Rondo: Beyond the Pavement

Over 600 families were displaced and dozens of African American owned businesses were destroyed. This documentary digs into the history accounted by elders in the community to take a closer look at the events surrounding the construction of I-94.


Between 1956 and 1968, the Rondo community was divided as a result of the construction of I-94. The predominately African American community has never been the same. Over 600 families were displaced and dozens of African American owned businesses were destroyed.

This history is explored by youth from the Rondo community who have been producing a documentary film since February 2018 as apart of a partnership between Saint Paul Almanac and SPNN.

As an independent journalist I first learned of their project through my membership at SPNN and my passion for the topic quickly garnered me several hats in the post production process.

As a Saint Paul native I spent the majority of my adolescence residing in a duplex on Aurora which is located in the heart of Rondo. Although my family moved frequently I continued to feel connected to Rondo and always identified that neighborhood as the neighborhood where I grew up. So it’s a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to tell the history of the community that raised me and it’s full circle for me in many ways.

As the senior editor on the documentary I had the privilege of hearing all the interviews with the Rondo elders in their entirety. Its amazing how many parallels there are in the past and the future.

“If we know who we are and who we came from, it helps us to go forward in our lives,” says Donna Evans in the film. “If we know nothing about our history, then how are we to know about our future?”

The first viewing of the documentary Rondo: Beyond the Pavement is November 3, but has already been sold out. We are working together as a collective to plan more viewings and to make this piece an on-going narrative.

My contributions:

  • Editing
  • Creating trailer
  • Video production
  • Transcribing
  • Logo design

SAINT PAUL (Sept. 17, 2018) – Saint Paul Almanac, in partnership with Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) and High School for Recording Arts (HSRA), will present the Rondo youth–produced film Rondo: Beyond the Pavement on Nov. 3 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at SPNN studios, 550 Vandalia Street, Suite 170, in Saint Paul.

Since February 2018, youth from the Rondo community have been learning documentary skills from Emmy award–winning filmmaker Bianca Rhodes and production skills from audio maker Katharine DeCelle. Rhodes produces Candy Fresh on SPNN and DeCelle is director of Frogtown Radio. Youth artists Aubriana Jackson, Jasmine McBride, Angelo Bush, Jose Quintanilla, Yevrah Bradley, Deonte Jones, Charles Miller, Amina DeLeon, Destiny Roberts, and Jevrye Morris created the film.

“Learning about what happened in the Rondo community while interviewing those who witnessed their homes being destroyed was heartbreaking,” says Morris. “It was astounding the resilience they showed. It lit a fire in me. Rondo never stopped trying to rebuild what was there. It gave me a lot of confidence in myself to go after what I love to do in life. I learned that I-94 going through Rondo was a power struggle to limit what the black community could actually do. It didn’t stop us at all.”

The 30-minute film screening will immediately be followed by a Q&A with the youth filmmakers and their teachers and mentors. Refreshments will be served.

Storymobile, led by director Melvin Giles and manager Darius Gray, wanted to collect and preserve the historical memory of the Rondo neighborhood from a multigenerational perspective. Storymobile worked with Rondo youth to record stories of Rondo that give an intimate view of the impact the destruction of Rondo and construction of the I-94 highway had on people’s lives and how that impact continues today.

“If we know who we are and who we came from, it helps us to go forward in our lives,” says Donna Evans in the film. “If we know nothing about our history, then how are we to know about our future?”

Saint Paul Almanac is a literary-centered arts organization that has been publishing an annual book of Saint Paul stories and poems for more than a decade. We share stories across cultures and cultivate dialogue to promote understanding, relationships, and collaborative action.

HSRA is dedicated to providing all young people a chance to realize their full potential, despite any previous setbacks. As we engage students through music and the exploration and operation of the music business, we demonstrate that core learning areas and real-world, twenty-first century skills can be acquired at the same time. More than just earning a high school diploma, HSRA prepares students for a positive post-secondary education and life.

SPNN’s mission is to empower people to use media and communications to better lives, use authentic voice, and build common understanding.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

 

 

 

 

 


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