June 10, 2020

A crowd gathers at the George Floyd memorial in south Minneapolis. Photo credit: Sophie Hunt

Minneapolis, and the United States as a whole, is facing its history in a new and urgent way. The death of George Floyd has reverberated around the globe, and we in Hennepin County find ourselves at the center of it all. Hennepin History Museum has made a commitment to usthe current spotlight on Hennepin County to build our capacity to show the relevance of history as a force for good in the community. As part of that effort, we have compiled a list of articles exploring the historical contexts behind the killing of George Floyd and the events that have followed. We offer these as a resource for those seeking to educate themselves about these issues.

Much has been written about this event, which is still unfolding. Many more books, articles, and documentaries have been created about the historical contexts surrounding it. For this list, we focus on articles which use history to discuss the local situation beginning with George Floyd. We also include links to additional resources for those who wish to take their reading further. Some of these articles are opinion pieces. Our goal is not to promote a particular viewpoint but to offer the perspectives of historians as a resource to our community.

We will continue adding to this list. To recommend additions to the reading list, please email info@hennepinhistory.org with the subject line “Reading.” 

NOTE: Some of these articles are published in subscription-based periodicals. If you are having trouble accessing them, we recommend that you check your local library’s website to see if they have a subscription. Hennepin County Library offers online access to Washington PostStar Tribune, and many other periodicals to anyone with an HCL library card.

Broad Analysis: 

Sarah Holder. “Why This Started in Minneapolis.” CityLab. June 5, 2020. – Interviews with William D. Green, Daniel Bergin, Taiyon J. Coleman, Kirsten Delegard, and Shannon Smith Jones.


Nat Jacobwith. “The George Floyd Protests: The history of police brutality in the Twin Cities.” Minnesota Daily, Episode 59 of “In the Know” podcast. June 11, 2020. – Contains interview with August H. Nimtz, Jr.

Katrina Phillips. “Longtime police brutality drove American Indians to join the George Floyd protests.” Washington Post, Made by History. June 6, 2020. 

Will Cooley. “Minneapolis: The Rise of the ‘Thumpers’.” The Nation, June 1, 2020. 

Michael J. Lansing. “Will Minneapolis learn from the failed handling of its last uprising?” Washington Post, Made by History. May 30, 2020.  

Keisha N. Blain. “Violence in Minneapolis is rooted in the history of racist policing in America.” Washington Post, Made by History. May 30, 2020. 


Curt Brown. “Lake Harriet neighbors rejected black minister in 1909.” Star Tribune. June 13, 2020.

Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello. “Terrorizing in plain sight: A Twin Cities history lesson that must not repeat itself.” MinnPost, Community Voices. June 9, 2020.

Igor Derysh. “How decades of racist policies and ‘white mob violence’ heightened tensions in Minneapolis.” Salon. June 8, 2020. – Cites research by Kirsten Delegard and Denise Pike.

Michael J. Lansing, Kirsten Delegard and Kevin Ehrman-Solberg. “Is Minneapolis prepared to dismantle — not just acknowledge — structural racism?” MinnPost, Community Voices. June 1, 2020.

Olivia B. Waxman. “George Floyd’s Death and the Long History of Racism in Minneapolis.” Time Magazine, May 28, 2020. – Contains interviews with Keith A. Mayes and Kirsten Delegard.


Lee Schafer. “The last time Minneapolis rioted, one large company did more than just talk about change.” Star Tribune. June 15, 2020. – Cites research by Thomas J. Misa.

Robert Greene II. “We Are Living in a Red Spring.” Jacobin. May 31, 2020. 

Elizabeth Hinton. “The Minneapolis Uprising in Context.” Boston Review, May 29, 2020. 

August H. Nimtz Jr. “It’s a big deal that the outrage expressed over George Floyd’s death was massive and multiracial.” MinnPost. May 28, 2020. 

Lake Street:

Justin Ellis. “Minneapolis Had This Coming.” The Atlantic. June 9, 2020. – Contains references to Mapping Prejudice Project and historic photographs of Lake Street by photographer Wing Young Huie.

Iric Nathanson. “Exploring the rich history of 27th and Lake.” MinnPost, Community Sketchbook. June 5, 2020.

History according to Twin Cities residents:

Molly Hennessy-Fiske. “The many chapters marked by racism in George Floyd’s family history. Los Angeles Times. June 3, 2020. – Interview with George Floyd’s aunt Angela Harrelson about family history in North Carolina and Minnesota.

Kathleen Hennessey and Tim Sullivan. “Unrest devastates a city’s landmark street of diversity.” Star Tribune, May 31, 2020. – Reflections on 100 years of history on Lake Street.

Additional Resources:

** Adam Bledsoe. “Minneapolis Uprising Syllabus”

“Jim Crow of the North” and other episodes of Minnesota Experience by Twin Cities PBS (TPT)

“A Conversation with Richard Rothstein” and other episodes of Conversations with Chanda podcast by Minneapolis Foundation

“Reading for Racial Justice” book list from University of Minnesota Press – read 21 books for free through August 31, 2020.

LAST UPDATED: June 17, 2020

** Articles added at last update