Make Black History Personal: #25 Family History from the Inside Out

When I was a little Black girl growing up in Detroit, Michigan, the last thing I was thinking about was genealogy, family history or anything beyond my little world of people who loved me and who I loved back. But pretty early in life, I became interested in history. When my parents subscribed to National Geographic, that magazine really jump-started my evolution into the history nerd I am today. From the many issues of National Geographic I read over theRead more

Make Black History Personal: #24 Cousins by Chance, Friends by Choice

In my life, I’ve been blessed on my father’s side of the family to have lots of cousins. The funny thing is that we don’t distinguish between first cousins and anything beyond that. In fact, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I heard about the different kinds of cousins. You know – first, second, first removed and all of that. I actually find it pretty confusing because in my family, a cousin is a cousin and it’s thatRead more

Make Black History Personal: #23 Our Royal Heritage

Did I mention that we have Royal heritage? Not the crown-wearing kind but Royal, as in the now-vintage typewriter that’s been used by three generations of our family already. Our Royal was built in 1929, as I discovered when I looked up the serial number recently. My grandmother Hazel was the first in our family to learn how to type on the glass-covered black and gold keys. The next generation who learned how to type was my mom. She tookRead more

Make Black History Personal: #22 Meeting Obama

The first time I ever heard about Barack Obama was when he was introduced as the keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I was watching the coverage because my home state governor, Jennifer Granholm from Michigan, was scheduled to speak. I confess, I was half-paying attention and doing other things at home while I waited for the Governor to come on. And then I heard Barack Obama start speaking. I don’t remember his exact words, but whatever Mr.Read more

Make Black History Personal: #21 Uril Franklin Hollis and the KKK

During my early years, I was blessed with three grandfathers – my mother’s father, my dad’s father and his stepfather. Uril Hollis was my step-grandfather and the grandpa I got to see most when we’d spend the weekend with he and my grandmother in Hamtramck, Michigan. I didn’t know much about Grandpa Hollis except that his full name was Franklin Uril Hollis, he was born in Mississippi and he didn’t have any children. I knew he was smart – anRead more

Make Black History Personal: #20 1963 March with Dr. King in Detroit

On Sunday, June 23, 1963, instead of a quiet morning at home, my father packed up the entire family and took us to downtown Detroit for a civil rights march, he said. That brief explanation couldn’t have prepared me for seeing so many people that day gathering for the march. We would turn out to be 25,000 strong led by a young minister from Atlanta who I had never heard of  – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We marched downRead more