Who We Are
Rondo Avenue, Inc. (RAI) is dedicated to preserving, conserving and accurately interpreting the contributions of the African-American community of Rondo to the City of Saint Paul. This community was destroyed by the construction of Interstate I-94 in the 1960’s.
RAI’s goal is to transmit the history and rich cultural traditions of Rondo and connect them with modern values for an ever-evolving community. Through our work we share stories of faith, family, hope, resiliency and the continued growth and successes of the community.
History of Rondo Avenue Incorporated (RAI)
In the 1930s, Rondo Avenue was at the heart of Saint Paul, MN’s largest Black neighborhood. African-Americans whose families had lived in Minnesota for decades and others who were just arriving from the South made up a vibrant, vital community that was in many ways independent of the white society around it. The construction of I-94 in the 1960s shattered this tight-knit community, displaced thousands of African-Americans into a racially segregated city and a discriminatory housing market, and erased a now-legendary neighborhood.
While the construction of I-94 radically changed the landscape of the neighborhood, the community of Rondo still exists and its persistence and growth are celebrated through events like Rondo Days and the Jazz Festival.
In 1982, Marvin “Roger” Anderson and Floyd Smaller came up with an idea to bring back a sense of community, stability, and neighborhood values of the old Rondo community. It was their intent to create an organization dedicated to sharing the contributions of African Americans and the rich cultural history of the Rondo community to the City of Saint Paul, and the great State of Minnesota; and to bring people together to celebrate the positive growth and diversity of the beloved Rondo community.
As the founders, their hard work and dedication to the memory of the Rondo community resulted in the formation of the “Rondo Avenue, Inc.” organization and the Rondo Days Festival. The Rondo Days Festival celebrates the best and brightest of Minnesota’s African-American stories, achievements and culture. It reunites a dispersed people, welcomes new neighbors and encourages everyone to be mindful of the extent to which neighborhoods nourish our souls.