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Legacies Project Oral History: Mary Martin

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 9:11am

Mary Dyson Martin was born in 1914 in Dallas, Texas. Her grandmother had been enslaved in Tennessee, and she grew up conscious of that legacy. Martin graduated from Fisk University and got her masters in library science at the University of Illinois. She taught swimming lessons for the YWCA Girl Reserves during the summers. She was a high school librarian in Gary, Indiana and Detroit, Michigan for over thirty years. Her husband was a doctor and a World War II veteran. They were married for 47 years and had two children.

Mary Martin was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2010 as part of the Legacies Project.

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Legacies Project Oral History: Jacqueline Heubel

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 10:10am

Jacqueline Heubel was born in 1930 in Fond du Lac Wisconsin in the midst of the Great Depression. When her father regained his job on the railroad, her family moved to Eagle Grove, Iowa. She attended Iowa State Teacher's College and the University of Minnesota School of Dental Hygiene. After a few years working as a dental hygienist, she returned to teaching. Huebel taught in the Pontiac School District during the Civil Rights Era, and recalls the effects of integration on teachers and students.

Jacqueline Heubel was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2008 as part of the Legacies Project.

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Legacies Project Oral History: David Griffis

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 9:50am

David Griffis has lived in Detroit for his entire life except for two years of service in the military, when he went to Korea. He worked as a Personnel Technician for the Michigan Employment Security Commission and for Chrysler’s personnel department. He received a degree in business administration from Wayne State University, and went on to run two nursing home facilities in Detroit for over fifteen years. He has two daughters, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

David Griffis was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2010 as part of the Legacies Project.

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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.

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AACHM Oral History: Gerald Edwards

Sun, 07/21/2019 - 3:32pm

Gerald Edwards was born in 1950 in Cleveland, Ohio. He remembers being discriminated against as one of three African American students at his elementary school in the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education. At Heidelberg College, he participated in sit-ins to help found a Black Student Union House. After beginning his career in automotive manufacturing with Ford Motor Company, Mr. Edwards started his own business, Engineered Plastic Products, in 1987. He and his wife Jada also started the Edwards Foundation, which was dedicated to philanthropy in Namibia.

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AACHM Oral History: Hortense Howard

Sun, 07/21/2019 - 3:30pm

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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AACHM Oral History: Henrietta Edwards

Sun, 07/21/2019 - 3:27pm

Henrietta Edwards was born in 1919 and grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma before moving to Ann Arbor in 1941. She and her husband worked at the Willow Run Bomber Plant during World War II, and owned two filling stations—one downtown at N Fourth Avenue and E Ann Street, and one on Highway 23. She celebrated her hundredth birthday with family, friends, and former coworkers and patients from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, where she worked as a pediatric nurse for 32 years.

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AACHM Oral History: Premail Freeman

Mon, 07/23/2018 - 3:45pm

Premail Freeman was born in 1947 in Mississippi and later moved to Ypsilanti. He reminisces about his childhood in Ypsilanti and some of the jobs he had growing up. Inspired by friends who ran a successful hair salon, Premail studied cosmetology and eventually opened his own salon where he continues to work to this day. His wife helped him run the business in the early days and together they raised a family of three. 

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AACHM Oral History: Johnnie Rush

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 3:03pm

Please take a moment to take our Living Oral History Survey and let us know what you learned.

Johnnie Rush was born in 1931 and was the only black person in his class at Ann Arbor High School. He recalls many fond memories of activities with the Second Baptist Church and his family, and he talks about the many challenges for African American businesses as Ann Arbor changed over the years. Mr. Rush is a licensed barber and has run his own barbershop for 55 years.