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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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Jones School

Jones School was an anchor of Ann Arbor’s historically Black neighborhood (what is now Kerrytown) from the early twentieth century until 1965. Many living Ann Arbor residents remember attending Jones School during the Civil Rights Era. In 1964 the Ann Arbor Board of Education acknowledged that, with over 75% Black students, Jones was a “de facto” segregated school. Jones School closed in 1965, and several years later the building reopened as Community High School.

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AACHM Oral History: Walter Blackwell

Sun, 07/21/2019 - 3:33pm

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.

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AACHM Oral History: Audrey Monagan

Sun, 07/21/2019 - 3:33pm

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.