African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County

African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County was established to collect, preserve and share local community history.

The goal of the AACHM is to open and operate a museum at 1528 Pontiac Trail in Ann Arbor MI. The African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County (AACHM) was established by 23 founding members in 1993 to document, collect, preserve and share African American History in this community. From the beginning, we have collaborated with other museums, libraries, organizations and universities to present educational programs and exhibits. We offer well-attended cultural arts events and provide a nationally recognized Underground Railroad guided bus tour of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Pittsfield Township.

06/06/2019
A Distant Shore African Americans of D Day

A Distant Shore: African Americans of D-Day tells the story of African American soldiers in World War II, who went ashore in France during the 1944 Invasion of Normandy. Among the interviewees were veterans from Barrage Balloon Battalions, Quartermaster and Transportation Companies, and Engineers, as well as Coast Guard veteran, John Roberts, from USS LCI(L)-93, who lost a leg during the landings at Omaha Beach. Author/Historian Yvonne Latty was also interviewed for the program.The documentary was produced for The History Channel by Flight 33 Productions in 2007.

The role of African American soldiers during the World War II Allied invasion of Normandy.

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06/02/2019

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Thanks to everyone who participated in today's Highland Cemetery walk among Ypsilanti's soldiers of liberation! Here are slides detailing Ypsilanti's African-American Civil War experience.

The photo caption is "War worker housing near Ypsilanti, MI, ca. 1942". It is part of the Walter P. Reuther Library, Way...
05/30/2019

The photo caption is "War worker housing near Ypsilanti, MI, ca. 1942". It is part of the Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University Digital Collections.

05/26/2019
Memorial Day - African American Beginnings

The exact origins of Memorial Day are disputed, with at least five towns claiming to have given birth to the holiday sometime near the end of the Civil War. Yale University historian David Blight places the first Memorial Day in April 1865, when a group of former slaves gathered at a Charleston, S.C., horse track turned Confederate prison where more than 250 Union soldiers had died. Digging up the soldiers' mass grave, they interred the bodies in individual graves, built a 100-yd. fence around them and erected an archway over the entrance bearing the words "Martyrs of the Race Course."

On Sunday, May 19th, at 11am, you are invited to a reception followed by a free screening of Skyline High's Legacies Pro...
05/19/2019
The Legacies Project

On Sunday, May 19th, at 11am, you are invited to a reception followed by a free screening of Skyline High's Legacies Project Honored in this film are Carl Johnson, one of the original French Dukes and Dondon Simons who grew up together in Ann Arbor as part of the Old Neighborhood on Glen St, attending Jones, and Ann Arbor High.

FREE SCREENING. Everyone, regardless of their background, has a story worth sharing. But as community elders pass away, their individual experiences and perspectives pass with them. The goal of The Legacies Project is to preserve older generations’ stories and, in the process, remind ourselves tha...

Hidden in Plain Sight - The oldest known cookbook by an African-American was published in 1866 by Malinda Russell. The o...
05/12/2019
Hidden In Plain Sight: Oldest Known Cookbook Authored By An African-American

Hidden in Plain Sight - The oldest known cookbook by an African-American was published in 1866 by Malinda Russell. The only original copy that remains today is at the University of Michigan. You can download a copy at the end of the story.

Ever wonder what types of recipes were used for cooking over a century ago? Thanks to a cookbook that's Hidden In Plain Sight at the University of Michigan

Matt is a historian, writer and researcher in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He is also an Advisory Board Director for the AACHM a...
05/09/2019
The History Of Ypsilanti's First Ward All-Black School

Matt is a historian, writer and researcher in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He is also an Advisory Board Director for the AACHM and a true friend of community history. We appreciate your work and support!

Did you know that Ypsilanti’s New Jerusalem Baptist Church was originally built as a school for African-American students? The First Ward School closed in

Jon Onye Lockard instructing Deborah Smith in clay sculpturing as part of her summer scholarship study under his directi...
05/04/2019

Jon Onye Lockard instructing Deborah Smith in clay sculpturing as part of her summer scholarship study under his direction on September 18, 1971. (Photo:by then Ann Arbor News photographer Cecil Lockard, 0ldnews.aadl.org)

Painter, educator, and historian, Jon Onye Lockard, was born January 25, 1932, on Detroit’s east side where he also grew up.; his mother, Lillian Jones, came from Port Arthur, Mississippi, and his father, Cecil E. Lockard, from Marianna, Arkansas. Lockard graduated from Wayne State University in 1955 and pursued further study at the University of Toronto.

Working as a traveling portraitist in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Lockard painted portraits at the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962. In Houston, Lockard met Texas Southern University’s John Biggers., Lockard added the name, “Onye” which is from “Onye Eje” or Ibo language for “artistic traveler.” Known for his rich use of color and powerful use of form, Lockard’s murals find a natural home on college campuses; his piece, Continuum, spans Wayne State University’s Manoogian Center, and his other murals are located at Central State University, the University of Michigan, and Detroit’s Dr. Charles Wright Museum of African American History.

Lockard taught life drawing, portrait painting, and the art and culture of African Americans for over forty years, renowned as an instructor at the University of Michigan and at Washtenaw Community College.He passed away on March 25, 2015.

Lee Azus on how urban renewal remade Ypsilanti’s Southside
05/04/2019
Lee Azus on how urban renewal remade Ypsilanti’s Southside

Lee Azus on how urban renewal remade Ypsilanti’s Southside

Almost five years ago now, I interviewed a new transplant to Ypsi by the name of Lee Azus as part of our ongoing Ypsilanti Immigration series. Azus, a former San Francisco bookstore owner, as you might recall, was anxious to hit the ground running and really get to know this community which he had c...

04/20/2019

MLive takes a look at African American history makers in Washtenaw County history. (Feb 2019)

Mrs. Ruth Leftridge (left) and Wallace Franklin, as a highlight of the Negro history program Sunday in the high school a...
04/15/2019

Mrs. Ruth Leftridge (left) and Wallace Franklin, as a highlight of the Negro history program Sunday in the high school auditorium, present Robert Granville of the Ann Arbor High School faculty, with two volumes of "The World's Greatest Men Of Color". The books go to the school library. The program was sponsored by St. Mary's Lodge, No. 4, F & AM and Naomi Chapter No. 12, Order of the Eastern Star. Ann Arbor News, March 23, 1953 (oldnews.aadl.org)

Black Arts Festival - Participants in the Black Arts Festival at the Ann Arbor Community Center discuss their works. Fro...
04/14/2019

Black Arts Festival - Participants in the Black Arts Festival at the Ann Arbor Community Center discuss their works. From left are Debbie Miller, Robert Banks, Harryetta Cumby, Adrienne Hoard and Jan Taylor. Deanne Overstreet is in the chair. The festival also included a dance performance, a drama presentation and choral singing. Ann Arbor News, December 10, 1971 (oldnews.aadl.org)

This Saturday you are invited to discover the role Washtenaw County played in the network of secret routes, hidden place...
04/09/2019

This Saturday you are invited to discover the role Washtenaw County played in the network of secret routes, hidden places, determined citizens and self-liberated people of color seeking freedom that are the Underground Railroad This guided bus tour takes you by the exteriors of local and nationally-known Underground Railroad landmarks, historic sites, cemeteries, buildings and homes in Ann Arbor. Photos by Meredith Bruckner.

Tour docent Carol Mull is a historic preservationist and Underground Railroad scholar. She is the author of the book "The Underground Railroad in Michigan" and the scholar-in-residence for the African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County.

Tours are $25 adults, $10 students & seniors 65+ . Purchase online at www.aachm.org/events-exhibits

Pickup & drop off from Washtenaw Community College, Technical and Industrial Building, 4800 E. Huron River Drive, Ann Arbor. For information Contact: Deborah Meadows, [email protected] phone/text 734-819-8182

Jim Crow Museum Bus Tour
04/05/2019
Jim Crow Museum Bus Tour

Jim Crow Museum Bus Tour

Join Black Scroll Network History & Tours as we EXPLORE the Jim Crow Museum in Big Rapids, MI on the campus of Ferris State University. Along with that, we will also investigate a number of Black historic sites in Detroit and Lansing, Michigan.The Jim Crow Museum contains thousands of historic artif...

1964 in the N. Fourth Ave. and Beakes St. neighborhood - Nita Franklin, on the right, is the 10-year-old coach of the "s...
03/19/2019

1964 in the N. Fourth Ave. and Beakes St. neighborhood - Nita Franklin, on the right, is the 10-year-old coach of the "squad," calls the group the "Junior French Dukes" in adulation of the world champion drill team which is sponsored by the local Pratt Lodge, IBPOE. (from left) Jeffrey Pee, 7; Steven Hinton, 5; Benton Thomas, 3; Michael Pee, 5, and Gregory Pee, 4. (Ann Arbor News, September 9, 1964, digitized by the Ann Arbor District Library)

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Ann Arbor. The phoot was undated but if you can identify the year, please share!
03/13/2019

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Ann Arbor. The phoot was undated but if you can identify the year, please share!

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. The AKA who gave this photo to a certain young man is #10 and identified as "me" on the back...
03/13/2019

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. The AKA who gave this photo to a certain young man is #10 and identified as "me" on the back. Roberta Ellis Britt, who ran the “B” House at1136 E. Catherine Street, is identified as #2.

Alpha Phi Alpha was established on April 9, 1909, becoming the earliest known U-M African American fraternity. This phot...
03/10/2019

Alpha Phi Alpha was established on April 9, 1909, becoming the earliest known U-M African American fraternity. This photo is from 1927 (UM Libraries)

Sometimes enlarging details reveals another beautiful image within a photograph. Thanks to Rashid Faisal, we have some n...
03/09/2019

Sometimes enlarging details reveals another beautiful image within a photograph. Thanks to Rashid Faisal, we have some names for these members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at 1017 Catherine St. .Dr. Lorenzo Lapsley standing in the front holding the hand of the young lady. Dr. Leon S. Evans, standing in the back directly behind Lapsley. Dr. John Harold Alexander standing to the far left. All three graduated from U. of M.

The year was 1912. A group of men and women posed on front porch steps of Alpha Phi Alpha House, 1017 Catherine St. Ann ...
03/09/2019

The year was 1912. A group of men and women posed on front porch steps of Alpha Phi Alpha House, 1017 Catherine St. Ann Arbor. Photo from Alpha Phi Alpha. Epsilon Chapter. (University of Michigan) photograph collection, taken by Ann Arbor photographer Alford S. Lyndon

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity was established on UM campus in 1922. This yearbook page with names and photo is from the 1923 ...
03/09/2019

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity was established on UM campus in 1922. This yearbook page with names and photo is from the 1923 Michiganensian. Bentley Historical Library)

FLASH BACK FRIDAY Facebook Family - From the photo album of Florida Miller.
03/01/2019

FLASH BACK FRIDAY Facebook Family - From the photo album of Florida Miller.

From the photo album of Florida Miller - Audrey Sleet, Carolyn Taylor and...can you name the third person?
03/01/2019

From the photo album of Florida Miller - Audrey Sleet, Carolyn Taylor and...can you name the third person?

Dr. Willis Patterson is a professor emeritus of the University of Michigan School of Music and founder of the Willis Pat...
02/27/2019

Dr. Willis Patterson is a professor emeritus of the University of Michigan School of Music and founder of the Willis Patterson Our Own Thing Chorale.In his living oral history interview he describes what it was like growing up in Ann Arbor, the neighborhoods, experiences and people that had an impact on him and how they helped shape his world and future. Click on the Ann Arbor District Library link below to hear his story in his own words.
https://aadl.org/aachmvideos/willis_patterson

The new Second Baptist church parsonage (left) at 315 Catherine St. in Ypsilanti, believed to be the first such building...
02/27/2019

The new Second Baptist church parsonage (left) at 315 Catherine St. in Ypsilanti, believed to be the first such building ever insured by the Federal Housing Administration, was dedicated in formal ceremonies yesterday afternoon. Taking part in the dedication were (on parsonage porch) Harry M. Steffey, assistant FHA director in Detroit; Amos Washington, city housing director; the Rev. Garther Roberson, pastor of the church; City Manager N. G. Damoose and realtor Dwight E. Hand. A large crowd, including the church choirs, witnessed the ceremonies.Photo by Eck Stanger, Ann Arbor News, September 20, 1954. (oldnews.aadl.org)

Second Baptist Church, Photos taken by Ann Arbor News photographer Eck Stanger in May 1965. (oldnews.aadl.org)
02/26/2019

Second Baptist Church, Photos taken by Ann Arbor News photographer Eck Stanger in May 1965. (oldnews.aadl.org)

THE UNION CHURCH - This small brick structure is where Bethel AME Church and Second Baptist Church began in Ann Arbor in...
02/26/2019

THE UNION CHURCH - This small brick structure is where Bethel AME Church and Second Baptist Church began in Ann Arbor in the year 1854. It is still standing at 504 High Street and continues to be used as a residential property today.

This building appears on the 1854 map of Ann Arbor labeled simply as "Union Church." It apparently was not finished until 1857, for the Michigan Argus of December 25th of that year reported: "The Union Church has been completed by the Colored People of the City and is to be dedicated Sunday by Reverend J. M. Gregory. S. H. Estabrook will officiate." It continued to be used as a church into the 1870s, though by 1871 a split had occurred within the local African-American religious community.

This resulted in the formation of two congregations: the African Baptist (later known as Second Baptist) and the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Both continue in operation today and trace their roots to this building on what was then known as Fuller Street. By 1872, the AME congregation had begun to worship on the east side of Fourth Avenue between Summit Street and what is now Beakes Street. Although the Baptists continued to use the High Street Church until 1881, from 1883 until 1888 they have no listing in City Directories. In 1890 they reappear as the Second Baptist Church, worshipping in a building on the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Beakes Street.

In 1884 the High Street property was sold to Michael Kearns who converted it into a residence. When his widow Mary sold the property in 1907, more than 20 years later, it was still referred to in the deed as "the church lot," perpetuating the memory of its first use. (Susan Wineberg)

Verses from the Heart – Sylvia Bynum (November 7, 1884 -July 14, 1973) was born in Cary, North Carolina, the daughter ...
02/20/2019

Verses from the Heart – Sylvia Bynum (November 7, 1884 -July 14, 1973) was born in Cary, North Carolina, the daughter of John Addison and Minnttia Hooker Blake. Sylvia and her husband Oliver Bynum lived in Ann Arbor for 37 years. “I love my Church” she said in an Ann Arbor News column “Know Your Neighbor”. She joined Bethel AME Church in 1936 and was a faithful lifelong member. The poems in her book reflect how much she loves her Church.

Sylvia was also a poet and wrote over 200 poems in her life. As a birthday gift, her brother Rev. Eustice Blake published “Verses from the Heart” – a book of 92 poems she wrote between 1936 and 1952. In this Ann Arbor News photo (on the left) Sylvia reads from her book at home on 105 E. Summit Street. The photo on the right is of her nephew Rev. David A. Blake Sr and Grace Rogers Blake. A digital version of this photo was donated to the AACHM for our collection of images. You can see it is the same framed picture sitting on the table next to the couch. Virginia W. Ellis was also Sylvia’s niece.

Jerome (1947-1994) and Deborah Strong (1948-2013)She was instrumental in helping to create the Michigan Early On System,...
02/19/2019

Jerome (1947-1994) and Deborah Strong (1948-2013)

She was instrumental in helping to create the Michigan Early On System, a program designed to assist children with special needs. She co-developed Michigan’s Family’s First, the largest and most successful family preservation initiative in the country. This work will serve as a road map to change the outcomes for all children for years to come.

He was a founding Board Member of the Fair Housing Center of Washtenaw County. He was active in his fight for equality, for the rights of children, and for equal housing and credit opportunity. He dedicated his life to justice and serves as a model to all of us.

Harry Starks was born in Canada in 1892. He lived in Ypsilanti and was the owner of a Sinclair Service Station at 601 S....
02/18/2019

Harry Starks was born in Canada in 1892. He lived in Ypsilanti and was the owner of a Sinclair Service Station at 601 S. Huron in Ypsilanti. The newspaper photo is hand-dated "June 2, 1934". The service station is also listed in the 1939 Ypsilanti City Directory. (Photo: AACHM)

02/17/2019
The Aeolians "Lift Every Voice and Sing"

The phenomenallly talented Aeolians of historically black Oakwood University, n Huntsville, Alabama - performed in Ann Arbor MI last year when Bethel AME Church brought this exceptional choir to our community.

This photo was taken on October 21, 1998, the day the Bradleys celebrated 30 years in the automotive retail business, th...
02/17/2019

This photo was taken on October 21, 1998, the day the Bradleys celebrated 30 years in the automotive retail business, the first African American Dealership in the country to reach that milestone.

When Jim Bradley (11/26/1936-4/29/2003) was a senior financial analyst at General Motors, his ultimate ambition was to b...
02/16/2019

When Jim Bradley (11/26/1936-4/29/2003) was a senior financial analyst at General Motors, his ultimate ambition was to become a GM Dealer. In the early 1960’s he had met Juanita Bass (12/5/1939-2/16/2013) in Detroit where they fell in love and were married by the fall of 1962. Daughters Vanessa and Angela were born. He still dreamed of owning his own business, and knew that meant giving up the corporate job. In a 1993 Ann Arbor News interview about the opening of the Saturn store, Jim told the story. “I went home and told my wife I had to quit my job” recalls Bradley with a smile. “And with two preschoolers!” Juanita interjected, for whom the shock was obliviously still fresh. “Fortunately she supported me” Jim said. It was a pattern that continued uninterrupted for the duration of their lives together.

In 1973, when GM appointed him the Pontiac dealer, he was the first African American automotive dealership owner in Washtenaw County and the third in the state of Michigan. Jim Bradley grew that Pontiac store into Jim Bradley Pontiac-Cadillac-GMC, then Buick was added to the car line up at 3500 Jackson Road in Ann Arbor. Bradley was the first African-American GM dealer to reach the milestone of 30 consecutive years in business. They were often ranked in the top 5 automotive dealerships for General Motors by Black Enterprise magazine's top 100.

The Bradley Automotive Group was formed, and in1993, he and his wife, Juanita were appointed the Saturn dealer in Ann Arbor. GM saw this as a unique opportunity to promote the fact that they had a wife/husband team in the same market. Juanita Bradley then became the first African-American woman in the country to manage a Saturn Dealership This ad,appeared in major markets and publications across the country.

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PO Box 130724
Ann Arbor, MI
48113

AATA

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Founders: Letitia Byrd , Bamidele Demerson, Gloria M. Edwards, Willie M. Edwards*, Cheryl Ervin, Martha Graham, JoAnne Hall, Joyce M. Hunter, Earl W. Jackson, Zerilda Palmer, Linell Ransom, Beverly Tyler, Shirley A. Vaughn, Sheryl L. White, Lola M. Jones, Njoki Kamuyu, Patricia King, Vivian Lyte, Dorothy A. Mack*, Shawn R. Martin*, Shirley D. Martin, Franci Moorman, Beverly Myers

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