We stand in protest of the murder of George Floyd and the aggressive over policing of black individuals and communities rooted in systemic racism that permeates our city, state, and country. As a non-profit based in Minnesota, we are grieving with Mr. Floyd’s family and Black communities across our city and country.
As a nonprofit that exists to lift the ethos of our communities through history, building reuse, education, and public policies, we recognize that the results of our work have not equally benefitted individuals who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC). We acknowledge that the field of historic preservation is entrenched in systems and practices that are inherently racist, ones that have consistently prioritized the preservation of some places at the expense of others, particularly Black heritage sites. Change within our field will not be easy, but we believe it is essential if we are to atone for past inequities and create spaces where the voices of those who have had their stories ignored or erased can be heard.
We know that we cannot solve these systemic issues alone or quickly, but we are committed to creating steps now that can build towards greater change. In addition to examining the role that our organization plays in perpetuating systemic racism, we as staff are committed to learning about and exploring our own implicit and explicit biases. We are encouraging our supporters to give to local, Black-led non-profits that are on the front lines of fighting for change. We urge our supporters to explore the Mapping Prejudice project, an initiative of the University of Minnesota (and our partner in our Racism in Real Estate course) that exposes the history of racial covenants in the Twin Cities, and how it has shaped the Black communities that exist today. Recognizing that diverse residents of Greater Minnesota contribute to community vitality in multiple ways, we will work to call out racist systems that exist in the rural communities and Main Street Districts we serve to ensure our programs benefit BIPOC members equitably.
Moving forward, we will follow the guidance of local activists, organizations, and leaders throughout black communities advocating for essential change within our hearts, our practices and our systems. We are committed to amplifying and recognizing the work of BIPOC individuals and organizations in our field.
“History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history. If we pretend otherwise, we are literally criminals.” - James Baldwin, African American novelist, poet, and activist.