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

Make Black History Personal: # 19 Meeting Opera Diva Leontyne Price

In 1978, the year after I integrated the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), I attended the organization’s annual conference in  Washington, D.C. It’s called “Continental Congress” and is several days of meetings along kicked off by a huge opening night gala. The concert in 1978 was performed at DAR’s Constitution Hall by the amazing opera diva – Leontyne Price. If you don’t know who she is – Leontyne Price, who is still living and inRead more

Make Black History Personal: #18 Uncle Freddie Goes to War

It’s odd in a family where we have military service that goes back to the earliest colonial wars that I can only find one African-American ancestor who was a member of any branch of the United States military. That was my uncle, Frederick “Freddie” Dickinson who was born in Cleveland, Ohio on August 16, 1921. I knew from this photo dated 1950 that Uncle Freddie served in the Army during the Korean War. When I researched who of my Black ancestorsRead more