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Ann Arbor 200

There Went The Neighborhood: The Closing of Jones School

As part of Ann Arbor 200, the Ann Arbor District Library and 7 Cylinders Studio (7CS) have produced a documentary film about the closing of Ann Arbor's Jones School. In 1965, the Board of Education closed the majority-Black school. Ann Arbor joined a nationwide trend of school desegregation during the Civil Rights Era. But for these young students, the loss of a neighborhood school foreshadowed changes to their close-knit community. Gentrification came to Ann Arbor on the heels of desegregation.

In the making of this film, 7CS filmmakers and AADL archivists interviewed over thirty former Jones students and Black community leaders. They shared memories of Jones School and "The Old Neighborhood"—the areas now known as Kerrytown and Water Hill. A filmed walking tour, studio interviews, and historical photos form the core of the film. Run time is approximately 40 minutes.

The AADL Archives has many additional materials to explore relating to these topics, including a history of Jones School and dozens of Ann Arbor News articles that appear in the film:

7:20 - Shoe Repair Shop's Proprietor Dies - Ann Arbor News, October 1, 1970

15:38 - All The Tables From Citizens' School Report - Ann Arbor News, June 22, 1964

17:04 - About 300 Persons Turn Out For Rights Rally And March Here - Ann Arbor News, August 27, 1963

17:16 - Citizens Named To Study School's Racial Makeup - Ann Arbor News, September 5, 1963

18:27 - Parents Urge Closing Jones - Ann Arbor News, July 16, 1964

18:29 - Partial Jones School Closing Urged - Ann Arbor News, June 11, 1964

18:32 - Board OK's Ending Classes At Jones - Ann Arbor News, August 27, 1964

18:34 - Reassigning of Jones Pupils OK'd - Ann Arbor News, March 11, 1965

18:36 - Jones Pupils Going To Seven Schools - Ann Arbor News, February 25, 1965 

19:40 - Students Respond To Discrimination Charges - Ann Arbor News, February 27, 1967

24:38 - Negro Youths Charge Discrimination At AAHS - Ann Arbor News, February 20, 1967

24:43 - Black Student Union Speaks - Ann Arbor News, November 16, 1969

24:46 - School Board's Wrangle Heated - Ann Arbor News, October 10, 1968

24:54 - Working Together: Parents Of Black Children Vow To Fight Discrimination In Schools - Ann Arbor News, June 21, 1985

25:49 - More Negro Teachers Urged - Ann Arbor News, July 29, 1965

25:54 - ​​Negro Demands Bring Change At Ann Arbor High - Ann Arbor News, September 8, 1968

26:20 - Incidents Shut Ann Arbor High School - Ann Arbor News, May 29, 1968 

27:11 - Teachers Told Many Believe Revolution Possible - Ann Arbor News, May 11, 1968

27:14 - Attendance Declines After School Unrest - Ann Arbor News, March 23, 1973

27:20 - Westerman Promises Law, Order At AAHS - Ann Arbor News, May 30, 1968

28:14 - Let's Take A Look At Urban Renewal - Ann Arbor News, July 3, 1958 

28:45 & 33:25 - City's Black Neighborhoods Disappearing - Ann Arbor News, October 20, 1986

29:37 - Packard-Beakes Bypass Delay Cut Back To Jan. 15 - Ann Arbor News, November 5, 1969

Bypass Alternate Attracts Support - Ann Arbor News, January 9, 1970

Bypass Alternative Study Rapped By City Planners - Ann Arbor News, April 29, 1970

Some Officials Skip Meeting: Bypass Fight Flares Again - Ann Arbor News, May 15, 1970

Packard-Beakes Proposal Opposed by City Planners - Ann Arbor News, May 27, 1970

29:53 - Four Housing Areas Named By Tenants - Ann Arbor News, July 10, 1971

31:31 - NAACP Blasts Realtors On Housing - Ann Arbor News, June 24, 1963

Democrats Back Pittsfield Picketing, Urge Fair Housing Ordinance For City - Ann Arbor News, January 31, 1962

About 150 March Four Miles To Protest "Token" Housing Law - Ann Arbor News, August 6, 1963

31:34 - Pickets Supporting Housing Ordinance Tell Why They March - Ann Arbor News, July 16, 1963

34:36 - Junk Area Cleanup Asked -  Ann Arbor News, July 23, 1969 

34:58 - New Day: Park Renaming Vindicates Ex-Mayor's Struggle - Ann Arbor News, January 22, 1987


  • [00:00:07] ROGER BROWN: When they split that neighborhood up, when they shut Jones School down, it wasn't all peaches and cream.
  • [00:00:12] ALMA WHEELER SMITH: There was a deep impetus throughout the community for that kind of change, for equity.
  • [00:00:19] DEBBY (MITCHELL) COVINGTON: It was the first time that I really had the full experience of being othered.
  • [00:00:26] THERESA (DIXON) CAMPBELL: Let it be known what's really going on there and what really happened.
  • [00:00:30] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: There are ways that we can make it better and I don't understand why we don't. [MUSIC]
  • [00:00:47] ROGER BROWN: If you were Black and came to Ann Arbor, it's like Ford with the Model T. You can have it in any color you want as long as it's black. You can live anywhere you want to, long as it's in that neighborhood.
  • [00:00:58] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: It was definitely Black at that time. There was one next-door neighbor that I was just thinking about this morning, a Caucasian lady that was widowed, or maybe she was just single all her life and she lived right next door to us and she was the only Caucasian that I ever remembered living in our neighborhood back then. [MUSIC]
  • [00:01:29] AUDREY LUCAS: We knew the places that we could go and feel comfortable, but we knew that at certain places you were not going to stop to get a hot dog or a Coke. There were some places that were happy to see you and always waited on you and then there were other places that you knew you just did not go into.
  • [00:01:51] ALMA WHEELER SMITH: Blacks were seated in restaurants near the kitchen, or near the restrooms. We would go to Jacobson's to buy clothes. You couldn't try on hats, they were reluctant to let you try on shoes.
  • [00:02:07] JENNIFER (MITCHELL) HAMPTON: I speak to some people that say Ann Arbor wasn't really bad. Yeah, well, you didn't hear the things I heard. Because being a little white kid, I heard things that maybe people wouldn't say in front of the Black kids. Some parents would say, "Don't associate." But I was blessed that my family wasn't like that.
  • [00:02:33] CURTIS DAVIS: We knew that after six o'clock all the white, or suburban people were going to leave. As soon as the street lights came on, they were all gone. They'd come down and conduct their business on a daily basis and when it was time to go home, they left the neighborhood.
  • [00:02:55] ROGER BROWN: The most memorable thing is living a block away from the park. But along with that came the slaughterhouse and the junk yards. The coal yard up the street at the railroad tracks. We had your usual stuff--a swing set, the ballpark was so small because, left field, that's where the pig slaughterhouse was.
  • [00:03:17] OMER JEAN (DIXON) WINBORN: I remember going down there once and swinging on the swing, and then coming down on the swing and seeing a pig come towards me from the slaughterhouse and the Peter's Sausage men was chasing it.
  • [00:03:30] ROGER BROWN: Pigs get loose. You had to climb a tree, or a car, or something and then wait till the all-clear sounds.
  • [00:03:38] OMER JEAN (DIXON) WINBORN: But the smell. All of Fourth Ave smelled like two-week-old chitlins.
  • [00:03:46] ROGER BROWN: Then right across the street you had the junkyard and you had that magnetic crane, they kept picking stuff up, dumping it in the truck. And all of this was going on while we were at the park playing.
  • [00:03:57] AUDREY LUCAS: We just figured this was a Black neighborhood, that's where they put those things and you just accepted it. That's just the way we lived.
  • [00:04:08] ROGER BROWN: Behind that patch of trees was a city-owned yard.
  • [00:04:12] OMER JEAN (DIXON) WINBORN: That's right, yeah [OVERLAPPING].
  • [00:04:13] ROGER BROWN: Where they had a lot of stuff going on, that's even pretty much a polluted area, right behind the Community Center. This whole area was just absolutely not cool to raise or live in, but this is where we had to live.
  • [00:04:34] ALMA WHEELER SMITH: Redlining was a federal design. And the maps were very real. You could look at the neighborhoods and see where the red lines were drawn. Those maps were not made available to the general public. The realtors were very careful to make sure that the general community didn't know what they were doing.
  • [00:05:02] ROGER BROWN: But it was racism that created that area. We move into the area and become a community and we know everybody. We survive. We're all tight.
  • [00:05:16] THERESA (DIXON) CAMPBELL: After school, we'd play outside and ride bikes and it was a really great community. It really was.
  • [00:05:24] CURTIS DAVIS: The neighborhood was bustling. It was pretty tight-knit. There was always that overriding feeling of safety because you knew everyone and everyone knew you. In fact, if anything was not savvy, I knew Mom would hear about it somehow. [LAUGHTER]
  • [00:05:52] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: If you did something wrong, somebody was going to correct you and then you'd get it more than once.
  • [00:05:58] OMER JEAN (DIXON) WINBORN: Well, I can remember going to the store and getting smart with Mr. Diroff and by the time I got home, "You're in that store talking smart to Mr. Diroff?" "Mom, how'd you know?" Everybody knew. That's how it went.
  • [00:06:11] ROGER BROWN: They wouldn't tell you who their source was. I said, "Well, how did you know?" "I ain't telling you."
  • [00:06:16] CURTIS DAVIS: It was a pretty enjoyable place to grow up as a Black child. The whole Kerrytown piece didn't even exist.
  • [00:06:28] RUSSELL CALVERT: No, Kerrytown, that's a new kid on the block. No, this is the Old Neighborhood. That was late, late '60s or early in the '70s is when Kerrytown first started forming. That used to be the Farm Bureau. Washtenaw Farm Bureau, right next door to the Farmers' Market. Where Kerrytown is now, that's the old Godfrey Moving and Storage building.
  • [00:06:53] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: Then there was also Diroff's Market, which is right now where Zingerman's is and we used to do shopping there, so we could go in there and buy penny candy, and my parents bought certain items there. That was our store.
  • [00:07:06] RUSSELL CALVERT: There was a Kroger on the corner of Ann and Main. Coming east, there was the billiards parlor and then the Derby Bar, there was Mr. Easley's barber shop. Mr. McKinney had a shoe parlor, a shoe shop. There was another barber shop and then a harness shop, then a gas station on the corner of Fourth and Ann.
  • [00:07:27] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: Ann Street was the old, I guess you could say, meeting spot for the African American community going way, way back.
  • [00:07:34] OMER JEAN (DIXON) WINBORN: This area right here was our business district and all of our barber shops and beauty shops.
  • [00:07:40] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: Then right on Ann Street, around the corner, my great grand uncle Henry Wade Robbins operated a very lucrative barber shop. And this is a picture of him in the shop with two of his barbers. They say that he was very successful because he did not discriminate his clientele. They were whites, Blacks and any other nationality.
  • [00:08:02] CURTIS DAVIS: There were a lot of Black organizations that I was able to be involved with. The Black Panther Party provided breakfast and meals if in fact you needed it.
  • [00:08:17] SHIRLEY BECKLEY: Even though I went to Jones School, on the weekends we would play softball there in the yard and across the street at the old Farmers' Market we would roller skate.
  • [00:08:27] DEBBY (MITCHELL) COVINGTON: Then in the winter, we could not wait for them to ice over the park and then we played hockey and skated all winter long and we'd stay until our fingers were frozen and our toes were frozen.
  • [00:08:44] SHIRLEY BECKLEY: Now the Dunbar Center was named the Dunbar, after Paul Dunbar who was a Black poet. When we would go there, we would first do our homework and get tutored if we needed tutoring and then we would have our recreation. And we'd have dances on Friday nights.
  • [00:09:04] RUSSELL CALVERT: We were very active in community stuff at the Dunbar Center when we'd have potlucks and did Cup Scouting and Scouts. It didn't change to the Community Center until roughly when I went to the Navy, which was 1960 is when they built the center over on Main Street. But the Dunbar Center was where I grew up.
  • [00:09:25] DEBBY (MITCHELL) COVINGTON: The Ann Arbor Community Center was the hub of the Black community at that time. When we went to school, after-school programs sewing and cooking, and we learned how to play pool, and there were art classes. But I remember my childhood in the community being a lot of laughter, a lot of fun, and a lot of kids at our house all the time.
  • [00:09:53] SHIRLEY BECKLEY: We had church in our community that surrounded us and had activities for us. I grew up going to Bethel AME Church, and then some of the other kids went to Second Baptist. But back in those days, our churches, even though one was Second Baptist and one was Bethel AME, we did things together. There wasn't a division in the church like there is now.
  • [00:10:20] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: [OVERLAPPING] This is old Second Baptist Church.
  • [00:10:23] OMER JEAN (DIXON) WINBORN: Reverend Carpenter was my minister. Reverend Carpenter used to talk all the time about Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. He used to be a student of Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. All that greatness that I was around. Now as an adult, I appreciate that because he did so much for our community.
  • [00:10:46] AUDREY LUCAS: When I moved over to Fifth Avenue and Kingsley, that's when I started going to Jones School, and I was in the third grade. Of course, Jones School went right from elementary school into junior high school. All we did was change the side of the building that we went to. [MUSIC]
  • [00:11:15] RUSSELL CALVERT: I went to school at five years old, so say '46 through '53, in that time frame, we went to school, we had integrated classes.
  • [00:11:27] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: As far as my classroom makeup, I remember it being diverse. Even my mother would tell you that even though they lived in that neighborhood, they had a diverse group of friends. She always told me she had friends that were Jewish and friends that were Greek and Italian. Because Ann Arbor has always been a melting pot.
  • [00:11:45] OMER JEAN (DIXON) WINBORN: Education was the very first thing. My mom was very involved in our school because even though she wasn't educated, she would come up there and I would be afraid to act up in school because she'd walk those halls. And then she was on the PTO, anything to do with the school, she was right there. The teachers--kind of forgettable, not anyone that made any kind of impression on me. All of my teachers were white in Jones School. All of my teachers throughout my whole school life were white. I never had an African American teacher until I got to college.
  • [00:12:27] THERESA (DIXON) CAMPBELL: Back then, you didn't give it a second thought. I would have been, if I had a Black teacher back then, I would have been amazed.
  • [00:12:36] AUDREY LUCAS: There is a verse to "Old Man River" that uses N word in there. The teacher just started singing the prelude to "Old Man River." She used the word and we didn't sing. It was like, you expect us to say that, to sing that? When I think back on it though, I think the woman was just naive and thought that was the way the song was written, so that's what she was teaching. Of course, Mr. Maybee he came and talked to us about the situation and apologized and we never sang it again.
  • [00:13:26] RUSSELL CALVERT: Mr. Pitts, he was a role model who worked at Jones School in the custodial engineering part of Jones School. He was like your dad but wasn't your dad. If he'd catch you doing something boy don't you didn't want him to call your dad because normally he would get you right then. But then he would call your mom and dad and tell them what happened. He did not shy away and he had a lot of respect. I mean, very respected man.
  • [00:13:55] AUDREY LUCAS: Gilbert Pitts? Yes, he was a custodian there. You could tell him anything that you wanted to, if you had problems, he was going to look out for you. He was just a wonderful guy.
  • [00:14:14] RUSSELL CALVERT: We never had any Black teachers until Mr. Harry Mial was hired into the school system and he was the first African American teacher in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
  • [00:14:27] JOETTA MIAL: Harry made a great impact on Jones School. He had applied for the psychology job because he had gotten his master's in psychology from the University of Michigan. Someone else got that and they decided that they needed a Black teacher at Jones School, and that's why he got the job.
  • [00:15:03] DEBBY (MITCHELL) COVINGTON: I think of Jones and I remember I never felt ostracized. I never felt belittled. I felt like I was as strong a student as any other student, and I had a pretty decent sense of myself.
  • [00:15:21] AUDREY LUCAS: All of my time was very pleasant at Jones School, I would have to say. There was nothing, I never ran into anybody who discriminated against me or was racially unkind. Because for one thing, the school was primarily African American because of the way the neighborhood was set and the fact that our redlining had us all pretty much in a certain area.
  • [00:15:52] ALMA WHEELER SMITH: It was so visible in the South. I mean, the schools were segregated. In the North, we fell on this neighborhood school concept to define who would go to school where, and then made sure that the neighborhoods were segregated because of redlining. You had that, I call it an insidious segregation instead of a blatant one.
  • [00:16:30] DOROTHY SLAY: Central Ann Arbor was considered like, that was inner city for Ann Arbor. Naturally the school didn't get the support and the quality educators to give these kids more, better, and at least equal education as the other school systems.
  • [00:17:03] AUDREY LUCAS: The world was changing and the view of how the school looked was also changing. The balance of integration, they wanted to be sure that that was happening in Ann Arbor because we didn't want to be looked at as a place that discriminated and had a school that was just full of African Americans.
  • [00:17:40] ALMA WHEELER SMITH: That research was driven by people who cared about other people being treated as human beings and having equal opportunities. Kids are not reading at grade level, they are not getting textbooks. The dollars being spent at Jones are not equal to the dollars being spent at the whiter elementary schools in Ann Arbor. They could study the pattern and it was a little hard for the school board to say, well, that's not what's happening here. It was data-driven change.
  • [00:18:27] JOETTA MIAL: I remember there was a lot of discussion in the Black community, thinking that kids were leaving a nurturing situation where they were. A lot of people thought it was not good that kids were not just going to do better because they were sitting next to white kids.
  • [00:18:45] DEBBY (MITCHELL) COVINGTON: When they closed Jones School and bused us out to separate schools, that sense of community, it was more fragmented. The worst part of it is that our friends all went to different schools. After school you play with the kids that go to school with you, you have a common day when you're in school with folks. You could talk about who did what, when, where. We were just devastated that we weren't going back to our school, and we didn't understand why we had to get on a bus and go across town to another school.
  • [00:19:25] SHIRLEY BECKLEY: No one talked to the teachers to prepare them. No one talked to the kids, I'm talking about the white kids, to prepare them. There was just this mess and this clash, and teachers didn't know how to deal with the Black kids. The Black kids and the white kids were fighting and not getting along. I kept saying, "But you're not making a clean transition, you're not talking. You can't just drop them off and think it's going to work." But that's what they did.
  • [00:20:02] DEBBY (MITCHELL) COVINGTON: The first day was so traumatic. The school was new. We went into a neighborhood--we could literally see the neighborhoods change as we traveled across Ann Arbor. Then we got to the school and it was all brand new. We were like, "Wow, we're a long way from home." We saw white parents grabbing their kids and pulling them out of school. It was terrifying, and the kids were like, "The niggers are coming, the niggers are coming." And we were scared. We were like, "Where are they?" Because in our house, that was a curse word. That was something that we could never ever, ever say. It was really scary to hear that. It was the first time that I really had the full experience of being othered.
  • [00:21:02] OMER JEAN (DIXON) WINBORN: Just think about how you would feel. Most African Americans, that's how they are. Especially if you grew up in Ann Arbor, you're always one only in some place with people that don't look like you, and you have to learn how to adapt. I'm in the back of the class, people are ignoring me. I'm raising my hand, nobody's paying me attention.
  • [00:21:22] THERESA (DIXON) CAMPBELL: It was like a shock treatment to me, I wasn't prepared for middle school at all. One of the counselors said to me, "Well, when you go to high school, we'll just put you in general, you don't want to go to college."
  • [00:21:35] CURTIS DAVIS: One of the defining moments was my high school counselor telling me, "Don't worry about taking the SATs or the ACTs because I don't think you're college material."
  • [00:21:47] RUSSELL CALVERT: They were always trying to push you to the general curriculum instead of college prep or university prep. Being a kid, you don't know what's out there after high school. They did.
  • [00:21:58] CURTIS DAVIS: For me, that was a microcosm of the vibe that I got throughout my childhood being a Black child in Ann Arbor. I didn't let that define me.
  • [00:22:19] DEBBY (MITCHELL) COVINGTON: I experienced a lot of fear. I was afraid a lot in that environment. I think I spent most of my elementary days at Dicken feeling invisible. That is a feeling that impacted my identity and my self worth for many, many years.
  • [00:22:45] DOROTHY SLAY: A lot of these kids, because of the situation they had grew up, starting with Jones School on up, they didn't believe in themselves, they didn't love themselves. Many kids died on Ann Street in Ann Arbor, which is only a few blocks from Jones School. They were left to drift and a lot of them drifted into some horrible situations. Losing their lives and dying because they didn't have no faith, they didn't believe in themselves. No such thing as a child can't learn.
  • [00:23:43] JENNIFER (MITCHELL) HAMPTON: When Jones School closed, it was sad because there went that school that we all had this attachment to. There was an emotional attachment to it because we were all part of each other and the community, and now it's gone.
  • [00:24:03] ROGER BROWN: There should have been a lot of apologies. There should have been even a community input where we bring the mothers in, "How would you do this?" There was none of that.
  • [00:24:15] DEBBY (MITCHELL) COVINGTON: It should have been a mix, so that there were white kids going into the Black community and Black kids going into the white community. That kind of an experiment could have had much more positive outcomes.
  • [00:24:31] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: Then when we got to high school, that's when it became an issue, because that's when we're getting to around the Black Power movement then in the early '70s, where we developed a Black Student Union and we had walkouts and protests and things like that. It called attention to it that we were different.
  • [00:24:54] SHIRLEY BECKLEY: As someone that sat on the audit equity committee for the schools, we had statistics that 400-and-something Black kids in the secondary level schools were suspended to 17 whites. I was like, "But they're all teenagers. Teenagers do stuff, so how come there's 400 Black kids kicked out and only 17?" I said, "We need to even this playing field."
  • [00:25:29] THERESA (DIXON) CAMPBELL: At Huron High, there was a big shutdown and stuff because the Black students weren't treated fair and there were no Black cheerleaders. Almost half the team on the basketball team was Black. Just the way the teachers and the counselors were handling stuff, they start bringing Black teachers in there. It was a rough time then. But I became a cheerleader after they announced that we're going to have some cheerleaders on here that represent everybody. I just made the best of what we had and just went for it.
  • [00:26:24] SHIRLEY BECKLEY: When I was working for the schools, we had a race riot at Pioneer. The white students were chanting that N-blood was going to run through the halls. The Black kids were like, "Well, we're not going to stay in here, we'll fight." I had to get out of the way. They came out and they were starting to fight. I went over to a police officer and I said, "Aren't you going to--? They got guns." No one did anything, except arrest me and seven other Black kids and take us down to the police department. Now, we went to court, but they dismissed it. But those are the things that I have lived and seen and been involved in. We still have this friction.
  • [00:27:25] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: There was a surge of Blacks moving to the Northside [OVERLAPPING] back in the '60s, which is where my family moved to, Pear Street. We had what we called the Fruit Loop, it was Pear, Peach, Apple, Plum, and it was off of Pontiac Trail. That became another Black neighborhood, so to speak. Now that's been broken up too. It's a game they played, they called them Blockbusters. They were sent out to bust up the blocks. That was their job.
  • [00:27:56] ROGER BROWN: You see the same thing with Black Bottom in Detroit.
  • [00:27:59] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: Yes. My father grew up there.
  • [00:28:01] ROGER BROWN: They shut that down, shot a highway through there. It's happened all over the country.
  • [00:28:07] RUSSELL CALVERT: When they started talking urban renewal, was in the '50s. It was just the whole thing of rich white people wanted to buy everybody out the old neighborhood. And it has come full circle. It has happened.
  • [00:28:25] OMER JEAN (DIXON) WINBORN: They were moving Black people out of the neighborhood and taking over. Yeah, I remember very distinctly when that happened and the sadness of seeing people move and being displaced out of their homes.
  • [00:28:39] ROGER BROWN: First they started with Jones School, and then they just split the whole neighborhood up. And where you had Blacks living in one main area, now all of a sudden you got some Blacks living on South Maple, then you have some Blacks living up on Pontiac Trail. Then you have a group of Blacks living in University Townhouses. So they all of a sudden, they had all kind of little small projects, we'll say, splintered throughout the city. It's like we're going to divide that union, we're going to divide that force, split it up, and then even weaken what little power they had anyway.
  • [00:29:16] SHIRLEY BECKLEY: Well, my mother's house--and there were two houses next to hers--my mother had since died, so I was living there with my stepfather and my kids. And they said he had to sell the house to them because they were going to do the Beakes-Packard bypass. Now, we didn't have a choice, they said. If he didn't sell, they would condemn it and take it. They took the houses, tore them down, and then there was no Beakes bypass. It never happened.
  • [00:29:53] DEBBY (MITCHELL) COVINGTON: They started building scattered-site public housing around Ann Arbor. So that was a way of dispersing the Black community. That's when white people started buying the property and the neighborhood started changing.
  • [00:30:11] AUDREY LUCAS: Some of the housing was not as expensive as other areas in Ann Arbor, and all of a sudden other people became interested in the neighborhood.
  • [00:30:25] THERESA (DIXON) CAMPBELL: People were starting to build up around us. And in the back of my mind I was wondering, if they're building up so much around us and they're saying that, "Oh, this is a great neighborhood, these are great neighborhoods." People could walk, and the farmers' market was changing.
  • [00:30:44] SHIRLEY BECKLEY: Now a couple of years ago, they built a high rise condominium where our houses were, which cost about a million dollars to live in. So we can't afford to come back in our neighborhood. There's no way I could live in that high rise.
  • [00:31:05] AUDREY LUCAS: Real estate went sky high and everybody wanted to live in Water Hill. Then people who had been selected--haha--to live there couldn't afford it anymore.
  • [00:31:19] ALMA WHEELER SMITH: The work began in the late '50s, early '60s, to break down the realtors' red lines for housing, to break down the banks' reluctance to offer mortgages to Black families, to create an opportunity for Blacks to own housing because it's a fundamental source of wealth. Housing wealth brought opportunities for kids to go to school because it was a foundation for loans. And all of that was being denied to the Black community.
  • [00:31:57] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: My parents were--I hate to use the word--a victim of it, but they were because they were not really understanding what they were buying into when it happened. When they were told, "Here's a better place for you over on the Northside of Ann Arbor. We'll give you this much money if you sell this house." Because later the value of those homes went way up. To look back on it now, it's like we were robbed of our generational wealth, because my grandparents built those homes.
  • [00:32:28] AUDREY LUCAS: I can remember a friend calling me on the telephone and he said, "I just went by where I used to live, Audrey, and they got two houses up there bigger than what we ever had." He said, "I am ticked off about it. They have come into our neighborhood and they have taken it over and taken it from us." That was his attitude.
  • [00:32:53] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: The church finally sold to someone and it turned into condos. Then the the new church was built over on the Northside, and that was Bethel AME. Second Baptist went to the West Side on Red Oak and became a childcare center. It seemed to happen gradually, and then all of a sudden it was just--everyone was gone. It was amazing how it happened because at one time you knew everyone and then now you know no one there.
  • [00:33:24] OMER JEAN (DIXON) WINBORN: There's newspaper articles with my father and my brother and my mother standing on the porch talking about my father not selling the home. I went there for a while and lived until the rest of my siblings decided, well, they wanted to sell.
  • [00:33:40] THERESA (DIXON) CAMPBELL: It was just sad. Because like my sister said, they never took account of the history that was there before. It was just like, let's just clean it up, fix the houses up, put some condos down the street, we'll start at two, three hundred thousand dollars. I drove down there a year ago and I just almost start crying.
  • [00:34:08] DOROTHY SLAY: I'm in my 70s and I moved there when I was just 19, 20. I'm still there. I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb on the corner, like you're really not a part of this change.
  • [00:34:27] DEBBY (MITCHELL) COVINGTON: Well, they had talked about it for years and we were always in anticipation of when we'd get this nice park. They talked about tearing down Lansky's junkyard. We were like, "Oh man, we're going to have a nice park." Well, it didn't happen until we were grown. Then there was a little something in your heart, like when the community changed, now they get the nice park. When we were there, we weren't worthy of a nice park. But we were happy that it was renamed to Wheeler Park for the first Black mayor. So there was still some ownership and pride in the space.
  • [00:35:12] OMER JEAN (DIXON) WINBORN: Well, I was saying to my daughter and I was telling her about raising kids, and she looked at me and said, "You had a village and I didn't."
  • [00:35:28] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: That's true.
  • [00:35:30] OMER JEAN (DIXON) WINBORN: And that was very true.
  • [00:35:31] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: It's true.
  • [00:35:33] OMER JEAN (DIXON) WINBORN: Because this was my village.
  • [00:35:35] CHERYL (JEWETT) O’NEAL: Mine too. I'm just happy that we have the memories because that made us who we are.
  • [00:35:44] ROGER BROWN: They just come in and said, we're busting this up, we're shutting it down. Wasn't no apologies, wasn't no nothing. There was no effort as the community stayed there to transform the community without busting it up.
  • [00:36:01] DEBBY (MITCHELL) COVINGTON: We lost a lot of children and we lost a lot of potential in what happened to our communities. I think that another approach could have been to invest more money into Jones School and make sure it wasn't neglected because of the population and keep the community intact, but make sure that the students had an equal education.
  • [00:36:31] ALMA WHEELER SMITH: Ann Arbor is always fascinating to me because it has a liberal myth about it. But the myth is often just that. There was a lot of conservative thinking, a lot of pushback, a lot of unwillingness to make change. But there was a deep impetus throughout the community for that kind of change, for equity.
  • [00:37:04] JOETTA MIAL: It's a continual struggle. It is not something that you're going to solve in one year or something. You have to keep working at it and you have to have people who want to do it. There can be a lot of resistance.
  • [00:37:24] SHIRLEY BECKLEY: We made it through, we had a community to help us. Our children don't have that community. Because of gentrification, they don't have a community.
  • [00:37:36] OMER JEAN (DIXON) WINBORN: It just makes me sad because it's like no Black folks lived here. The churches are covered up. There's no markers on the churches. Those churches were started in 1865 and no historical anything and it's just sad. It's like we weren't there. Like we weren't a part of that community.
  • [00:37:58] THERESA (DIXON) CAMPBELL: Where are the Black families that made those neighborhoods good? What happened to that? Show us some history. Everything has a history, why can't we have one?