During the summer of 1967, Plymouth Avenue in North Minneapolis went up in flames. This was during a period known the Long Hot Summer when frustrations about racial discrimination and a lack of opportunity for black Americans erupted on city streets across the U.S.
Here in Minneapolis, those tensions came to a head on Plymouth Avenue. This was the commercial heart of a racially and ethnically mixed Near North neighborhood that was home to the city’s largest concentration of African-American residents as well as many Jewish-owned businesses. For some black Minnesotans, Plymouth Avenue was a brick and mortar reminder of racial inequality that could no longer be silently tolerated.
There are people who remember July 19-21, 1967 as the Plymouth Avenue riots, while others describe these events as a revolution, uprising, or rebellion.
A Fiery Unrest: Why Plymouth Avenue Burned is a new audio documentary from producer-reporter Nancy Rosenbaum and KFAI’s MinneCulture that examines what happened and why, and how people in Minneapolis responded. The project features voices that didn’t necessarily make headlines in their time, but whose memories reveal the tensions and complexity of this history from different and sometimes conflicting perspectives. A Fiery Unrest was edited by veteran public radio journalist Loretta Williams, formerly of NPR’s Culture Desk, and co-hosted by Minneapolis actor and jazz singer (and North High alum!) Thomasina Petrus.
Nancy Rosenbaum is a fiscal year 2018 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.