Insight News

Feb 06th

Black History Month Events at the Minnesota History Center

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Visit the Minnesota History Center during Black History Month in February, and join in festivities that celebrate the proud heritage of black Minnesotans.  Learn about the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military aviators who fought in World War II, while exploring the exhibit “Minnesota’s Greatest Generation.”

On the last three weekends of the month, Feb. 12–13, 19–20 and 26–27, families can take part in a History HiJinx craft activity and make a model glider to take home. Kids can also try on a parachute pack and listen to stories about the Tuskegee Airmen.

On Sundays, Feb. 13, 20 and 27, History Player Frederick McKinley Jones will perform on the hour from 1 to 4 p.m. Jones was an African American race car driver and inventor whose refrigeration system for trucks changed the way we eat.

On Saturday, Feb. 26 at 2 p.m., join Thomasina Petrus for a tribute to Black History Month at the Global Hotdish Variety Show. Petrus will lead a rousing 90-minute show for families that includes step dancing with DeLaSouljah Steppers; hip hop and spoken word with artists Sha’Cage and Youth Amplified; hambone body percussionist Daryl Boudreaux; and the jazz and blues sounds of Mick laBriola and Congo Lion.

For more information on times and prices visit

African-American History Resources
The Minnesota History Center has available, any time of the year, a number of resources for visitors wanting in learning more about black Minnesotans. The Society’s library gives visitors access to collections of artifacts, papers, stories, images and oral histories created by or about black Minnesotans.

Students looking to get started with their research online can visit the History Topics section of the website at for information on Dred Scott, the Duluth lynching of 1920, NAACP leader and St. Paul native Roy Wilkins, engineer and inventor Frederick McKinley Jones, the Rondo neighborhood and its disappearance due to the construction of Interstate Highway 94, and the African American civil rights movement. All of the pages offer secondary sources for further study. Many of these topics are also featured in the exhibit “MN150” at the Minnesota History Center.

The Society also offers a school curriculum kit titled “African American Stories in Minnesota” that is available for download at

The Society is a treasure trove for family history researchers. A good starting place for any researcher is to look through birth and death records, census data, probate records, business and city directories, hospital records and military archives. Additional resources for researching black family history include records of black churches in Minnesota, including a number of A.M.E. and Baptist churches; the Freedman’s Bureau records; archives of the Appeal (Western Appeal), Minneapolis Spokesman and Saint Paul Recorder newspapers; oral histories; organizational records of the Credjafawn Social Club and Prince Hall Grand Lodge; and photographs, railroad records and slave narratives.  Library staff can help guide new researchers while genealogical specialists are available for a fee.

The Minnesota Historical Society Press has published numerous books about African American history and black Minnesotans including “African Americans in Minnesota,” by David Vassar Taylor; “A Peculiar Imbalance: The Fall and Rise of Racial Equality in Early Minnesota,” by William D. Green; “Cap Wiggington: An Architectural Legacy in Ice and Snow,” by David Vassar Taylor and Paul Clifford Larson; “Days of Rondo,” by Evelyn Fairbanks; “Dred and Harriet Scott” by Gwenyth Swain; and “Frederick L. McGhee: A Life on the Color Line,” by Paul D. Nelson.

For more information about the Minnesota Historical Society and all its events, programs and resources, visit


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