(via South Minneapolis reflects on historic racial conflict | MN Spokeman-Recorder)
The photo above is of Robert Forman. His grandparents, Arthur and Edith Lee moved into the house behind him, 4600 Columbus Avenue South in 1931. Arthur Lee was a World War I veteran and worked as a guard at the post office. They were the first African-Americans to move into the neighborhood. At the time there was a de facto (and sometimes de jure with race restricting housing covenants) segregation line around 38th or 40th Street East. The city was almost all white south of 40th Street East.
On successive nights in July of 1931 crowds gathered around the Lee’s house consisting of residents from the Field and Regina neighborhoods. Some subdivisions contained covenants that restricted ownership to whites, a practice not outlawed until after World War II. Despite the racially exclusive covenant, Lee was able to buy his house in the neighborhood and other homeowners were upset. A committee of area residents offered Lee $5000 (more than he paid for the house) to move out and he declined.
A crowd of 3,000 gathered around the house on a night in July and police protected the house, additional racial harassment continued and the Lees moved out of the house in 1933 to buy a house in a more racially mixed neighborhood. Here is more on the Lee Family from Yesterday’s News. Edith and Arthur’s daughter, Mary (Lee) Forman was also a Minneapolis Public Library employee for many years. Mary (Lee) Forman worked in public relations department for the library.
There will be an event marking the 80th Anniversary of white race mobs that intimidated the Lee Family. The Lee Family Commemorative Event will take place on Saturday, July 16, at 6:30 pm. There will be a march beginning at Field School (46th Street and 4th Avenue) at 6:45 pm and it will end up in front of 4600 Columbus where it all happened.