Feven Gerezgiher reports:
An alleged hate crime in the town called Cold Spring, located 20 miles outside of St Cloud, has returned attention to longstanding racial divides in central Minnesota. A multiracial family says it was racial bias that motivated the man who harassed them for months before he drove a car into their house in July.
St Cloud State University’s Christopher Lehman said the incident reminded him of an event in 1917, when a lynch mob drove a black man out of St. Cloud for being in an interracial relationship.
“What happened in Cold Spring could certainly happen as a continuation of those feelings that have always been there among people and have just never been confronted or addressed by their families or by the city at large,” said Lehman.
Central Minnesota’s early ties to slavery are strong, but not common knowledge.
Lehman authored the book “Slavery’s Reach: Southern Slaveholders in the North Star State.” He says in the mid-1800s, central Minnesota was a destination for slaveholders looking to invest in real estate and escape summer heat.
“The slaveholders who are investing in Minnesota have political control over St. Cloud and over central Minnesota in general,” Lehman said of the time. “So much so that central Minnesota becomes known as a political stronghold for the slaveholding class.”
Lehman said that influence continued in the area as European immigrants adopted pro-South and pro-slavery politics long after southerners departed. This worked to discourage Black people from moving to St. Cloud for nearly half a century, until the 1960s when government institutions wanted to diversify the local workforce.
According to Lehman, in recent years central Minnesota has begun to address its past, both by creating a park named after the state’s first slaves and by hosting community conversations.
Photo Credit: Thaiphy Phan-Quang
Subscribe to hear Daily Updates in your podcast feed
- Voters Are Deciding the Future of Public Safety in MinneapolisA recent poll found that 49% of Minneapolis residents support the proposal for a new Department of Public Safety; 40% oppose the proposal and 10% are undecided. Safiya Mohamed reports
- POC Journalists Burning Out, Leaving Mainstream MediaWorking to fight for racial equity in a newsroom can take a toll on an already overworked journalist. Unfortunately, when a journalist of color leaves the profession, that leads to fewer stories on communities of color.
- MN Supreme Court Overturns Mohamed Noor’s Murder ConvictionThe ruling will likely result in a shorter sentence for Noor and has implications for the conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd. Georgia Fort reports
- Racist, Anti-Semitic Attacks Threaten Twin Cities TargetsMonday, a federal judge sentenced Illinois militia leader Emily Claire Hari to 53 years in jail for the 2017 bombing of the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington. The sentencing came amidst news of other alleged hate crimes in the Twin Cities.