The Model Cities team hosted a series of ideation sessions with local architects, artists, and Minnesota Historical Society reps to collect input about the room and renderings for the space. Inside the Reading Room, a wall-sized, sepia-toned print shows six Pullman porters from the 1920s. Custom bookshelves, made from iron and reclaimed wood, mimic train tracks. The collection—curated by Onishi and Moon Palace Books, in Minneapolis—includes fiction and nonfiction: young adult books like Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, and selected works of W.E.B. Du Bois. Model Cities also tapped seven local artists to reflect on the legacy of the Pullman porters. Lela Pierce, for instance, contributed My Name Is Not George, a four-piece pen-and-paint work. Pierce was inspired by her late grandfather, Eulis C. Pierce Sr., a Pullman porter during the early 1940s, who also lived in Rondo.
A 2016 photograph by Caroline Yang pulls these themes into the present. The striking image depicts a blue line of uniformed police officers holding batons, in front of the Governor’s Mansion in St. Paul. Police brutality protesters stand facing them. Yang writes about the photograph, “My goal is to look beyond the ideology and tactics, and reveal the humanity that connects us all.” Wherever the civil rights journey is heading, Yang’s print suggests, we still have a few stops to go. modelcities.org
(Original Link: http://mspmag.com/arts-and-culture/the-reading-room-honors-st-pauls-civil-rights-journey/)