African Americans

Homegoing: A Conversation with Yaa Gyasi

The 2018 Institute for the Humanities Jill S. Harris Memorial Lecture.

This event is part of the 2018 Washtenaw Read.

African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County Living Oral History

Find out more about our community’s history as the African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County unveils their “Living History” exhibit.

This panel exhibition is part of a collaboration with the Ann Arbor District Library and the Living Oral History Project, a collection of interviews illustrating what local African-Americans witnessed, experienced, and contributed to building the community we share today.

The project covered such topics as race; gender; education; equality, faith, housing, employment, community building activities, and social infrastructure. Each topic provided a spectrum of perspectives relevant to the issues and concerns of the African-American community in the history of 20th century Washtenaw County.

The panel exhibit, made possible with funding from The Michigan Humanities Council, features a selection of AACHM participants from the AACHM Living Oral History interviews along with additional interviews that will include residents from Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

A public reception for the exhibit opening will take place from 3–5 pm on Sunday, March 26. The reception will also be an opportunity for a participatory experience for visitors through examination of the exhibit and sharing stories. The event includes refreshments and is cosponsored by the African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County.

Celebrating Our Own Thing

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Our Own Thing organization here in Ann Arbor. With Black History Month upon us, now is a great time to acknowledge the work of this incredible group started in 1968 by Dr. Willis C. Patterson, Singer A. "Bucky" Buchanan, Jon Lockard, and Vera Embree. Countless African-American students in the area have benefited from the cultural arts instruction provided by Our Own Thing, as well as their scholarship program which has sent numerous young artists and musicians to Interlochen Arts Academy. Watch the interview of Dr. Patterson from the AACHM (African American Cultural & Historical Museum) Living Oral History Project for a deeper look into the organization and the amazing man behind the scene.

Film and Discussion: "Let's Have Some Church Detroit Style: The Hallelujah Singers"

"Let's Have Some Church Detroit Style: The Hallelujah Singers" is a 92 minute documentary from director Andrew Sacks focuses on the Detroit-based choir The Hallelujah Singers, and its charismatic founder/director E. LaQuint Weaver.

Filled with dazzling visuals and glorious gospel music, the film explores the personal lives and aspirations of the gifted men and women of this Detroit community gospel choir, who energize a troubled city with spirited, passionate, and contemporary music.

A discussion will follow the screening, led by the film’s director Andrew Sacks and former WDET music host Rev. Robert Jones, Sr., who narrates and also appears in the film.

Celebrating African-American History In Ann Arbor

Dating back to the Underground Railroad, Ann Arbor boasts a rich and vibrant history for African-Americans. A wonderful piece about this time in Ann Arbor’s history is written by Grace Shackman and can be found here.

There are many African-Americans that created their own piece of history in Ann Arbor. For instance, you can read about Ann Arbor’s first African-American mayor, Albert H. Wheeler, first African-American teacher and later principal at Northside Elementary, Harry Mial and his wife, Joetta Mial, Huron High School's first female African-American principal.

O.Herbert Ellis, who passed away last year is notable for being the first African-American to serve on and to chair the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. You can read more history and the individuals that created it here.

Ann Arbor responds to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kids showing off their vaccine marks

In the days following the assassination, Ann Arbor held a memorial at Hill Auditorium and Ann Arbor News photographers snapped dozens of photos of townies and students participating in marches and peaceful demonstrations. Here they are, for the first time, from the Oldnews archive.

The African-American Cultural & Historical Museum Of Washtenaw County Living Oral History Project

Join the AADL and the African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County for this premiere of their Phase II of the Living Oral History Project. The African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County began this project in March 2013 in collaboration with AADL. This second phase was filmed in May 2014,

Five individuals were identified to initiate the project by participating in a series of interviews that were professionally filmed and edited. These interviews serve as a roadmap to what African Americans witnessed, experienced, shared, and contributed in building the community we see today. Those interviewed for the second phase include John Barfield, Sr., Tessie Freeman, Barbara Meadows, Paul Wasson, and Dorothy Wilson. A short program and an opportunity to speak with those interviewed will follow the premiere.

The individuals selected represent a broad section in gender, education, faith, and socioeconomics. Areas of community concern such as race, gender and education equality, faith, housing, employment, community building activities, and infrastructure were presented and discussed. These topics provide a spectrum that is relevant to current issues and concerns within Washtenaw County today and into the future.

This premiere of this second phase of the Living Oral History Project will include a short program and an opportunity to speak with those interviewed. Light refreshments will also be served.

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