MHC Partners with In Black Ink to Celebrate New Rondo Children’s Book Series

In Black Ink, Rondo Avenue Inc., and the Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC) have partnered to transform the rich experiences of the historic Rondo community into stories that will introduce the Rondo core values to our youth. Writers and artists with direct connections to the community were selected to research, write, and share little-known stories with the wider community in the form of children’s books. These books are immersed in the lore and lessons of a neighborhood that thrived in a time of segregation and discrimination to raise healthy, successful, and visionary young people.

The Rondo Children’s Book Series are stories that provide reflections of moments during the days when the Rondo community existed in full vibrancy. The Rondo Core Values, developed by Marvin Roger Anderson of Rondo Avenue Inc., underpin each unique story in this series of eight books. The Rondo Children’s Book Series shares the legacy and values of Rondo with the next generation, highlighting its relevance and impact on our current life.

Ninety percent (90%) of Black people in St. Paul lived in the historic Rondo neighborhood until the late 1960s. Rondo was a thriving community despite racism, discrimination, and segregation. Two forces caused the migration of Black people out of this healthy neighborhood: the construction of the Interstate 94 freeway, and the passing of the Fair Housing Law, allowing African Americans to live wherever they wanted, making housing discrimination against the law. These forces helped change the Black community in many ways – some good and some bad. Taylor, D. V. (2002). African Americans in Minnesota. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press.

In “Mr. Rondo’s Spirit,” one of the two Rondo Children’s storybooks, the author Ericka Dennis writes, “The highway cut through the main street forcing stores to be closed permanently. These miles of roads, built for fast transportation, pushed Black neighborhoods into mass migration.”

The values Marvin R. Anderson believes sustained Rondo and served as a firm foundation for many are: the importance of education, the dignity of work, religion, and faith, home ownership, securing economic independence, social interaction, hope for a better tomorrow, and respect for self and family.

Dr. Artika Tyner writes of Joey, a young man that grew up in Rondo during the 1940s. On his weekly Saturday adventures with his grandpa, he learns about the rich cultural heritage of his community and the power of entrepreneurship and family. Joey’s experiences highlight the thriving community with doctors, lawyers, dentists, restaurants, and retail shops.

Both books are beautifully illustrated by local artists from the Rondo neighborhood, Mychal Batson and Broderick Poole.

This project is made possible in part through funding from the Minnesota Humanities Center, the Minnesota Historical Society, and the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Join In Black Ink for a book launch of the Rondo Children’s Book Series on Thursday, Oct. 4 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Minnesota Humanities Center.

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About In Black Ink

In Black Ink (IBI)’s mission is to create spaces where the stories and voices of people of African heritage are celebrated, documented, and archived through publications, professional development trainings/opportunities, and public presentations. IBI fosters a strong culture of literacy via social enterprising and economic support of artists and professionals by transforming our understanding that our story is the wealth our children and our local, national, and global communities will inherit.

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Rekhet Si-Asar

Author: Rekhet Si-Asar

Rekhet Si-Asar is the Executive Director of In Black Ink (IBI). Rekhet was born in Guyana, South America, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where she received a degree in Illustrative Art at Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, a M.A, and E.d. S from the University of Minnesota in Child Development and School Psychology. Si-Asar is a School Psychologist, Educator, and Coordinator of a local science and cultural program for youth K–8th grade. She has co-founded Papyrus Publishing Inc., in 1998 with her husband, Anura Si-Asar. Papyrus have published such titles as “Hiptionary, the Myth of Race and Reality of Racism,” by Mahmoud El-Kati, “Crusaders for Justice,” by Arthur McWatt, and “Best in Class,” by Eric Mahmoud all of which are local writers, educators, community activists/historians.

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