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.