Grayce Evelyn Blake was born on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1930 in Detroit, Michigan to Rev. David A. Blake Sr. and Grace Rogers Blake. She attended Jones School and Ann Arbor High School, where her 1948 senior yearbook noted her nickname as simply "Blake". Grayce Blake was an active member of the Bethel AME Church choir, following in the footsteps of her mother, as well as several high school singing groups. Following graduation, she left for Washington D.C. and became a student at Howard University.
Alma Wheeler Smith was born in 1941. She recalls attending Civil Rights meetings in Ann Arbor with her parents. Her father Albert H. Wheeler was the first African American mayor of Ann Arbor (1975-78). Smith worked for nearly a decade as a TV producer before becoming a politician. Smith (D) served in the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the Michigan delegation from 2005-2010 representing the 54th District. Prior to her tenure in the U.S. House, Smith served in the Michigan Senate representing the 18th District from 1995-2002.
Alma Wheeler Smith was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2018 as part of the Legacies Project.