As part of Ann Arbor 200, the Ann Arbor District Library and 7 Cylinders Studio (7CS) have produced a documentary film about the closing of Ann Arbor's Jones School. In 1965, the Board of Education closed the majority-Black school. Ann Arbor joined a nationwide trend of school desegregation during the Civil Rights Era. But for these young students, the loss of a neighborhood school foreshadowed changes to their close-knit community. Gentrification came to Ann Arbor on the heels of desegregation.
In the making of this film, 7CS filmmakers and AADL archivists interviewed over thirty former Jones students and Black community leaders. They shared memories of Jones School and "The Old Neighborhood"—the areas now known as Kerrytown and Water Hill. A filmed walking tour, studio interviews, and historical photos form the core of the film. Run time is approximately 40 minutes.
The AADL Archives has many additional materials to explore relating to these topics, including a history of Jones School and dozens of Ann Arbor News articles that appear in the film:
Ann Arbor News, May 17, 1970
The Neighborhood: This map shows the Model Cities Neighborhood with an estimated population in the 4,000 to 4,500 range. Millions of dollars could be poured into the area during the next few years to upgrade it physically and to help residents economically through employment projects. The program is expected to last about five years. A controversy now rages over the Packard-to-Beakes bypass route, with Model Cities representatives objecting to the northern end which would turn Kingsley and Beakes into major thoroughfares and divide the Model Neighborhood. An alternative suggested by Model Cities would be to follow the route of the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks to connect with Main St. near Depot.
Ann Arbor News, February 1, 1972
Packard-Beakes Route: This map focuses on the center of the controversial Packard-Beakes bypass, which was approved by City Council last night. It shows the northerly connection with Beakes and Kingsley as one-way pairs, Beakes handling inbound traffic and Kingsley the outbound motorists. Beakes and Kingsley would connect with Ashley and First (at left) which would then connect with Packard south of the Man St. business district. Arrows on the map indicate the traffic pattern which will result when--and if--the bypass is completed. The dotted-in diagram in the upper half of the map is the proposed alternative bypass route proposed by the Model Cities Policy Board, a routing termed too expensive by city officials. The route which was approved was first proposed six years ago. (Story on Page 1)
Lola Jones and Carol Gibson are well-known to anyone familiar with Ann Arbor history. Over the past 30 years they have sought out and documented the history of the African American experience in Ann Arbor through a series of projects under the moniker Another Ann Arbor; it is largely through their work that the Ann Arbor African American story is a part of our shared community identity. Lola and Carol stopped by the library to talk with us one day about the work they have done over the years and where they are headed next. They shared with us some of the interesting people and events they have learned about and brought to the community in their television program, their documentaries, and their book. You can now watch one of their documentaries online at aadl.org in our video collection. A Woman's Town was produced in 1991 and tells the story of Ann Arbor through the voices of prominent African American women.