them into doing something, and this is what happened last night.
Two girls got into an argument; a fight. The police, one of the fellas was trying to separate them, the police saw this thing, they were ready and armed, and they started knocking, pushing, hitting people, and they (the people) began to retaliate.”

Q: Do you blame this on the police then? Is that it?

A: I blame this on the temperament of the power structure for alarming the community to the point that this thing had to happen.

Q: What do you mean by power structure? I mean from the governor on down to the lowest man within the system that makes decisions.

Q: They were predicting riots?

A: Right! They were predicting riots.” ****

In sum, we arrive at these general truths: there existed a nation-wide expression of dissent, locally, we find a historical trail that led us to the Plymouth Avenue riots, and a prominent witness of the anticipation of city and state governments of riotous conditions.
Since the advent of televised reporting in this era, we see some evidence of the democratization of outrage; local events sparking nation-wide acts of empathetical protest. We see in local history that when representative government “kicks the can down the road”, (fails to respond to the present), the result is often multiplied and intensified towards uninvolved third parties “getting their can kicked”! Maybe Plymouth Avenue is an example of predictive programming? What happens when locals no longer trust the law and the good faith of authorities, but find only policies to punish disagreement? Or did this event expose the hair-trigger of our local government’s misbeliefs; when they look for riots they surely find them?

With our hands lifted up, we kneel before the Just One; we can’t figure out the night of July 19, 1967 and we surrender! We remember that You are the continual Seat of Authority over this universe. We recall that the Council of Heaven longs for the expression of justice on earth “as it is in Heaven”! Enlighten us to intercede for this event 53 years ago. According to Your system of justice, let us: acknowledge individual and collective judgments and offenses against You, our neighbors, and ourselves within these nights in Minneapolis and the “Long, Hot Summer” of 1967. Come, heal our system of government in the Twin Cities and Minnesota! Come, free us from repeating the same cycles of fear, prejudice, racism, and bitter-root judgments that lock us into eternal conflict with You and our fellow man. Like the Pilgrim’s, make Plymouth the last port before sailing on to the Promised Land.

Let’s begin our confession of a giant source of pain; the democratization of outrage. Lord, by this I mean that at times we respond, bodily and emotionally, to local stories on a national, or even world-wide scale. We now, through media of all kinds, can witness the events of history closer and closer to the actual time of their occurrence. (This, of itself, is neither good nor bad, and I don’t condemn the technology or news gathering sources.)

Yet, Your spirit shows me this in our acts of democratized outrage; they split our souls in two. Can a man simultaneously walk forward while critically viewing himself from the outside taking a walk? Can we both live and analyze our acts of living at the same time? Isn’t this practice a form of DID (Dissociative identity disorder)? Will we be present-tense participants in our own lives, or passive and past-tense analysts of life? Does not our media intake create the possibility of a condition in which “two or more distinct identities or personality states” alternate in controlling the patient’s consciousness and behavior?

Let us learn and practice to be one as You are One! You are Eternally Present to all. Will You forgive us our split consciousness of July 19, 1967, and re-integrate us where we have allowed and practiced the democratization of outrage? Will You forgive us our mountains of judgments against You and our unknown neighbors whom we observe passively and from a distance through the minuscule peephole of a camera lens? There are so many perspectives outside the frame of a photo. A well-researched newspaper article is a two-dimensional facsimile of real life run through the filter and biases of: the owners of the news corporation, it’s advertisers, the publisher, editor, and the history, beliefs, and misbeliefs of the mind of its author! We have deeply offended our Maker in this. We have thoroughly engaged in the practice of snap-judgments of Your Mind, Your Justice, and Your Peoples both near and far! Will You take these root-misbeliefs, that we can be both the observers and participants of our lives, that we can make both passive and actively-minded just choices at the same time, up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ? Will You give us Your solidity of heart and mind? We need to do justly, and we need to learn how and when to control emotional responses while gratefully acknowledging that feelings are gifts from You for the betterment of our lives!

As for the next point of discussion and prayer, Father, we want to acknowledge some specific judgments and counter-judgments of this event.

We start with geography. We acknowledge that the Near North Side to be a place of generational racial judgments and redlining of the heart if not in the law and business practices of Minneapolis! We see a history, too long, of those deemed by the city or county as undesirable ethnically gathered into its neighborhoods; Slavic peoples, Jewish peoples, and African-American peoples. Forgive our city these judgments of Slavs, Jews, and Black Americans as well as the counter-judgments of these groups towards Minneapolis.

We acknowledge the sins and separations of place to You. Will You heal the pain of: Plymouth Avenue, of Broadway and West Broadway, The Way, Knox Food Market, Homewood Theatre, Wayne’s Bar, Silver’s Food Market, Country House Market, Alderman Joe Greenstein’s home and garage, and any other square foot of ground embroiled in this conflict? We invite Your Presence into these specific locations, businesses, and any other unnamed places of conflict in the Plymouth Riots of 1967. Will You restore and create balance where injustices in all directions have occurred?
We declare that the Near North of Minneapolis is Your neighborhood where all men and women of peace are invited!

We move next to general historic realities of the Northside, and again, it’s A-B judgments.

We remember a reality of unequal opportunities and apportionment of the laws of Minnesota and Minneapolis towards various ethnicities, including but not limited to: Slavs, Jewish, and Black communities. We ask forgiveness of this daisy-chain of judgment: of historic leaders of Minneapolis towards Slavs, who judged the Jews, who judged the African American. We ask for the release of the history of counter-judgments of all these parties towards each other, our city, and our state. We have failed You first in this, Father.

Will You forgive the judgments of this neighborhood towards each successive wave of immigration or migration of large groups of “new” ethnicities? Will You forgive Your African-American people their envy, jealousy, and judgments of the established Jewish businesses and culture of the Near North? Will You forgive Your Jewish-American people their judgments and failures to see the Image of G-d in their new African-American neighbors of the 1950-60’s?

We see and acknowledge the evil of looting and arson in this event. We remember the physical destruction of primarily Jewish-owned businesses at the hands of primarily African-American rioters and arsonists. We acknowledge these crimes of judgment and counter-judgment. We condemn crime against Your peoples of any ethnicity, or the assumption of criminality based on one’s ethnicity. We recognize that the majority of all residents of the Near North did not participate in violence against property or persons. We recognize that much of these offense were committed by the young and inexperienced in life. Will You forgive the foolishness of these youths? Will You hear the defiance of those fully aware of these acts, and separate out those with a heart for justice from those simply intent on destruction and looting? Will You take this pain, up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ? As we have judged our neighbor, we have falsely judged You and greatly offended the Only Just One of the universe; have mercy!

Finally, we remember the individuals most offended on these nights of July 1967.
We remember the specific targeting of Alderman Joe Greenstein.
We remember the shooting of Samuel Simmons.
We remember the leadership of Harry S. Davis.
We remember the leadership of Mayor Arthur Naftalin.
We remember the injured and unnamed: of the African-American community, of the Minneapolis Police, of the Minnesota National Guard.
Each of the offenses, crimes, and judgments against these is an affront to You personally and Your Justice. Will You take this brokenness; up, out, and onto the Cross? Will You forgive us where we have made Your neighborhood, the Northside, into an unforgiving and unyielding place? We speak against the fires of the past and ask that You make this a place of construction and growth. We speak against the looting of 1967, and invite Your Spirit of giving. Will You make this the most generous African-American neighborhood in Minnesota? Will You erase our democratization of outrage in Minnesota, and replace it with the democratization of those engaged? We love You. We need You to survive. Amen!

P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** McLaughlin, Malcolm (2014). “The Long, Hot Summer of 1967: Urban Rebellion in America”. Palgrave Macmillan.
*** Marks, Susan (2015). “Civil Unrest on Plymouth Avenue, Minneapolis, 1967”, Minnesota Historical Society. Internet. https://www.mnopedia.org/event/civil-unrest-plymouth-avenue-minneapolis-1967
**** Hezakya New & Films. “1967 SPECIAL REPORT: “MINNEAPOLIS RACE RIOTS”. ABC News. Video Source. YouTube. June 29,2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5swH1_r9OI

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20th Century, Americana, baseball, History, Minnesota, omnipresent history

Minnesota Twins First Game

1961 Press Photo Calvin Griffith, Cookie Lavagetto. origins unknown.

1961
Calvin Griffith’s Washington Senators are reborn as the Minnesota Twins. They lose ninety games in 1961, but Killebrew, Battey, and Kaat lead them to an American League pennant four years later.*

The history of the Twins is like an old baseball, two pieces of horsehide** somehow stitched together around a lot of yarns! In this case, the Saint Paul Saints and the Minneapolis Millers fans yielded a potent and sometimes violent 59 year rivalry (1902-1960) to back the new team in town. Gone were the days of streetcar double headers where fans and players alike could wind up bloodied by spikes and baseball bats in grudge matches both on and off the field for supporting their team. Baseball was about to become a bona fide professional sport when Calvin Griffith brought the Washington (DC) Nationals/Senators to town and renamed them the “Minnesota Twins”! ***

To backtrack a bit, Calvin Robertson may never had pursued a lifetime of baseball were it not for the tragedy of losing his father James at a young age. At age 11, the boy was taken in by his aunt Addie, whose husband Clark Griffith owned the Washington Senators, and the couple raised him as a Griffith. This meant his participation in baseball: he immediately worked as a batboy for the Senators through his childhood, and went on to both pitch and catch for at George Washington University.***

After university, he entered headlong into the business of baseball. He worked various office positions for farm clubs for the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Charlotte Hornets. **** Returning to DC, Calvin filled a variety of roles in the front office, and gained the trust and business acumen to assume more and more leadership roles. When his uncle passed in 1955, he was elected the President of the team that Clark had built.

Always a close-knit crew, Mr. Griffith and his sister Thelma inherited 52% of the franchise, and they populated its leadership with kin. Take for example that the positions of pitching instructor, farm director, stadium supervisor, and concessions were filled by their brothers and in-laws. In spite of the solid economic footing provided by their adoptive father, the club strained to fill the seats, and Calvin sought a way out of the doldrums in DC. ***

At a serendipitous moment, investors from Minnesota guaranteed $430,000 a year and attendance of 750,000 just as many in the American League were in a mood to expand. On October 26, 1960, it voted to expand to 10 teams and allow the move that Griffith longed to make.**** In their first season in 1961, attendance went from 743,404 to 1,256,743 fans, and the team placed 7th in the league.***** Within five years, they would arrive at the World Series led by superstar hitter Harmon Killebrew, and thereafter be taken as a team to contend with.

So now we come to the All; the Champion of the Universe! We remember today that You chose to include us in the business of Your family, and even to intimately know Your thoughts. You have searched for us when we weren’t even looking for You; You have adopted so many into Your family. All-Knowing One, can we sit with You and remember this time in history, and the lessons from the life of Mr. Calvin Robertson Griffith?

We initiate our prayer with remembering the power of Our Heavenly Father who chooses us. We commend to You Clark Griffith and whatever method You worked in his heart to want little Calvin. We applaud a man who took in a son just because that boy needed him, and then built him up the rest of his life. We are happy to learn the good story of Clark and Calvin Griffith.

We thank You that, perhaps, precisely because he was fathered into the family business, he could also be the conduit of blessing for so many in his immediate family. We thank You that a man who was mentored through every step of the ladder of success by his dad also had the ability to bring that out in his staff and players. We thank You for all the lessons learned between 1922 and 1961 on his slow path to ownership and success. Will You give us the diligence to pursue our goals, even if it takes forty years?

Again and again, we thank You that his determined persistence turned out to be the antidote for the schisms of our twin rivalry between Minneapolis and St. Paul. We had 60 years of experience in baseball before Calvin Griffith, yet we failed as fans and farm teams because our overidentification with our teams and the honor of our cities. How did this outsider teach us to just “play ball”? How did he ease us past some of our pettiness that couldn’t abide the letter ‘M’ on our ball caps because it might just mean ‘Minneapolis’ instead of ‘Minnesota’? Even the “TC” logo is a testament of binding the “Twin Cities” together under one roof to become one team.

Lord, we also remember to You the shortcomings of Griffith as father of the Twins. Though made in private, he allegedly made statements about choosing this city for expansion instead of New Orleans as follows,
“I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota,” he said. “It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don’t go to ball games, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death. It’s unbelievable. We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking, white people here.” *******
This statement deeply wounded his star player Rod Carew. Carew left the team shortly thereafter for the Los Angeles Angels. And to the Hall of Fame.

Years later, Rod Carew gave this assessment of Mr. Griffith:
“When he traded me prior to the 1979 season, Calvin told me he wanted me to be paid what I was worth. Later that year the Angels made me the highest paid player in baseball. A racist wouldn’t have done that.”********

Lord, will You forgive Calvin Griffith his bitter root judgments of African Americans, New Orleans, and the Twin Cities? Will You forgive any counter-judgments made towards him by the fans and players of this state? Will You help us forgive our biological fathers, figurative fathers, mentors, and coaches when they have betrayed us? Will You heal the pain of these our Twins? Take these sins and separations up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ. Help us reach out; across the Mississippi or any other barrier, until we are on the same team again!

“The Law came, so that the full power of sin could be seen. Yet where sin was powerful, God’s gift of undeserved grace was even more powerful.” Romans 5:20 CEV******

P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1676509-the-evolution-of-the-baseball-from-the-dead-ball-era-through-today
*** Hennessey, Keith. “Calvin Griffith” Society for American Baseball Research. Internet. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/calvin-griffith/
**** Internet. “Calvin Griffith” Baseball Reference. https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Calvin_Griffith
*****Ison, Jordan. “Minnesota Twins: On This Day in 1961, the Twins made their Minnesota Debut”. Puckett’s Pond. Internet. https://puckettspond.com/2021/04/19/willians-astudillo-pitched-breakingt-made-awesome-shirt/
****** https://biblehub.com/parallel/romans/5-20.htm
******* Calcaterra, Craig. “Twins have removed the Calvin Griffith statue”. Internet. NBC Sports. June 19, 2020. https://mlb.nbcsports.com/2020/06/19/twins-have-removed-the-calvin-griffith-statue/
******** Carew, Rod. “STATEMENT FROM ROD CAREW ON CALVIN GRIFFITH” (PDF). KSTP. Retrieved June 19, 2020.

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20th Century, African American, History, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Uncategorized

Rondo Neighborhood Removed

The Place to Be. blackthen.com

1959
Freeway construction passes through established neighborhoods in the Twin Cites. The Rondo neighborhood, long a center of black community life in St. Paul, is razed to make way for Interstate 94. Four hundred houses are condemned and torn down.*

“If New York has its Lenox avenue, Chicago its State street, Philadelphia its Wylie avenue, Kansas City its Eighteenth Street, and Memphis its Beale street, just as surely has St. Paul a riot of warmth, and color, and feeling, and sound in Rondo street.” 
–Earl Wilkins, The St. Paul Echo, September 18, 1926**

Connecting the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul had long been in the minds of local civil engineers. The excerpt below from the MNopedia article by Ehsan Alam sums up their thoughts rather precisely.
“In the 1930s, commuters and city planners began to call for a highway linking the business districts of downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis. After World War II, city engineers chose St. Anthony Avenue as the route. This street was located between University Ave and Marshall Avenue, and went all the way to Minneapolis.”***

Yet, that is not the whole story. We find that there is a viable alternative to either Rondo or St. Anthony Avenues that wouldn’t split an existing neighborhood in half. Minnehaha Avenue, now known as Pierce Butler Route, is road that runs adjacent to the rail lines between Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Often, the land adjacent to rail lines is already publicly owned, and would suggest that this route may encroach less on neighborhoods and privately owned property. ****

Given these circumstances, one wonders “Why did these cities and Federal Department of Transportation leaders choose to place I-94 through many neighborhoods (including Rondo) instead of adjacent to them?” In any type of city planning or civil engineering events, there are myriads of motives and opinions that compete to be heard. Below, we explore a few hypotheses.

George Herbert Herrold, an engineer and city planner far and away has the most documentation of the City Planning Board of St. Paul, Minnesota. His manuscript covers a 33 year time frame from the start of the Board in 1920 until 1953; just the years that would tell us of their motives, studies, and actions. This research suggests that the city had an interest in eliminating slums. To elaborate, their working definition of a slum constituted a neighborhood with a high percentage of rental properties whose owners did not live in the neighborhood. *

However, what the Board defined as “slums” also was home to the largest African-American neighborhood in St. Paul. Granted, there were some run-down rentals, but there were also a large contingency of fine homes belonging to Rondo’s middle-class residents. Rondo had a population of roughly 30,000 of which about one-third were black, and the remainder composed by Italians, Jews, Native Americans, and a sprinkling of other ethnicities. It is precisely because of Rondo’s diverse assemblage that suspicions of “red-lining” or racist motives arise in criticism of St. Paul’s role in routing I-94 through this neighborhood.******

In contrast, we find evidence that does not support this conclusion. Department of Transportation employees did extensive studies on both alternatives, as they did elsewhere through the Interstate Highway System. Commonly, this looks like engineers doing on-site observations and gathering data: counting cars on every East-West thoroughfare, establishing “desire lines” (i.e. which roads are most preferred), collecting data on rush hour usage, travel times from origin to destination, etc. Of these DOT engineers professor C. Wells of Macalester College states, “the process that they went through would seem to suggest that race had nothing to do with it…”. **** The data collected suggests that the direct route along St. Anthony Avenue was the preferred route, and support for the “northern route” along Pierce Butler and the railway diminished.

As the neighborhood of Rondo saw the writing on the wall, they peacefully protested and gained concessions. According to the research of Mark Simonsen, their focus became the four points listed below.
1. Stay in homes as long as possible.
2. Receive Fair Market Value for homes.
3. Depress the freeway below street level.
4. Requested that they be able to buy new homes anywhere they could afford them. (Open Housing Law)****
Residents won the first three of these requests, but failed to enact the Open Housing Law. In fact, even the city of Saint Paul declined to honor the Open Housing Law within its boundaries. It’s City Attorney denied O.H.L. on the basis that it conflicted with Minnesota’s constitution; sellers could legally choose to whom they sold their property. ****
Shall we pray? Eternal Father, we are reminded of your words of promise today as we sit and watch this snapshot of history that physically divided the Rondo neighborhood with an Interstate.
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for the sake of My name will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Matthew 19:29-30 BSB *
We love that we can always come to You for a hearing, and that Your Hearing and Presence bring justice! Be forever praised!

As a starting point, we acknowledge that You provided two paths for Interstate I-94. We acknowledge that the outcome of following the less disruptive “northern route” may never be known. Yet, there was a solid opportunity to choose a route that had less impact on human lives and relationships. Did we miss You in this? Maybe so. In any case, we acknowledge that we chose the road that wrecked neighborhoods. Will You forgive the seeds of division sown in this moment by the proponents and opponents of running the highway by the railway? Where we judged our neighbor, we have offended You; will You heal the past, free the present, and bless the future in this decision of 1959?

Next, we see the depth of consideration and the data collected to resolve this issue. We remember that the DOT and civil engineers went out into the neighborhoods between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and actually observed where our people drove, how many, and how long it took them to arrive at their destination. Like Your message to the prophet Isaiah, You continually invite us to “come now and reason together”. You are not threatened by our observations, science, data, or investigations!

We thank You that the numbers don’t lie, or in this case, the numbers don’t lie about where we drive; we voted with our wheels. Yet, we fully acknowledge that though “numbers don’t lie”, we are often skewed by our own biases as we interpret them! Will You lift the suspicion of these studies up, out, and onto the Cross? Will You be with us as we reconsider this moment with You?

To continue, we see this data filtered through the distorted looking glass of banking. As a short backstory, we find that the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) had created a system of segregation, real ethnic and racial division, and negated facts that challenged their narrative. It is here, if I can be so bold Lord, that I see some of the ugliest acts of racism and ethnocentrism committed in St. Paul of this era. It is a fact that the FHA created maps based on ethnicity and race. It appears that though the FHA commenced with noble pursuits, in reality it fostered and reinforced the racialization of space.

Lord have mercy! Christ have mercy! We allowed these dreams of placing a home within reach of all to take a wrecking ball to those deemed not worthy by bureaucrats! We give You the damage caused by our State and Federal government’s judgments contained in the word “slums”. We acknowledge to You all the pain and falsehoods spoken over the residents of Rondo like, “a black family will not be given a home loan west of Lexington Avenue.” We acknowledge the defilement of this land through judgment and counter-judgment: from the Mississippi River to Marion Street, from University Avenue to Marshall Avenue; this land is Your land! Will You take these lies, curses, unbeliefs, and misbeliefs up, out, and onto the Cross?

Conversely, will You speak truth to cursed ears and broken hearts? Will You impart life where it has been crushed and stunted? Will You uproot those who have negated human choice because it interferes with their vision of what “helping” looks like? Will You release Your Holy Spirit, and replace the memory of wrecking balls with “Welcome” mats in this Rondo corridor forever?

“Do not afflict your countrymen, but let every one fear his G-d: because I am the Lord your G-d.” Levitcus 25:17 Douay-Rheims Bible

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20th Century, African American, Black History, ekklesia, History

“Muffle Your Rage”: Civil Rights Leader Roy Wilkins

Roy Wilkins postage stamp, ame-sac.org

April 1955 to August 1977
“Saint Paul’s Roy Wilkins becomes a national leader in the civil rights movement during its most turbulent and productive years. In April 1955, Wilkins is named executive secretary (the title was later changed to executive director in 1964) of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He serves in that position until August 1977.
Wilkins participates in the March on Washington (1963), the Selma to Montgomery marches (1965), and the March Against Fear (1966).
In 1969 President Lyndon B. Johnson will bestow the Medal of Freedom on Mr. Wilkins, the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States.” *

Roy Wilkins landed in Saint Paul, Minnesota circa 1906 after losing his mother. Raised by an aunt and uncle, he attended an integrated school, (much to his pleasure), and grew up happy in a blue-collar neighborhood. After high school, Roy attended the University of Minnesota gaining a degree in sociology with a minor in journalism. His articulate writing led to multiple positions as a journalist reporting for: “Minnesota Daily”, “Kansas City Call”, “St. Paul Appeal”, and “The Crisis”. ,*

Returning to Missouri with his bride Minnie, his birthplace, Mr. Wilkins noted the atmosphere of racism surrounding Kansas City. To use his own words, “…even good manners could be a crime for a black man.” ** Such experiences made the Wilkin’s family take note of differing treatment of African Americans regionally, and so moved him to join the NAACP where he served his community continuously from 1934 until 1977.

What one finds most characteristic about him in the era he led the NAACP, (1955-1977), is his model of peaceful dissent. He wanted to exhort and persuade society, and make legal changes following a Constitutional process. In the words of the NAACP,
“Wilkins strongly opposed militancy in the movement for civil rights as represented by the “black power” movement.” *** In agreement, the Black Heritage Commemorative Society stated the following about Executive Director Wilkins:
“…the militant “black power” movements of the 1970s, including the Black Muslims and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, faulted Wilkins and the NAACP for failing to take more direct action. Wilkins held unswervingly to the principal of democratic processes within the legislative system, saying: “Muffle your rage. Get smart instead of muscular.”” **

How did Roy Wilkins sum up his life’s work? Again, we let the man speak for himself.

“Without us, without our struggle, the country would have floundered in moral emptiness long ago. We must never lose faith in the justness of our cause and the certainty of our success. We have tried to create a nation where all men would be equal in the eyes of the law, where all citizens would be judged on their own abilities, not their race.”
-(Excerpt from “Standing Fast: The Autobiography of Roy Wilkins” by Roy Wilkins and Tom Mathews, 1982.)

With these words ringing in our ears, we turn to the Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, how proud we are of Your commitment to all of Your human family throughout history!
We remember this song of David to You; Our Dear One.

“When they were few in number,
few indeed, and strangers in the land,
they wandered from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another.

He let no man oppress them;
He rebuked kings on their behalf:
‘Do not touch My anointed ones!
Do no harm to My prophets!’

Sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Proclaim His salvation day after day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all peoples.
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but it is the LORD who made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before Him;
strength and joy fill His dwelling.
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the nations,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name;
bring an offering and come before Him.” ****

Eternal Father, how fitting this song is for the life of Roy Wilkins, and his tireless advocacy for African-Americans! He followed Your example, but instead of rebuking kings he challenged the Presidents of the United States. Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter all listened to his message to: impute, assign, attribute, evaluate, and pass fair judgment on Americans of African descent.

We see such powerful examples of Your masculine strength of love in his determination. Again, we also see Your strength under control in his actions; though he had reason to rage, he put it away. He communicated deliberately, continuously, and took the painful slow path to persuasion and success. How grateful we are to You for his message and methods to convey it!

We acknowledge to You: by the Cross of Christ, by the blood of Christ, by the Resurrection of Christ, and Your unchanging Word, the bitter root judgments and curses made against Roy Wilkins, Black citizens of Minnesota, and Black America in his era. We name names of only some of these generational root sins: enslaving Africans, transporting Africans to America against their will, embittering their lives with hard labor, judgments based in ethnocentrism of their: appearance, lifestyle, culture, dreams and abilities, that all dark-skinned people think alike and share the same culture, judgments stemming from their participation in the Civil, Spanish, WWI, WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam, judgments made on their Republicanism, judgments made on their Democratism, judgments made on their acceptance of the New Deal, FERA (Federal Relief Emergency Administration), judgments made on their acceptance of welfare: Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, Housing Assistance, and Food Stamps, and finally the political judgments made upon the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and denying the Image of G-d in His Black peoples? Will You take this pain: up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ?

Conversely, will You forgive the counter bitter root judgments of African American culture of Wilkins era against their non-Black neighbors in Minnesota and the greater United States? We name names of only some of these generational root sins: ethnocentrism against the: appearance, lifestyle, culture, dreams and abilities of non-African-Americans, that all light-skinned people think alike and share the same culture, their Democratism or Republicanism, and denying the Image of G-d in His Non-Black peoples? Will You take this pain up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ?

By the Authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, His Cross, His Blood, His Resurrection, and His eternal word we announce His forgiveness of these bitter root judgments, experiences, and curses of Minnesota and the greater United States during the decades of Director Wilkin’s career with the NAACP. Will You breathe life into his wisdom for all of us to; “Muffle our rage. Get smart instead of muscular.”?

Will You give us impartations of love to see Your Masterpiece: the African-American human being before us? Will You give us favor, Holy Spirit to see Your Masterpiece, the non-African American human being before us? May we “Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations” the dignity and beauty of His handiwork both in the present and until He returns! By the Authority of the One existing before all races, and for whom all races exist! Amen!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** From “Black History Now”, an excellent source of biographies for heroes of the Civil Rights movement. http://blackhistorynow.com/roy-wilkins/
*** https://www.naacp.org/naacp-history-roy-wilkins/
**** Excerpt of I Chronicles 16:19-29. https://biblehub.com/bsb/1_chronicles/16.htm

“Black History Month: Roy Wilkins. City of Saint Paul Minnesota Media Services. 2005.
“Roy Wilkins: The Right to Dignity”. Public Resource Org. ARC Identifier 2546045 / Local Identifier 306.289. 1982 – 10/01/1999
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19th Century, Civil War, cultural transference, History, Indian, Intercession, Minnesota, Native Americans, Politics, State Government, U.S. Government, war

U.S. – Dakota War Begins

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August 18, 1862

“See the white men are like locusts when they fly so thick that the whole sky is a snow storm. . . . Count your fingers all day long and white men will come faster than you can count.” Taoyateduta (Little Crow) By the summer of 1862, life on the Upper and Lower Sioux reservations is unpleasant and getting worse. Assimilation policies mandated by the U.S. government use the withholding of food and other supplies as a means of forcing the Dakota to conform to white ideals. “The whites were always trying to make the Indians give up their life and live like white men,” said Dakota leader Wamditanka (Big Eagle). “The Indians wanted to live as they did before. . . . If the Indians had tried to make the whites live like them, the whites would have resisted, and it was the same way with many Indians.” The appointment of Thomas J. Galbraith as Indian Agent at Upper and Lower Sioux exacerbates the situation. Galbraith, a political appointee who knows nothing about Indians, is considered arrogant, emotionally unstable, and rigid in his adherence to rules. By the summer of 1862 tensions on the reservation are unbearable. Annuity payments are late again, and the traders refuse to extend further credit. The Dakota “Soldiers’ Lodge” advocates the use of force to acquire food for the Dakota people. The situation falls apart in mid-August, when four young Dakota men kill five settlers near Acton. The Soldiers’ Lodge gains power and convinces a reluctant Taoyateduta (Little Crow) to lead the fight against the traders and settlers. Dakota warriors attack the Lower Sioux Agency in the early morning of August 18, killing traders and government employees. The Dakota then attack settlements along the Minnesota River valley, killing hundreds of white settlers in the first few days. A U.S. Army force sent up from Fort Ridgely is ambushed at Redwood Ferry; 24 soldiers are killed. The Dakota forces are primarily young men, mostly from the Mdewakanton band, led by Chiefs Sakpe (Shakopee), Medicine Bottle, Taoyateduta (Little Crow), Wamditanka (Big Eagle), and Mankato. Most Dakota, however, choose not to fight.” *

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When another group of Indians appeared at the Lower Sioux stores on August 15, Indian Agent Thomas Galbraith wouldn’t let them take any food since they didn’t have any money. Payments to the Indians had not been made, partly because of delays caused by the American Civil War. When the tribesmen appealed to Myrick to allow them to take food on credit, he said, “So far as I am concerned, if they are hungry let them eat grass or their own dung.” **
Eternal Father, first of all, let me confess the harsh words of Andrew Myrick as sin against You first, and secondly to the Sioux and Dakota nations. “So far as I am concerned, if they are so hungry let them eat grass or their own dung.” I can only imagine the parental protectiveness in Your heart; “You said what to my starving kids?!” We don’t often ponder the depths of emotional pain a foolish action causes You. As the author of all emotions, will You forgive this heartache caused in the name of our state and nation?
We are guilty of speaking harsh words against our brothers made in Your image! Forgive us this offense! Jesus, will You bring Your healing presence into this meeting on August 15, 1862? Will You replace the curses, spoken and unspoken, between Sioux, Dakota, Galbraith, Myrick, the State of Minnesota, the United States, the parties unknown, and heal the land with Your blessing?

As Your child, I want to extend forgiveness to the Mdewakanton and Dakota tribes, the chiefs Sakpe, Medicine Bottle, Taoyateduta, Wamditanka, and Mankato for responding to this horrible offense in violence and bloodshed. Will You replace this specific curse with a blessing on them, their generations, their dwellings and property? As Your child and a citizen of Minnesota, I want to ask forgiveness of You and the aforementioned parties for the deadly counter-response to this conflict committed in its name, and the name of the United States. Forgive the haste, and the unwillingness of our government to assess if we, indeed, had not kept our promise to pay annuity payments on schedule! Have mercy on us Jesus! Keep bringing us to full restoration with You and each other in response to this event!

Conversely, will You forgive the youthful responses of the warriors that pushed a violent solution to a practical problem? Granted, these tribes had just endured years of deprivation of their lands at the hands of our government and its’ associates. Those that had mistreated the tribes, in a better world, should have been morally and legally liable for ensuring the sustenance of the Mdewakanton Band.

This event shows the cycle of judgment and counter-judgment more clearly than most in the history of Minnesota. For example?
Myrick harshly judges the young Mdewankanton, and cannot see his atrocity of withholding food and provisions to the displaced peoples in front of his eyes. He also commits the sin of “just following orders” instead of using his common sense, and shows no interest in truly assessing the pain of the Mdewankanton who were legally swindled out of their homeland by the US. Government and its’ agents. In effect, their people were transferred from a state of independence to dependence on government for their provisions.
Young Mdewankanton warriors harshly judge their non-Native neighbors and transfer their righteous anger on the wrong recipients. They make the same mistake as Myrick; they cannot recognize the innocent, and viciously attack neighbors who did not agrees towards them.

Lord, will You forgive this transference of shame and rage at the hands of the young Mdewankanton towards those neighbors who did not oppose them? Will You forgive both parties their: inability or lack of communication, their lack of curiosity to know their neighbors, and profound lack of empathy? Will You bring healing to this bitter root grown in this era, free us to hear the needs of our neighbors in the present, and live in Your blessing and abundance in the future?

“Lord Jesus, we enthrone You, we proclaim You our King. Standing here in the midst of us, we raise You up with our praise…” ***

*http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** Folwell, William Watts. “A history of Minnesota.” St. Paul, Minnesota: St. Paul, Minnesota Historical Society. P 233. Internet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Myrick
*** For the rest of the lyrics of this beautiful song by Paul Kyle, follow the link. http://higherpraise.com/lyrics/love/love853214.htm

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19th Century, Black History, Culture, History, Intercession, Minnesota, women

Rebuffing Slavery  

Eliza Winston

Eliza Winston, nanny,  circa 1860

 

1860

“Slave Eliza Winston accompanies a Mississippi family to Minneapolis. When free blacks and white abolitionists learn that Eliza wants her freedom, they complain to a judge who orders her freed. Some pro-slavery people become angry at the court’s decision; Eliza is sent to Canada for her safety.” *

Thank You for Eliza Winston, and for that You had a purpose in her trip to Minneapolis long before she knew about it. Thank You for Your awareness of every pain, and every tragedy. Thank You that spoke through Paul for the freeing of the slave Onesimus, and therefore, it can be assured that freeing any slave is dear to Your heart.

Jesus, I know so little of this case, and I appeal to You to fill the blanks. Will You forgive the hostility Eliza received from here detractors here, and perhaps from the state court? Will You forgive those who harbored hostility towards her despite our state court’s decision?

G-d, I see the exposed roots of ethnocentrism and racism. Will You dry up these bad roots in Minnesota, and bless the heritage of Eliza Winston? Will You free her heritage from counter-judgments of our legal system, or any who would diminish a person’s value based on skin color? Will You shield us from making bad decisions because we are the object of wrath and anger?

http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

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19th Century, Agriculture, Emigration, Exploration, farming, Food, History, Immigration, Minnesota, Native Americans, State Government, trade, Treaties

Settlement in Minnesota 1849 to 1860

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“The number of non-Indian people in Minnesota jumps from 3,814 in 1849 to 172,072 in 1860, a 4,500 percent increase! The newcomers break sod, start businesses, plot towns, look for jobs, and dream of getting rich.

Pent-up demand for good agricultural land is the primary reason. Iowa and Wisconsin had been heavily settled and had both passed from territorial to statehood status by 1848. It had been dangerous and illegal to settle on land in most of Minnesota before treaties with the Dakota and the Ojibwe were signed. But after several treaties were ratified in the 1850s, the floodgates of migration burst open.” *

When we move, we make assessments of our new neighbors and neighborhood. They, in return, watch us move into their neighborhood, and may ‘size us up’ by our friendliness, possessions, (or lack of possessions), our physical appearance, etc. These assessments, I believe, are instincts designed for our survival, but must be tempered or they can morph into prejudice.

Lord, what were the judgments of these ‘new neighbors’ in Minnesota? Will You forgive us the inheritance of those who knowingly moved into the state illegally? Will You forgive the betrayals committed between settler and tribe, and their counter-betrayals? Will You break the power of the derogatory words and names given among these groups? Will You break the vows made in anger, envy, revenge, arrogance, unforgiveness, fear, and unbelief of each group towards its real or supposed nemesis?

Thinking about the impact of these past separations on the present, will You forgive the heart behind the relocation of Native Americans? Will you free us from the bondages and entanglements within poorly made treaties? Will You bring Your heart of restoration to Minnesota? Will You bring to light a new kind of history in Minnesota? Will You write a history that remembers the good, the pleasing, the fair, the gracious, the restored relationship on our hearts? Will you give us Your eyes to see our neighbors’ inherent value?

*mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

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18th Century, government, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, war

England claims 1763

Battle_of_Zorndorf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“England acquires France’s claims east of the Mississippi and all of Canada through the treaty that ends Europe’s Seven Years’ War.” *

Father, You have given us boundaries: as individuals, families, and nations! You  are a gentleman, and respect our self-imposed limits. You allow us to make good choices. You allow us to make bad choices. Thanks that You are our good dad who lets us learn through following our desires to their ends!

Lord will You unravel the tangle imposed by this claim? Lord, will you forgive any harsh judgments of the people of England, France, and their disputes surrounding the Mississippi? Will You forgive their land-based rivalries in Canada? Will You unite Minnesota in the heavens so we can be united as a people in our familial, social, political, and ethnical realms?

We judge each other so quickly and easily, forgetting that we too have betrayed. Have mercy on our assessments of other Minnesotans! Have mercy on the grudges of this state’s past, present, and future!

*Note – PrayThroughHistory uses the timeline located for several years at the Minnesota Historical Society Web site, at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm .  The current URL is www.dipity.com/Minnesota/History/Minnesota-History/ and only works if typed, not pasted, in browser. It is worth the effort!

 

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