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Summer of ’65: Milton Richardson authorized as on-sale liquor proprietor; first African American to hold such license in Duluth

DNTcover24Aug1965

Fifty years ago — Aug. 24, 1965 — the DNT reports the Duluth City Council has granted an on-sale liquor license to Milton Richardson for his Rendezvous Bar at 21 E. Michigan St. The article notes it’s the first time a liquor license has been issued to an African American.

(Note: There is no building at 21 E. Michigan St. today; it’s the spot where I-35 runs behind the Electic Fetus and the Wieland Block. Also, an article in the Aug. 20 DNT referred to the address of Richardson’s bar as “22 W. Michigan St.,” which would be behind the Allete / Minnesota Power headquarters.)

In granting the license, the council set itself up to deprive one of five holders of inactive licenses from opening a new liquor establishment. Four of them were owners of bars in the Gateway Urban Renewal District that were demolished.

The Alcoholic Beverage Board recommended last Wednesday that the five licenses not be issued at this time. It was felt by the board that former Gateway bar owners should not hold licenses because they had no buildings in which to operate bars.

The council, in awarding a license to Richardson, did not indicate which of the former license holders will not be granted a renewal.

William F. Maupins, president of the Duluth Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, appealed for a license on behalf of Richardson.

He said that an important part of the issue was to give a Negro a right to hold a license and to serve Negro people.

“A Negro has never had a liquor license in Duluth,” he said. “He should be treated like a white man and be permitted to have a license.

“A Negro should be able to own a liquor establishment and other Negroes should be given the right to buy a drink in the place.

“If a Negro is ever to have a license, it should be now. There are 700 Negros in Duluth and they should be served.”

The proposal to grant Richardson a license was included in a list of 67 on-sale liquor licenses recommended to the council by the Alcoholic Beverage Board.

The resolution was approved unanimously by the council. But an earlier attempt to amend the resolution to table Richardson’s license application was defeated by a four-to-four vote.

Voting on behalf of Richardson previously were councilmen Robert LaPine, Sherman E. Iverson, John F. LaForge and Albert Colalillo. Those urging that the matter be tabled were councilmen Alfred E. Persch, Dwight Solberg, Leo M. McDonald and Robert Eaton.

All councilmen said they felt Richardson deserved a license. But four felt the matter should be discussed thoroughly before another license holder was deprived of his license.

Andrew Larson, attorney for Richardson, noted that the Alcoholic Beverage Board had recommended on three occasions that Richardson be given a license. He said his client would upgrade a license. He contended that the council did not have to determine which license Richardson would get because they are inactive at the present time.

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