African American Heritage Museum

Last weekend I went to the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery. It just opened last fall. For 30 years there were attempts to open a museum in Minnesota, one of the few states that did not have a museum dedicated to African American history.


One of the artifacts in the museum, is a Green-Book, a travel guide for black travelers to black friendly hotels, taverns, garages, restaurants, night-clubs, service stations, and more. From the 1940 Edition that was in a case, here are the black friendly places in Minnesota:


from the 1940 Edition: The Negro Motorist Green-Book: Prepared in cooperation with the United States Travel Bureau, Publisher Victor H. Green

There were two vibrant African American neighborhoods in the Twin Cities but both neighborhoods were destroyed by the placement of Highway 94 in St. Paul and Highway 55 in Minneapolis.

Rondo Neighborhood, St. Paul

Highway 94, built between 1956-1968, cut the neighborhood in half and displaced 600 residents from the Rondo neighborhood. There have been on-going conversations about the impact of Highway 94. In 1982, Marvin Anderson, whose father lost his home and his business, initiated Rondo Days, a community festival held each summer. In 2016 St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and state Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle apologized for what happened and there are talks about how to make reparations for what was done.

Phyllis Wheatley Community Center

and Minnesota Land Trust

There are several panels in the 4th floor museum to tell various pieces of history that happened in Minnesota and one panel described the land and lake available for black children to go to in the summer.


There is so much history to learn and in learning, we move beyond monochromatic stereotypes we have of people who were not part of our own neighborhoods. In reading these histories, we become aware of the struggles other people have had, and still have, due, not to their behavior but because of the color of their skin.

Have you studied history besides that of white ancestors?

Senior Bus Trip

No. I'm not over the age of 65. But my parents went on senior bus trips and had formed friendships with several couples who also regularly took these trips. And, this being Mom's first bus trip as a widow, she invited me to come along. I was delighted as they would be exploring Minnesota's North Shore.

Lake Superior, looking west from Split Rock Lighthouse

Lake Superior, looking west from Split Rock Lighthouse

We met the bus at 7:00 am and Mom's friends had saved seats for us to sit near them. Our luggage went beneath the bus and just a bag or purse went on the bus with us. Within two hour of leaving, we were in the Twin Cities, northward bound on the freeway. The travel agent and her helper were serving a continental breakfast when all of a sudden...

You knew I had a story, right?

And speaking of stories, I finally finished my novel! Today!

Revision 4 is completed and formatted to send off to a couple of beta readers. I'd anticipated being done in the spring. Then I thought I would finish by the end of August. But my 1939 story braid derailed when I found a picture of a WWII Sunderland Flying Boat over what I thought was a sleepy quiet village. So I researched and added in pertinent events. 

With the story done, for now, I'll clean up my files so I can be ready to work on Revision 5 in December. 

And now, for the rest of the bus story:

The travel agent and her helper were serving a continental breakfast. The agent was in the aisle near us with a glass of juice in hand. All of a sudden the bus driver stepped on his brakes. She flew forward (yes, we were horror-struck, bus aisles are not meant for falling bodies) and her cup flew up.

I don't know where the cup landed but the majority of the juice landed on the front of my t-shirt. But that wasn't the immediate concern. After a short while with everyone holding bated breath, the agent figured out she was fine, just juice spattered. One of the men helped her up. 

Now remember we're on a bus with seniors. And the narrow aisles and bus seat arms are not helpful for getting someone up off the floor.

Someone made a comment and when the agent laughed and thanked the man, relief and humor started flowing through the bus again.

And now that we knew she was ok, I thought about me! Good thing I had a tank top underneath my t-shirt.  And Mom had an extra sweatshirt in her bag as mine had received some fallout from the splat on my t-shirt. Though I didn't need her sweatshirt. That bus was warm!

We did not get to our hotel rooms until 9 pm that night. Along the way we stopped at the train museum in Duluth and had lunch, rode a vintage train to Split Rock Lighthouse, toured the lighthouse and the old homes of the lighthouse keepers, and then drove to the city of Tower in dusk.

That night, at 9:30 pm, Mom and I sat across from one another at a restaurant. One other table had customers. And boy-howdy, did that cream of wild rice soup and those chicken wings taste mighty fine. And the waitress was superlative in her hospitality.

Being baptized with cranberry apple juice? Now that's a vacation to remember!