Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

Feb. 11, 2014

Orange barrels on a highway

MnDOT partners with Minnesota History Center for Feb. 13 Black History Month event


Free, public celebration will focus on African American contributions to transportation

ROSEVILLE, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Historical Society will present “African Americans and the Great Waterways,” a celebration in honor of Black History Month on Thursday, Feb. 13, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Minnesota History Center, 345 Kellogg Blvd W in St. Paul.


The event will provide an opportunity to learn about the contributions of early African American voyageurs, explorers and pioneers, outlining the role they played in the development of waterway commerce in the Great Lakes and Northern Territories.


Highlights of the event will include a theatrical interpretation of the life of successful African-American and Ojibwe fur trader George Bonga by actor/playwright/teacher Brian Grandison, and a performance by Indigenous dancers.


Attendees will have the chance to ask questions during a panel discussion on the early African American settlements in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the fur and lumber trade, and early transportation.


Panelists include Peter Rachleff, professor of labor, African American and immigration history at Macalester College; David Riehle, organizer, activist and writer on labor history of African Americans in Minnesota; Bill Carter, American Indian community advocate; and Carlyle Brown, actor and playwright of “Boundary Waters.”


Past MnDOT Black History month events highlighted African American contributions in aviation and the railroad industry.

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