Black Americans have been fighting for justice ever since this country’s inception. Abolishing slavery did not end systemic racism. Commemorating Juneteenth reminds us there is still so much work to do. We encourage you to see June 19th as an opportunity to learn more about Black history, uncovering facts and reflecting on the stories that aren’t included in textbooks.
Juneteenth commemorates the date—June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after the end of the Civil War—when hundreds of thousands of enslaved men and women in Texas finally learned they were no longer enslaved.A quarter of a million people continued to suffer in slavery for 2.5 years after it was outlawed.
When President Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre, the New York Times reported his shooting the same night. And news of the President’s passing the next day spread quickly across the country. Important news could reach the entire country, if the people in charge of local newspapers chose to report it.
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform Texas that slavery was outlawed in formerly Confederate states. The ex-Confederate mayor of Galveston openly disregarded Granger’s orders and forced freed people back to work. On plantations, it was essentially up to enslavers to decide when and how to announce the news to enslaved men and women. Many enslavers waited until the harvesting process was complete.
In 1872, a group of Black ministers and businessmen raised enough money to purchase 10 acres of park land in Texas. The land, now known as Emancipation Park, offered surrounding Black communities a place they could celebrate the freedom granted on June 19th, 1865.
Martha and Pinkie Yates in a buggy decorated for the annual Juneteenth celebration in front 319 Robin St. in the Fourth Ward (c.1895-1905). Courtesy of Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.
Local Juneteenth Programs, Walks, Events and Activities
Telling Tales Out of School
The Student Advocacy Center of Michigan’s annual social justice art project elevates the recent experiences of their students. This year's project is like none other, because this year is like none other. Students are struggling. They are hurting. Virtual school is temporary for most, but many Student Advocacy Center youth have been forced into virtual settings for many, many years. For this project, SAC students were given two questions to answer:
The artist family Anna Oginsky (Heart Connected}, Sarah Richards (Ananda Wellness) and their mom, Kathleen Hodges turned these answers into art.
They re-purposed "found" computers and parts and covered them with the messages of reflection and hope from SAC students.
This photo of the piece for the AACHM was taken in the dining room of the David R. Byrd Center on Lohr Road.
The historic farmhouse is more than 150 years old, built on land that was platted in 1825 and was restored by David and Letitia Byrd.
The tools of school were
a slate and chalk, so visually similar to the black and white tools our students use today.
Please visit studentadvocacycenter.org for more information about their annual storytelling drive-in fundraiser on May 7th, 2021. Stories include a high school student who has experienced racism and much more, a parent whose 8-year-old was expelled and an adult who worked with SAC more than 10 years ago and says they saved his life!
SAC was established in 1975 to focus on the educational experience of students; to identify successful practices and policies as well as the barriers to effective service You can support SAC by purchasing a ticket or donating today.
The African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County presented the 2018 Community Service Award to the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan (SAC). This year we are honored to be a 2021 SAC “Empty Screen” sponsor.
The Empty Screens multimedia video project includes spoken word, video messages, dance and more
AACHM Community History Online Exhibits
The Promise of Parkridge
Designed by Architect Hilyard Robinson, Parkridge was built in 1943 for area Black workers following an unsuccessful attempt to integrate Willow Run public housin
Mysti Greer and Jayson Atkins at Ypsilanti Pre-School Graduation at Parkridge Community Center, May 1986
See More information at the Ann Arbor District Library Website
Celebrating Black History Month 2021
Do you want to know what was going on with the Museum in 2020?
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.
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.
James Baldwin on February 18, 1965, in his epochal debate with William F. Buckley Jr. at the University of Cambridge.
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
Journey to Freedom Underground Railroad Bus Tours
Click on the link to get your tickets!
African American History in Kerrytown Ann Arbor
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 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.
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...