Oral HistoryPlaces & Spaces

Establishment of Rondo

African American history in Minnesota is traced back to 1802 with the recorded birth of George Bonga. Bonga was the son of a black frontiersman and a Chippewa woman and lived near what is now Duluth, Minnesota. Throughout the 19th Century, gradual migration into Minnesota Territories by African Americans continued.

By the turn of the 20th Century, most African Americans in Minnesota lived in St. Paul. They were attracted by the promise of higher paid work and the tight knit The community was centered largely around Pilgrim Baptist Church. Founded in 1866 by Reverend Robert Thomas Hickman, the congregation was made up of escaped slaves using the Civil War as an opportunity to escape north. Until 1871, informal meetings were held on Sundays at the Home of Caroline Nelson located Fifth St. between Washington and Franklin Ave. After many years of transferring and renting buildings, Pilgrim Baptist Church found a permanent home in 1928. The building is located at 732 Central Avenue west and became an integral part of the budding Rondo Neighborhood.


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