MinneCulture In-Depth documentaries reveal understated, obscure and profound stories from Minnesota’s arts and cultural heritage. Hear sound-rich sagas about anti-racist skinheads, Minnesota’s rural polka scene, forced Native adoption, unrest on Plymouth Avenue and more. Listen to our documentary playlist on Soundcloud or stream the stories below.
Fighting Back: The Rise of Anti-Racist Action in Minneapolis
by Anna Stitt
Anti-Racist Action (ARA) started in Minneapolis and is a predecessor to the crews often now called antifa. ARA started in 1987 with a multiracial group of teenage skinheads who fought the rising white power movement. Told through vivid first-person accounts, archival audio, and music from the era, “Fighting Back: The Rise of Anti-Racist Action in Minneapolis” starts under the railroad tracks in Uptown, Minneapolis and traces a movement that continues to shape the U.S. to this day.
A Brief History of Women in Bars: A Minnesota Story in Three Rounds
by Katie Thornton
In honor of the centennial of both women’s suffrage (which, in practice was only extended to white women for nearly a half century) and the start of Prohibition, this documentary uses the stories of women of 100 years ago to show how Minnesota’s temperance movement set the stage for our women’s suffrage movement. But it also shows how white temperance leaders–and, by proxy, many early white suffragists–failed to engage women who were not wealthy, white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Many of the Minnesota women who were excluded from early temperance and suffrage movements empowered themselves in other ways–including through the economic and social opportunities presented by the alcohol industry.
Stay Young, Go Dancing
By James Napoli
The most legendary venue in Minnesota history? It’s not First Avenue, nor is it anywhere near the Twin Cities. Deep in the middle of the corn and soybean fields of rural Sibley County, behind a chain link fence topped with barbed-wire, sits a massive building complex that was once considered by some to be the polka capital of the world: The Gibbon Ballroom. Stay Young, Go Dancing presents the colorful history of this now infamous Midwest venue, as told through the voices of the musicians, dancers, and local residents who loved it.
A Fiery Unrest: Why Plymouth Avenue Burned
By Nancy Rosenbaum
During the summer of 1967, Plymouth Avenue in North Minneapolis went up in flames. This area was the commercial heart of a racially and ethnically mixed Near North neighborhood that was home to the city’s largest concentration of African-American residents as well as many Jewish-owned businesses. For some black Minnesotans, Plymouth Avenue was a brick and mortar reminder of racial inequality that could no longer be silently tolerated. There are people who remember July 19-21, 1967 as the Plymouth Avenue riots, while others describe these events as a revolution, uprising, or rebellion. A Fiery Unrest: Why Plymouth Avenue Burned is an audio documentary from producer-reporter Nancy Rosenbaum that examines what happened and why, and how people in Minneapolis responded.
Generation AIDS: Minnesota’s HIV/AIDS Crisis (1981 – 1986)
by Britt Aamodt
In July 1981, the New York Times published an article about a mysterious illness plaguing gay men in New York City. After reading the article, Bruce Brockway, a gay activist and publisher of the Twin Cities’ first LGBT newspaper, turned to his partner and said, “I think I have that.” That was AIDS and Bruce was right. Numbers-wise, Minnesota was never a hot zone of infection. But for the Minnesotans living with HIV/AIDS, the struggles were the same: to stay alive and to fight the homophobia that wanted to ignore an epidemic dismissed as a gay man’s disease.
Generation AIDS: Minnesota’s HIV/AIDS Crisis (1986-1996)
by Britt Aamodt
Five years into the epidemic, people living with HIV/AIDS were still dying of it in increasing numbers and the President of the United States had yet to acknowledge the crisis in public. In Minneapolis, as in other cities, activists were now taking control of the conversation through organizations like ACT UP. Individuals did what they could to help people living with HIV/AIDS survive long enough for that hoped-for cure. These samaritans included a leather-clad anthropology professor with a knack for cooking and a young doctor with a big idea. But would there be a cure? The lives of David Bjork, Rene Valdes and Michael Reinbold depended on it. KFAI’s Britt Aamodt shares part two in our Generation AIDS series.
by Melissa Olson
America’s attempt to separate Native children from their families didn’t end with boarding schools. In the decades after World War II, the U.S. government created the Indian Adoption Project, an effort designed to place Native kids with white parents. In this one-hour documentary, producer Melissa Olson explores the personal and historical impact of this policy. Her Ojibwe mother, Judy Olson, was raised by a white family. So were the mothers of several friends. The emotional impact of the Indian Adoption Project — and similar state projects — continues today. Produced by Melissa Olson and Ryan Katz. Edited by Todd Melby.
The Halloween Blizzard of ’91: A Mix Tape in 6 Songs and 2 Feet of Snow
by Britt Aamodt
How can you forget the one Halloween in your life that came with two feet of snow? KFAI’s Britt Aamodt was studying biology at Gustavus Adolphus College when a record snowstorm blasted its way into her life. She wasn’t alone in experiencing the legendary Halloween Blizzard of 1991, a storm that closed schools, shuttered stores and workplaces and left an indelible memory on those that experienced it.
Support for MinneCulture on KFAI comes from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.