Carter v. Gallagher

Minneapolis Fire Chief Clarence Nimmerfroh chatted with 10 new firefighters, Feb. 29, 1972. The men were hired after U.S. District Judge Earl R. Larson ordered the city to add minority members to the department. They are, from left: John Wong, Emanuel King, Richard Shaugabay, Xavier Caldwell, James Heddinger, Rene Fernandez-Barroso, Skypp Lee, Wayne Brown, Michael Beaulieu and Steven McConoughey. Credit: John Croft, Star Tribune

In 1970, Legal Aid Attorney Luther Granquist filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Minneapolis Civil Service Commission, the body responsible for hiring members of the Minneapolis Fire Department. It had been nearly 30 years since a Black firefighter served the department. In March 1971, U.S. District Judge Earl Larson ordered the integration of the department in this landmark case.

Larson’s order concluded, “the plaintiffs have established that the practices and procedures used by the Minneapolis Civil Service Commission, over the past twenty-five years in hiring firefighters, involved a practice and pattern of discrimination by race.

The Civil Service Commission appealed to the 8th Circuit Court, which sustained Larson’s order. The Commission then asked the Supreme Court to hear the case. The nation’s highest court declined.

Related links

Star Tribune – 50 years of integration