Insight News

Feb 13th

Bernadette Anderson: What can we do to improve quality of life for our people?

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Al McFarlane: What are your greatest Minneapolis memories?
Bernadette Anderson: Well [when] I was born...if you were Black, you were in one part of the hospital. Al McFarlane: What are your greatest Minneapolis memories?

Bernadette Anderson: Well [when] I was born...if you were Black, you were in one part of the hospital. If you were White you were born in another. So, Minneapolis, has been segregating a long time. I can remember being in [sixth grade], doing a play. We went to one of the young ladies' homes to practice. Her grandmother said she didn’t want any "niggers" in her house.

AM: How did you feel?

BA: I felt bad. But, even at that point, I was belligerent, I told her grandma I didn’t want to come in her nasty house.

AM: You’ve always been part of the radical fighting community, haven't you?

BA: I would say so. I’ve always been proud of who I am. So, I’ve always attacked anyone who felt we as people of color were [inferior].

AM: How've you been involved in civil rights in this community over the years?

BA: I protested against the school system years ago. At Lincoln Junior High School we had problems with how students were treated. [There] wasn’t anything in their [studies] pertaining to African Americans.

AM: How did White people respond?

BA: They felt we were not necessarily a part of history.

AM: Was life between Black and White communities ever ugly? Did it get to where challenges got dangerous?

BA: When my children were teenagers there was a riot on Plymouth, and I remember a restaurant on Plymouth Avenue, and after that riot, everything was destroyed. There were confrontations. We weren’t allowed in certain sections of Minneapolis [and] didn’t dare go Northeast for anything.

AM: On Plymouth Avenue there were restaurants and stores you couldn’t go to.

BA: We weren’t allowed to go in, they didn’t want us in there and you knew that.

AM: What places in particular?

BA: I can remember Killroy’s.

AM: That was a restaurant right?

BA: It was a restaurant. I think that was one of the first places they destroyed as they went along and rioted.

AM: So, here is a restaurant, on the edge of the Black community -- what is the center of the Black community now -- right here on Plymouth Avenue, and merely what, maybe 30 years ago, 40 years ago, Black people could not go in the restaurant. It was take-out for Black people, or, what was it?

BA: I don’t even remember whether it was take-out, you just couldn’t go in there and sit.
They did not accept you. And, living in the projects. we were also segregated. White people lived on one side. I think all Black people lived closer to Phyllis Wheatley which was on Aldrich at the time. So, the projects were even segregated at that time.

AM: Despite this environment, a lot of good came from this community.

BA: We [had] fashion shows on East Hennepin [Ave.], at a hall we were allowed to use. When I went to Chicago for a national PTA convention I was in awe of all the African Americans [worked] in the stores, That didn’t happen here. I felt good about it and had a renewed energy to come back here and help change things.

AM: What’s your family lineage?
BA: My great grandmother, lived to be 99. My great grandfather moved to Ohio, I believe. He came up to Minnesota from the south, out of slavery. My children are in the process of looking some more of that up. But they understand that [though] he was in slavery, he was proud. He lost one eye in the struggle during slavery, but walked the streets very proud. We had no choice of what happened to us, but all Black people should be proud. Understand where they come from and, if there is a mixture of color, it ain’t your fault. That’s what happened during slave time.

AM: What does Africa mean to you?

BA: Africa is a place I’d love to go sometime, my homeland. That’s where our unity is. Black people here do

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