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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February 5, 2018







CONTENTS


Monday, February 05, 2018
-
Sunday, February 11, 2018

1
Pastor's Sermon & Prayer Requests

2
Call to Action: (a) Russells CD Release, (b) MSBC Inaugural of President Russell, (c ) Darnell Davis, (d) Nat'l Baptist Convention USA, (e ) Social Media

3
This Week's Schedule - (a) Mon, (b) Tue, (c) Wed, (d) Thurs., (e) Fri, (f) Sat, (g) Sun

4
Upcoming Engagements/Event Dates

5
Other Announcements - (a) Birthdays, (b) Talent Acquisition Manager






1
Scripture & Prayer Requests

1a
1 Timothy 3:11


New International Version (NIV)


11  In the same way, the women[a] are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.




1b
Prayer List (Chaplains - E. Paster, J. Brown, J. Champs)

Jordon B.
Sister Francine Gladden & Family
Sister Pat Porch & Family
Valerie Stookey & Family


Roxanne Erhardt & Family


Stacey Yates & Family


Caretha Taylor (Mother of Deaconess Gail Henderson)


Bertha Swingler


Denice & Shem


Rev. Juan Turner & Family


Deaconess Janice Porter & Family


Sister Tanesha Nixon & Family


Sister Daisy Lee Family


Mother Margaret Johnson Family


Bro. Garland Lowell Francis, Sr. Family


Sister Francine Gladden


Sister Linda Sawyer & Family


Sister LeAnn Hicks & Family


Mother Joanne Clinton





Anyone want to be added?

Please send an email to with subject "Prayer List" to:



Prayer Line Request?


Prayer offered day or night, 24 hour availability for prayer


Call: 612-559-0061









2
Call to Action!

2a
Happy Black History Month!


16 Trailblazing Black Minnesotans You Should Know More About!


See Section 5d

2b
"In His Hands" Now Available!


Support MSBC Scholarship Fund!


 

2c
After School Job


 

2d
Claiming Our Voices!


Claiming Our Voices

What is Claiming Our Voices? #ClaimingOurVoices is an initiative between ISAIAH and Faith in Minnesota. People of faith across the state are claiming their moral and faith voice in the political arena and are building independent political power that is grounded in their prophetic values.
Thousands of people of faith, dedicated to justice and public love, will flood the caucuses this year. They are leading a path throughout 2018 to ensure that the legislative session and the next Governor of Minnesota are accountable to moral clarity through our agenda.
Why Caucusing? Through caucusing, we have the power to shape the issues and political environment. We can elevate our shared vision for Minnesota by moving candidates to talk about a better agenda for all people and have them commit to working on those issues. We can shape the campaigns and hold candidates accountable.
Building a world that justly serves people requires that we all step up and participate, starting with political participation. Real change starts at the grassroots. Precinct caucuses are a grassroots, ground level way for you and me to get involved and be heard, even if we have never participated before. To Sign up to Caucus, click here: www.tinyurl.com/isaiahcaucus
What’s a Faith Agenda? Our Claiming Our Voices House Meetings throughout the fall were the first step in our formation of boldly proclaiming our faith and our vision for a just Minnesota through 2018. Hundreds of ISAIAH leaders and our partner organization, Faith in Minnesota, have come together throughout the last month to develop our 2018 Faith Agenda in response to the concerns and issues that emerged from our House Meeting conversations. This Faith Agenda represents our shared values and our proposed policy priorities for the next Governor of Minnesota.
ISAIAH is publicly announced our faith agenda January 14-18 through several events across the state, unifying the multifaceted nature of Minnesotans, geographically, denominationally, and racially. There are several planks of this agenda, but it is all ONE AGENDA. Just as people of God are called to act as one body, their concerns for justice cannot be separated from one another.
What’s a Faith Delegate?
Faith Delegates are leaders who are committed to put racial and economic justice at the heart of our politics through 2018 by committing to bring our faith agenda into the center of public decisions through caucuses all the way to party conventions in June of 2018.
We need YOU to join us on this path. There will be Faith Delegate Trainings across Minnesota throughout January. To commit to be a faith delegate and to find a January Faith Delegate Training near you, click here: www.tinyurl.com/faithdelegate2018
 

2e
National Baptist Convention in Mpls September 3-7, 2018


 

2f
Nexus Community Positions





Join Our Team! 

Nexus Community Partners is hiring for two positions


Join us in advancing community authorship, leadership and ownership. 
Both positions are open until filled. 

Nexus is seeking a full-time Administrative Specialist to be an integral part of Nexus’ administrative team. The Administrative Specialist will take the lead in coordinating and supporting programs such as the Community Engagement Institute, Community Wealth Building programming, the North Star Black Cooperative Fellowship, the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute, as well as supporting Nexus’ internal office management.
Salary: $16-20/hour (plus a comprehensive benefits package)
Hours: FT - 30hrs/week

For information about the Administrative Specialist position and instructions for applying, please visit:
 http://www. minnesotanonprofits.org/job- details?id=145429

Nexus is seeking a part-time, paid Intern for our North Star Black Cooperative Fellowship. Nexus' North Star Black Cooperative Fellowship is a 4-month cohort-based program, providing participants with a history of cooperative economics in the Black community nationally and in the Twin Cities. The North Star Intern supports the Director and is responsible for cohort engagement and support; communications; and research and technical support for the program and fellows.

Salary: $15/hr
Hours: PT - 15hrs/week

For information about the North Star Intern position and instructions for applying, please visit:
 http://www. minnesotanonprofits.org/job- details?id=145275

About Nexus Community Partners

Nexus Community Partners is a community-building intermediary whose mission is to build more engaged and powerful communities of color both locally and nationally. We work to make sure that communities of color are at the forefront of making decisions that impact them and that they have the power and tools to generate and maintain wealth.

Learn more about Nexus

Qualified candidates should send a resume and cover letter via email ASAP to Felicia Ring at hr@nexuscp.org
NEXUS IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER
 
Nexus Community Partners
2314 University Ave W. Suite 18
Saint Paul, MN 55114
info@nexuscp.org

2g
Xcel Energy Employment Opportunity!


 

2h



























3
Monday, February 05, 2018
-
Sunday, February 11, 2018

3a
Monday, February 05, 2018




6:00 PM
-
Hospitality Ministry Meeting




1st Monday of Month


6:30 PM
-
Usher Ministry Meeting




2nd Monday of Month


 


7:00 PM
-
Bible Study w/Rev. Lewellyn Wilder




Single Creek Commons




4600 Humbolt




Minneapolis, MN




3b
Tuesday, February 06, 2018







6:30 PM
-
GFMBC Thespian Ministry




Easter Play Production Rehearsal


 


7:00 PM
-
PACT II (Friendship Community Services)




Support Services Meeting


For those reestablishing lives disrupted by:

incarceration or addiction



(New Members Classroom)




Email: fcs2600@gmail.com






 


10:00 AM
-
BOYS2MEN




Start a New Career & Take Control of Your Life!


For African American Males 18 - 32 Years Old

St. Paul or East Metro Resident



Progressive Baptist Church




1505 Burns Ave, St. Paul, MN


 


7:00 PM
-
Education Equity Team Meeting




GFMBC Friendship Hall




[4th Tuesday of Month]


 

3c
Wednesday, February 07, 2018




10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
-
Sunday School focused Bible Study & Prayer Service




Faith Without Works Is Dead— Jamess 2: 14-26




Email: SundaySchool@greatfriend.org


 


6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
-
Young Men of Christ (YMOC)




Workout & Wisdom Wednesday




Where: Meet in GFMBC Workout Room


 







6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
-
Bible Study & Prayer Service @ GFMBC




Facilitated by Pastor Billy G. Russell







Bookstore Email: gfmbcbooksandmore@gmail.com




Email: ChristianEducation@greatfriend.org









3d
Thursday, February 08, 2018






The Beat!


5:00 PM
-
Minister Darnell Davis




● Tune in to soarradio.com




● Or download Live365 Radio App on your Smartphone


 


6:00 PM
-
Doves Rehearse!




[Thursday b4 1st & 3rd Sunday]


6:00 PM
-
Men of Praise Rehearse!




[Thursday b4 2nd & 4th Sunday]







6:00 PM
-
Young People of Praise (YPOP) Practice!




[Thursday b4 2nd Sunday]


6:30 PM
-
Faith Bible Institute Registration Open!










6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
-
Teacher I Want to Be Training




1st Thursday of Month




Fireside Room






7:00 PM
-
Fortress (Teen) Choir Rehearsal!




[Thursday b4 2nd Sunday]




3e
Friday, February 09, 2018




6:00 PM
-
Agape Ball Social Hour


7:30 PM

Agape Ball Dinner - $50/Person




Dance & Dessert Only - $25/Person




Hilton MSP Airport




3800 American Blvd East




Bloominton, MN 55425


 


7:00 PM

Friday Focus Fellowship




(3rd Friday of Month)




3232 Freemont Ave. N.




Minneapolis, MN




3f
Saturday, February 10, 2018

2nd Saturday








9:00 AM

Trustee Meeting




[4th Saturday of month]


10:00 AM
-
Deacons & Deaconesses Meeting (Ch'd from Feb. 3rd) 




[Saturday b4 1st Sunday of month]


10:00 AM
-
Deacons, Deaconesses & Mothers Meeting
All Mission Ministry Meeting




[4th Saturdays]




Foreign Mission, Evangelism, Women, Men, and Bread Ministries


10:00 AM
-
Jr. Usher Training!




[Saturdays b4 2nd Sunday]


10:30 AM - Noon
-
YPOP (Young People of Praise) Rehearsal


11:30 AM
-
Busy Bees Meeting




[1st Saturday of month]


12:00 PM
-
Adults & Teens Movers 4 Christ (Praise Dance) Ministry Rehearsal in Gold Room!




ALL are welcome- children, teens and adults




Questions: See Sis. Cynthia Taylor


1:00 PM
-
Children Movers 4 Christ (Praise Dance)




Ministry Rehearsal in Gold Room!















3g
Sunday, February 11, 2018

2nd Sunday!





6:00 AM
-
Bro Pete Rhodes Presents: "Urban Perspectives"




Comcast Channel 937 BMA Networks









7:30 AM
-
Song review & Devotion




Deacon Brown Choir Room


8:00 AM
-
Call to Worship --- Worship Leader


8:20 AM
-
Greater Praise Choir Sings!




Attire:


Sermon
-
Rev. Dr. Billy G. Russell, Sr. Pastor





8:59 AM
-




Email: NewMembers@greatfriend.org




Facilitated by Executive Pastor, Eddie Bolden







9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
-
Marriage Ministry Presents…




Marriage Built to Last: Living Intentionally & Loving Biblically




Email: MarriedMinistry@greatfriend.org




Facilitated by Rev. L. Wilder & Sis. Jean Wilder








9:01 AM
-
Sunday School




Faith Without Works Is Dead— Jamess 2: 14-26




Email: SundaySchool@greatfriend.org






10:00 AM
-
Bro Pete Rhodes Presents: "Urban Perspectives"




Comcast Channel 937 BMA Networks











10:15 AM
-
Call to Worship --- Worship Leader


10:20 AM
-
TAKOVER (Fortress -Youth Praise Team) sings!




YPOP (Young People of Praise) sing!




[2nd Sundays]


10:30 AM
-
Praise & Worship!




Attire:


Sermon
-
Rev. Dr. Billy G. Russell, Sr. Pastor




Invitation














4
­­­­­­­­­---------- Upcoming Engagements/Event Dates ­­­­­­----­----­­­­­





Tuesday, February 13, 2018




7:00 PM
-
Community Outreach at Providence Place




3720 23rd Ave S




Minneapolis, MN 55407


 


March 16-23, 2018

2018 Congress of Christian Education

-
The Rev. Billy G. Russell, D.D., Convention President
The Rev. James C. Thomas, D.Min., Congress President
The Rev. Charles L. Gill, D.Min., Congress Dean


Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church


3355 4th St. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55411
The Reverend Albert Gallmon, Host Pastor
(612) 588-4709





Saturday, March 17, 2018

Registration Meeting for National Baptist Convention @ GFMBC


11:00 AM
8:00 AM - 3:00 PM

-

1st Annual Girl Talk Conference




Journey Community Church




1700 HWY 96 W




Arden Hills, MN 5112


 

Monday, February 26, 2018 - FCS Board Meeting in Fireside Room


Tuesday, April 10, 2018




7:00 PM
-
Community Outreach at Providence Place




3720 23rd Ave S




Minneapolis, MN 55407





Thursday, April 15, 2018




4:00 PM
-
Men of Praise w/Pastor Russell




Pastor Charles Yates 2nd Pastoral Anniversary




Greater Mt. Nebo would like the Men's Choir to render an A & B selection and the ushers and deacons to be on post. 

The entire congregation is invited!
Theme:  "A Righteous Reward for a Righteous Man" Matthew 10:41
4pm, Sunday, April 15th
Greater Mount Nebo Missionary Baptist Church




3210 Oliver Avenue North




Minneapolis, MN 55412





Tuesday, June 8, 2018




7:00 PM
-
Community Outreach at Providence Place




3720 23rd Ave S




Minneapolis, MN 55407





Tuesday, August 10, 2018




7:00 PM
-
Community Outreach at Providence Place




3720 23rd Ave S




Minneapolis, MN 55407





Tuesday, October 9, 2018




7:00 PM
-
Community Outreach at Providence Place




3720 23rd Ave S




Minneapolis, MN 55407





Tuesday, December 11, 2018




7:00 PM
-
Community Outreach at Providence Place




3720 23rd Ave S




Minneapolis, MN 55407




5b



CAMPUS CRUSADE FOR CHRIST - WORLD HEADQUARTERS

POSITION DESCRIPTION
Business Title: Administrative Assistant
Ministry/Team: CRU Inner City/Twin Cities
Reports To: National Directors of Operations and Twin Cities City Director
FLSA Status: Non-exempt
Prepared By: Janet Beich
Prepared Date: 9/27/2010 (updated 1/9/2018)
Approved By: Carrie Castino, 10/5/2010, Ada Morgan, 1/23/2018
Job Code: AA3- Administrative Assistant 3- (UN2/7)
MISSION: Cru is a caring community passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ
SUMMARY DESCRIPTION OF POSITION:
Perform a wide variety of administrative functions to assist the National Director of Operations and local Twin Cities Inner City team.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES include the following.
As an employee with Cru:
● Actively and intentionally grow in his/her Christian faith
● Maintain a positive witness for Christ
● Express a dependence on the Holy Spirit
● Share what God is teaching him or her
● Consistently attend and participate in team/ministry devotional times.

FOR THIS ROLE:
• Maintain and update Twin City databases/assist other cities in setup and maintenance of MPDX
• Establish and maintain filing systems
• Use, manage and clear One Card each month.
• Assist in preparing Annual Fiscal Plan, city and national
• Input local and national budgets into budget tool
• Coordinate all Fellowship Dinner mailings and assist with other Fund Development (FD) administrative needs; lead FD registration onsite/ 

Manage Table host lists & mailings
• Process donations to Cru Inner City Twin Cities and update database accordingly
o Write thank you notes for donations
o Send donations to Cru, make copies of checks
• Help prepare city communication pieces including: appeal letters, newsletters, brochures and mailings, emails, fellowship dinner pieces, work with printer and bulk mailer to get communication pieces printed and mailed
• Update give.cru.org sites to reflect current appeal
• Prepare materials for and conduct regular mailings/emails to partners and donors
• Update Inner City Twin Cities Facebook account
• Coordinate all administrative needs for Cru Open
• Coordinate communications with MJM
• Update NLT org chart as needed with National LD/HR
• Assist with registration at CIA events
• Process staff office expense sheets bi-monthly

OTHER DUTIES:
• Assist with receptionist duties as needed
• Perform related duties as assigned

SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITIES
None
QUALIFICATIONS To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
KNOWLEDGE OF:
Record keeping and filing techniques. Correct English usage, grammar, spelling, punctuation and vocabulary. Oral and written communication skills,
Excellent aptitude for using computers and Internet technology, including Microsoft programs, Mailchimp, and social media platforms
Analyze situations accurately and adopt an effective course of action. Strong organizational skills Pursue understanding of God’s heart for the poor and embrace uniqueness of all people groups.

ABILITY TO:
Ability to work independently and identify and initiate tasks and procedures.
Problem-solve and troubleshoot issues that arise
Interact professionally with a wide variety of people Establish and maintain cooperative and effective working relationships with others.
Meet schedules and deadlines for projects Operate, and maintain modern office equipment including but not limited to computer, photocopier, fax machine, postage meter and scale, phone, voice mail systems,

EDUCATION and/or EXPERIENCE
Associates degree and three years’ experience or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

WORK ENVIRONMENT
The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

PHYSICAL DEMANDS/ABILITIES
While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to use hands to handle, or feel and talk or hear. The employee frequently is required to walk and sit. The employee is occasionally required to stand and reach with hands and arms. The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 10 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision.

CHRISTIAN GROWTH
It is anticipated that all employees of Campus Crusade for Christ, throughout the course of their employment, will actively seek opportunities for greater understanding, involvement and connection with our ministry by taking part in various activities as specified by their leadership. This includes attending periodic Bible studies and other worship experiences which occur in the workplace during the workweek. Employees are also expected to actively and intentionally grow in their Christian faith and exhibit Christian character as demonstrated by their attitude, appearance and conduct as outlined in the "Standards and Expectations" section of the employee handbook.

5c



African_Ancestry_Logo

THIS MONTH IN BLACK HISTORY.....

On February 21, 2003, AfricanAncestry.com was founded. There were only two or three other genetic ancestry testing companies in the young industry at the time. We were and still are the only one focused on Black people and Africa. Fifteen years later, there is a proliferation of companies, the largest of whom advertise on television less expensive tests while co-opting the message of the importance of knowing your roots. These advertisers have turned ancestry testing into a novelty. They want you to believe that knowing that you have some African ancestry is enough. It. Is. Not. Enough.
Finding your tribe is a necessity. African Ancestry Family Members tell us all the time about the transformative impact that having a connection to a specific African group and country has on them.
testing te"I will devote myself to helping others make this important connection with the gretestatgreater goal of uniting our community socially, politically and economically to the greatest to the greatest extent possible.” ~ M. Phillips
image
testtest"I must thank you for your help in connecting our people to their true roots. test testtest That is beyond amazing. I recently received my results. Masa, Mafa and test testtesttKotoko people of Cameroon. This is such a life altering experience. I can't testtesttstop thinking about it." ~ N. House
It has been an honor and a privilege to help over 750,000 people find their roots. Fifteen years of business ownership is a major accomplishment. We thank everyone who has sent emails and letters and called with positive messages. Your encouragement fuels our growth. We are also grateful for those messages that are filled with criticism, animosity and anger. They remind us of why our company exists. They remind us of the impact of colonization and why it is so important for everyone our community to know who they are and where they come from.

Thank You!

image

5d
















6 trailblazing black Minnesotans you should know more about















  • 1 of 15
    PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 













    Clockwise from top left: Former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton; wilderness guide George Bonga; attorney Lena O. Smith; St. Paul Deputy Police Chief James Griffin; lawmaker J. Frank Wheaton; DFL co-founder Nellie Stone Johnson; Harriet Robinson Scott, wife of Dred Scott; Thermo King co-founder Frederick Jones; Penumbra Theatre founder Lou Bellamy; I. Myrtle Carden of Hallie Q. Brown Community House. (Pioneer Press photo illustration)
    (Pioneer Press photo illustration)

    Black Minnesotans made headlines across the nation even before the state was admitted to the Union in 1858, and any number of black explorers, advocates, teachers and preachers played crucial roles in launching many of the state’s earliest institutions.
    Some now have buildings named after them; others are lesser-known.
    February is Black History Month, a fitting time to recognize black trailblazers who helped open doors for future generations of Minnesotans.
    From the state’s first black millionaire to its first black lawmaker, this list — by no means exhaustive — is meant to highlight a few men and women whose names you probably don’t hear as often as Prince or Gordon Parks.

    GEORGE BONGA














    A portrait of George Bonga, created about 1870 by St. Paul photographer Charles Zimmerman. Bonga was the first black person to be born in Minnesota. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
    A portrait of George Bonga, created about 1870 by St. Paul photographer Charles Zimmerman. Bonga was the first black person to be born in Minnesota. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

    Born near Duluth in 1802 to an African-American father and an Ojibwe mother, George Bonga is believed to be one of the first people of African-American descent born in Minnesota.
    Following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps, Bonga became a respected fur trader for the American Fur Company in the 1920s and later a wilderness guide out of his homes on Leech and Otter Tail lakes, said Barry Babcock, a historian from Bemidji who has spent years researching the Bonga family for a book.
    In that sense, Babcock considers Bonga to be one of the first “resort operators” in northern Minnesota. “Many luminaries would go and stay with him. … He would take them out in his birch-bark canoe and paddle them around the area,” Babcock said.
    Fluent in English, Ojibwe and French, Bonga, who married an Ojibwe woman, also worked as an interpreter and was an influential advocate for the fair treatment of American Indians. He served as a witness to the 1867 treaty that created the White Earth Indian Reservation in north-central Minnesota.
    His biggest claim to fame, though, may be the role he played in Minnesota’s first criminal court proceeding. Bonga spent days tracking the man accused of killing Alfred Aitkin in 1837. He eventually caught him and brought him to Fort Snelling bound on a sled, prompting the state’s first murder trial, Babcock said.
    Bonga was widely admired as a man who “took the high road,” Babcock said.
    Editor’s note: Through Feb. 28 at the St. Paul History Theatre, Carlyle Brown’s new play “George Bonga: Black Voyageur” takes some pages out of the life of its title character, a voyageur of African-American and Ojibwe descent who was one of the first African-Americans in what is now Minnesota. Tickets are $38-$20; for more information call 651-292-4323 or visit historytheatre.com.

    HARRIET ROBINSON SCOTT














    A portrait of Harriet Robinson Scott that appeared in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in June 1857. Harriet Scott and her husband, Dred Scott, sued for their freedom in 1846 after living at Fort Snelling for several years in the 1830s. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
    A portrait of Harriet Robinson Scott that appeared in Frank Leslie’’s Illustrated Newspaper in June 1857. Harriet Scott and her husband, Dred Scott, sued for their freedom in 1846 after living at Fort Snelling for several years in the 1830s. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

    The U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857 helped propel the country toward civil war. What sometimes gets left out of the telling is the story of Dred Scott’s wife, Harriet Robinson Scott, a fellow slave who, like her husband, sued for her freedom and lost.
    The Scotts met and married while held at Fort Snelling around 1836, which was then a part of the Wisconsin territory.
    While stationed away from Fort Snelling, U.S. Army surgeon John Emerson leased the Scotts to other slave owners, effectively introducing slavery into a free territory. Harriet gave birth to a daughter, Eliza, on a Mississippi River steamboat between Illinois and Iowa, another free territory.
    After Emerson’s death, the Scotts attempted to buy their freedom from his widow, who refused their offer. They took the case to court.
    In the Dred Scott decision, the Supreme Court found that despite congressional legislation to the contrary, the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in its growing territories and that African-Americans, whether slave or free, cannot be U.S. citizens.
    The controversial decision helped fuel the financial panic of 1857, and the Civil War erupted four years later. The Scotts were eventually freed, but Dred died nine months later.

    THE REV. ROBERT HICKMAN














    A portrait of the Rev. Robert Hickman created about 1877. Hickman founded the first Baptist Church in Minnesota. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
    A portrait of the Rev. Robert Hickman created about 1877. Hickman founded the first Baptist church in Minnesota. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

    Born into slavery in 1831, the Rev. Robert Thomas Hickman led fellow slaves on a harrowing river journey to freedom in 1863.
    Details of his escape from Missouri to Minnesota remain murky, but various accounts all confirm that Hickman convinced as many as 75 fellow slaves — his self-described “pilgrims” — to board a raft or makeshift boat with him and head up river.
    Reports have it that the steamboat Northerner found them adrift and towed them to safety past jeering dockworkers, and a second group of escaped slaves joined them 10 days later. On Nov. 15, 1866, Hickman and his followers formally organized Pilgrim Baptist Church in St. Paul. Two white ministers led the church until 1877, after which Hickman became the congregation’s official minister in 1878. He died on Feb. 6, 1900.
    The church, at 732 W. Central Ave., hosts services every Sunday.

    J. FRANK WHEATON














    A portrait of John Frank Wheaton created in 1899 by St. Paul photographer Charles Zimmerman. In 1898, Wheaton became the first black person elected to the Minnesota Legislature. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
    A portrait of John Frank Wheaton, created in 1899 by St. Paul photographer Charles Zimmerman. In 1898, Wheaton became the first black person elected to the Minnesota Legislature. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

    Once upon a time, a shoeshine boy became an attorney, and an attorney made Minnesota political history, only to die in tragedy.
    Born in Maryland, John Frank Wheaton became the first African-American elected to the Minnesota Legislature in 1898. A graduate of Howard University and the University of Minnesota Law School, Wheaton served a single year in office, representing Minneapolis’ Kenwood neighborhood and what’s known today as Eden Prairie, Edina and Excelsior.
    He introduced the 1899 civil-rights statute that guaranteed people of all races access to saloons, which previously had been able to exclude customers based on race. Wheaton twice represented Minnesota at the Republican National Convention.
    He abruptly changed course and opened a life insurance company in Chicago and then a law firm in New York City. Facing financial ruin after the disappearance of a client out on bond, Wheaton died by suicide in 1922. He was 55.

    CLARENCE “CAP” WIGINGTON














    Clarence "Cap" Wigington, photographed at the St. Paul City Architect's office in 1940. Wigington was the first black person to serve as a municipal architect in the U.S. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
    Clarence “Cap” Wigington, photographed at the St. Paul City Architect’s office in 1940. Wigington was the first black person to serve as a municipal architect in the United States. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

    Architect Clarence “Cap” Wigington is responsible for some of St. Paul’s most iconic public buildings.
    His designs include the administration building at Holman Field airport, the Highland Park Water Tower, Roy Wilkins Auditorium, Wigington Pavilion on Harriet Island and several local schools.
    Although he had little formal training, Wigington spent three decades in the St. Paul City Architect’s office. He was the first black person in the United States to serve as a municipal architect.
    Several of his buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.
    Born in Kansas in 1883, Wigington moved to St. Paul in 1914.
    During World War I, he successfully petitioned Minnesota’s governor to create the all-black 16th Battalion of the state’s Home Guard, according to the Minnesota Historical Society. He earned his nickname, “Cap,” after being commissioned the battalion’s captain.
    In addition to his many permanent buildings, Wigington also designed five ice palaces for St. Paul’s Winter Carnival.
    Wigington retired in 1949 and died 18 years later in Kansas City.

    BOBBY MARSHALL














    Bobby Marshall played end for the Minnesota Gophers football team from 1904 through 1906, before going on to play professionally. Photo courtesy of the National Football Foundation.
    Bobby Marshall played end for the Minnesota Gophers football team from 1904 through 1906, before going on to play professionally. (Courtesy of the National Football Foundation)

    Of all of the great athletes in Big Ten history, Bobby Marshall was arguably the best of all time. The former Minneapolis Central star was the first person of color to ever play football in the conference once known as the Big Nine, in 1904.
    He was an All-American end for the University of Minnesota in 1905 and 1906. He was part of two Big Ten championships, including an undefeated 13-0 season in 1904. Marshall also earned all-conference honors in baseball and ran track for the Gophers.
    In 1907, he graduated from the U with a law degree and became a practicing attorney in the Twin Cities. But he still had an appetite for athletic competition. He started playing semi-pro baseball for a segregated team in Minneapolis, and later in St. Paul.
    His career on the diamonds lasted for more than a decade. Marshall also found time to be one of the first black players in the NFL (1920-24) and he played professional hockey and boxing. He died at age 78 in 1958, after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
    Marshall was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

    LENA O. SMITH














    Lena Smith, Minnesota's first African American female attorney Also a real estate agent, her interest in housing led to a landmark court case for a black family buying a home in a south Minneapolis neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society.
    Lena Smith, Minnesota’s first African-American female attorney Also a real estate agent, her interest in housing led to a landmark court case for a black family buying a home in a South Minneapolis neighborhood. (Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society)

    Lena Olive Smith was the first black woman to practice law in Minnesota.
    As one of six children, she moved to the state in her early 20s with her family from Lawrence, Kan., in 1906.
    Before deciding to pursue a law degree in 1916, she worked several jobs to support her family after her father died, including in real estate. She fought for the equality of her clients to live in white neighborhoods. After attending Northwestern College (now part of William Mitchell College of Law), Smith opened her own firm and became a prominent civil-rights attorney and activist in the 1920s and ’30s.
    She helped found the Urban League branch in Minneapolis in 1925 and was the first female president of the local chapter of the NAACP in 1935.
    She was still an active attorney when she died at age 81 in 1966. Her legacy, along with that of Minnesota’s first black lawyer, Frederick McGhee, helped pave the way for other legal pioneers such as Alan Page and Wilhelmina Wright, the first African-American man and woman elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court, respectively.
    The Lena O. Smith House, where she once lived, at 3905 Fourth St. S. in Minneapolis is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    I. MYRTLE CARDEN














    I. Myrtle Carden photographed about 1950. A social worker, Carden founded the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in 1929. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
    I. Myrtle Carden, photographed about 1950. A social worker, Carden served as the first executive director of the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in 1929. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

    When black families from St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood needed basic services or just a place to hang out, they turned to I. Myrtle Carden.
    For 20 years, beginning from its founding in 1929, Carden led the Hallie Q. Brown Community House, a social-service agency inspired by the era’s settlement house movement. Carden, a social worker from Pittsburgh, mentored a generation of young girls shut out from white school groups and social programs.
    Named after an Ohio educator who led the establishment of black women’s clubs across the country, Hallie Q. Brown soon became St. Paul’s second-largest neighborhood center. Among other activities, teenage girls taught nutrition and home economics to other teens.
    The community center, which grew out of the St. Paul Urban League, started at the site of a former YWCA and is now part of the Martin Luther King Center off Dale Street and Marshall Avenue.
    In Minneapolis, Carden’s ideological counterpart was W. Gertrude Brown, who ran the Phyllis Wheatley House, a magnet for famous guests such as Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Marian Anderson and W.E.B. DuBois.

    NELLIE STONE JOHNSON














    Nellie Stone Johnson reflects on her life accomplishments at her Minneapolis apartment in Feb. 2000. Born in Lakeville, the Minnesota farm girl grew up to become a major influence in the civil rights and labor movements and an inspirational supporter of higher education. Johnson joined the NAACP in 1934, helped organize the DFL Party in the 1940s, campaigned for Hubert Humphrey and many others, and became the first African-American elected to a citywide office in Minneapolis when she joined the library board in 1945. She died, age 96, in April 2002. (Pioneer Press: Ginger Pinson)
    Nellie Stone Johnson reflects on her life accomplishments, at her Minneapolis apartment in February 2000. Born in Lakeville, the Minnesota farm girl grew up to become a major influence in the civil-rights and labor movements and an inspirational supporter of higher education. Johnson helped organize the DFL Party in the 1940s, campaigned for Hubert Humphrey and many others, and became the first African-American elected to a citywide office in Minneapolis in 1945. (Pioneer Press: Ginger Pinson)

    Nellie Stone Johnson got her first taste of activism growing up on her family’s Dakota County farm in the early 1900s.
    Her father, a union organizer, would send her to school with an armload of fliers to hand out on the way.
    Johnson grew up to be a key figure in Minnesota’s labor and civil-rights movements, as well as a founder of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.
    Johnson joined the ranks of political radicals as a student at the University of Minnesota, where she met lifelong friend and collaborator Hubert Humphrey. She became a member of the Minneapolis NAACP in 1934.
    As an elevator operator at the St. Paul Athletic Club in the 1930s, Johnson organized her fellow employees under the Minneapolis Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union.
    In 1945, she became the first black person in Minneapolis elected to a citywide office as a member of the library board.
    Johnson continued to advocate for people of color and the working class until her death in 2002 at age 96.
    “I’ve never known hunger, or being without clothing or shelter a day in my life,” she told the Pioneer Press in 1995. “I want that for everyone.”

    FREDERICK JONES














    Frederick Jones, photographed about 1950, in front of one of the refrigerated trucks he designed. McKinley was the first black person inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
    Frederick Jones, photographed about 1950, in front of one of the refrigerated trucks he designed. McKinley was the first black person inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

    If you wanted to haul produce from one coast to the other before 1940, your best bet was to drive really fast.
    Frederick Jones changed that with his Thermo King portable refrigeration unit, which allowed truckers to keep their cargo cool on long trips.
    This invention, and the more than 50 others he patented in his lifetime, won him a place in the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
    Jones moved to Minnesota from his native Ohio in 1912 to work on a farm in Hallock owned by James J. Hill. He moved to the Twin Cities in the early 1930s, according to the Minnesota Historical Society.
    A workaholic, Jones would routinely toil until 2 or 3 in the morning, his wife told the Pioneer Press in 1971. His inventions included a portable X-ray machine for hospitals, an ice cream machine and soundtrack equipment used in movies and television shows.
    Jones was the first black person to be inducted into the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers and the first to be awarded the National Medal of Technology.
    He died in 1961 at age 68.

    JAMES GRIFFIN














    Nov. 1955 photo of Sgt James S. Griffin. Griffin joined the St. Paul Police Department in 1941 and became the first black St. Paul officer to reach the ranks of sergeant, captain and deputy chief. In May 2004, the department's new headquarters building was dedicated in his memory. Griffin died in 2002 at age 85. (Pioneer Press File)
    A November 1955 photo shows Sgt. James S. Griffin. Griffin joined the St. Paul Police Department in 1941 and became the first black St. Paul officer to reach the ranks of sergeant, captain and deputy chief. In May 2004, the department’s new headquarters building was dedicated in his memory. Griffin died in 2002 at age 85. (Pioneer Press File)

    If you’ve ever been inside St. Paul’s police headquarters, you’ve probably seen James Griffin’s name. It’s mounted above the front door.
    Born in 1917 and raised in the city’s Rondo neighborhood, Griffin was the first black St. Paul police officer to reach the ranks of sergeant, captain and deputy chief after joining the force in 1941.
    His trailblazing ascent did not come without setbacks, according to an account of his oral history captured by Kate Cavett of Hand in Hand Productions.
    Griffin told the historian about enduring years of racism. He had to take the police department’s physical exam countless times before passing and was not allowed to have a squad car when he first became an officer. He also filed a complaint when he initially failed to land the deputy chief job even though he had the highest score on the exam. He later got it because the department created two deputy chief positions.
    Griffin also served as a St. Paul school board member and on the board of directors of the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center and was active in the NAACP. He died in 2002.

    JAMES ‘CORNBREAD’ HARRIS. SR.














    James Samuel "Cornbread" Harris Sr. was honored for six decades of the blues, jazz, polka, calypso and country music when he was honored as one of five 2013 Sally Ordway Irvine Awards winners. (Courtesy photo)
    James Samuel “Cornbread” Harris Sr. was honored for six decades of the blues, jazz, polka, calypso and country music when he was honored as one of five 2013 Sally Ordway Irvine Awards winners. (Courtesy photo)

    James “Cornbread” Harris Sr., a Minneapolis blues and jazz musician, has a storied place in Minnesota music history. He’s mostly known as the father of Jimmy Jam (James Harris III), a former member of the Time and hit record producer for pop icon Janet Jackson with his partner, Terry Lewis.
    But Harris performed on Minnesota’s first rock ‘n’ roll record with Augie Garcia’s 1955 song, “Hi Yo Silver.” Garcia, who grew up on St. Paul’s West Side, is known as the godfather of Minnesota Rock ‘n’ Roll.
    Harris, who served in the military, continued to make contributions to the local music scene as an artist, mentor and philanthropist for more than 60 years. He was the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame’s first recipient of the Blues Legend Award in 2012.
    Both Harris’ parents died when he was 3. He lived with his sister in foster homes until moving to St. Paul to stay with his grandparents as a preteen. About a year later, he began to learn the piano, a skill he still entertains audiences with at age 88. Harris performs at Minneapolis venues such as the Loring Pasta Bar and Hell’s Kitchen.

    ARCHIE AND PHEBE GIVENS














    Undated photo from 1949 of Archie Givens, Sr., center, at the Givens Ice Cream Bar, which opened in Minneapolis in 1947. Photo courtesy of the Givens Foundation.
    Undated photo from 1949 of Archie Givens, Sr., center, at the Givens Ice Cream Bar, which opened in Minneapolis in 1947. (Courtesy of the Givens Foundation)

    Minnesota’s first black millionaire died in 1974, but the family legacy lives on through literature.
    Archie and Phebe Givens married in the 1940s, having met while growing up in North Minneapolis. A successful real estate developer, Archie Givens was later dubbed the state’s first black millionaire, and his wife, also a philanthropist, was considered by many to be Minnesota’s black Florence Nightingale.
    The couple opened the state’s first racially integrated nursing homes, and Phebe Givens became the first black woman to be licensed within the state as a nursing home administrator.
    Founded in 1972 as a scholarship organization, the Archie and Phebe Mae Givens Foundation sponsors emerging black authors and community reading campaigns. The Archie Givens Sr. Collection of African-American Literature spans more than 10,000 rare and first-edition books and manuscripts at the University of Minnesota.
    Archie Givens died in 1974, and Phebe Givens died last year at age 93.

    LOU BELLAMY














    Penumbra Theatre founder and artistic director Lou Bellamy, during an interview with NBC correspondent Hoda Kotb, for a segment on “Rock Center with Brian Williams” broadcast Dec. 26. (Courtesy of NBC News / “Rock Center with Brian Williams”)

    Lou Bellamy, 72, founded the critically acclaimed Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul in 1976 to create a forum for African-American voices in Twin Cities theater.
    Penumbra remains Minnesota’s only professional African-American theater and the largest of its kind nationally. It helped launch the careers of several respected playwrights, including Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson.
    Penumbra was born out of a desire to bring more authenticity and nuance to depictions of African-Americans, Bellamy said.
    “The stories that were being told about African-Americans at that time didn’t have the breadth or richness that I knew the culture to be capable of. … I wanted a place where those more-complicated portrayals of African-Americans could be told,” Bellamy said.
    The pioneering company has inspired other theaters across the country to emulate the “Penumbra style,” which Bellamy described as a “real adherence and concentration on the nuance, musicality, gestural language and culture of African-Americans.”
    These days, Bellamy serves as co-artistic director of the theater with his daughter, Sarah Bellamy.

    SHARON SAYLES BELTON














    Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton talks about the environment, airport noise, and transportation issues as she kicks off her re-election campaign at Nokomis Community Center in Feb. 2001. A Piioneer Press editorial said of Sayles Belton, who lost the Nov. 2001 election to R.T. Rybak, "...departs after eight mostly successful years at the helm. Her most distinctive legacy will doubtless be the leadership she has shown on educational issues, particularly her influential support for a restoration of neighborhood schools and a decrease in busing. Add to that Sayles Belton's breaking of both the race and gender barriers to the mayor's office, and hers has clearly been a memorable tenure." (Pioneer Press: Craig Borck)
    Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton talks about the environment, airport noise and transportation issues as she kicks off her re-election campaign at Nokomis Community Center in February 2001. A Pioneer Press editorial said of Sayles Belton, who lost the November 2001 election to R.T. Rybak, “Her most distinctive legacy will doubtless be the leadership she has shown on educational issues, particularly her influential support for a restoration of neighborhood schools and a decrease in busing. Add to that Sayles Belton’s breaking of both the race and gender barriers to the mayor’s office, and hers has clearly been a memorable tenure.” (Pioneer Press File)

    Born in 1951, Sharon Sayles Belton was the first African-American and first woman to serve as mayor of Minneapolis. The St. Paul native held the post from 1994 to 2001, when she lost her bid for re-election to fellow Democrat R.T. Rybak.
    Sayles Belton graduated from Macalester College in 1973 and went on to work as a parole officer for sexual assault offenders and later as a neighborhood activist.
    She co-founded the Harriet Tubman Shelter for Battered Women as well as the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault. During her mayoral career, she helped bring Target Corp. to Nicollet Mall and Block E to downtown Minneapolis. The city reversed a crime wave and an economic slide.
    Sayles Belton was elected to the Minneapolis City Council’s 8th Ward in 1983 and became council president in 1990.
    She serves as vice president of government affairs and community relations at Thomson Reuters.
    A portrait of George Bonga, created about 1870 by St. Paul photographer Charles Zimmerman. Bonga was the first black person to be born in Minnesota. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.



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Clockwise from top left: Former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton; wilderness guide George Bonga; attorney Lena O. Smith; St. Paul Deputy Police Chief James Griffin; lawmaker J. Frank Wheaton; DFL co-founder Nellie Stone Johnson; Harriet Robinson Scott, wife of Dred Scott; Thermo King co-founder Frederick Jones; Penumbra Theatre founder Lou Bellamy; I. Myrtle Carden of Hallie Q. Brown Community House. (Pioneer Press photo illustration)
(Pioneer Press photo illustration)

Black Minnesotans made headlines across the nation even before the state was admitted to the Union in 1858, and any number of black explorers, advocates, teachers and preachers played crucial roles in launching many of the state’s earliest institutions.
Some now have buildings named after them; others are lesser-known.
February is Black History Month, a fitting time to recognize black trailblazers who helped open doors for future generations of Minnesotans.
From the state’s first black millionaire to its first black lawmaker, this list — by no means exhaustive — is meant to highlight a few men and women whose names you probably don’t hear as often as Prince or Gordon Parks.

GEORGE BONGA














A portrait of George Bonga, created about 1870 by St. Paul photographer Charles Zimmerman. Bonga was the first black person to be born in Minnesota. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
A portrait of George Bonga, created about 1870 by St. Paul photographer Charles Zimmerman. Bonga was the first black person to be born in Minnesota. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

Born near Duluth in 1802 to an African-American father and an Ojibwe mother, George Bonga is believed to be one of the first people of African-American descent born in Minnesota.
Following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps, Bonga became a respected fur trader for the American Fur Company in the 1920s and later a wilderness guide out of his homes on Leech and Otter Tail lakes, said Barry Babcock, a historian from Bemidji who has spent years researching the Bonga family for a book.
In that sense, Babcock considers Bonga to be one of the first “resort operators” in northern Minnesota. “Many luminaries would go and stay with him. … He would take them out in his birch-bark canoe and paddle them around the area,” Babcock said.
Fluent in English, Ojibwe and French, Bonga, who married an Ojibwe woman, also worked as an interpreter and was an influential advocate for the fair treatment of American Indians. He served as a witness to the 1867 treaty that created the White Earth Indian Reservation in north-central Minnesota.
His biggest claim to fame, though, may be the role he played in Minnesota’s first criminal court proceeding. Bonga spent days tracking the man accused of killing Alfred Aitkin in 1837. He eventually caught him and brought him to Fort Snelling bound on a sled, prompting the state’s first murder trial, Babcock said.
Bonga was widely admired as a man who “took the high road,” Babcock said.
Editor’s note: Through Feb. 28 at the St. Paul History Theatre, Carlyle Brown’s new play “George Bonga: Black Voyageur” takes some pages out of the life of its title character, a voyageur of African-American and Ojibwe descent who was one of the first African-Americans in what is now Minnesota. Tickets are $38-$20; for more information call 651-292-4323 or visit historytheatre.com.

HARRIET ROBINSON SCOTT














A portrait of Harriet Robinson Scott that appeared in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in June 1857. Harriet Scott and her husband, Dred Scott, sued for their freedom in 1846 after living at Fort Snelling for several years in the 1830s. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
A portrait of Harriet Robinson Scott that appeared in Frank Leslie’’s Illustrated Newspaper in June 1857. Harriet Scott and her husband, Dred Scott, sued for their freedom in 1846 after living at Fort Snelling for several years in the 1830s. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

The U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857 helped propel the country toward civil war. What sometimes gets left out of the telling is the story of Dred Scott’s wife, Harriet Robinson Scott, a fellow slave who, like her husband, sued for her freedom and lost.
The Scotts met and married while held at Fort Snelling around 1836, which was then a part of the Wisconsin territory.
While stationed away from Fort Snelling, U.S. Army surgeon John Emerson leased the Scotts to other slave owners, effectively introducing slavery into a free territory. Harriet gave birth to a daughter, Eliza, on a Mississippi River steamboat between Illinois and Iowa, another free territory.
After Emerson’s death, the Scotts attempted to buy their freedom from his widow, who refused their offer. They took the case to court.
In the Dred Scott decision, the Supreme Court found that despite congressional legislation to the contrary, the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in its growing territories and that African-Americans, whether slave or free, cannot be U.S. citizens.
The controversial decision helped fuel the financial panic of 1857, and the Civil War erupted four years later. The Scotts were eventually freed, but Dred died nine months later.

THE REV. ROBERT HICKMAN














A portrait of the Rev. Robert Hickman created about 1877. Hickman founded the first Baptist Church in Minnesota. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
A portrait of the Rev. Robert Hickman created about 1877. Hickman founded the first Baptist church in Minnesota. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

Born into slavery in 1831, the Rev. Robert Thomas Hickman led fellow slaves on a harrowing river journey to freedom in 1863.
Details of his escape from Missouri to Minnesota remain murky, but various accounts all confirm that Hickman convinced as many as 75 fellow slaves — his self-described “pilgrims” — to board a raft or makeshift boat with him and head up river.
Reports have it that the steamboat Northerner found them adrift and towed them to safety past jeering dockworkers, and a second group of escaped slaves joined them 10 days later. On Nov. 15, 1866, Hickman and his followers formally organized Pilgrim Baptist Church in St. Paul. Two white ministers led the church until 1877, after which Hickman became the congregation’s official minister in 1878. He died on Feb. 6, 1900.
The church, at 732 W. Central Ave., hosts services every Sunday.

J. FRANK WHEATON














A portrait of John Frank Wheaton created in 1899 by St. Paul photographer Charles Zimmerman. In 1898, Wheaton became the first black person elected to the Minnesota Legislature. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
A portrait of John Frank Wheaton, created in 1899 by St. Paul photographer Charles Zimmerman. In 1898, Wheaton became the first black person elected to the Minnesota Legislature. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

Once upon a time, a shoeshine boy became an attorney, and an attorney made Minnesota political history, only to die in tragedy.
Born in Maryland, John Frank Wheaton became the first African-American elected to the Minnesota Legislature in 1898. A graduate of Howard University and the University of Minnesota Law School, Wheaton served a single year in office, representing Minneapolis’ Kenwood neighborhood and what’s known today as Eden Prairie, Edina and Excelsior.
He introduced the 1899 civil-rights statute that guaranteed people of all races access to saloons, which previously had been able to exclude customers based on race. Wheaton twice represented Minnesota at the Republican National Convention.
He abruptly changed course and opened a life insurance company in Chicago and then a law firm in New York City. Facing financial ruin after the disappearance of a client out on bond, Wheaton died by suicide in 1922. He was 55.

CLARENCE “CAP” WIGINGTON














Clarence "Cap" Wigington, photographed at the St. Paul City Architect's office in 1940. Wigington was the first black person to serve as a municipal architect in the U.S. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
Clarence “Cap” Wigington, photographed at the St. Paul City Architect’s office in 1940. Wigington was the first black person to serve as a municipal architect in the United States. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

Architect Clarence “Cap” Wigington is responsible for some of St. Paul’s most iconic public buildings.
His designs include the administration building at Holman Field airport, the Highland Park Water Tower, Roy Wilkins Auditorium, Wigington Pavilion on Harriet Island and several local schools.
Although he had little formal training, Wigington spent three decades in the St. Paul City Architect’s office. He was the first black person in the United States to serve as a municipal architect.
Several of his buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Born in Kansas in 1883, Wigington moved to St. Paul in 1914.
During World War I, he successfully petitioned Minnesota’s governor to create the all-black 16th Battalion of the state’s Home Guard, according to the Minnesota Historical Society. He earned his nickname, “Cap,” after being commissioned the battalion’s captain.
In addition to his many permanent buildings, Wigington also designed five ice palaces for St. Paul’s Winter Carnival.
Wigington retired in 1949 and died 18 years later in Kansas City.

BOBBY MARSHALL














Bobby Marshall played end for the Minnesota Gophers football team from 1904 through 1906, before going on to play professionally. Photo courtesy of the National Football Foundation.
Bobby Marshall played end for the Minnesota Gophers football team from 1904 through 1906, before going on to play professionally. (Courtesy of the National Football Foundation)

Of all of the great athletes in Big Ten history, Bobby Marshall was arguably the best of all time. The former Minneapolis Central star was the first person of color to ever play football in the conference once known as the Big Nine, in 1904.
He was an All-American end for the University of Minnesota in 1905 and 1906. He was part of two Big Ten championships, including an undefeated 13-0 season in 1904. Marshall also earned all-conference honors in baseball and ran track for the Gophers.
In 1907, he graduated from the U with a law degree and became a practicing attorney in the Twin Cities. But he still had an appetite for athletic competition. He started playing semi-pro baseball for a segregated team in Minneapolis, and later in St. Paul.
His career on the diamonds lasted for more than a decade. Marshall also found time to be one of the first black players in the NFL (1920-24) and he played professional hockey and boxing. He died at age 78 in 1958, after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Marshall was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

LENA O. SMITH














Lena Smith, Minnesota's first African American female attorney Also a real estate agent, her interest in housing led to a landmark court case for a black family buying a home in a south Minneapolis neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society.
Lena Smith, Minnesota’s first African-American female attorney Also a real estate agent, her interest in housing led to a landmark court case for a black family buying a home in a South Minneapolis neighborhood. (Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society)

Lena Olive Smith was the first black woman to practice law in Minnesota.
As one of six children, she moved to the state in her early 20s with her family from Lawrence, Kan., in 1906.
Before deciding to pursue a law degree in 1916, she worked several jobs to support her family after her father died, including in real estate. She fought for the equality of her clients to live in white neighborhoods. After attending Northwestern College (now part of William Mitchell College of Law), Smith opened her own firm and became a prominent civil-rights attorney and activist in the 1920s and ’30s.
She helped found the Urban League branch in Minneapolis in 1925 and was the first female president of the local chapter of the NAACP in 1935.
She was still an active attorney when she died at age 81 in 1966. Her legacy, along with that of Minnesota’s first black lawyer, Frederick McGhee, helped pave the way for other legal pioneers such as Alan Page and Wilhelmina Wright, the first African-American man and woman elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court, respectively.
The Lena O. Smith House, where she once lived, at 3905 Fourth St. S. in Minneapolis is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I. MYRTLE CARDEN














I. Myrtle Carden photographed about 1950. A social worker, Carden founded the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in 1929. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
I. Myrtle Carden, photographed about 1950. A social worker, Carden served as the first executive director of the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in 1929. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

When black families from St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood needed basic services or just a place to hang out, they turned to I. Myrtle Carden.
For 20 years, beginning from its founding in 1929, Carden led the Hallie Q. Brown Community House, a social-service agency inspired by the era’s settlement house movement. Carden, a social worker from Pittsburgh, mentored a generation of young girls shut out from white school groups and social programs.
Named after an Ohio educator who led the establishment of black women’s clubs across the country, Hallie Q. Brown soon became St. Paul’s second-largest neighborhood center. Among other activities, teenage girls taught nutrition and home economics to other teens.
The community center, which grew out of the St. Paul Urban League, started at the site of a former YWCA and is now part of the Martin Luther King Center off Dale Street and Marshall Avenue.
In Minneapolis, Carden’s ideological counterpart was W. Gertrude Brown, who ran the Phyllis Wheatley House, a magnet for famous guests such as Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Marian Anderson and W.E.B. DuBois.

NELLIE STONE JOHNSON














Nellie Stone Johnson reflects on her life accomplishments at her Minneapolis apartment in Feb. 2000. Born in Lakeville, the Minnesota farm girl grew up to become a major influence in the civil rights and labor movements and an inspirational supporter of higher education. Johnson joined the NAACP in 1934, helped organize the DFL Party in the 1940s, campaigned for Hubert Humphrey and many others, and became the first African-American elected to a citywide office in Minneapolis when she joined the library board in 1945. She died, age 96, in April 2002. (Pioneer Press: Ginger Pinson)
Nellie Stone Johnson reflects on her life accomplishments, at her Minneapolis apartment in February 2000. Born in Lakeville, the Minnesota farm girl grew up to become a major influence in the civil-rights and labor movements and an inspirational supporter of higher education. Johnson helped organize the DFL Party in the 1940s, campaigned for Hubert Humphrey and many others, and became the first African-American elected to a citywide office in Minneapolis in 1945. (Pioneer Press: Ginger Pinson)

Nellie Stone Johnson got her first taste of activism growing up on her family’s Dakota County farm in the early 1900s.
Her father, a union organizer, would send her to school with an armload of fliers to hand out on the way.
Johnson grew up to be a key figure in Minnesota’s labor and civil-rights movements, as well as a founder of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.
Johnson joined the ranks of political radicals as a student at the University of Minnesota, where she met lifelong friend and collaborator Hubert Humphrey. She became a member of the Minneapolis NAACP in 1934.
As an elevator operator at the St. Paul Athletic Club in the 1930s, Johnson organized her fellow employees under the Minneapolis Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union.
In 1945, she became the first black person in Minneapolis elected to a citywide office as a member of the library board.
Johnson continued to advocate for people of color and the working class until her death in 2002 at age 96.
“I’ve never known hunger, or being without clothing or shelter a day in my life,” she told the Pioneer Press in 1995. “I want that for everyone.”

FREDERICK JONES














Frederick Jones, photographed about 1950, in front of one of the refrigerated trucks he designed. McKinley was the first black person inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
Frederick Jones, photographed about 1950, in front of one of the refrigerated trucks he designed. McKinley was the first black person inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

If you wanted to haul produce from one coast to the other before 1940, your best bet was to drive really fast.
Frederick Jones changed that with his Thermo King portable refrigeration unit, which allowed truckers to keep their cargo cool on long trips.
This invention, and the more than 50 others he patented in his lifetime, won him a place in the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Jones moved to Minnesota from his native Ohio in 1912 to work on a farm in Hallock owned by James J. Hill. He moved to the Twin Cities in the early 1930s, according to the Minnesota Historical Society.
A workaholic, Jones would routinely toil until 2 or 3 in the morning, his wife told the Pioneer Press in 1971. His inventions included a portable X-ray machine for hospitals, an ice cream machine and soundtrack equipment used in movies and television shows.
Jones was the first black person to be inducted into the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers and the first to be awarded the National Medal of Technology.
He died in 1961 at age 68.

JAMES GRIFFIN














Nov. 1955 photo of Sgt James S. Griffin. Griffin joined the St. Paul Police Department in 1941 and became the first black St. Paul officer to reach the ranks of sergeant, captain and deputy chief. In May 2004, the department's new headquarters building was dedicated in his memory. Griffin died in 2002 at age 85. (Pioneer Press File)
A November 1955 photo shows Sgt. James S. Griffin. Griffin joined the St. Paul Police Department in 1941 and became the first black St. Paul officer to reach the ranks of sergeant, captain and deputy chief. In May 2004, the department’s new headquarters building was dedicated in his memory. Griffin died in 2002 at age 85. (Pioneer Press File)

If you’ve ever been inside St. Paul’s police headquarters, you’ve probably seen James Griffin’s name. It’s mounted above the front door.
Born in 1917 and raised in the city’s Rondo neighborhood, Griffin was the first black St. Paul police officer to reach the ranks of sergeant, captain and deputy chief after joining the force in 1941.
His trailblazing ascent did not come without setbacks, according to an account of his oral history captured by Kate Cavett of Hand in Hand Productions.
Griffin told the historian about enduring years of racism. He had to take the police department’s physical exam countless times before passing and was not allowed to have a squad car when he first became an officer. He also filed a complaint when he initially failed to land the deputy chief job even though he had the highest score on the exam. He later got it because the department created two deputy chief positions.
Griffin also served as a St. Paul school board member and on the board of directors of the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center and was active in the NAACP. He died in 2002.

JAMES ‘CORNBREAD’ HARRIS. SR.














James Samuel "Cornbread" Harris Sr. was honored for six decades of the blues, jazz, polka, calypso and country music when he was honored as one of five 2013 Sally Ordway Irvine Awards winners. (Courtesy photo)
James Samuel “Cornbread” Harris Sr. was honored for six decades of the blues, jazz, polka, calypso and country music when he was honored as one of five 2013 Sally Ordway Irvine Awards winners. (Courtesy photo)

James “Cornbread” Harris Sr., a Minneapolis blues and jazz musician, has a storied place in Minnesota music history. He’s mostly known as the father of Jimmy Jam (James Harris III), a former member of the Time and hit record producer for pop icon Janet Jackson with his partner, Terry Lewis.
But Harris performed on Minnesota’s first rock ‘n’ roll record with Augie Garcia’s 1955 song, “Hi Yo Silver.” Garcia, who grew up on St. Paul’s West Side, is known as the godfather of Minnesota Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Harris, who served in the military, continued to make contributions to the local music scene as an artist, mentor and philanthropist for more than 60 years. He was the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame’s first recipient of the Blues Legend Award in 2012.
Both Harris’ parents died when he was 3. He lived with his sister in foster homes until moving to St. Paul to stay with his grandparents as a preteen. About a year later, he began to learn the piano, a skill he still entertains audiences with at age 88. Harris performs at Minneapolis venues such as the Loring Pasta Bar and Hell’s Kitchen.

ARCHIE AND PHEBE GIVENS














Undated photo from 1949 of Archie Givens, Sr., center, at the Givens Ice Cream Bar, which opened in Minneapolis in 1947. Photo courtesy of the Givens Foundation.
Undated photo from 1949 of Archie Givens, Sr., center, at the Givens Ice Cream Bar, which opened in Minneapolis in 1947. (Courtesy of the Givens Foundation)

Minnesota’s first black millionaire died in 1974, but the family legacy lives on through literature.
Archie and Phebe Givens married in the 1940s, having met while growing up in North Minneapolis. A successful real estate developer, Archie Givens was later dubbed the state’s first black millionaire, and his wife, also a philanthropist, was considered by many to be Minnesota’s black Florence Nightingale.
The couple opened the state’s first racially integrated nursing homes, and Phebe Givens became the first black woman to be licensed within the state as a nursing home administrator.
Founded in 1972 as a scholarship organization, the Archie and Phebe Mae Givens Foundation sponsors emerging black authors and community reading campaigns. The Archie Givens Sr. Collection of African-American Literature spans more than 10,000 rare and first-edition books and manuscripts at the University of Minnesota.
Archie Givens died in 1974, and Phebe Givens died last year at age 93.

LOU BELLAMY














Penumbra Theatre founder and artistic director Lou Bellamy, during an interview with NBC correspondent Hoda Kotb, for a segment on “Rock Center with Brian Williams” broadcast Dec. 26. (Courtesy of NBC News / “Rock Center with Brian Williams”)

Lou Bellamy, 72, founded the critically acclaimed Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul in 1976 to create a forum for African-American voices in Twin Cities theater.
Penumbra remains Minnesota’s only professional African-American theater and the largest of its kind nationally. It helped launch the careers of several respected playwrights, including Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson.
Penumbra was born out of a desire to bring more authenticity and nuance to depictions of African-Americans, Bellamy said.
“The stories that were being told about African-Americans at that time didn’t have the breadth or richness that I knew the culture to be capable of. … I wanted a place where those more-complicated portrayals of African-Americans could be told,” Bellamy said.
The pioneering company has inspired other theaters across the country to emulate the “Penumbra style,” which Bellamy described as a “real adherence and concentration on the nuance, musicality, gestural language and culture of African-Americans.”
These days, Bellamy serves as co-artistic director of the theater with his daughter, Sarah Bellamy.

SHARON SAYLES BELTON














Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton talks about the environment, airport noise, and transportation issues as she kicks off her re-election campaign at Nokomis Community Center in Feb. 2001. A Piioneer Press editorial said of Sayles Belton, who lost the Nov. 2001 election to R.T. Rybak, "...departs after eight mostly successful years at the helm. Her most distinctive legacy will doubtless be the leadership she has shown on educational issues, particularly her influential support for a restoration of neighborhood schools and a decrease in busing. Add to that Sayles Belton's breaking of both the race and gender barriers to the mayor's office, and hers has clearly been a memorable tenure." (Pioneer Press: Craig Borck)
Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton talks about the environment, airport noise and transportation issues as she kicks off her re-election campaign at Nokomis Community Center in February 2001. A Pioneer Press editorial said of Sayles Belton, who lost the November 2001 election to R.T. Rybak, “Her most distinctive legacy will doubtless be the leadership she has shown on educational issues, particularly her influential support for a restoration of neighborhood schools and a decrease in busing. Add to that Sayles Belton’s breaking of both the race and gender barriers to the mayor’s office, and hers has clearly been a memorable tenure.” (Pioneer Press File)

Born in 1951, Sharon Sayles Belton was the first African-American and first woman to serve as mayor of Minneapolis. The St. Paul native held the post from 1994 to 2001, when she lost her bid for re-election to fellow Democrat R.T. Rybak.
Sayles Belton graduated from Macalester College in 1973 and went on to work as a parole officer for sexual assault offenders and later as a neighborhood activist.
She co-founded the Harriet Tubman Shelter for Battered Women as well as the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault. During her mayoral career, she helped bring Target Corp. to Nicollet Mall and Block E to downtown Minneapolis. The city reversed a crime wave and an economic slide.
Sayles Belton was elected to the Minneapolis City Council’s 8th Ward in 1983 and became council president in 1990.
She serves as vice president of government affairs and community relations at Thomson Reuters.



































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