Mother’s Day History

May 2017- General Guide, along with the Recorder Newspaper – will be honoring the Oldest Mother who raised her children in Albion during Albion Week – the week after Mother’s Day. We would like more names of any mother who was born before 1927 who raised her children here. We will be writing some of their story, as the family would like to share with us. There is a form here to submit to the Recorder for this special feature. There will be some prizes and special recognition for this mother. We hope to have this an annual event, and to get the story of Albion’s involvement with Mother’s Day out to a wider region also.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FORM OR LOOK IN THE RECORDER – DURING EARLY MAY –


juliette_flat_oval_002Albion’s Mother’s Day Founder, Juliette Calhoun Blakeley is described on a historical marker behind the library.  Few people know that Juliette was also very involved in the underground railroad. Her home was one of the Underground Railroad Stations.

From Frank Passic’s history:

“The original Blakeley home stood on the southeast corner of W. Cass and S. Clinton Sts., the present site of a city parking lot across from the fire station. Mrs. Blakeley allowed her house to serve as one of the local hiding stations for the so-called “Underground Railroad” which transported fugitive slaves to safety in Canada. The entire Blakeley family was involved in the operation out of their home. The family would hide the fugitives in the bottom of their wagon under bags of grain, or covered with ears of corn, and transport them along the predetermined route.

Julia’s son Charles Blakeley (1852-1935) often served as the driver. On one particular mission when he was accompanied by his father, Charles was held up by slave catchers who, in their search for fugitives, poked long sharp sticks through a visible bottom coop-type area covered by grain sacks, located under the wagon. They found no one however, because the slaves were hidden higher up under the main portion of the wagon. The artificial coop had been purposely placed there to distract the slave catchers.”

Used with permission – source: http://www.albionmich.com/history/histor_notebook/030511b.shtml

A group of Michigan Historians is tracing more of the fascinating ethnic history of this region and we hope to publish some of their findings as this site grows.

Juneteenth Celebration in Albion

juneteenth_celebration_albion_michigan_900px Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States.   It is a celebration of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Many black families came to Albion 100 years ago to work at the Malleable foundry.

Albion celebrates Juneteeth on the Saturday before Father’s Day starting at Albion City Hall on Cass Street with a proclamation and words from the mayor at 11 a.m.  Then there is a processional walk to Holland Park where there will be a day of fun and festivities.

There will be games for children and and adults, face painting, a story tent, Old school music, Line dancing, basketball and our Public Safety Department will be there with the fire truck and fire house to show our young people how to be safe when there’s a fire.

There will be a food court with a bar-b-que, friends, music and art.

The day will conclude with a Rememberance Circle and a Gospel Fest starting at 5.

This is a part of America’s History just as Memorial Day and the 4th of July are. Let’s find ways to celebrate our achievements together.

Everyone is invited to come, have fun and fellowship!

Learn more about some even earlier Albion black history from this post on AlbionMich.COM by Albion Historian Frank Passic:  19th CENTURY BLACK HISTORY IN ALBION

A quote from that article: “ In looking through the Census records of the period, we find that the majority of Albion’s early black men listed their occupations as either barbers, such as a Richard Randolph, who lived in Albion Township. Some were listed as housekeepers. One is listed as a “calciminer.” No, he didn’t mine calcimine, but that was the term for a “white-washer” of walls in the days of dirty fuel sources for heating homes. This particular person was listed later as a paper hanger (wallpaper).”

Why is February called Black History Month?

Why was February Chosen to be called Black History Month?

Two famous abolitionists and social reformers were born during the month of February.   The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week”.  This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.   The abolitionists are President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, both born during the second of week of February, which led Woodson to designate it as a time of celebration and remembrance.

Carter Woodson, historian and educator, Father of Black History

In honor of their lives, historian Carter Woodson began the first formal celebration of “Negro History Week” in February 1926. Woodson was an educator, author, avid researcher and advocate for proliferating the breadth of Black history. 

In 1970, activists at Kent State University Black History Month and President Gerald Ford formally recognized it six years later during the United States Bicentennial celebration.

Woodson coordinated a national theme for the celebration each year. The theme for celebrating Black History Month in 2018 is “African Americans in Times of War.” Highlighting the centennial of the end of the first world war in 1918, this topic looks at the contradictions faced by African Americans who gave their lives for the safety and freedom of their country. While enlisting could offer opportunities for advancement, many African Americans returned home to Jim Crow segregation, violence, and exclusion.

Woodson’s devotion to historical research created an immense legacy, with publications and organizations he began still operating to support education regarding those throughout the African diaspora and their many achievements. More information about the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, founded by Woodson in 1915 can be found here.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_History_Month

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carter_G._Woodson 

 

MLK events in Albion Michigan

Two events related to Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday will be happening in January 2018.
The first is a day of service on the actual holiday.

The MLK Convocation and Community Celebration, at the Bohm on the 29th, will start at 7 p.m. Michael Williams, ’78, former mayor of the City of Albion and a current Albion College trustee, will deliver the convocation address. Williams (right) currently serves as president and CEO of Orchards Children’s Services, Michigan’s premier foster-care and adoption agency. He has spent much of his career in youth development, with special focus on disadvantaged children and teens. Williams served two terms as Albion’s mayor in the 1990s and is a past member of the Albion College Alumni Association Board. Williams has also been inducted twice into the Albion College Athletic Hall of Fame, and he received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1997.

To learn about both events visit this link on the Albion College website.
https://www.albion.edu/news-and-events/recent-news/news-archive/918-in-the-community/13772-skot-welch-90-and-michael-williams-78-to-headline-albion-mlk-events-in-january

Both events are open to the entire Albion community. For more information and to register for the Day of Dialogue and Service, visit the Albion College Office of Intercultural Affairs website or call 517/629-0501. For more information on the MLK Convocation and Community Celebration, contact the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service, one of the event’s co-sponsors, at 517/629-0368.

General Guide – February 2017

The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State in February 1970. Prior to that time, the second week of February was known as “Negro History Week.” This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates Black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.

Both Albion and Marshall have ties to Black History. There is also a trail of Civil Rights monuments in Michigan to Canada.

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Convocation and Community Celebration – Albion Michigan


The annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Convocation and Community Celebration will be on Monday, January 30, 2017, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the Bohm Theatre in downtown Albion.

Keynote speaker Eugene Robinson, a nationally acclaimed columnist for The Washington Post, will bring his unique insights on life in America in an address titled: “We’re Someplace We’ve Never Been: Race, Diversity, and the New America.” This event is co-sponsored by Albion College and the Albion branch of the NAACP.

Eugene Robinson, nationally acclaimed columnist for The Washington Post, will bring his unique insights on life in America to Albion’s 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation and Community Celebration. He will present “We’re Someplace We’ve Never Been: Race, Diversity and the New America” as part of the Monday, January 30 event, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Bohm Theatre

 Read more about this historic event on the Albion College website:

Civil Rights Monuments and Sculptures in Michigan and Canada

There was a trail to the north before the Civil War, that was unmarked, except for stories of following the North Star, looking for moss on the north sides of trees, and key words that helpers would know. This was called the Underground Railroad. Across Michigan and into Canada, there is a trail today, that is marked with much more visible reminders of this challenging time in our history. Today we can visit monuments, or just read about them here online, and learn about how far we have come, and how far we still have to go.

History Hill at Holland Park

The public was invited to the grand opening of the newly installed West Ward School History panels in Holland Park at on Saturday, Aug. 13th 2016.

As part of the Holland Park Transformation, a Michigan Humanities Council Heritage grant was awarded to the City of Albion and Albion College to display the West Ward School story. For this project, historians Robert Wall, Leslie Dick, and Dr. Wesley Arden Dick interviewed more than 20 former West Ward students. This history will be a permanent exhibit on History Hill in Holland Park. Park visitors will be able to access the Albion West Ward School website to discover more and to hear the voices of the West Ward students.

West Ward Elementary School was built in 1873. For 45 years, its students were primarily the children of white, European immigrants who worked in the nearby iron foundries. European immigration was cut off during World War I, and the Albion Malleable Iron Company sent a recruiter south to Pensacola, Florida. In November of 1916, almost 100 years ago, 64 African American men arrived at the Albion railroad depot, ready to go to work at “The Malleable.” Soon, their wives and children arrived, posing a question: where would their children attend school? At first, those children were educated at an Albion African American church. When Dalrymple Elementary School was completed in January of 1918, the white West Ward School children were transferred to the new school and West Ward became an all-Black elementary school.

Previously, the African American children had been educated in the segregated, Jim Crow South in all-Black schools. The only way the new arrivals would have Black teachers in Albion in 1918 was to make West Ward a segregated school. Although segregated public education was against Michigan law, West Ward remained an all-Black school until 1953. While African American parents and community leaders initially favored the segregated arrangement, racial attitudes concerning justice and achieving the American Dream changed over time. By 1953, key Black parents considered West Ward to be “separate, but unequal,” and they kept their children out of school that fall. This led to a showdown with the Albion Board of Education. Confronted by the boycott and threatened by an NAACP lawsuit, the Board ended classes at West Ward in October of 1953. The West Ward story thus changed from northern segregation to an Albion Civil Rights movement. After the school was closed, it was tor! n down, and the school grounds became a city park, which was later dedicated in honor of Robert Holland, Sr., one of the boycott leaders. West Ward is a reminder that Albion’s story is America’s story.

The historical display was made possible by a Heritage Grant from the Michigan Humanities Council.

To learn more about History Hill visit our new website: www.albionwestward.net

To help support the work of the Albion branch NAACP, please visit https://www.facebook.com/AlbionNaacp/

To donate, go to the Holland Park Transformation facebook page and send us a message to ask where to mail your check.

 

Monument to Robert Holland, Sr. in Holland Park

robert_holland_monument_west_ward_school_albion_michigan_900px

A monument to Robert Holland, Sr. was placed in Holland Park 40 years ago on August 7, 1976.

The text on the plate reads:  Holland Park, Dedicated August 7, 1976.  To honor the memory of Robert Holland, Sr., City Councilman 1966-1974.

“He dealt with the physical West Ward in this City in order that others were free to deal with the psychological West Wards in their minds.”

This monument is located within the circular sidewalk in Holland Park, which can be seen in the post about Holland Park. Click here to see the Holland Park post.