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.
Tue, 12/10/2019 - 11:01am
Alma Wheeler Smith was born in 1941. She recalls attending Civil Rights meetings in Ann Arbor with her parents. Her father Albert H. Wheeler was the first African American mayor of Ann Arbor (1975-78). Smith worked for nearly a decade as a TV producer before becoming a politician. Smith (D) served in the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the Michigan delegation from 2005-2010 representing the 54th District. Prior to her tenure in the U.S. House, Smith served in the Michigan Senate representing the 18th District from 1995-2002.
Alma Wheeler Smith was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2018 as part of the Legacies Project.
Tue, 12/10/2019 - 11:00am
Ruth Zweifler was born 1929 in Palisades, New Jersey. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College, and converted from Judaism to Quakerism. Since the 1960s, she has been active in Civil Rights, anti-war, and anti-Zionist protests, including a sit-in at Ann Arbor City Hall protesting residential segregation. In 1975, Zweifler co-founded the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan, and she was Executive Director for nearly 30 years.
Ruth Zweifler was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2018 as part of the Legacies Project.
Tue, 12/10/2019 - 11:00am
Web Kirksey was born in 1933 in Saginaw, Michigan. His father worked at a Chevrolet factory and his mother ran a beauty shop in their home. He was a star basketball player in high school and was recruited to play for Eastern Michigan University. Kirksey got a master’s degree in special education and taught for the majority of his career at W.J. Maxey Boys’ Training School in Whitmore Lake. In 1978 he was inducted into Eastern Michigan University Athletic Hall of Fame.
Web Kirksey was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2018 as part of the Legacies Project.
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.
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.