Peter Rachleff is a retired labor history professor, an often-outspoken expert on workers’ struggles. Andrew Carnegie was a steel tycoon, whose union-busting ignited the violent Homestead strike near Pittsburgh in 1892 that claimed 16 lives.

Odd bedfellows, perhaps, separated by a century. But both men share the ardent belief that storytelling can improve communities — and the tale of their unlikely partnership is playing out on St. Paul’s East Side.

Carnegie attached some pragmatic strings to his lofty philanthropic goals. The Scottish-born titan of industry funded 3,000 libraries in 47 U.S. states and nine countries.

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