Visit to George Floyd's memorial brings Roseau family to Twin Cities — permanently

A family poses in front of a wooden fence with graffiti art.
Kate Lundquist and her children pose in front of a fence near the George Floyd memorial in Minneapolis in June. During the visit, the graffiti artist took the time to educate the kids about why he paints.
Courtesy of Kate Lundquist

A visit to Minneapolis in the summer of 2020 changed everything for Kate Lundquist and her family.

Kate had taken four of her six children to the memorial service George Floyd’s family held for him in June. She watched her children melt into the diverse crowd, something two of her children, Nelson and Maki, had never been able to do in their hometown of Roseau, Minn.

Most of the people who live in Roseau, a small city in far northern Minnesota six hours away from Minneapolis, are white. Kate and her husband, Jacob, are white. Nelson and Maki are Black, adopted from Haiti when they were small.

The experience in Minneapolis that day set things in motion for the Lundquist family. It burned some bridges and built some new ones — changed their whole lives over the space of just six months.

After that trip, Lundquist said, she and her family couldn’t stay in Roseau. She decided it wasn’t the right place to raise all of her children. So she sat down at her computer and looked up the top five most diverse cities in Minnesota.

“We took a day and a half to find a house in Brooklyn Park,” she said. “It was all very much a whirlwind.”

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Their move was featured in the Star Tribune. It was a complicated, emotional time, she said. And then suddenly it wasn’t. Her kids settled in. Brooklyn Park felt like home.

“Nelson has a Black male teacher,” she said. “We talked about how it felt when Nelson walked into that crowd and blended in. Well, now I get to watch him do school virtually from home, and see this Black man be a leader in his life, every day. And I get to see the sea of faces that look like my white kids, and look like my Black kids. Things like that make it all worthwhile. It was a real whirlwind, but it was worth it.”

For years now, deep down, Lundquist said she knew she needed to move her kids to a more diverse place. Fighting back against that instinct was a burden she didn’t fully notice she was carrying — until it was gone.

Looking back, looking ahead: Several MPR News reporters have been checking back in with people they met earlier in the pandemic — about how their lives have changed, and about what they're hopeful for in the new year.

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