A Timeline in Context to the Racial Climate
During the Time Patrick Henry School Was Established & Named in 1925
Researched and created by historian Susan Curnow Breedlove, 2016-2022
1736-1799 The Lifetime of Patrick Henry
May 29, 1736-Patrick Henry born, son of a merchant. A poor student, his father sets him up with a store which fails. Marries at 18.
1763-Self-taught lawyer Henry sues Virginia’s church and parsonage established through Great Britain, wins the penny settlement, launching his political career.
1763-Henry wins a seat in House of Representatives
March 20, 1775– Henry gives a well-known speech highlighting the phrase “Give me liberty, or give me death.” The phrase was not his; it came from the popular play Cato created in 1712 in Great Britain.
1775-Revolutionary War in U.S.
1776-1779 and 1784-1786-Henry is governor of Virginia.
1778-End of importation of enslaved to Virginia and four other states. Virginia had become a major source of internal slave trade and did not need or want importation as they benefited by selling slaves within the U.S. (Note: On the first day of January, 1808, a new Federal law made it illegal to import captive people from Africa into the United States. This date marks the end—the permanent, legal closure—of the trans-Atlantic slave trade into our country.)
1789-Henry plays an important part in the creation of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights that promises the right to keep and bear arms” in-order-to have a “a well-regulated militia.” The militia, in the South, was the police force to enforce slavery practices.
1787-United States Constitutional Convention (Henry not in attendance.)
June 17, 1788-Congress could, in a reporter’s paraphrase of Henry, “lay such heavy taxes on slaves, as would amount to emancipation and then the Southern States would be the only sufferers. . .”
June 24, 1888-In the case of war, Henry warned, “May Congress not say, that every black man must fight? Did we not see a little of this in the last war?. . . acts of Assembly passed, that every slave would go to the army should be free. I see a great deal of the property of the people of Virginia in jeopardy, and their peace and tranquility gone away.”
1790-Henry presents opposition to Constitution for the U.S. Henry warns that if you “give up your rights to the general government, then that government would have the terrible power to end slavery.”
1799-Henry dies of stomach cancer. Despite Henry’s opposition to the institution of slavery which he considered a “lamentable evil,” he was himself a slave owner leaving his 67 slaves to be divided between his wife and his six sons. As one of the slave owners with the most slaves in Virginia, he had written earlier, “I will not, I cannot justify (owning slaves),” but he was not conflicted enough to actually set anyone free.
1808– Jefferson signs act prohibiting African slave trade
1801–Haiti abolished slavery as Toussaint L’Overture and Dessalines lead vs. Napoleon with slogan “Freedom or Death”
1833-Great Britain abolishes slavery
1861-1865 U.S. Civil War Period
A Naval ship is named Patrick Henry with a Confederate flag which has printed on it “Liberty or Death”
1863 Emancipation Proclamation, slavery abolished in U.S.
Federal laws offered observable protection of civil rights for many former slaves and free blacks.
1867-Sleeper cars put on railroad by Pullman.
Jim Crow Era 1877-1950s
Early 1900s-largest single employer of Black men in U.S. was with railroad. First migration of African Americans to Minnesota. 1913-Establishment of African American community in Humboldt Heights of Camden with sale of property on 44th and Irving, James, and Knox sold by Thorpe Real Estate. Many of the migrant men were employed as porters and families had large truck farms.
Climate of Racial Unrest and Discrimination in Early 1900s in Minnesota
When Henry High School Was Established
1910-racial covenant on Minneapolis properties with racial restrictions on real estate. This is also a eugenics period. Eugenics is a social movement based on the belief that the genetic quality of the human race can be improved by the use of selective breeding. The eugenics movement was a belief that fostered racism, discrimination, abortion, and genocide.
1920-Ku Klux Klan resurgence in nation including Minnesota. KKK is known for its beliefs in white supremacy and white nationalism. They professed intolerance for Catholics, German and Jewish immigrants and Black workers who were relocating from the South.
June 15, 1920-lunching of three Afro-American men in Duluth, Minnesota
Early 1920s-Hatle writes that “for two years in the early 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan of Minneapolis paraded in downtown Robbinsdale. . . down Broadway from 42nd Avenue to a gravel pit near the old traffic circle.”
August 1921-KKK North Star No. 2 established in Minnesota meeting at Olivet Methodist Church on East 26th Street and at Foss Memorial Church at the corner of Fremont and 18th Avenue North
September 26, 1922-The Northwestern Bulletin reports that a group of reportedly 3,000 people gathered outside the Minneapolis Auditorium for an address attacking “the Catholic religion, the Jews and Colored people.”
1923 (and 1925)-The Twin Cities Urban League and the Minneapolis Urban League chapter were founded as private, nonprofit human service and advocacy organizations to serve the interests and concerns of low- and moderate-income African Americans.
1923-Charles Fremont Dight helped found the Minnesota Eugenics Society. Eugenics was a movement to improve the human species by controlling hereditary factors in mating. In 1933 Dight sent a letter to Adolph Hitler commending him for his work.
1923-According to Hatle, the longtime Hennepin County sheriff Earl Brown of Brooklyn Center was initiated into the Klan at the Dyckman Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. Says Hatle, “As sheriff, Brown did nothing to stop Klan activities which included cross burnings on the hill across from today’s North Memorial Hospital’s parking lot in Robbinsdale.” (Brown’s initiation is not in his biography and is disputed by another scholar.)
August, 1923-Gathering of KKK near Victory Memorial Drive. It was reported by the National Observer as “the largest class ever initiated at one time by any Klan in Minnesota.” 500 white-robed members of the Minneapolis Klan initiated 50 new members. The ceremony took place “in an amphitheater developed from an abandoned sand pit just outside the limits of Minneapolis off Liberty Highway between Minneapolis and Robbinsdale. Following the ritualistic work, a great fiery cross blazed above the assemblage.
By 1923-Minnesota was home to a reported 51 chapters of the KKK with over 30,000 members, though many were not active
October 31, 1923-The American Legion declares the Klan Un-American.
1924-The Country Club District of Edina was platted and built by Samuel Thorpe. By 1927, 200 houses and a golf course had been built. Occupants were strictly restricted to the “White or Caucasian race.” All restrictions were to expire on or before January 1, 1964, except the one regarding race, which was to remain in force forever.
October 17, 1924–Phyllis Wheatley Settlement House was established in North Minneapolis providing lodging services to African Americans including artists such as Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson who were not allowed to stay in Minneapolis hotels due to race restrictions. Such restrictions were placed for Black artists on concert and speaking tours in Duluth, also.
1925-A. Phillip Randolph organizes the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, one of the few opportunities for African American men to earn a “suitable living.” (See Jim Crow Era of this document.)
1924-1927-Directory of members of KKK kept. KKK active in Masons fraternity to which most Minneapolis leaders in industry and businesses belonged. Hatle states that belonging to a fraternity organization was a staple in the 1920s. The Klan modeled itself as a civic club for “super-patriots.”
August 1924– A gathering of KKK members in Faribault, Minnesota reportedly included 2,000 men and 500 women in full regalia with over 400 people initiated and/or nationalized.
August 9, 1924-Open air meetings to be held every Wed @8pm and Sundays @3pm to increase membership and sell more robes as announced in The National Observer.
1925-The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Minnesota filed articles of incorporation which stayed on the books until 1997.
June 30, 1925-School named Patrick Henry according to MPS board minutes, Director Lowell E. Jepson moved that the school be named after Henry. Jepson was president of Winkley Artificial Limb Company in business with his brother Franklin N. Jepson. They were active members of the Plymouth Masonic Hall on West Broadway and Emerson Avenue North and trustees of the Pilgrim Congregational Church on 14th and Lyndale North. Franklin was a member of the AOUW, the Ancient Order of United Workmen (AOUW), a fraternal organization whose constitution provided that only white persons were eligible for membership. Primarily a politician, Lowell lived in and represented the north side on various boards and was state senator at one time. His membership in fraternal organizations other than the Masons is currently not known and is being researched. His reasons for suggesting the school be named after Henry is not in the school board minutes. Patrick Henry School began as a middle school, becoming merged as a high school in 1937.
January 10, 1926-A St. Louis Park church service interrupted by 25 KKK members garbed in full regalia except for masks, the leader standing before the pulpit and presenting $50 dollar bills to the minister before leaving.
1929-Real Estate mogul Sam Thorpe starts his racial restrictive housing covenants in Minneapolis.
Discriminatory Practices Continue in the 1930s
1934-Federal Housing Administration formally establishes redlining, 4 levels of housing created. Racial covenants did the work of Jim Crow in Minneapolis
1937-Patrick Henry Middle School became a combined high school and middle school. (In 1963 it was solely a high school.)
1940s-NAACP could breach housing covenants says U.S. Supreme Court
1948-All race-specific real estate covenants were invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court.
1962-Minnesota legislation passed Fair Housing Bill
1968 and 1974-Federal Fair Housing Acts passed
#ChangetheName! and Save the Name
2014-Student A. Jones (Class of 2014) writes story after learning of Patrick Henry’s position on enslavement from Dr. Sharon Price, one of his teachers, and it is posted in “On Their Shoulders,” an online journal created by Tom Murray for staff and students at PHHS to pay tribute to those who have gone before them to create a just society that promotes racial harmony.
Fall 2016-“Site Council Findings from Change the Name Proposal.” Article in North News and Facebook
August, 2017-Committee of alumni and students formed to consider changing the name of PHHS and #Changethe Name! students meet weekly.
January, 2018-Interview with student S.Rankin (Class of 2018) posted on PHHS website.
March 11, 2018-Alumni and community gathering Save the Name group created.
May 17, 2018-PHHS Site Council meets @PHHS with gathering of estimated 200 individuals of community members, students, staff, and alumni, wherein the two groups #ChangetheName! and Save the Name presenting their viewpoints and discuss whether or not to change the name of the school.
July 3, 2018-Beth Vang writes article for Camden Community News “Generations divided on changing or saving the name of Patrick Henry High School.”
2020-In the aftermath of the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis–Saint Paul, an advisory committee to the Minneapolis Public Schools unanimously approved a name-change process for the high school, with funding to rebrand the school at some point during the 2022-2023 school year.
June 30, 2020-Racism declared a public health crisis by Hennepin County
August 16, 2022-At the Minneapolis Board of Education meeting Director Caprini sponsored a unanimously approved resolution whereby “students, staff, and community members recognize the need for a school name that better represents the values of the community.”
August 17, 2022-“The MPS Board of Education took action Tuesday to begin a process to rename the city’s Patrick Henry High School. The resolution that passed unanimously is aimed at ending debate “about whether or not the name should be changed,” and directs the north Minneapolis school’s site council “to bring forward recommendations for a new school name.” Tim Nelson and MPR News
August 18, 2022-The school was directed to begin the school’s name change process of selecting a new name that better reflects the school’s values. The Henry Facebook site states, “This inclusive process will include researching new names, establishing educational lessons about the history of school names and surveying and, importantly, engaging our students, staff, and community about name awareness. . .” Facebook, PHHS site
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