MINNEAPOLIS — According to ReConnect Rondo, 80% of Saint Paul's African American community once lived in Rondo. It was a bustling place where businesses prospered.
"I'm a part of the St. Paul community that grew up in different areas in St. Paul," said DeAnthony Acon, a young filmmaker.
For 22-year-old Acon, putting together a film with a group of other young filmmakers to honor the stories of this community is a dream come true..
"It means to me finding a choice to taking weapons to power and understanding your own story and narrative, especially in a community where you grew up and have so much you can relate to," said Acon.
"Rooted in Rondo," a youth-produced short documentary and audio project, tells the stories from the historic Black neighborhood before and after the construction of Interstate 94 ripped the community apart in the 1950s and '60s.
"What does it mean to you being from St. Paul to be able to share these stories?" asked KARE 11's Charmaine Nero.
"To show people like my nieces or nephews that you can be the person on that screen sharing your story because that is a very powerful thing," said Acon.
"How long did it take you?" asked Nero.
"We started back in February," said Acon. "Time felt like it was going fast — sometimes it felt like it was going slow," he said. "One of those things taught me to just trust in the process."
"To make a whole audio and short documentary in that amount of time, it was a miracle that we all were able to come together and do this," said co-director and mentor Katharine Decelle. "This project was produced with Saint Paul Neighborhood Network and WFNU Frogtown Community Radio."
Decelle says the goal is to continue sharing oral histories, showing a community in healing after displacement and trauma.
"One of the things we were really intentional about with this was bridging the generational gap between the elders and the youth of Rondo," she said. "We were very intentional about building those relationships."
That, along with helping young storytellers from within the community find their voice.
"What's your advice to other young filmmakers?" asked Nero.
"Understanding the power of your stories and other peoples stories," said Acon. "Consistency over everything because that give you results. You can get better as long as you keep doing it."
The film screening takes place Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. at CHS Field Securian Financial Club at 360 N. Broadway St., St. Paul.
A panel discussion from youth filmmakers will directly follow the screening at 8:00 p.m.
For more information, visit the site here.
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