New Online Exhibit - George Jewett
What George Henry Jewett, II truly faced, in terms of discrimination and challenges, could have been lost in history’s haze. But Rashid Faisal, a lifelong educator with a passion for researching the African-American presence at U-M has written his story. Originally printed in Michigan History the Historical Society of Michigan's magazine, the Museum is bringing it to you as an online exhibit. Click here to start.
Celebrating Black History Month 2021
By Deborah Meadows
The African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County (AACHM) was founded in 1993. Our mission is to research, collect, preserve, and exhibit cultural and historical materials about the life and work of African Americans in Washtenaw County. Our programs include videotaped oral histories with the Ann Arbor District Library, Underground Railroad tours, and performances from local artists in our Focus on the Arts events. The latest Focus on the Arts was at the Kerrytown Concert House in October.
History in Kerrytown
The Kerrytown neighborhood was historically home to a melting pot of nationalities, including a small African American community. Their population grew after both World Wars after mass migration of southern Blacks to northern states. Redlining played a part in the formation and maintenance of this community; redlining means to refuse someone a bank loan or insurance because they live in an area deemed to be a poor financial risk. Several African American families in Washtenaw were victims of this unfortunate but intentional practice. A few still reside within the neighborhood, in homes that aren’t yet targets of gentrification.
In spite of these practices, African Americans had a thriving community in Kerrytown. They raised families, secured employment, and owned businesses in the Black Business district surrounding Fourth Ave and Ann St. Most families could walk to Sunday service at Bethel AME Church at 632 N. Fourth Ave, or to Second Baptist Church at 213 Beakes on the corner of Fifth Ave. Children attended Jones Elementary School in what is now Community High School. The Dunbar Community Center at 420 N. Fourth Ave was operated by and for African Americans to enrich and empower youth and adults through educational and recreational programs.
Across from the old Dunbar Center is the home once inhabited by an African American family at 415 N. Fourth Ave. Today, this building is the Kerrytown Concert House. AACHM recently co-hosted a program with Kerrytown Concert House called
“Blue Skies: A Jazzy Afternoon with Athena Johnson,” featuring the lush, soulful voice of this local songstress and her skillfully polished musicians. This virtual performance is available for your personal enjoyment at kerrytownconcerthouse.com.
The next time you visit the Farmer’s Market, Kerrytown, or the Concert House, take the time to notice the landmarks of our recent past. Try to picture children laughing on the porch of 420 N. Fourth Ave, or imagine hearing the organ and gospel choirs floating out from open church windows at 632 N. Fourth Ave or 213 Beakes. Take time to read the historical panels that dot our city streets created by The Downtown Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit Program. Pause and reflect. Recognize that Black history is American history, and American history is our history. Click here to read the article online at THE BRICK.
Black History Month is an annual recognition of the history, achievements, and influence of the Black diaspora. The 2021 theme is, "The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity”.
Separated and spread across states, nations, and continents, the black community has an unwavering understanding of the value of family -- as an incomparable source of comfort, strength, and survival.
Enslaved or free, patriarchal or matriarchal, single-headed or dual-headed household, extended or nuclear, fictive kin or blood lineage, legal or common law. Pressures that may pull black families apart also often unite us.
We come in every shade and hue that has been kissed by the sun and blessed by the moon.
James Baldwin on February 18, 1965, in his epochal debate with William F. Buckley Jr. at the University of Cambridge.
Virtual and Live Events
“Framing Identity: Representations of Empowerment and Resilience in the Black Experience,” is a curatorial project developed by Samantha Hill, the 2019-21 Joyce Bonk Fellow at the Clements Library and graduate student at the U-M School of Information.
16 Ways to Support, Explore, and Learn
Support a Black business
Donate to a Black organization
Trace your family history
Attend a local program or event
Attend a national virtual event or program
Read books or plays by Black writers
Mentor or tutor young people
Donate to an HBCU - Historically Black College and University
Call out racism and prejudice in your community
Engage in healthy conversations about African American culture and history
Read Dr. King’s I Have a Dream Speech or James Baldwin’s Pin Drop Speech
Learn about an unsung or well known hero of Black history
Share and teach what you learned about Black History
Study the African Diaspora
Learn all of the verses of Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing
Register to vote and vote
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
MLK Day/Week 2021 Virtual Events
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Ann Arbor to speak at U-M just once, on November 5, 1962.
Brian Williams from the Bentley Historical Library sheds light on the leader’s legendary visit. Read more...