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Sun, 12.02.1928

Evelyn Fairbanks, Minnesota Author born


*On this date, in 1928, Evelyn Fairbanks was born. She was a Black writer, educator, and administrator.

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Fairbanks spent a year in Omaha, Nebraska, with her natural mother (Eva Mae Riddle) before resettling in St. Paul with George and Willie Mae Edwards.  She attended Mechanic Arts High School and became the first Black employee at Hamline University in St. Paul as a cashier.  Later Fairbanks received a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota at age 40. After University, she wrote The Days of Rondo, a memoir of growing up in the 1930s and '40s in the thriving Rondo Community, the largest Black neighborhood in St. Paul.

Published in 1990, the book is currently in its fourth printing. "Days of Rondo" was adapted into a play, as was Everlasting Arms, another piece she wrote about her childhood.  She worked as a factory worker, maid, and director of a neighborhood arts center.  Fairbanks moved to a 20-acre tree farm near a small town Onamia, Minnesota; she retired in 1991.  Pneumonia in 1993 slowed her down, and her breathing was often labored because of asthma. In 1995, she received an honorary doctorate from Hamline.

At about that same time, she began her research on Black pioneers in rural Minnesota, hoping to compile her research into a book. When she died on March 21, 2001, she was working on a book contract; she was also learning Japanese and lecturing school-age children.

To be a Writer


Days of Rondo
By: Evelyn Fairbanks
Publisher: MHS Press
ISBN 0-87351-256-1

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