Minneapolis Syllabus (Dr. Adam Bledsoe)

With thanks to Dr. Adam Bledsoe, Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota, for compiling and providing permission to share, this reading list on Black politics, space and policing in Minneapolis is urgent reading for these times.


Minneapolis Uprising Syllabus

This bibliography is intended to offer background to how Minneapolis became a flashpoint for a global uprising against anti-Blackness and state violence. What follows is meant to be a brief introduction to understanding the struggles of the Twin Cities’ Black community, focusing especially on the case of Minneapolis. While this historic moment is only possible because of the dedication and courage of those risking their lives in the streets, studying the legacies of struggle in the Twin Cities is vital to grappling with our current conditions and being able to shape our future.

The first section offers background to the Minneapolis Police Department’s relationship to communities of color throughout the past century and a half.

The second section deals with the multi-faceted Black experience of the Twin Cities from the early 19th century through the late 20th century.

The third section is concerned with how the Black community of Minneapolis and Saint Paul has engaged in various forms of struggle over the past two centuries to combat the anti-Blackness and exclusion they faced.

The final section offers a snapshot of present-day Black Minneapolitan experiences, how local scholars and activists are thinking about these experiences, and some of the proposed means for addressing current forms of anti-Blackness.

By understanding the rich legacy of Black struggle in the Twin Cities, we can better understand the roots of what we are presently living through. Moreover, we can learn from the successes and setbacks of those that came before us as we struggle for the future we want to live in. This bibliography is meant as a small contribution to further study and, most importantly, to further concrete political action.

Minneapolis Police

“Enough is Enough: A 150 year performance review of the Minneapolis Police Department” – MPD 150

“A demand for justice and law enforcement”: a history of police and the near North Side – Kristen Delegard

The Influence of Police Brutality on the American Indian Movement’s Establishment in Minneapolis, 1968-69 – Christine Birong

Report of the Metro Gang Strike Force Review Panel – Andrew Luger and John Engelhof

“Drug Enforcement in Minority Communities: The Minneapolis Police Department” – Police Executive Research Forum/National Institute of Justice

Walking With the Devil: The Police Code of Silence – The Promise of Peer Intervention – Michael Quinn

History of Black Minneapolis

“Why this started in Minneapolis” – Sarah Holder

Slavery’s Reach: Southern Slaveholders in the North Star State – Christopher Lehman

A Peculiar Imbalance: The Fall and Rise of Racial Equality in Minnesota, 1837–1869 – William Green

“Race and Segregation in St. Paul’s Public Schools, 1846-69” – William Green

“Minnesota’s Long Road to BLACK SUFFRAGE 1849-1868” – William Green

North Star: Minnesota’s Black Pioneers

“Eliza Winston and the Politics of Freedom in Minnesota, 1854-60” – William Green

“The Black Community in Territorial St. Anthony: A Memoir” – Emily O. Goodridge Grey and Patricia C. Harpole

The Children of Lincoln: White Paternalism and the Limits of Black Opportunity in Minnesota, 1860–1876 – William Green

Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865–1912 – William Green

The Negro in Minnesota – Earl Spangler

African Americans in Minnesota – David Vassar Taylor

Minneapolis in the Twentieth Century: The Growth of an American City – Iric Nathanson

“When the Klan Came to Minnesota” – Kay Johnson

Jim Crow of the North

Overcoming: The Autobiography of W. Harry Davis – W. Harry Davis

Cornerstones: A History of North Minneapolis

A Fiery Unrest: Why Plymouth Avenue Burned

“Booker v. Special School District No. 1: A History of School Desegregation in Minneapolis, Minnesota” – Cheryl Heilman

The Scott Collection: Minnesota’s Black Community in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s – Walter Scott

Twin Cities Black Political Movements

Crusaders for Justice: A Chronicle of Protest by Agitators, Advocates and Activists in Their Struggle for Civil and Human Rights in St. Paul, Minnesota, 1802 Through 1985 – Arthur McWatt

W. Gertrude Brown’s struggle for racial justice: female leadership and community in Black Minneapolis, 1920-1940 – Michiko Hase

“Phyllis Wheatley House: A History of the Minneapolis Black Settlement House, 1924 to 1940” – Howard Karger

“St. Paul’s Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, 1925-1941” – Alisha Volante

“’A Greater Victory’: The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in St. Paul” – Arthur McWatt

Racial Uplift in a Jim Crow Local: Black Union Organizing in Minneapolis Hotels 1930-1940 – Luke Mielke

“Labor, Politics, and American Identity in Minneapolis, 1930-50” – Jennifer Delton

Making Minnesota Liberal: Civil Rights and the Transformation of the Democratic Party – Jennifer Delton

“The Modern Civil Rights Movement in Iowa and Minnesota” – Donald Strasser and Melodie Andrews

Black Empowerment in 1960s Minneapolis: Promise, Politics and the Impact of the National Urban Narrative – B. Joseph Rosh

“The Way Opportunities Unlimited, Inc.”: A Movement for Black Equality in Minneapolis, MN 1966-1970 – Camille Maddox

Black Power And Neighborhood Organizing In Minneapolis, Minnesota: The Way Community Center, 1966-1971 – Sarah Jayne Paulsen

For a Moment We Had the Way – Rolland Robinson

“A Small Revolution”: The Role of a Black Power Revolt in Creating and Sustaining a Black Studies Department at the University of Minnesota – Jared Leighton

“Nerve Juice” and the Ivory Tower Confrontation in Minnesota: The True Story of the Morrill Hall Takeover (at the University of Minnesota) – Marie Braddock Williams, Rose Freeman Massey, Horace Huntley

“Remembering the Morrill Hall Takeover: Professor Emeritus John Wright participated in a pivotal moment in the U’s history” – Susan Maas

A study of the organization and politics of the Welfare Mothers Movement in Minnesota – Susan Hertz

Family therapy and the city: an examination of the community’s role in healing 1981-1990 – James Arthur Nelson

Community and the Recognition of the Other: A Levinasian Examination of The City, Inc. 1987-1992 – Nicholas Saray

A crossroads year at a crossroads place: the City School, a Minneapolis alternative school 1992-93 – Jo Applegate Nelson

Somalis in Minnesota – Ahmed Yusuf

SOMALIS IN MINNESOTA ORAL HISTORY PROJECT: An Inventory of Its Oral Histories at the Minnesota Historical Society

21st Century Black Minneapolis

Somali Community Needs Assessment Project – Mia Robillos

“The Prostitution Project: Community-Based Research on Sex Trading in North Minneapolis” – Lauren Martin

“Preventing Foreclosures in North Minneapolis: An Evaluative Study of the Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition’s Foreclosure Prevention Outreach Project” – Casie Moen

“Going Beyond the Art: A Program Evaluation of Juxtaposition Arts Between 2005 and 2009” – Alecia Leonard


“Staying off the bottom of the melting pot: Somali refugees respond to a changing US immigration climate” – Ihotu Ali

A study on Somali Minnesotans: present challenges and future prosperity – Abdiqani Farah

“The State of Black Women’s Economics in Minnesota” – Brittany Lewis

“THE ILLUSION OF CHOICE: Evictions and Profit in North Minneapolis” – Brittany Lewis

“The Diversity of Gentrification: Multiple forms of gentrification in Minneapolis and Saint Paul” – Edward Goetz, Brittany Lewis, Anthony Damiano, Molly Calhoun

How Housing is Affecting Economic Development and Health in the African American Community in Minneapolis

Trauma and Suicide in the African American Community

The State of Education in MN

Evictions, Gentrification and Housing Justice w/ Dr. Brittany Lewis

Black Geographies Specialty Group’s Call for Transformative Racial Justice

This statement is an indictment of the business as usual that has proceeded in the wake of persistent white supremacy through policing. The Black Geographies Specialty Group condemns the routine violence of policing in the United States, where the number of people killed by police continuously extends beyond 1,000 people each year. We mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, James Scurlock, Tony McDade, David McAtee, Marielle Franco, and all other victims of anti-Black, government-sanctioned and extrajudicial violence throughout the world. We write to express our investment in the demands echoed in protests happening across the nation and on a global scale to defund and demilitarize the police.

We appreciate the statements of solidarity from other specialty groups and the American Association of Geographers. We also urge our colleagues to go beyond their statements and work to transform the discipline by addressing its legacies of racism, imperialism, colonialism, homophobia, and sexism. We must support our students and faculty who study these structural issues and call attention to them both in their work and in their everyday experiences. We must also support those in the struggle who are physically resisting these structures in the streets by calling attention to the many forms of anti-Black violence enacted by the police state. 

This moment holds the potential for transformative social change, and the discipline of geography must prepare to engage with the structures of racial capitalism, carceral landscapes, anti-Blackness, and white supremacist policing in spatial studies across the world.  We must continue to make this kind of abolitionist scholarship readily accessible to those who most urgently need it: by acting as public scholars, by removing journal paywalls, and by holding educational institutions accountable to the standards of success in social transformation.

In the interim, we must call attention to the many forms of violence that are produced and reproduced within the academy, from the epistemic violence of co-opting theory from community activists without due credit and erasing Black Geographies scholarship from graduate-level reading lists and undergraduate syllabi to the everyday microaggressions and overt racist harassment of Black scholars. Our colleagues must go beyond “checking in” and truly begin affirming and engaging with Black Geographies and the scholars who produce this vital work.  As Aretina Hamilton writes:

It is a harrowing enterprise that few of my white colleagues will ever understand, even as they lament the injustices — it is clear that a cognitive dissonance occurs. While I am distraught and heartbroken by the thousands upon thousands of Black bodies and others who are being shot down by the military-industrial complex, I find myself experiencing an [existential] crisis as I consider the frequent violence that has been cast upon Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in the academy, in graduate school, and yes, in our professional organizations. This violence is often invisible and difficult to comprehend. It may not cause bloodshed or impede your physical mobility. There are no batons or angry, fear-mongering cops with knees on your neck. And yet it is palpable. We feel the pain. It never ceases. It remains contained in our bodies, violently thrashing.

We ask that our colleagues support Black people in whatever ways they can; for instance, through mutual aid (see the BGSG Mutual Aid List) and citational praxes (see the BGSG Reading List). We also accept donations made to the Black Geographies Specialty Group, which will be used to fund student conference travel and other opportunities for young scholars working at the intersections of race, space, and power. We urge our colleagues to mobilize for profound transformations of our discipline and our institutions of higher learning. This includes:

  • Calling on universities and colleges to cut ties with police, following in the steps of the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis Public Schools;
  • Systematically increasing hiring and promotion of Black faculty;
  • Creating pipelines that will convert diversity postdoctoral fellows into tenure-track faculty;
  • Modifying tenure and promotion decision-making so that the mentorship and service work that faculty of color are disproportionately asked to perform are weighted more heavily;
  • Prioritizing reviews of manuscripts submitted by Black scholars;
  • Dedicating funding to mentorship and support programs for Black undergraduates and graduate students.  

Within and beyond the academy, we must all acknowledge, honor, and continue the work of Black freedom fighters in building worlds of radical transformation and racial justice.



The Black Geographies Specialty Group Executive Committee


Black Geographies Specialty Group Mutual Aid Resource List

Greetings to all in the BGSG Community,

We are enraged and shocked (hopefully, into action) as a result of the virus that is governing our lives, and the devastating and long-term effects it will have on the most precarious members of our communities. Over the last couple of weeks, there have been virtual dance parties, teach-ins, and webinars to nurture us and to prepare us for the time when we are able to step out into the world and within 6ft. of one another. We trust that we will take this period to engage in political education and to prepare for that future time and the challenges that await. In an attempt to be of service in this moment, the BGSG has created a list of various mutual aid efforts occurring across different topics and regions. A number of fundraising efforts have emerged, and some folk have taken to sewing masks for healthcare workers and others in need. If you know of someone sewing masks in your area, consider offering unused fabric. If you possess the skill, join them. That said, we encourage those on this listserv to add to this document any ongoing mutual aid efforts/initiatives — most included in this document include editable google documents that are updated in community, by community.




Please let us know how we can support you and your community at this time.


Yours in Love and Solidarity,

The Black Geographies Specialty Group Executive Board


What Is Mutual Aid? (video)










COVID-19/At-Home Mental Health Resource List:



COVID-19 Related Thoughts For Faculty:



Useful Mutual-Aid Projects in Response to COVID-19 / Experience from Chinese Volunteers in Response to Coronavirus Crisis:



Form Letter: A Neighborly Invitation Regarding Coronavirus



CHICAGO-based organizers gathering a list of clergy members, death midwives/doulas, therapists, social workers, and healers who are here to offer some support by phone or video conferencing:



NYC United Against Coronavirus Resource kit:



Corona Couriers – a volunteer-run group of cyclists providing free-of-charge,

no-contact deliveries in all NYC boroughs: coronacourier@protonmail.com ||



UNC / Chapel Hill area resources:

Crisis Relief at UNC Mutual Aid Fund


Forum for those in Chapel Hill area with trade skills/services. Must apply for membership into this google group


Food Not Bombs 919: is accepting donations and offering drive up service, Saturdays from 4:30 – 5:30 at Night Light in Chapel Hill. Requests and donation offers can be via google form.


A get-you-through playlist (please add your ideas):

2020 Clyde Woods Black Geographies Specialty Group Graduate Student Paper Award Winner


On behalf of the 2020 Clyde Woods Black Geographies Specialty Group Graduate Student Paper Award Committee, the Board is pleased to announce that this year’s winner is Kaily Heitz, with a paper titled “Unfolding the Frame: The Geographic Matter of Black Life, Image and Form.”  Kaily is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley and a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow. In this promising work, the author argues that the imaginaries of Oakland as a Black space in the midst of advancing gentrification and displacement must be explored simultaneously as the commoditized form that facilitates development, and as a formulation of Black struggle and refusal. This essay looks specifically at the photographic image as a Black space through which Oakland is (re)produced in order to understand how circulated media images navigate contradicting claims to space, and the ambiguity between the identity and lived experience of a place.

Congratulations to Kaily Heitz from the Black Geographies Specialty Group Executive Board!
The goal of the BGSG Graduate Student Paper Award is to honor the legacy of late scholar Dr. Clyde Woods by supporting graduate students whose work focuses on Black geographies. Woods invested his time in the intellectual life of Black studies and with Black scholars, particularly students. Woods was known for providing intellectual validity to students who were unable to divorce embodied and alternative knowledge systems from their scholarship. Instead, Woods mentored students towards scholarly interventions that deciphered new practices and social visions. In the wake of Woods’ passing, his legacy has permeated a new generation of Black Geographies scholars. As with the students Woods mentored directly, this generation is working towards the transformation of scientific inquiry, resisting the exclusion of indigenous intellectual traditions of Black landscapes and geographic thought found in their projects. The award winner will work with Antipode’s Editorial Collective to prepare their paper for peer review and, if successful, publication as an open-access article in the journal Antipode. Throughout this process, the author will receive mentorship from a senior scholar on the Antipode team. Antipode will also host a forum about the paper on the AntipodeFoundation.org platform, inviting two scholars to write responses.