College of Arts and Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)


Luci Vaden


Minnesota history, Minnesota civil rights, racial covenants, housing segregation, freeway construction, segregated neighborhoods, highly segregated schools, Minneapolis schools, St. Paul schools, Duluth schools, Civil Rights Movement in the Midwest, Long Civil Rights Movement


Education | History


Minnesota's history contains a narrative of segregation that not only shaped the physical landscape of its cities but also entrenched disparities in education and fractured communities. The racial covenants that first emerged in 1910 built the bedrock of housing segregation that led to segregated neighborhoods. The consequences of this systemic segregation extended beyond residential boundaries and infiltrated the corridors of education, where the harsh realities of racial imbalance often betrayed the promise of equal opportunity. By examining the interconnectedness of housing policies, school integration efforts, and community development, this study uncovers the roots of inequality and proves how Minnesota failed students of color in its attempt to address the schools and race challenge. This dissertation contends that the racial covenants that forced African Americans to live in select neighborhoods caused segregated schools, which the government neglected at both a state and local level. By the time the government began to address de facto segregation in the 1960s and 1970s, simply establishing a minority enrollment percentage for schools to meet was not enough. Central to this argument were the integration efforts of these decades, which, while aiming to dismantle the barriers of segregation, inadvertently burdened Black students with the responsibility of integration. Forced busing policies, coupled with the closure of predominantly Black schools, disrupted communities and exacerbated educational disparities. Furthermore, the construction of freeways, ostensibly for connectivity, disproportionately targeted Black neighborhoods, severing vital ties and deepening the wounds of segregation.