In celebration of labor history month each May, the Untold Stories series presents programs and talks on both local and national labor history topics. Past programs in the series have featured historian Robin D.G. Kelley, singer Larry Long, author Cheri Register, and walking tours by local historian Dave Riehle. The series received the 2003 John Sessions Memorial Award from the American Library Association for service to the labor community.
Playing at Work
Tuesday, April 28, 7 p.m.
Merriam Park Library, 1831 Marshall Ave.
As recent lockouts at Twin Cities’ orchestras made clear, professional musicians are workers, too. Tonight’s program gives a glimpse of what it’s like to earn a living as a musician today – the training; the artistic and personal goals and challenges; the business side of the profession; and how the local lockouts reflect larger trends. Presenters include: Julie Ayer, author of More Than Meets the Ear: How Symphony Musicians Made Labor History; Todd Harper, a music teacher in the St. Paul Public Schools; Catherine Schubilske, a violinist with the Minnesota Orchestra; and Leslie Shank, a retired violinist from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and now a visiting professor in the School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Running the Rails: Stories of African American Railroad Workers – Film and Discussion
Thursday, April 30, 7 p.m.
Rondo Community Outreach Library, 461 North Dale St.
Watch the short film “Running the Rails: Stories of African American Railroad Workers,” produced by Model Cities, followed by a panel discussion on African American history and working life in Saint Paul. “Running the Rails” tells the story of local railroad workers who served as Sleeping Car porters, Red Cap porters, Dining Car waiters, cooks, and maids. Not only did they occupy a central place in both African American protest politics and community building, they laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights movement.
Walt Bachman: How the Army Brought Slave Labor to Minnesota
Monday, May 4, 7 p.m.
Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave.
Historian Walt Bachman discusses his recent book Northern Slave, Black Dakota: The Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey. He delves into the U.S. Army’s role in bringing slavery to Minnesota, through the story of Godfrey, who was the state’s only home-grown fugitive slave. Bachman was a trial lawyer for 22 years in Minnesota and is the author of Law v. Life, a book about the realities of the modern legal profession. For the past 10 years, he has researched and written about Minnesota and U.S. army history.
The People’s Music: Jazz in St. Paul
Monday, May 11, 6:15 p.m. Reception (sponsored by Labor Education Service), 7 p.m. Program
Penumbra Theatre, 270 N. Kent St.
Saint Paul has been a hotbed of a uniquely American music – jazz. Born in the Mississippi Delta and the City of New Orleans, it literally came up river and took hold here. Learn how Saint Paul has nurtured jazz music and culture over the last century and explore this history through live performances. This program features The Tommy Robinson Trio; the Capitol Hill Jazz Band from Capitol Hill Junior High in Saint Paul; and student musicians from Roseville High School.
Immigration & Migration in the Making of Saint Paul
Wednesday, May 13, 7 p.m.
East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier St.
Join a panel of historians to explore the making of Saint Paul through various early immigrant groups. Panelists include Paul Nelson on “African Americans and the Struggle for Civil Rights in the Early 20th Century”; John Sielaff on “Swedish and Czech Immigrant Workers and the Building of the State Capitol”; and Mary Wingerd on “How Irish Was Saint Paul?”.
Dakota River Tour with Colette Hyman
Sunday, May 17, 2 p.m.
Take a scenic tour along the Mississippi in the Jonathan Padelford Riverboat, viewing sites important to the Dakota people, including the Indian Mounds and Pike Island. On the way, hear from writer and historian Dr. Colette Hyman, who discusses her recent book, Dakota Women’s Work: Creativity, Culture, and Exile. Online reservations are required as space is limited, and are now open.
History, Memory, and Forgetting: Minnesota’s Métis and French Canadians
Tuesday, May 19, 7 p.m.
Rice Street Library, 1011 Rice Street
Virgil Benoit, Professor of French at the University of North Dakota, will introduce the audience to Métis and French-Canadian presence in Minnesota from 1800 on based on historical dates and the events that surrounded them, illustrating the process of how history and memory work to construct identity within social frameworks. His talk will include events such as the fur trade, examples of how the Métis came to be, the creation of Minnesota’s iconic Etoile du Nord, and the subsequent watershed and spattering of French, French-Canadian, and Métis identity from Saint Paul to the Red River Valley and beyond.
Untold Stories is coordinated by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit thefriends.org or call 651-222-3242. Co-sponsors include AFSCME Council 5, Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church, East Side Freedom Library, Hmong American Farmers Association, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Metropolitan State University Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship, Micawber’s Books, Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, Minnesota Historical Society, Ramsey County Historical Society, Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation, Twin Cities Labor History Society, and the University of Minnesota Labor Education Service. This series is supported by an endowment created with grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation, as well as a gift from the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees Women’s Committee.