By Angela Davis and Maja Beckstrom. Photo by Derek Montgomery for MPR News File. Originally aired May 5, 2022.
More than a generation ago, the construction of Interstate 94 dug a deep trench through the middle-class Black neighborhood of Rondo in St. Paul.
The freeway destroyed hundreds of houses. More than 600 Black families were forced to move. Homeowners never saw fair compensation for the destruction of their homes. Renters got nothing.
Now, community members are pitching ideas for how to repair some of that harm. A group called ReConnect Rondo has proposed putting a concrete cap over a stretch of the highway roughly between Lexington Avenue and Dale Street and using the new space to build a Black cultural district. The goal is to bring green space, housing, jobs and economic renewal to the surrounding neighborhood.
The local effort is part of a larger national conversation about how new transportation projects could be used to rectify historical injustice.
On Thursday, MPR News host Angela Davis talked about the history and future of the historic Rondo neighborhood.
- Nina Moini is an MPR News reporter.
- Keith Baker is executive director of Reconnect Rondo.
- Jonathan Palmer is executive director of the Hallie Q Brown Community Center, Inc., which has provided services for nearly 100 years in the Summit-University neighborhood, which includes much of historic Rondo.