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Blacks in the St. Paul Police and Fire Department 1885 - 1976


I have attempted to be informative in this social and historical presentation. The information on how long Blacks have been employed in the police and fire departments in St. Paul is new to the majority of people in the Black community, and especially our youth. Many times the statement is made that there are no Black images but the facts should first be investigated. We may find the image we seek is among us and we may not have been cognizant of it. Often we seek history in faraway places and overlook our own local history. I have, in researching this paper, run across many facts of historical value. We as Blacks have a very rich heritage in this area and a very thorough research should be made of it. Many books and periodicals have been written about our local Black history but have not gone deep enough into the past. In many instances they have just scratched the surface.

The discrimination and bias against Blacks in the past in the field of law enforcement and fire protection have been told and the public must realize this is a reflection of our society. Policemen and firemen do not discriminate because they are in this work, but because they are products of their environment. The bias they may have is not acquired from the job but rather is with them when they come to these jobs.

Today, the doors for a career in law enforcement and fire protection are open and the community must encourage our young people to take advantage of it. There is now a public awareness of the need for Black input in these fields. This presents a terrific challenge for our Black youth who must come forward and meet this challenge, with courage and motivation. When they do this, hopefully they will not forget the blood, sweat and tears of the men who have preceded them.

In concluding this paper, I would like to say that the stamina, tenacity and the courage of the many men who were able to survive in the police and fire departments were, in many cases, passed on to many of their descendants. They have provided the ambition and motivation necessary for the progress of Blacks at home and away.

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