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Continued: Site of racial showdown in Minneapolis heading to National Register

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 24, 2014 - 1:41 PM

Rucker worked with others, such as Parkway Theater and Pepito’s restaurant owner Joe Senkyr-Minjares, to create a stone and metal memorial featuring Arthur Lee’s profile and words to be placed on the property.

The 2011 dedication of the memorial drew about 440 people, who marched from nearby Field school to the Lee house. At the time, the Lees’ grandson Robert Forman spoke about not learning the full account of what happened until he was 40 years old.

The Lees’ story continues to reverberate around the city and has sparked a new look at other historic black landmarks.

Greg Poferl began teaching history at Cretin-Derham Hall and taught the Lee incident in class.

Last spring, two of his students, Molly Hynes and Emily Voigt, took first place among high school students at the state History Day competition for their exhibit on the Lees and also spent a day during the national competition sharing the Lees’ story at the National Museum of American History.

“In history books we didn’t learn about racism in the North,” Hynes said. “It just surprised me and shocked me.”

The only other such Minneapolis site on the national register is the Bryant neighborhood home of Lena O. Smith, the attorney and civil rights leader who represented the Lees in the uproar when they moved into their home.

Minneapolis City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden is determined to change that.

Work is now underway to build the case for local heritage preservation designation for the office of the 80-year-old Minnesota Spokesman Recorder, which bills itself as the state’s oldest minority-owned business.

The city’s Heritage Preservation Commission Tuesday ordered a study to see if the building is worthy of historic designation.

Glidden is now seeking suggestions for other sites associated with local black history that could be worthy of locally or national recognition.

The story of the Lee home has highlighted another reality for local advocates — Minneapolis knows very little about significant landmarks in the black community.

“We really need to people out there to tell us, ‘These are properties that are intimately connected with the African-American community,’” said Gardner, the historian for the Minnesota Historical Society.

 

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438

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