Rondo healing ceremony to move beyond painful past

Old Rondo Avenue
A sign for "Old Rondo Ave.: 1865-1966" stands atop other street signs overlooking Interstate 94, left, and a frontage road in St. Paul, Minn., where homes, stores and other businesses once stood before the area was cleared in the 1950's to make way for the new interstate highway connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Jim Mone | AP file

A healing ceremony will be held Friday in conjunction with the dedication of a new plaza to remember the history of St. Paul's historic black neighborhood that was torn in half with the building of Interstate Hwy. 94.

When construction crews bulldozed St. Paul's Rondo neighborhood to make way for I-94 in the 1960s, they destroyed the center of the city's African-American life, forcing many of the community's residents to move.

About a year and a half ago, the last building of the old Rondo neighborhood burned down. A vacant lot was established and Rondo Ave Inc., purchased this lot and intended to build a museum. They concluded the operating costs of the museum were too high so they decided to take that lot and build a commemorative plaza instead.

Marvin Roger Anderson, co-founder of Rondo Days, told MPR News' Tom Weber this is an opportunity for people to let go of their pain and learn about Rondo's history.

For our youth to understand what we came through so that this plaza might be a place where they could visit to learn the history and the legacy of Rondo," Anderson said. "And we hope that once they learn that history and that legacy of Rondo it will help shape their futures, for a more positive future."

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