Roy Wilkins Auditorium

A block from Rice Park stands the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Renamed in 1984 for the executive director of the NAACP and longtime civil rights advocate, the auditorium has been an important venue for live entertainment since 1932. Entertainers booked there have included Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington, B.B. King and Herbie Hancock. The original building was designed by Minnesota's first African American municipal architect, Clarence W. Wigington, whose other buildings, Harriet Island Pavilion and Highland Water Tower, are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Roy Wilkins (1901-1981) was born in St. Louis, and raised in Saint Paul by his relatives. Educated at the University of Minnesota, Wilkins went on to edit NAACP's Crisis magazine and eventually lead the national institution. For his work, he received the country's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President Lyndon B. Johnson. Saint Paul boasts two memorials to the "favorite son" of Minnesota: one at the interior entrance to the Roy Wilkins Auditorium and a large interactive monument on the State Capitol Mall.

Images

Roy Wilkins

Roy Wilkins

Once the executive director of the NAACP and a longtime civil rights advocate. Photographer: Fabian Bachrach Date: Approximately 1955 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Roy Wilkins

Roy Wilkins

With Martin Luther King (left), and Thurgood Marshall (right). Photographer: Cecil Layne Date: 1959 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Harriet Island Pavilion

Harriet Island Pavilion

The 1941 Works Progress Administration pavilion was designed by pioneering African American architect, Clarence Wigington who also designed the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Photographer: Elizabeth M. Hall Date: June, 1979 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Highland Park Water Tower

Highland Park Water Tower

- South Snelling Avenue at Ford Parkway - Designed by the nation's first African American Municipal Architect, who also designed the Harriet Island Pavilion and the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Photographer: Donaldson Photo Company Date: Approximately 1940 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

CultureBrokers Foundation, Inc. 2008. "Points of Entry: The African American Heritage Guide to Saint Paul.", “Roy Wilkins Auditorium,” Saint Paul Historical, accessed June 28, 2017, http://saintpaulhistorical.com/items/show/256.

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