Victoria Suane Milton was born in 1933 and grew up in River Rouge, Michigan. Her mother was of French creole background from New Orleans. In 1938 her father, Samuel B. Milton, founded one of Michigan’s first Black-owned hospitals, Sidney A. Sumby Memorial Hospital. He was also the first Black Wayne County coroner. After getting her BA in social work from the University of Michigan in the 1950s, Victoria returned to work at Sumby Memorial Hospital in purchasing and housekeeping. She and her husband John Loomis had six children, including a set of triplets. She passed away in 2021.
Victoria Loomis was interviewed in partnership with the Museum of African American History of Detroit and Y Arts Detroit in 2009-2010 as part of the Legacies Project.
Katherine Dawkins was born in 1932 in the Black Bottom neighborhood in Detroit. She had two children as a teenager, and recalls how that impacted her relationships with friends and family. She married her second husband, James Dawkins, in 1963. She has held various jobs, including switchboard operator at the Gotham Hotel and customer service representative at Harper Recreation Bowling Alley and Henry Ford Hospital. Late in life, Dawkins was inspired to return to school and she received her GED at age 79.
Katherine Dawkins was interviewed in partnership with the Museum of African American History of Detroit and Y Arts Detroit in 2010 as part of the Legacies Project.
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.
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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.