Event remembers black family terrorized in south Minneapolis

By Toni Randolph

A black family that was terrorized by whites in south Minneapolis when they bought a home in the neighborhood 80 years ago will be remembered during a community program Saturday, July 16. Organizers of "A Time to Remember: The Lee Family Commemorative Event" say the story of Arthur and Edith Lee's purchase of the home at 4600 Columbus Avenue will be retold during the program.


The Lees were among the few black families who bought homes in south Minneapolis in the 1930s. They moved into their home with their school-age daughter in July 1931. According to an article in the Minneapolis Journal, shortly after the Lees moved in, about 1,000 white people surrounded the home and threw stones at the building. Police were called in to protect the family from the mob. Event organizers say mobs gathered at the home several nights for more than a week and that the family was being pressured to sell the house and move away. The Lees owned the home for about a year-and-a-half.

Eighty years later, the current owner of the home is allowing a statue to be erected on the property to commemorate the Lee family. Event organizers say there's an effort to get the house placed on the National Register of Historic Places so that the statue will remain on the property even if the home is later sold.

The event begins at 6:45 p.m. with a procession from the Field Community School at 4645 Fourth Avenue South, down East 46th Street to the home at the corner of 46th Street and Columbus Avenue where the statue will be dedicated.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!