Black History in Minnesota: Military Service

February is Black History Month. Over the next several weeks, we would like to provide you with bits of information about the events and lives of African Americans in Minnesota with an emphasis on African Americans in the Twin Cities. We will not be able to cover every event or highlight every person as it is impossible to do justice to the tremendous impact of one people on a community. We hope to provide you with enough to whet your appetite to learn more about the history and the cultures that have helped create the rich, vibrant community that we are all a part of.

Although the legislature passed a law in 1858 establishing a state militia from which black citizens were excluded, 104 black men severed in the Minnesota regiment during the American Civil War and even more served in the Spanish-American War of the late 1890s. Black Minnesotans have served in every United States war since statehood.

It has been suggested that the growth in Duluth’s black population since 1950 was spurred when the local airport was placed under the jurisdiction of the Central Air Defense Force of the North American Aerospace Defense Command in May 1951. Along with adding black military and civilian personnel, the air base required construction work, supplies and equipment, and other services that boosted the local economy; federal guidelines concerning discrimination probably helped to increase the employment of blacks.

Source: Taylor, David Vassar. African Americans in Minnesota: The People of Minnesota. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2002. Print.

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