Minneapolis/ Community & Society
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Published on April 24, 2024
Minneapolis Seeks Community Insight for African American Heritage Advisory BoardSource: Google Street View

The City of Minneapolis is calling on locals who harbor knowledge about African American heritage to step forward and join a new advisory board, according to a statement obtained from the city's website. This board, termed the African American Heritage Work Group, will serve to inform the City Council on projects aimed at acknowledging and celebrating the city's Black historical narrative. The city has set a deadline of May 12 for those looking to rapidly apply their expertise to the committee.

The group will consist of up to 15 community members, with the mayor directly appointing two individuals and the rest selected by council members. They will be instrumental in identifying key properties for the Minneapolis African American Historic and Cultural Context Study. Among these properties, a minimum of three will be advocated by the City to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. "We look forward to working with community members to recognize and uplift important people, places, and events related to African American heritage," Senior City Planner Erin Que stated. The initiative shines a light on the urgency of integrating community narratives into the wider scope of Minneapolis history and highlights the city's cultural diversity.

Members of this newly minted group will commence meetings between July 2024 and June 2025, approximately once or twice monthly. These meetings aim to be beacons of public engagement, orchestrated by City staff, to ensure the process remains transparent. Participants in the workgroup will dutifully suggest research materials, advice on property surveys, review reports in their draft form, and recommend actionable steps moving forward. The commission will wrap up with a final report of their findings and recommendations to be presented to the City Council.

Since the historic preservation program's inception in 1972, Minneapolis has designated more than 200 landmarks and historic districts reflective of the city's past. There is, however, an acknowledgment from City Hall that greater representation is overdue—about 20% of the city's demographics identify as Black or African American. The listings up to this point have largely depicted the architectural and historic contributions made by white citizens. This discrepancy underscores the city's commitment to broadening its historical preservation efforts to encompass the full spectrum of its community's heritage.

For individuals interested in taking part in the African American Heritage Work Group or those who wish to gain additional information on the African American Historic and Cultural Context Study, the City encourages them to visit its website or get in touch via phone or email. Public engagement in this effort will ensure the diverse narratives that compose the rich tapestry of Minneapolis' history are not merely acknowledged but celebrated.

The initiative is made possible through the support of the people of Minnesota, who contribute by way of a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.