History Revealed: The Sterling Club
September 24 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
101 Years of The Sterling Club: A Window into the Black Experience in Minnesota
Thursday, September 24, 2020, 7:00 pm
In partnership with the Roseville Library
Live Zoom Presentation – presentation will be recorded
Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Historian and author Jeremiah E. Elliswill present the history and the stories behind the Sterling Club, and African-American club in Saint Paul that recently celebrated its 100th Anniversary. The Sterling Club emerged from injustices toward Black men in Ramsey County. In 2020, renewed calls for racial justice have been catalyzed by the experiences of Black men in Minnesota. Similar patterns of racial discrimination along the Club’s century ring true today. This conversation looks at the hundred years of Club history including first hand accounts of members and rarely seen pictures from the local African American community. Jeremiah Ellis will share about the Club history, more recent activities and connect the history to experiences of being a Black man in Minnesota.
In 1919, a group of mostly mid-career gentlemen from St. Paul’s African American community incorporated a social club of their own. The Sterling Club welcomed visiting dignitaries, gathered for formal balls, and celebrated individual and collective accomplishments – and they also mobilized against discrimination and created community cohesion. The men, and women, of the Sterling Club worked alongside civic leaders to highlight and address racist practices, helped heal a community torn apart by the construction of the interstate, served as a haven from discrimination, and mentored young people within the community. Over the decades, many of St. Paul’s social clubs have come and gone, but the Sterling Club continues to stand strong.
Jeremiah Ellis’s great grandparents owned The Booker T. Restaurant on Rondo Avenue before its destruction for Interstate 94. Jeremiah is Secretary of the Board for the African American Interpretive Center of Minnesota which is dedicated to sharing black Minnesota history through exhibitions and events. Jeremiah’s research into Saint Paul’s historic Black community, titled St. Paul’s Distinct Leadership Tradition: A Century of The Sterling Club, was published by the Ramsey County Historical Society in Ramsey County History magazine last year. Jeremiah parents his elementary age son in Saint Paul with his wife.
Featured image: The Sterling Club’s original Clubhouse, begun in 1924 at 315 North Dale Street, was designed by Sterling Club member, Clarence W. Wigington. Photo by Arthur H.P. Rhodes, courtesy of the Sterling Club archives.