Remembering Katie McWatt through Arthurs' Words

Katie McWatts (Photo: Arthur McWatt)

Katie McWatt was about thirty-three years old when she ran for Saint Paul City Council: In March 1964, civil rights activists Reverend Denzil Carty, Kwame McDonald, and Alpha Adkins convinced Katie McWatt to run for a seat on the St. Paul City Council. There had never been an African-American on the Council in the history of the City. Her experience as an advocate for improved educational opportunities, the hiring of more African-American school staff, lobbyist for non-discrimination in housing, employment of African-Americans in the building trades and a dedication to social justice were critical issues for McWatt.

Fiction: The Last Child to Sleep in Saint Paul

Illustration: Andy Singer

It's 8 p.m. at City Hall and the lights in the mayor's office are still on. He sets down the stack of reports he's been reading, glances at the clock in his office, and reaches for his briefcase and keys. It's time to make the rounds. He flips off the lights and walks down the echoing corridors of City Hall to the door. Everyone is long gone.

Boyd Park

Frank Boyd in his home on Mackubin Avenue, St. Paul; Secretary Treasurer of the B.S.C.P. ( Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters).

The Selby-Dale Freedom Brigade, which emerged out of this melange of ideologies, objected to using Kittson’s name for the park on the grounds that this nineteenth-and early twentieth-century entrepreneur was not a fit man to memorialize. Not only had he had at least two and as many as four Native American “wives” before marrying European Mary Kittson, he sold liquor to the Indians and bought their fur pelts for a pittance and sold them for exorbitant amounts. One brigade member said Kittson “personifies the destructive, imperialistic aspect of American history,” and he urged that parks and public buildings be named “for people who have contributed to the struggles faced by those exploited.”