Photograph of Smith and a client at the Olive Hair Store, 1913.

Lena Olive Smith and client at Olive Hair Store, Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis

Smith owned the Olive Hair Store, before becoming an attorney, 1913.

Black and white photograph of Lena O. Smith, first female African American lawyer in Minnesota, undated.

Lena O. Smith

Lena O. Smith, first female African American lawyer in Minnesota, undated.

Smith, Lena Olive (1885–1966)

Lena Olive Smith was a prominent civil rights lawyer and activist during the 1920s and 1930s. She made major contributions toward securing civil rights for minorities in the Twin Cities. Smith began fighting for the rights of others when she became the first African American woman licensed to practice law in Minnesota in 1921. She was the only African American woman to practice law in the state until 1945.

Charity-ball announcement featuring the proposed new facility for the Crispus Attucks home. The Appeal, November 11, 1911.

Do you wish to help build this?

Charity-ball announcement featuring the proposed new facility for the Crispus Attucks home. St. Paul Appeal, November 11, 1911.

Black and white photograph of Crispus Attucks moves to 1537 Randolph Avenue in Highland Park, 1908.

Crispus Attucks moves to 1537 Randolph Avenue in Highland Park

Crispus Attucks moves to 1537 Randolph Avenue in Highland Park, 1908.

Black and white photograph taken in of the Crispus Attucks Orphanage and Old Folks Home at 469 Collins Street in St. Paul, 1962.

Crispus Attucks Home for the Aged (formerly Home for the Friendless), 469 Collins, St. Paul

Photograph taken in of the Crispus Attucks Orphanage and Old Folks Home at 469 Collins Street in St. Paul, 1962.

Black and white photograph of the Crispus Attucks Orphanage and Old Folks Home at 1537 Randolph Avenue in St. Paul, c.1910.

Crispus Attucks Orphanage and Old Folks Home, Randolph and Brimhall Streets, St. Paul

Photograph of the Crispus Attucks Orphanage and Old Folks Home at 1537 Randolph Avenue in St. Paul, c.1910.

Black and white photograph of the Crispus Attucks Orphanage and Old Folks Home at its original location on East Acker Street in St. Paul, c.1905.

Crispus Attucks Orphanage and Old Folks Home

Photograph of the Crispus Attucks Orphanage and Old Folks Home at its original location on East Acker Street in St. Paul, c.1905.

Crispus Attucks Home, St. Paul

In 1910 there were over sixty orphanages and homes for the aged operated by and for African Americans in the United States. Minnesota had one of them: St. Paul's Crispus Attucks Home. The home was named for the African American patriot killed in the Boston Massacre of 1770. It served the community for six decades, beginning in 1906 during the Jim Crow era and ending in 1966 at the peak of the civil rights movement.

MN90: Minnesota's Civil Rights Visionary

While Martin Luther King Jr. may be the name most people think of when they think of civil rights, there’s another seminal character in the story of equality in the U.S. MN90 Producer Andi McDaniel learns about Roy Wilkins, who grew up in St. Paul and attended the University of Minnesota.

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