|Welcome to the Living Oral History Project, presented in partnership between the African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County and the Ann Arbor District Library. These interviews serve as a road map illustrating what local African Americans witnessed, experienced, and contributed to building the community we share today. The associated LOH Digital Collection presents over 2,500 historical photographs and news articles from AADL’s Community Collections about major topics featured in the interviews, including Community Centers, Education, Housing, Employment, Entrepreneurship, and Faith. The LOH Walking Tour showcases historically Black neighborhoods in Ann Arbor.
Fred Adams | Carol Allen | Lois Allen-Richardson | James W. Anderson Jr | Leah Bass-Baylis | Mike Bass | Alice Brennan-Key | Gwendolyn Calvert-Baker | John W. Barfield | Shirley Beckley | Walter Blackwell | Rosemarion Alexander Blake | Hershal Brown | Jennifer Brown | Russell Lee Calvert | Gerald D. Edwards | Henrietta Edwards | Robert W. Fletcher | Nelson Freeman | Premail Freeman | Tessie Ola Freeman | Sharon Gillespie | George Goodman | William Hampton | Sandra Harris | William Henderson | Hortense Howard | Larry Hunter | Carl Johnson | Audrey Lucas | Patricia Manley | Mary McDade | Patricia Horne McGee | Diana McKnight-Morton | Barbara Jean Meadows | Joetta Mial | Thekla Mitchell | Audrey Monagan | Charles Morris | Lydia Belle Cromwell Morton | Willis Charles Patterson | Evelyn Payne | Johnnie Rush | David Rutledge | Janie Lee Ross | Johnnie Mae (Jackson) Seeley | Essie Shelton | Donald Simons | Harold Simons | Alma Wheeler Smith | Laurita Thomas | Janice Thompson | Dolores Preston Turner | James Turner | Paul E. Wasson | Nancy Cornelia Wheeler | Dorothy May Wilson
Phase Ten Highlights Video
Carol Allen was born in Alton, Illinois in 1945. Her parents Janie and Thomas Ross moved to Ann Arbor in 1951 and purchased a home on Fifth Avenue. Her father was a cook and her mother was a nurse’s aid and custodian. Carol recalls raising her son Carl Jr. with her husband while living on the second floor of her family’s home. She got her associate’s degree in practical nursing and worked in that field for most of her career. In January 2023 she and her husband Carl celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They have two sons and several grandchildren
Alice Brennan-Key was born in Ann Arbor in 1953. Her parents met in Florida after her father immigrated from the Bahamas, and they moved to Ann Arbor in the 1940s. Brennan-Key grew up on Gott Street, next door to her current residence. She has seen the neighborhood change over the years due to gentrification. She went to Michigan State University as an undergraduate and received her master’s in social work from the University of Michigan. She spent most of her career working with developmentally disabled and mentally ill residents of Washtenaw County. She raised her daughter Khyla in Ann Arbor.
Sandra Harris was born in 1952 in West Virginia, where her father was a coal miner. Her family moved to Ann Arbor when she was in second grade. Harris remembers being on the homecoming court at Pioneer High School and participating in student-led marches during the late 1960s. She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from Eastern Michigan University. She was a school administrator in the Ann Arbor Public Schools as well as other districts. In addition to her service as an educator, she was also a longtime caretaker for her nephew and her mother.
Carl James Johnson was born in 1945 in Willow Run, Michigan. His family moved to Ann Arbor when he was seven years old, after his mother suffered a stroke. He attended Jones School and Tappan Junior High and participated in the French Dukes drill team in the early 1960s. Johnson served in Vietnam in the Navy Seabees unit, where his drill experience spared him from direct action. For most of his career he worked as a caterer at the University of Michigan and Domino Farms. He celebrates his Black and Native American heritage by volunteering on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Janie Lee Ross was born in 1921 in Jackson, Tennessee. Her father was a church deacon, and she remembers attending choir rehearsals. In the 1940s she and her husband Thomas moved to Chicago, and she went to practical nursing school. They moved to Ann Arbor in 1951 and purchased a home on Fifth Avenue. They opened their home to many friends and relatives who needed a place to stay. Ross was a nurse’s aid at St. Joe’s Hospital and a custodian in Ann Arbor Public Schools. She has four children–Charlotte, Thomas, Carol, and Eugene (Bobby)–and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Phase Nine highlights video
Michael Thomas Bass was born in 1945 to Thomas and Louise Bass. His parents–a doctor and a teacher–were influential members of Ypsilanti’s Black community. Bass excelled in football, basketball, and track. He was senior class president of Ypsilanti High School in 1963. He received a BA in Education from the University of Michigan. Bass is best known for playing in the National Football League for the Washington Commanders (formerly Redskins) from 1969 to 1975. After retiring from the NFL, Bass ran a resort in the Bahamas. He and his wife Rosita now reside in Florida and they have two daughters, Kimberly and Louise.
Leah Bass-Baylis was born in 1954 in Ypsilanti. Her parents Thomas and Louise Bass–a doctor and teacher–were influential members of Ypsilanti’s Black community. She studied dance at Ypsilanti’s Randazzo Dance Theater and graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta in 1976. She also holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Organizational Change from the University of Southern California. Bass-Baylis was a dancer and choreographer for many Broadway shows, including performing in The Tap Dance Kid. In her later career as an administrator, she developed arts education programs in Los Angeles. She and her husband Doug Baylis have four children.
Hershal Brown was born in 1946. He lived off and on with his parents in Gary, Indiana, but he was raised primarily by his grandparents in Ann Arbor. He remembers having many role models at Bethel AME Church. After graduating from Ann Arbor High School, Brown served in the military in Spain. He worked at Ford Motor Company in pre-prototype coordination for 31 years. He also worked and volunteered for the Ann Arbor Public Schools and the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s department. He married his longtime sweetheart Jennifer Benton in 1968 and they have two daughters, Charisse and Heather.
Jennifer Brown was born in 1948 in Ann Arbor to Charles and Laurel Benton. She recalls learning to fish with her father and attending Jones School. Her mother encouraged her to take advanced classes in high school. Brown worked in banking and bank management for the first half of her career while her children were young. Later in life she got her master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan and became a social worker. She has been married to her husband Hershal Brown for 53 years. They have two daughters, Charisse and Heather, and three grandchildren.
George D. Goodman was born in 1940 and grew up in Ypsilanti. His father George worked at the Ford River Rouge plant and his mother Thelma owned and operated Goodman’s Fashion Center on Harriet Street. After graduating from Roosevelt School and Eastern Michigan University, he served as a U.S. Army officer in Germany for 5 years. Goodman is best known for being the mayor of Ypsilanti from 1972 to 1982. He was also director of the University of Michigan Opportunity Program and the Michigan Municipal League. He and his wife Judith have been married for sixty years, and they have two sons.
William A. Henderson was born in 1943 in Ann Arbor to William and Viola Henderson. After graduating from Ann Arbor High School and Eastern Michigan University, Henderson enlisted in the Marine Corps and went through naval aviator training. He flew in 125 combat missions during the Vietnam War and was a forward air controller with the infantry. He advanced through the ranks and in 1996 became the first Black pilot to achieve the status of Major General in the Michigan Air National Guard. He was also Chief Pilot at General Motors. He and his wife Francine have two children, Justin and Nicole.
Patricia Ashford Manley was born in 1945 in Ann Arbor, and she was raised by her mother. She remembers attending Jones Elementary School and trying out for cheerleading at Ann Arbor High School. Manley graduated from Western Michigan University in 1970 and later earned her master’s in counseling from Eastern Michigan University. She worked as a teacher, cheerleading coach, and guidance counselor at Huron High School for thirty-one years, and was principal of Thurston Elementary School for ten years. She and her husband Lamont Manley enjoy traveling and going to concerts together. They have been married for 43 years.
Phase Eight highlights video
Lois Allen-Richardson was born in 1942 in Ypsilanti, where she remembers attending Harriet Street School and spending time at Parkridge Center. As a young adult, she worked briefly at Goodman’s Fashion Center in the heart of Ypsilanti’s Black business district. Allen-Richardson is an ordained minister and served as a missionary in Haiti and Trinidad. Since 2000 she has been a member of the Ypsilanti City Council, where she has been a strong advocate for the city’s south side. In June 2020, she became Ypsilanti’s first Black woman mayor after the resignation of her predecessor.
Sharon Gillespie was born in 1945 and raised by her grandmother in Oklahoma before moving to Ann Arbor with her mother at age nine. She remembers redlining in Ann Arbor and the breakup of the historically Black neighborhood she grew up in. She helped raise two younger sisters while her mother attended ophthalmology school at the University of Michigan. Gillespie excelled in her career as a typesetter at local businesses. After retiring, she has been active in volunteering at homeless shelters and hospice programs. She was married to Raymond Gillespie for 21 years.
Mary McDade was born in Columbia, South Carolina in 1939, but grew up in Ann Arbor. Her parents Albert and Emma Wheeler were active in local politics and civil rights. As a college student, McDade helped found the University of Michigan chapter of the NAACP. She moved to Peoria, Illinois with her husband Joe Billy McDade in 1963. After raising four children, she built a career in law. McDade graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law and she has been a justice of the Illinois Appellate Court since 2000.
Patricia Horne McGee was born in 1946 in Ypsilanti, where she attended Perry Elementary and Ypsilanti High School. She recalls the mutual support and accomplishments of many childhood friends and neighbors, and reflects on rising tensions between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Horne McGee has two master's degrees from the University of Michigan and UCLA. She taught child development and social work for fifteen years at Ferris State College and Mercy College. After leaving academia, she worked for the Wayne County Intermediate School District and she was director of Head Start for Washtenaw County.
Diana McKnight-Morton was born in 1944 and grew up on West Kingsley Street in a racially mixed neighborhood. Her parents Robert and Adeline Thompson ran a successful carry-out restaurant, DeLong’s Bar-B-Q, on Detroit Street for 38 years. McKnight-Morton got her master’s in guidance and counseling from Eastern Michigan University and became a supervisor for Washtenaw County Employment and Training and Community Services. She has served as a member of the Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees since 1994.
Alma Wheeler Smith was born in Columbia, South Carolina in 1941. She grew up in Ann Arbor, where her parents, Albert and Emma Wheeler, were active in local politics and civil rights organizations. Wheeler Smith made her name in politics as a Michigan State Senator for the 18th district. She was elected in 1995 after working on staff with her predecessor, Lana Pollack. She served full terms in the Michigan Senate and House, and remains politically active by serving on boards and working with Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw.
Laurita Thomas was born in 1950, and her family lived in southwest Detroit and Ontario, California. She attended the University of Michigan and pursued two master’s degrees from Wayne State University and Eastern Michigan University. Throughout her career, Thomas has pushed for better career opportunities for women and women of color. She worked at U-M for 47 years, eventually serving as Vice President for Human Resources. A survivor of domestic violence, she regularly shares her story and was president of the board of Safe House Center in Ann Arbor.
Dolores Preston Turner was born in Ann Arbor in the early 1940s, and her family lived in a small historically Black neighborhood on Woodlawn Avenue. She graduated from Ann Arbor High School, where she met her future husband, James Turner. She remembers moving into their first apartment in Pittsfield Village as a result of fair housing protests in Ann Arbor in the 1960s. Turner has two master’s degrees and she taught English at Huron High School for 30 years. Dolores and James celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in September 2021.
James Turner was born in Ann Arbor in 1939. He played football and track and was president of his sophomore, junior, and senior class at Ann Arbor High School. He married his high school sweetheart, Dolores, after she graduated a few years later. Turner went on to get his master’s degree and taught at Highland Park High School and Ann Arbor Public Schools for 32 years. He is a member of the usher board and a trustee at Bethel A.M.E. Church. James and Dolores celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in September 2021.
Nancy Cornelia Wheeler was born in Ann Arbor in 1944 to Albert and Emma Wheeler. Inspired by her parents’ example, she participated in local civil rights protests and served in the Peace Corps in Peru. She graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and worked as an attorney at the Model Cities Legal Center for 16 years. Under her former married name, Nancy Francis, she served as a juvenile court judge and trial court judge for Washtenaw County until her retirement in 2014.
Phase Seven highlights video
William Hampton was born in 1948 in Tyler, Texas, and his grandmother was the midwife. He remembers attending church revival picnics, the Texas Rose Festival, and the Juneteenth parade in his hometown. While attending college in Arlington, Texas, he was active in the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He went on to launch a Section 8 subsidized housing program in Arlington and in Ann Arbor, where he worked in the community development office. Mr. Hampton has been president of the Ann Arbor chapter of the NAACP since 2005.
Thekla Mitchell: Thekla White was born in 1921 in Newport, Arkansas, the youngest of nine siblings. At age 22, she traveled to Ann Arbor to visit her sister. After getting a job at Cunningham’s Drug Store, she decided to stay. She worked at the University of Michigan Hospital as a nurses’ aid and laboratory assistant in the Pathology Department for 24 years. Known as “Dimples” to friends and family, Mrs. Mitchell was active in community organizations including the Ann Arbor Civic Club and the Order of the Eastern Stars.
David Rutledge was born in 1945 in LaFayette, Alabama and grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He traces his commitment to public service to his experience protesting a segregated lunch counter as a teenager. He attended Tennessee State University and the University of Michigan Law School. Mr. Rutledge has served as Superior Township Supervisor, Ypsilanti State Representative, and as a member of the Washtenaw County Parks Commission and Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees. He dedicates this interview to his parents and his late wife, Gerri.
Donald L. Simons was born in 1943 and he grew up on Fuller Street in Ann Arbor. He attended Jones School, Ann Arbor High, and Eastern Michigan University. He was a starting football halfback and basketball co-captain in high school, and was recognized as athlete of the month. Mr. Simons recalls segregation and several incidents of discrimination in Ann Arbor. He is proud of his family, his work coaching at the Maxey Boys' Training School and Boysville, and co-hosting the annual neighborhood picnic for 25 years.
Harold Simons was born in 1946 and he grew up in Ann Arbor. He was inspired by Jones School teacher Harry Mial to become a teacher and coach. A standout basketball player for Ann Arbor High, he went on to play at Eastern Michigan University. He was the freshman basketball coach there before becoming head coach at Huron High for 20 years. Mr. Simons reflects on race relations and generational differences in Ann Arbor. He and his wife Ethel have been married for 53 years.
Phase Six highlights video
|Walter Blackwell was born in 1930 in Petersburg, Virginia. He shares memories of growing up there as well as in Mount Vernon, New York before serving in the army during the Korean War. He worked for 30 years at the Ann Arbor VA hospital, where he enjoyed helping fellow veterans. After experiencing discrimination in housing and employment, Mr. Blackwell fought for civil rights in Ann Arbor as a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and mentored black children in his neighborhood.
|Gerald Edwards was born in 1950 in Cleveland, Ohio. He remembers being discriminated against as one of three African American students at his elementary school in the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education. At Heidelberg College, he participated in sit-ins to help found a Black Student Union House. After beginning his career in automotive manufacturing with Ford Motor Company, Mr. Edwards started his own business, Engineered Plastic Products, in 1987. He and his wife Jada also started the Edwards Foundation, which was dedicated to philanthropy in Namibia.
|Henrietta Edwards was born in 1919 and grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma before moving to Ann Arbor in 1941. She and her husband worked at the Willow Run Bomber Plant during World War II, and owned two filling stations—one downtown at N Fourth Avenue and E Ann Street, and one on Highway 23. She celebrated her hundredth birthday with family, friends, and former coworkers and patients from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, where she worked as a pediatric nurse for 32 years.
|Hortense Howard was born in Bloomington, Illinois in 1927. Soon afterwards, her family moved to Ann Arbor, where she and her sisters became known as the “Bacon Sisters” for their choral performances at sorority houses and other venues. Ms. Howard attended a music school in Detroit because she “wanted to sing like Sarah Vaughan,” and she met many African American singers while working at the Gotham Hotel. She ran her own daycare, Sitters Unlimited Family Day Care, in Ann Arbor for twenty years.
|Audrey Monagan was born in Ann Arbor in 1941, and grew up in a close-knit, predominantly black neighborhood on North Fifth Ave. She remembers attending Bethel AME Church with her grandparents, spending time at the Dunbar Community Center, and helping raise her younger siblings. She attended Jones School and Pioneer High School before working for General Motors, where she was an inspector for eighteen years. Mrs. Monagan has been married to her second husband, Philip, for 48 years.
Phase Five highlights video
|Gwendolyn Calvert Baker was born in 1931. She talks about growing up in Ann Arbor where she began her distinguished career teaching at Wines Elementary and winning Teacher of the Year. She was also faculty at the University of Michigan’s School of Education; National Executive Director of the YWCA; a member of the New York School Board; and president and CEO of United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
|Premail Freeman was born in 1947 in Mississippi and later moved to Ypsilanti. He reminisces about his childhood in Ypsilanti and some of the jobs he had growing up. Inspired by friends who ran a successful hair salon, Premail studied cosmetology and eventually opened his own salon where he continues to work to this day. His wife helped him run the business in the early days and together they raised a family of three.
|Larry Hunter was born in 1951 and has lived in both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. He’s worked in public service for years, served on Ann Arbor City Council, and earned a Juris Doctor degree in law in 2000. Larry recalls how he became politically active as a young man, organizing walkouts at his high school as a leader in the Black Student Union, as well as his involvement with the Black Panthers.
|Essie Shelton was born in Mississippi in 1930 and moved to Ann Arbor with her father in 1946. She recalls her experience entering an integrated high school for the first time and how she came to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a licensed practical nurse at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. Essie also met her husband at the hospital and together they raised three children.
|Joetta Mial was born in 1931 in Jackson, Michigan, and later moved to Ann Arbor. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan and spent her career as an educator in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. In 1987, Joetta became principal of Huron High School after serving as a teacher, administrator, counselor, and class principal at Huron and Pioneer High Schools.
Fred Adams was born in 1934 and grew up in Ann Arbor. He recalls summers playing in the Huron River, youth activities with the Dunbar Center and Jones School, his work as a paperboy, and some of the black neighborhoods and businesses in the Ann St. area. Mr. Adams worked for Johnson Controls for 41 years and owned his own business as an Industrial Manager.
|Nelson Freeman was born in 1939 and grew up in Ypsilanti. He remembers being one of the few black children at his elementary school and the transition to high school with white friends. He also recalls how his father made sure local African American children had a night of their own at the local rollerskating rink, where he became one of the best skaters, and other social and business activities in town. Mr. Freeman spent time in the Navy and had a long career as a dental technician.
|Audrey Lucas was born in 1934 and raised in Ann Arbor where she fondly recalls her school days Jones School. She talks about activities at the Dunbar Center where she had the pleasure of singing at various city events, and some of Ann Arbor's black neighborhoods and businesses. Ms. Lucas worked for the University of Michigan Health System for 47 years, the last 35 before her retirement as a human resources consultant.
|Charles Morris was born in 1938 and grew up in Ypsilanti where he attended Harriet Street Elementary School and Ypsilanti High School. He recalls Ypsilanti neighborhoods and businesses, the Willow Run Bomber plant and air raids during World War II, and the opening of Washtenaw Community College. Mr. Morris attended the Navy and retired from the Ann Arbor District Library where he worked as the bookmobile driver/trainer for many years.
|Johnnie Rush was born in 1931 and was the only black person in his class at Ann Arbor High School. He recalls many fond memories of activities with the Second Baptist Church and his family, and he talks about the many challenges for African American businesses as Ann Arbor changed over the years. Mr. Rush is a licensed barber and has run his own barbershop for 55 years.
|Janice Thompson was born in 1939 and grew up in Ypsilanti. She reminisces about visits from her Detroit relatives to her home in the "country," some of the prejudice she faced during her school years, and pranks she played with friends in Ypsilanti neighborhoods. Ms. Thompson received a master's degree in social work, working for a time at the Veteran's Administration hospital and running programs for public housing children.
Phase Three highlights video
Shirley Beckley was born on July 30, 1942. She was raised by her mother on Wall St. and attended Jones School, Mack School, and Bach Schools in Ann Arbor. Shirley started as a housing manager for the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, later becoming housing director in Lansing and Muskegon. She reminisces about working at Jacobson’s, dances at the Dunbar Center, businesses on Fourth Avenue and Ann Streets, and tense racial incidents in the schools. Shirley continues to be deeply involved in social justice issues at the local level.
|Robert Fletcher was born on December 2, 1932. He worked for 15 years for the Veterans Administration, then Sears, eventually retiring from the City of Ann Arbor. Robert went into the service in 1950 and, after engaging in a police action in Korea, was captured and spent 33 months in a prison camp, an experience that deeply affected his personal life and work - eventually leading to his serving on an advisory board for former prisoners of war in Washington, D.C.
|James Anderson, Jr. was born on October 23, 1937 and lived on Miner Street where he attended Mack School. James built a career in real estate and recalls the few blocks in the Mack school area where African Americans could live at that time, and how housing has changed over the years, from segregation through today. He remembers the bond drives during WWII and some of the businesses in town. James also worked on behalf of the JCs to establish Washtenaw Community College and was a trustee for 19 years.
|Evelyn Payne was born on November 3, 1924, and although she was an only child, she went on to have 8 children, numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. Evelyn grew up in Tennessee where she remembers segregation and walking 10 miles to school. In 1945, at 20 years of age, she moved to Ann Arbor where she is proud to have raised all her children while working as a nursing assistant - for 25 years at St. Joseph Mercy and 16 years at the University of Michigan.
Phase Two highlights video
|Johnny W. Barfield was born February 8, 1927, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. As a child he sold soap house to house and, after tenth grade, joined the U.S. Army where he served in France and Germany. After leaving the Army in 1947, Mr. Barfield became a wall washer for the University of Michigan, where hard work, entrepreneurship, and innovation helped him build the largest cleaning business in Ann Arbor. Mr. Barfield is widely recognized for his philanthropic work and support of the African American and business communities.
|Tessie Freeman was born June 19, 1924 in Alabama and has lived in Washtenaw County since 1947. An avid lover of poetry and spectator sports, Ms. Freeman raised three children while doing domestic work and dressing hair to supplement her family’s income. Ms. Freeman is proud of her children and encouraged them to get an education, even going so far as to enroll at Wayne State University at the same time her youngest son. Ms. Freeman has always spoken for herself and she’s proud to share her story.
|Barbara Meadows was born October 1, 1933, in Albion, Michigan, and spent her childhood in Inkster, Michigan, before moving to Ann Arbor in her youth. She attended Talladega College in Alabama, followed by Smith College, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Ms. Meadows worked in the University of Michigan Neuropsychiatric Institute and worked for several years in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. She has been a leader or founder of several community-based organizations and served on numerous boards including the University Musical Society Board, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, Washtenaw Community College, and the Peace Neighborhood Center. She was appointed to Ann Arbor’s Human Relations Committee in the 1960s.
|Paul Wasson was born September 8, 1923, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. After leaving school in the tenth grade, Mr. Wasson joined the United States Army at the beginning of World War II. In 1943, Mr. Wasson left the Army and came to Detroit. Arriving on the heels of the Detroit Riots, he decided to head west to Ypsilanti. Mr. Wasson marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s; worked at the University of Michigan Hospital for seventeen years, and is most proud of his children. He encourages all young people to get an education.
|Dorothy Wilson was born November 28, 1911, in Mount Vernon, New York. She grew up in New York, where she also met her husband, living for several years in Brooklyn. She became a Licensed Practical Nurse and worked at the Brooklyn State Hospital. After her husband’s death she retired and moved, in 1972, to Ypsilanti to be near her family where she became active in volunteer work for Church Women United through Brown Chapel AME Church in Ypsilanti, the Beyer Hospital Auxiliary, and the Ypsilanti Historical Society.
Phase One highlights video
|Rosemarion Alexander Blake was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1923 to Jewel Alexander Price and Jacob Price. She was brought to Ann Arbor between two to four years of age by her great Aunt Hattie and Uncle Robert Alexander. Rosemarion attended Jones School Kindergarten through 9th grade and graduated from Ann Arbor High School in 1941. She held a number of jobs after graduating and in 1945 became the first African-American woman to work in city Hall in a non-custodial position. A number of years later, she worked in Publication Sales at the Institute for Social Research from 1970 until her retirement in 1987.
|Russell Calvert is the Owner/Operator of Calvert’s Roll-Off Container, Inc. Calvert’s Roll-Off Container, Inc. has been in business since the early 1950s. Burgess Calvert, Russell’s father, started the company with one truck; Russell joined the company in 1976 and has greatly expanded the business to include government and commercial services. As the Owner and Operator, Russell oversees the daily operations, development, and implementation of all programs and operations.
|Lydia B. (Cromwell) Morton was born in Ann Arbor in 1916. Her great-grandmother came to Ann Arbor with Judge Kenny’s family in 1867. Her grandmother Laura Bell Chester was born in Ann Arbor in 1874 and her mother was born in Ann Arbor in 1894. Mrs. Morton has one brother George Richard Cromwell. From her four children, she has 12 great grand children, 6 great, great, grand children; all but four were born in Ann Arbor. Seven generations have lived here in Ann Arbor.
|Dr. Willis Patterson is a professor emeritus of the University of Michigan of Music and founder of the Willis Patterson Our Own Thing Chorale. Born in Ann Arbor in 1930, he attended Jones School and graduated from Ann Arbor High School. After serving in the air force, Patterson earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s of music degree from the University of Michigan. He received his doctorate from Wayne State University and was a Fulbright Fellow. Patterson joined the University of Michigan School of Music in 1968.
|Johnnie Mae (Jackson) Seeley was raised in Sarepta, Louisiana and moved to Ann Arbor with her husband Howard M. Seeley in 1954. She joined the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor where she was later crowned a Deaconess, and soon she became known for her culinary skills and hospitality, which led to some of the community's largest gatherings, first at her farm on the outside of Ann Arbor and later on Beakes St. For years her garden provided food for Sunday communal meals and for the Human Service Project which donated food to homeless shelters.