A year in photos: North Minneapolis 2018

By Kenzie O'Keefe Editor | Photos by David Pierini Photographer   

In 2018, inspiring projects were brought to fruition, persistent challenges plagued us, and new leaders came on the scene, promising to carry us into new eras of equity and prosperity in North Minneapolis.

We inaugurated new Minneapolis City Council representation in Phillipe Cunningham and Jeremiah Ellison, and we elected new Hennepin County Board representation in Irene Fernando. We saw our infrastructure transformed; the BRT line construction on Penn is nearly completed, and the corner of Penn and Plymouth has been rapidly and radically built up with two brand new, architecturally masterful buildings: THOR Companies Headquarters and Estes Funeral Home, both home to black-owned businesses with deep roots in community. 

The Association for Black Economic Power and Village Trust Financial Cooperative have unflinchingly fostered community wealth building. New food and beverage businesses like La Doña Cervecería, Tori 44, Krispy Krunchy Chicken, and the Zen Bin brought us fresh gathering places and culinary experiences.  Juneteenth, a celebration of Freedom Day, came back to the community by taking place in Bethune Park this year.

We mourned the untimely deaths of Juan Reed, Thurman Blevins, Donise White, Nate Hampton, and many others. We experienced the rise and fall of Wirth Co-op and witnessed dysfunction from some of our neighborhood organizations. We felt our housing crisis deepen.

Amidst all that occurred, Northsiders laughed, danced, sang, loved, cried and held each other. Through creativity, vibrancy, and showing up for each other, we’ve been able to reach new heights and have been buoyed through periods of despair. 

Here are a few of those magical moments. 

A late summer blast of heat did little to keep people from singing, dancing and laughing with friends and family on Saturday, Sept. 15 during West Broadway Open Streets. Here, Lynea Brown, 10, left, blows to release a soapy bubble drawn by her sister, Georgia, 7, while younger sister Korva reaches out to touch it on the corner of Broadway and Knox.

A late summer blast of heat did little to keep people from singing, dancing and laughing with friends and family on Saturday, Sept. 15 during West Broadway Open Streets. Here, Lynea Brown, 10, left, blows to release a soapy bubble drawn by her sister, Georgia, 7, while younger sister Korva reaches out to touch it on the corner of Broadway and Knox.

Despite a major snowstorm, Prince Day at UROC took place as planned on Saturday, April 14. Prince's extended family members, North Minneapolis community, and University of Minnesota researchers came together to explore how Prince's family and community on the Northside helped give rise to his global stardom. On the walls were images of Prince that included lyrics, poetry and quotes that visitors absorbed during the event.

Despite a major snowstorm, Prince Day at UROC took place as planned on Saturday, April 14. Prince's extended family members, North Minneapolis community, and University of Minnesota researchers came together to explore how Prince's family and community on the Northside helped give rise to his global stardom. On the walls were images of Prince that included lyrics, poetry and quotes that visitors absorbed during the event.

A few hundred people gathered at Victory Memorial in North Minneapolis for a Veteran’s Day ceremony that marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Dignitaries looks turns speaking at the podium and the crowd was visibly moved by the vocals of gospel singer Robert Robinson, who sang three songs, including the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "God Bless America." A group of Junior ROTC cadets from the General Colin L. Powell Leadership Academy presented the colors and an honor guard from VFW Post 494 fired three volleys to honor those who lost their lives serving their country. Following a moment of silence, a C-130 H3 transport plane flew over the flag flying over Victory Memorial Plaza to conclude the event.

A few hundred people gathered at Victory Memorial in North Minneapolis for a Veteran’s Day ceremony that marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Dignitaries looks turns speaking at the podium and the crowd was visibly moved by the vocals of gospel singer Robert Robinson, who sang three songs, including the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "God Bless America." A group of Junior ROTC cadets from the General Colin L. Powell Leadership Academy presented the colors and an honor guard from VFW Post 494 fired three volleys to honor those who lost their lives serving their country. Following a moment of silence, a C-130 H3 transport plane flew over the flag flying over Victory Memorial Plaza to conclude the event.

North Minneapolis’s own Jovonta Patton, a Billboard-charting gospel artist, sings at the University of Minnesota’s Ted Mann Concert Hall during a musical event celebrating the life of  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

North Minneapolis’s own Jovonta Patton, a Billboard-charting gospel artist, sings at the University of Minnesota’s Ted Mann Concert Hall during a musical event celebrating the life of
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Florence Timmerman (left) and Jessie Johnson have known the Northside for more than a hundred years each. The sisters, who are 100 and 104 years old, grew up at 37th and Bryant Ave. N before the neighborhood had paved roads. They spent their lives educating generations of students in the community, and now they live together in Timmerman’s home in the Folwell neighborhood.

Florence Timmerman (left) and Jessie Johnson have known the Northside for more than a hundred years each. The sisters, who are 100 and 104 years old, grew up at 37th and Bryant Ave. N before the neighborhood had paved roads. They spent their lives educating generations of students in the community, and now they live together in Timmerman’s home in the Folwell neighborhood.

Twin Cities’ premier senior rock group “Alive & Kickin” artistic director Michael Ferrell, center, helps Agnes Chik-Fufa belt out a song during an audition for the group. Afterwards, Ferrell told music director Jason Hansen, left, “We’ve got a new rocker and she’s gonna be good.” The group meets at the Cora McCorvey Health and Wellness Center each Monday.

Twin Cities’ premier senior rock group “Alive & Kickin” artistic director Michael Ferrell, center, helps Agnes Chik-Fufa belt out a song during an audition for the group. Afterwards, Ferrell told music director Jason Hansen, left, “We’ve got a new rocker and she’s gonna be good.” The group meets at the Cora McCorvey Health and Wellness Center each Monday.

The Aztec dance troupe Kalpulli Ketzal Coatlicue, including Rolis Marin, center, performed Aug. 11 at the Annual Festival of Fathers and Family at North Commons Park.

The Aztec dance troupe Kalpulli Ketzal Coatlicue, including Rolis Marin, center, performed Aug. 11 at the Annual Festival of Fathers and Family at North Commons Park.

Asian Media Access, a youth program that uses technology, art, and community organizing to improve cultural understanding and develop leadership skills, is located on Plymouth Ave. Here, Keng Thao, center, stretches with friends in the dance studio at AMA before practicing hip-hop dance moves for an upcoming performance this past summer.

Asian Media Access, a youth program that uses technology, art, and community organizing to improve cultural understanding and develop leadership skills, is located on Plymouth Ave. Here, Keng Thao, center, stretches with friends in the dance studio at AMA before practicing hip-hop dance moves for an upcoming performance this past summer.

Freedom Day, a celebration of Juneteenth, was held in Bethune Park this year. Park Board Superintendent Mary Merrill (left) was instrumental in making it happen. Renowned storyteller Nothando Zulu (right) performed a piece called "Libations" on stage at the event.

Freedom Day, a celebration of Juneteenth, was held in Bethune Park this year. Park Board Superintendent Mary Merrill (left) was instrumental in making it happen. Renowned storyteller Nothando Zulu (right) performed a piece called "Libations" on stage at the event.

Queen J delighted in the legs of her daughter, Amor, kicking as she hears the music of gospel singer Jovonta Patton at Freedom Day, a celebration of Juneteenth, at Bethune Park.

Queen J delighted in the legs of her daughter, Amor, kicking as she hears the music of gospel singer Jovonta Patton at Freedom Day, a celebration of Juneteenth, at Bethune Park.

North Minneapolis is home to the only naturally filtered, chemical-free pool in the country, Webber Natural Swimming Pool. It's open during the summer months, and entry is free.

North Minneapolis is home to the only naturally filtered, chemical-free pool in the country, Webber Natural Swimming Pool. It's open during the summer months, and entry is free.

On June 23, Thurman Blevins Jr. was shot and killed by police in the Lind Bohanon neighborhood. A large protest and vigil to honor his memory were held the day after. Here, at the vigil, some of Blevins’ cousins, including DaRell Moore, second from right, gathered each other in as they listened to speakers.

On June 23, Thurman Blevins Jr. was shot and killed by police in the Lind Bohanon neighborhood. A large protest and vigil to honor his memory were held the day after. Here, at the vigil, some of Blevins’ cousins, including DaRell Moore, second from right, gathered each other in as they listened to speakers.

On Nov. 6, Irene Fernando, center, was elected Hennepin County Commissioner for District 2. She and District 4-elect Angela Conley have made history by being the first two people of color to be elected to the board in its over 150 year history. Fernando rallied voters with a campaign that communicated greater advocacy, transparency and equity for the county through a clearly articulated policy agenda, her “Commish Dish” YouTube videos, and the occasional Beyoncé reference.

On Nov. 6, Irene Fernando, center, was elected Hennepin County Commissioner for District 2. She and District 4-elect Angela Conley have made history by being the first two people of color to be elected to the board in its over 150 year history. Fernando rallied voters with a campaign that communicated greater advocacy, transparency and equity for the county through a clearly articulated policy agenda, her “Commish Dish” YouTube videos, and the occasional Beyoncé reference.

The ministry of Pastor Kelly Chatman does not end with the people in the last row of pews. He believes Redeemer Lutheran Church ministers to all of Harrison neighborhood. Cora Iverson and her son, Elijah, 1, pictured here, live in an apartment owned by Redeemer. Their building is next door to the church, which provides affordable housing for those in need.

The ministry of Pastor Kelly Chatman does not end with the people in the last row of pews. He believes Redeemer Lutheran Church ministers to all of Harrison neighborhood. Cora Iverson and her son, Elijah, 1, pictured here, live in an apartment owned by Redeemer. Their building is next door to the church, which provides affordable housing for those in need.

Richard Copeland, the founder and chairman of the largest minority-owned construction company in the state, THOR Companies, was born in the Sumner-Olson housing projects in North Minneapolis, just blocks from his company’s multi-million dollar headquarters at the Penn and Plymouth Ave. N intersection. The building was built this year.

Richard Copeland, the founder and chairman of the largest minority-owned construction company in the state, THOR Companies, was born in the Sumner-Olson housing projects in North Minneapolis, just blocks from his company’s multi-million dollar headquarters at the Penn and Plymouth Ave. N intersection. The building was built this year.

Nancia Buchanan leans into Patience Epps while they read quietly in a hallway with Shelly Marquez Sanchez at Ascension School.

Nancia Buchanan leans into Patience Epps while they read quietly in a hallway with Shelly Marquez Sanchez at Ascension School.

Kenzie O'Keefe