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St. Paul's Rondo Days celebrate 3 R's – but resentment is not one of them

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Saturday's Rondo Days festivities will mark the 30th time those who remember the St. Paul neighborhood have come together to celebrate it.

A ceremony on Friday was meant to symbolically bury the bitterness left by that neighborhood's destruction decades earlier.

Rondo Ave. was the Main Street of St. Paul's African-American community – until its homes and businesses were condemned and destroyed in the 1960s to make way for Interstate 94.

The anger over the loss has faded over time, but Friday's healing ceremony was meant to put it to rest for good.

It was held at the corner of Concordia and Fisk, a site where a plaza commemorating the Rondo neighborhood is planned.

It will have interpretive displays about Rondo and African-American contributions to St. Paul, but organizers also see the plaza as a gathering place, with a stage and sound system for lectures and concerts.

Remembrance, Reconciliation, Restoration

The three R words above served as the motto for Friday's healing ceremony.

Rondo Avenue Inc., the group that organizes Rondo Days, says the annual celebration is about recognizing the past, honoring the present, and soaring into the future.

Marvin Roger Anderson, a co-founder of Rondo Days, tells MPR News the hope is that today's young people will learn about Rondo's legacy and what their elders went through, adding "...we hope that once they learn that history and that legacy of Rondo it will help shape their futures, for a more positive future."

Vanne Owens Hayes, a former Rondo resident, tells the Star Tribune there's a mistaken impression among many that the area was a low-income neighborhood. Hayes says many middle-class homeowners lived in Rondo, which was also marked by social clubs, restaurants, a union hall, and a meat market.

The Rondo Commemorative Plaza & Garden Facebook page has images of some of them. Find more below or in a longer video on YouTube.

Learn more about the Rondo neighborhood here, here, or here. Find a map showing how the neighborhood was divided into pieces here.

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