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Hilyard Robinson:

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?

Click here for the 2020 Annual Report

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.

 16 Ways to Support, Explore, and Learn
  1. Support a Black business

  2. Donate to a Black organization

  3. Trace your family history

  4. Attend a local program or event

  5. Attend a national virtual event or program

  6. Read books or plays by Black writers

  7. Mentor or tutor young people

  8. Donate to an HBCU - Historically Black College and University

  9. Call out racism and prejudice in your community

  10. Engage in healthy conversations about African American culture and history

  11. Read Dr. King’s I Have a Dream Speech or James Baldwin’s Pin Drop Speech

  12. Learn about an unsung or well known hero of Black history

  13. Share and teach what you learned about Black History

  14. Study the African Diaspora

  15. Learn all of the verses of Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing

  16. Register to vote and vote

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.

African American
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.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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...


 

AACHM    PO Box 130724      Ann Arbor, MI 48113     734-761-1717     aachmuseum@att.net

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