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AACHM Living Oral History Project Walking Tour

Presented in Partnership between the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County and the Ann Arbor District Library

New Homes in Ypsilanti's South Side, August 1953

New Homes in Ypsilanti's South Side, August 1953 image
Published In
Ann Arbor News, August 22, 1953
Caption
OASIS IN A DESERT: In the heart of Ypsilanti's south side slum area are new homes such as this on Jefferson Ave. Private capital and contractors are responsible for these improvements.

Substandard Housing in Ypsilanti's South Side, August 1953

Substandard Housing in Ypsilanti's South Side, August 1953 image
Published In
Ann Arbor News, August 22, 1953
Caption
BLIGHT OF A COUNTY: Slum dwellings such as this on Ypsilanti's south side are havens for disease and potential fire. The area is pocked with burned out ruins of houses of this type.

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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Legacies Project Oral History: Eunice Burns

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 10:02am

Eunice L. Burns was born in 1923 and grew up on a farm in Caledonia, Minnesota. She attended La Crosse State Teachers College and became a physical education teacher. She and her husband Carl Burns had four children, and the family enjoyed camping and other outdoor activities. They were married for fifteen years before his tragic death in a sailing accident. Burns (D) represented the First Ward on the Ann Arbor City Council for six years (1962-68). She championed the Fair Housing Ordinance and the establishment of the Huron River Watershed Council. She passed away on October 20, 2016.

Eunice Burns 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: Alma Wheeler Smith

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.

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Legacies Project Oral History: Ruth Zweifler

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.

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Legacies Project Oral History: Webster Kirksey

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.

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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.