Congresswoman McCollum's Statement Honoring the 30th Anniversary of Rondo Days
July 8, 2013
Ms. McCOLLUM: Mr. Speaker, today I rise to pay tribute to the families of the Rondo neighborhood in Saint Paul, Minnesota on the 30th anniversary of the Rondo Days festival. Rondo Days offers a remembrance of this historically African-American community that was dramatically altered by the construction of U.S. Interstate 94 in the mid-1960s. More importantly, Rondo Days is a celebration of the perseverance and tenacity of the modern Rondo community, which remains a vibrant, diverse and thriving neighborhood.
For many decades, Rondo Avenue was the lively center of the African-American community in Saint Paul. Construction of U.S. Interstate 94 in the 1960s resulted in the removal of the avenue along with hundreds of homes and businesses, shattering the tight-knit community. Many families were displaced and the appearance of the neighborhood was forever changed, but the spirit of Rondo lived on. Capturing a strong desire for a community revival, in 1982, Marvin “Roger” Anderson and Floyd Smaller founded a new festival to restore the sense of kinship, stability, and community values of the old Rondo neighborhood. Rondo Days was born, growing into a major annual weekend festival drawing together thousands of residents in celebration of the community. Each year, neighbors and families come together for activities including a senior dinner, 5K walk and run, drill team competition, and the Grand Parade.
The rich legacy of old Rondo Avenue is also the foundation for the future of the new Rondo neighborhood. For decades, many families called Rondo Avenue home, and many new residents from the South were welcomed on doorsteps along the avenue. Residents were proud of their neighborhood and planted deep roots, branching out to start businesses to serve the community and create new opportunity. During a time of segregation and harsh racial disparities, Rondo Avenue allowed many African-Americans to dream big and believe in a brighter future. This pride and these dreams remain undiminished today. As Saint Paul gathers for the 30th time to celebrate Rondo Days, families and neighbors will be reunited, new friends welcomed, and everyone will be looking to an even brighter future.
Mr. Speaker, in honor of the community, history, and legacy of the Rondo neighborhood, and as a neighbor myself, I am pleased to submit this statement for the Congressional Record recognizing the 30th Anniversary of Rondo Days in Saint Paul, Minnesota.