Alice Brennan-Key was born in Ann Arbor in 1953. Her parents met in Florida after her father immigrated from the Bahamas, and they moved to Ann Arbor in the 1940s. Brennan-Key grew up on Gott Street, next door to her current residence. She has seen the neighborhood change over the years due to gentrification. She went to Michigan State University as an undergraduate and received her master’s in social work from the University of Michigan. She spent most of her career working with developmentally disabled and mentally ill residents of Washtenaw County. She raised her daughter Khyla in Ann Arbor.
Thekla Mitchell: Thekla White was born in 1921 in Newport, Arkansas, the youngest of nine siblings. At age 22, she traveled to Ann Arbor to visit her sister. After getting a job at Cunningham’s Drug Store, she decided to stay. She worked at the University of Michigan Hospital as a nurses’ aid and laboratory assistant in the Pathology Department for 24 years. Known as “Dimples” to friends and family, Mrs. Mitchell was active in community organizations including the Ann Arbor Civic Club and the Order of the Eastern Stars.
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.
The Dunbar Center--also known at various times at the Dunbar Civic Center and the Dunbar Community Center--was a social and social services organization for Ann Arbor's Black community in the mid-twentieth century. It was the direct precursor to the Ann Arbor Community Center. Along with the Bethel AME Church and the Second Baptist Church, the Dunbar Center was a major hub of social life for the Black community during this period.
Ann Hawkins, Walter Hill & Robert Potts In Front Of The New North Side Branch Of The Community Center, April 30, 1979 Photographer: Jack Stubbs
Walter Hill With Ann Arbor Community Center Staff At Their North Side Branch, April 30, 1979 Photographer: Jack Stubbs
Ann Arbor News, April 30, 1979
Walter Hill, left, Robert Potts and Ann Hawkins in center's north side branch.