"Not For Sale" Dramatizes the Costs of Opposing Segregation in 1960s SuburbiaHistorians in the News
tags: theater, racism, segregation, real estate, Twin Cities
Barbara Teed remembers the agony of her teenage years in South St. Paul in the 1960s — being called hateful names brimming with racism and enduring false rumors that she was allowing men to pick her up on Concord Street.
"I was traumatized," says Teed, who is white. "I went to school every day with a knot in my stomach."
Teed was the daughter of Arnold Weigel, a thriving white South St. Paul Realtor who was targeted after he gave an impassioned speech in 1965 in support of selling homes in white neighborhoods to people of color.
His business was boycotted and collapsed, a bank foreclosed on his house, his car was repossessed, and all of that shattered his marriage.
Weigel's story is retold in a riveting play that premieres Saturday at the History Theatre in St. Paul. "Not for Sale" draws together Teed's recollections and extensive research on her father's demise that she chronicled in her 2013 master's thesis for Hamline University.
Kim Hines, an actor, director and award-winning playwright, became the lead playwright for the show with Teed's assistance. Hines, who is Black, says her parents were blocked by a Realtor in the 1950s from acquiring the land to build a house in the suburbs, and by a half-dozen banks that refused to give her father a mortgage to build a house in south Minneapolis.
Hines said she found it surprising that what happened to Weigel had never been publicized. "I thought it was very important to tell Arnie's story," she says. Weigel was "way more than an ally. He was a co-conspirator in the struggle for racial equity in home ownership." She said that his stand wrecked his business and his whole life.
In 1965, the Minnesota Association of Realtors had named Weigel one of the state's top two Realtors, both for the number of home sales he had made and for community service. That year he delivered what proved to be a life-changing speech at a forum in West St. Paul on "Human Rights, a Challenge to the Suburbs." He appealed to community leaders to embrace integrated communities in the all-white suburbs.