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Breaking Barriers: A Brief History of Civil Rights in Minnesota

From early legal challenges to discrimination in the 19th century and the ongoing efforts to promote greater equality and social justice in the 21st century, the fight for civil rights has been a key part of Minnesota's history and identity.

Mural of Bob Dylan lyric "the times they are a-changin'" in downtown Minneapolis

Pre-Civil Rights Era in Minnesota

Minnesota has a rich history with Native Americans that dates back thousands of years. Prior to the arrival of European settlers, the region was home to various tribes, including the Ojibwe, Dakota, and Ho-Chunk. These tribes had their own unique cultures, languages, and traditions, and they often had complex relationships with one another.

While Minnesota's early history with Native Americans is rich and complex, it is also marked by violence and displacement. The arrival of European settlers and the subsequent push for land and resources led to the displacement and mistreatment of Native Americans in Minnesota and across the United States.

Minnesota was not a slave state, but slavery did exist in the region prior to the Civil War. Some white settlers in Minnesota owned slaves, and there were also free black individuals in the region who faced discrimination and limited opportunities.