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AACHM Oral History: Laurita Thomas

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 11:02am

Laurita Thomas

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.

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AACHM Oral History: Mary McDade, Alma Wheeler Smith, and Nancy Cornelia Wheeler

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 10:55am

Mary Wheeler McDadeMary 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.

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AACHM Oral History: Diana McKnight-Morton

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 10:50am

Diana McKnight-MortonDiana 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.

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AACHM Oral History: Don Simons

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 1:08pm

Don Simons

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.

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AACHM Oral History: Harold Simons

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 9:25am

Harold Simons

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.

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Legacies Project Oral History: David Yamamoto

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 9:53am

David Yamamoto was born in 1938 in San Jose, California. He grew up in a predominantly Japanese American community. When he was four, his family was forced to move to an internment camp, Heart Mountain Relocation Center, in Wyoming. The discrimination his family faced during and after World War II shaped his life profoundly. Yamamoto graduated from San Jose State University and got his PhD in special education from Stanford. He received a Rockefeller Fellowship to support his career in educational administration. He has spoken out against civil rights violations throughout his adult life.

David Yamamoto was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2016 as part of the Legacies Project.