The Freedom Fight – The Illustrated News July 8, 1963

A copy of the Illustrated News, published by Henry Cleage, other family members and friends from 1961 to 1964.  It came out several weeks after the massive Detroit Walk to Freedom down Woodward Avenue on June 23, 1963.  Click the link above to read an Illustrated News issue covering the march.

The inside pages are reprinted from The National Observer and Business Week June 29, 1963.  The cover photo was taken by William “Billy” Smith.  The “Smoke Rings” on page 8 were written by my uncle, Dr. Louis J. Cleage.  Click on any image to enlarge.


My father, Rev. Albert B. Cleage jr (later known as Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman) with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, after they both spoke at the rally after the march. between them, in the back in Rosa Parks, unfortunately she turned her head before this photo was shot.

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Isle of Palms Beach – 1975

Jim and Kris at the beach.

At the beach on the Isle of Palms, 1975.

This photograph was taken of me and my husband shortly before we moved from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina to rural Simpson County, Mississippi, far from the Ocean and the beach.  You can read more about our life in Mt. Pleasant at this link,  S is for Sixth Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, SC.  To learn more about the Isle of Palms, click this link,  Isle of palms, South Carolina (Wipkipedia)


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Eighth Grade Graduating Class – Wingert Elementary School Detroit, 1922

eighthgradewingertclassMy father, Albert B. Cleage, Jr (front row, second from left), with his 8th grade class at Wingert Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan. He was 12 years old.  It was 1923.  In Detroit, it depended on what community you lived in whether the school you attended was integrated or not. My uncles said that the abundance of white children in this class was due to the white orphanage across West Grand Blvd from Wingert.

When my father and his siblings graduated to Northwestern High School, there was a much smaller percentage of black students and, depending on the teacher, more or less discrimination. There are many tales of my grandmother going up to the school to demand that her children not be seated in the back of the classroom and other outward signs. I wish I had interviewed her.

I am going to quote now from a biography of my father, Prophet of the Black Nation, written in 1969 by Hiley Ward, . The following is taken from pages 74 – 78.

Cleage, who attended Detroit public schools draws some of his militantism on schools from his own experiences with discrimination back in the 20’s, particularly his high school, Northwestern, which was nearly all white at that time but is nearly solid black now.  He remembers, “I didn’t like anything about it.  There were all kinds of discrimination.” the school clubs were closed to blacks, he says, “It was a horrible atmosphere, and I took part in as little as possible.”  He recalls that the teachers would always put the black youths at the back of the classroom.  “It was dismal. My parents would go up and raise enough donnybrook and hell to take care of the situation (classroom seating, etc.)”; but,he says, they were powerless to penetrate the fabric of discrimination by the white teachers and administration.  “It wasn’t the students, so much as the administration.”  Cleage took a try at the 440 in track, which by his own admission was “nothing great,” and he says several black students were able with much effort to break into the predominately white school’s team sports.  His brother Henry, now an attorney for the Neighborhood Legal Services, was “first cellist in the school orchestra; but every time they had a concert they tried to place him so it would appear that he was not the first cellist.  This was trivial, but…”

Cleage’s sister Gladys remembers how her father helped form the Wingert school PTA and was instrumental in getting the first black teacher by means of a petition.”He would argue with the school board and everybody else.”

Pearl Cleage in 1963

My grandmother Pearl Cleage in 1963

Cleage’s mother said of the schools her boys attended (Wingert Elementary and Northwestern), I had to fight for them all the way through,  for I knew a mistreated child could have a blight for years…if a child said he was having trouble naturally, I’d go up to see about it.”

Albert “is a great talker now,” she said, “but in high school he was not much of a talker unless he had something specific to say,”  She remembers going in to see on English teacher who told her, “Albert doesn’t smile or talk much.” “And I said, ‘Is there anything to smile or talk about?’ She had sent him down to the principal to see if the principal could make him talk, and the principal said, ‘Well, Albert, you are not much of a talker,’ and sent him back.  The English teacher talked about grades. I said, ‘He came to you with an A.  Send down to the office and see the record for yourself, and you keep him to a C – ridiculous!  I say he’s an A student!  If he doesn’t work, you can still hold him to a C. But I thought you graded on work.’ She was foolish.  Another teacher said his papers were too lengthy.  But God does not make us all alike.  God made some minds to be emphatic… Louis – now the M.D. – could write short papers.  Louis just put it down, but you can’t grade this son by his younger brother’s method.”

Mrs. Cleage, the 81-year-old matriarch, watched me closely as I wrote down her words. “I feel sorry for parents raising colored children.” she said, “for so many don’t have the fight like I do.” Perhaps I grinned a little at this point, in admiration of the energy of  this tremendous lady still full of the old vinegar for her sons.  “You smile, but you don’t know,” she said “You have to do something in a country like the United States.”

She did the same with all her youngsters.  “Louis was brokenhearted when he got a C in chemistry.  So I went to his counselor. ‘You come with me,’ I told him. ‘I’m taking him out of that class.  I can’t have a child ruined by a man who hates colored people.’ I took him to another class, and the new teacher was amazed – he was an A student all along.”  Daughter Barbara recalled that “there was a teacher who opened the door by the top where no ‘colored’ child touches the door.” She recalls her mother telling the principal, “I can’t stand this.  This girl and other children are too fine.  Take that polluted woman out.”

You can see a photo of Wigert school at this link.  Below is a photo I took about 2005 of the main doorway, where I think the photo was taken.

Doorway,  Wingert Elementary School. About 2005.

Doorway, Wingert Elementary School. About 2005.

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Fish and Fillets – Idlewild Michigan 1977 & 1979

My mother, Doris Graham Cleage, holding a string of fish on Water Mill Lake.

My mother, Doris Graham Cleage, holding a string of blue gills she and Henry caught in Lake Idlewild in 1977.

On the left my Uncle Henry is holding a ten inch blue gill that he and my mother caught in September of 1977 in a boat off of my Uncle Louis’ dock on Lake Idlewild.  They would fillet them and freeze them in empty milk cartons.

On the right is a boat in front of Louis’ cottage on Idlewild Lake. I can’t quite make it out, but could be them catching the above string of fish.

In June, 1979 my mother sent to the Emergency Land Fund’s newspaper “Forty Acres and A Mule” her recipe for cooking blue gills.  I wish I had a plate of those blue gills right now.

idlewild lake with boat 1977:sept 10" blue gill from L. Idlewild

bluegill recipe - doris cleage******************************

I just remembered this letter with a drawing of a fish that my mother wrote to Henry from Idlewild in 1956.

Letter my mother wrote in 1956 from Louis's cottage in Idlewild.

From a letter my mother wrote in 1956 from Louis’s cottage in Idlewild.

“In between showers, the children & I go outside to see what’s up.  The lake is full of minnows & baby bass & even some half-size bass who stay around our beach.  But the rowboat isn’t even down the hill – and the other boats are too fast – everything is gone before you even get to it – including the lake.

I’ve spent two evenings with Louis & his guests – and they took me out to “night club” – but they’ve given me up, I think, as a confirmed “prude” – but a pleasant innocuous one.  I’ve been reading the book about Bronson alcott (no, I won’t tell you who he is) and also…”

kris,ma,pearlon dock

Me, my mother and Pearl on Louis’ dock that summer of 1956.


I was going to write about the time when we hand printed fish one spring in Idlewild. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have saved any of our prints. I did not know printing fish was a Japanese art form called Gyotaku.  Ours were not as lovely as those at the link, but they were interesting.

Note:  My sister tells me she has some of those prints. Whenever she finds them, I will add them to this post.

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Glow Around His Head – Two Memories

Mackienzie Hall in the 1960s.

You can see all three buildings here. Mackienzie Hall is straight ahead. State Hall is to the left. The Maccabee’s Building, which housed the Board of Education back then, is down the block, a light colored building behind Mackenzie Hall.  We can’t see the library in this photo but it was directly across from State Hall on Cass and across the side street from Mackenzie Hall.    ( Photo from the Wayne State University archives)

My sister Pearl’s version:

okay. i know you always deny saying this, but here’s how i remember it.

you said somebody who worked with you in the wayne cafeteria said you have to meet this guy. I think you two would really hit it off and you said cool and then on a subsequent day, the person said there he is and he was at the top of one of those school building stairways and you said — i swear you said this to me because at the time i thought “woah! she’s got it bad!!!” — you said the first time you saw him “it was like he had a glow around his head or something.” i stole that for the “in the time before the men came piece” when the lil’ amazon says almost those exact words…

amazing that i remember this so clearly, have even told it to people, and it doesn’t ring a bell at all. I don’t know why. maybe the glow had to do with memory erasure and he erased it from your mind so you wouldn’t know he was from another planet or something… who knows? all i know is, if i dreamed it, it was an amazing dream. ….

My Version.

What really happened…includes the cafeteria, the actual meeting and a stairway.  No glow.
The first time I saw Jim, I was working in the Wayne State University cafeteria, behind the food counter. A woman who worked with me, who wasn’t a student but a regular employee, said her boyfriend was coming through the line and she always gave him free food. It was Jim who came through and got his free food and didn’t make any impression on me to speak of. I didn’t think about him again until I met him later. This must have been the winter of 1966 or the fall.

The Northern high students walked out in the spring of 1966. Northwestern high organized a supporting boycott and my sister Pearl was the head of it. I used to study in the main library’s sociology room. As I was leaving to go to my next class, a guy came up and asked if I was Rev. Cleage’s daughter. I said I was. He asked if I was leading the Northwestern boycott and I said no, that was my sister. We made arrangements to meet after my class on the picket line in front of the Board of Education Building. We did and later sat around for several hours talking in the ‘corner’ at the cafeteria in Mackenzie Hall. I felt very comfortable with him, which I usually didn’t do with people I just met. He tried to convince me to join a sorority and convert the girls to revolution. There wasn’t a chance I was going to do that. He also told me that he was “nice”. I asked if he meant as in some people were revolutionaries and he was “nice”. He said yes, that’s what he meant.  We saw each other almost everyday after that.

One day during the fall of 1967, I was going to a creative writing workshop that was on the third floor of State Hall. The stairway had ceiling to floor windows and I saw him, Jim, walking down the sidewalk across Cass Ave., in front of the library. Before I knew what I was doing, I was down the stairs and on my way out the door when I realized I needed to go to class and went back up the stairs.

That’s what really happened.

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A Typewriter & Roquefort Cheese

Summer of 1966. Me with the Underwood Five in the background.

Summer of 1966. Me with the Underwood Five in the background.  That small room held the dining room table, the upright piano, a bookcase, my mother’s desk, a combo radio/record player and the typing table.

I was hoping that this week I could find a photograph of someone in the family actually typing. I could not. I did find several photographs with a typewriter in the background. I chose this one of me in 1966 sitting in our dining room with our trusty Underwood in the background.  It was an upgrade from the ancient Underwood we had before.

I also found a story that I wrote on this very typewriter a little over a year later. I share it below.  I wrote it for a Creative Writing class at Waynes State University. The story alternates between a journal entry I wrote about a trip to Santa Barbara, CA and wanting to leave home and the rather strange story of #305751 (my student ID number) who works for a multinational corporation giving away cheese samples on the streets of Detroit.   Judging by all of the corrections, this was not the copy that I turned in.  I hope. Click on any page to enlarge.

roquefurt cheese pg 1roquefurt cheese 2

roquefurt cheese 3

roquefurt cheese 4  roquefurt cheese 5 roquefurt cheese 6 roquefurt cheese 7 roquefurt cheese 8

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Playing Chess

chess_toddyHere is my father, Albert B. Cleage Jr, playing chess at his parents house about 1952.  We lived down the street on Atkinson in the parsonage at the time.  We have played a lot of chess in my family through the years.

I remember my Uncle Henry teaching me to play chess when I was in my teens.  When I first met my husband, we spent hours playing chess on the second floor of the student center in Mackenzie Hall   Below is a bit of a letter I wrote to my sister in 1966 that begins with a game of chess.

September 21, 1966

I am in bed with the flu. Monday night, I was playing chess with Henry when I developed chills. My teeth were chattering and I had goose pimples. I thought I was gong to die. just my luck to get sick on payday. I got two patterns Friday. I have to get some material now. I want some blue material with little black flowers for the suit.

I spent the weekend with (my cousin).  I got high once on Saturday night. I didn’t like it. It was like everything was floating and everything was real slow. My thinking too, also my voice sounded real far away . This guy was there,  he was talking and I was looking at him and I could hear him, but it was like someone else was talking. Very, very weird!!! I could still think, I knew I was high and what I was doing. It wasn’t my idea of fun and I doubt if I’ll ever do it again.

Sunday morning I went horseback riding. I really liked it. Me and (my cousin) and her friends  went. Riding was really nice, but I was a little scared when the horse first started to run or trot or whatever you call it. I’m just a little sore.

Stokely (Carmichael) is supposed to be here in a few weeks at church. Linda and I finished our 15 page each quota of bruning at work by 12:30 Friday, so we messed around the rest of the day. Both Linda’s and my dress shrunk so now we have mini dresses.

On Friday (my cousin) and I went to the drive-in and saw “Breakfast at Tiffiny’s” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf” I liked the first, but, who the hell is Virginia Wolf? Higgins paper came out. Bar’s baby has measles. Everybody at work is singing La Bamba now, due to my great influence.

Unfortunately, I do not think I ever went horseback riding again.  I never really took to getting high. It’s hard to believe I didn’t know who Virginia Wolf was.  Luckily, in one of my early English classes, we had to read her book, Mrs. Dalloway.

The photograph in the header is my grandson Sean playing chess with himself four years ago. He would make a play and then make a play for the other color, often going around to the other side to make the play.



Posted in Biography, Cleages, sepia saturday | 31 Comments

Joycelyn Maxine Williams Anderson 1939 – 2015

Joycelyn Maxine Anderson

Joycelyn Maxine Anderson.  Click to enlarge the photograph.

My sister-in-law Joycelyn Maxine Williams Anderson died on May 23, 2015 after a long illness.  Maxine (as I called her, some called her Joycelyn) was my husbands oldest sister. Maxine always sent me a birthday card and she always thanked me for putting up with her brother for so many years.  St. Louis will not be St. Louis without her.

Maxine made an appearance as a one year old in the 1940 census here -> 1940 Census – Chester and Theola Williams.  There is more about the Williams family here “I” is for Inglewood Court.

Life Reflections (Obituary)

Joycelyn Maxine Williams Anderson was born in Dermott, Arkansas on May 21, 1939 to Chester Arthur and Theola Marie (Davenport) Williams.  She was the first of twelve children ( six girls and six boys.)  She began her education at Chico County Training School. The family moved to St. Louis in 1945 and found their first church home at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church.  Joycelyn professed her love and belief in Jesus Christ at an early age and was baptized by Reverend Langford.  Her walk with the Lord brought her to Washington Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in 1947.

Jocelyn was educated in the St. Louis Public School System and graduated from Charles Sumner High School.  She attended Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa and was united in holy matrimony with Hearn Humphrey Anderson.  To this union was born one daughter, Nichole Patrice (Anderson) Borman.

Throughout her life, Joycelyn’s prevailing philosophy was “In spite of handicaps, all things are possible – you have to grow where you are planted.”  She was employed by the Malcolm Bliss Mental Health Center and retired after thirty-four years from her position as a recreational therapist’s aide with the Missouri Department of Mental Helath.  The expertise and caring she displayed was continued after her retirement as she became an avid community volunteer.

She volunteered for the Oasis program and regularly read to school age children; she was an area coordinator for the Senior Connections program and was a member of the Summer Class of ’57 alumni association, working tirelessly to ensure opportunities for current Sumner students.  She contributed generously to Washington Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church serving as a Deaconess and President of the John E. and Regina S. Nance Scholarship Fund; a member of the Women’s Missionary Union and a Life Member of the Berean District Association.  Lastly, Joycelyn articulated her business skills as a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant over a period of thirty-one years.

After an extended battle with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Joycelyn answered the voice of our Heavenly Father on Sunday, May 24, 2015 and peacefully passed away in her sleep.  Preceding her in death were her parents, Chester and Theola Williams; her brothers, Chester Arthur Williams, Jr., Earl Raymond Williams, Andrew Milton Williams and her former husband, Hearn H. Anderson.

Joycelyn leaves to cherish her memory: one daughter – Nicole P. Borman (Kent); her sisters – E. Jean Williams, Catherine Boayue, Linda Nance (Herreld), Monnette Lartey and Deborah Benard (Perry); her brothers – Harold F. Williams, James Edward Williams (Kristin) and Michael A. Williams; and a host of very dear nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, church family and friends.

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Children and Grandchildren

My children and grandchildren.

My children and grandchildren.

The birth of my tenth grandchild earlier this week made me wonder how many grandchildren the women in my family had in the past. I combined this with when they had their first child and how many children they had.  Here is what I found.

December 1970. Me and my oldest daughter.

December 1970. Me and my oldest daughter.

I was born in 1946. My oldest daughter was born in Detroit in 1970 when I was 23 years old. My youngest son was born when I was 41. My first grandchild was born when I was 52. I was 68 when my youngest grandchild was born. I have six children and ten grandchildren.

My mother holding me.

My mother holding me.

My mother, Doris Graham Cleage, was born in Detroit Michigan in 1923. She gave birth to two daughters. The oldest (me) was born when she was 23 in 1946. My sister was born in 1948 when my mother was 26. I had 6 children and my sister had 1. My mother was 47 when her first grandchild was born and she would have been 64 when her youngest grandchild was born.   Doris had two children and seven grandchildren.

My grandmother holding my mother.

My grandmother holding my mother.

My maternal grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner Graham, was born in Lowndes County, AL in 1888.  She gave birth to 4 children, all in Detroit. The first was born in 1920.  The  fourth was born in 1928 when she was 40.  Both boys died in childhood. Fannie’s oldest daughter (my aunt) had 3 children and my mother had 2.  My grandmother was 56 when her first grandchild was born.  She was 65 when her youngest grandchild was born.  Fannie Mae had four children. Two died in childhood.  She had five grandchildren.

"Pearl Cleage and baby Albert"

Pearl Reed Cleage and baby Albert. 1911 Indianapolis, IN

My paternal grandmother, Pearl Reed Cleage, was born in 1886.  Her first child was born in 1911 when she was twenty five. Her youngest child was born in 1924 when she was thirty nine.  Her first grandchild (me) was born when she was sixty years old.  She was seventy six when the youngest grandchild was born.  Pearl had seven children and nine grandchildren.

Pearl’s mother, my great grandmother Anna Allen Reed She was born about 1849.  She gave birth to her first child when she was 16, in 1865.  She gave birth to my grandmother Pearl, her youngest child, when she was 37.  Anna was 40 when her first grandchild was born.  She had been dead for 15 years when her youngest grandchild was born in 1924. Anna had eight children and thirty-six grandchildren.

Celia Rice Cleage Sherman with grand daughter Barbara Cleage.  About 1921 in Detroit, MI.

Celia Rice Cleage Sherman with grand daughter Barbara Cleage. About 1921 in Detroit, MI.

My great grandmother, Celia Rice Cleage Sherman was born about 1855 in Virginia.  She was taken to Tennessee as a small child. Her first child was born in 1873 when she was eighteen years old.  Her youngest child was born in 1883 when she was 28 years old. Celia’s first grandchild was born in 1897 when she was 42 years old.  She was 69 when her last grandchild was born in 1924. Celia had five children and twenty-one grandchildren.

Great grandmother with Daisy and Fannie

Great grandmother with Daisy and Fannie

My maternal great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Allen Turner, was born free in 1866 in Montgomery, AL. She gave birth to three daughters. The first two daughters were born in Lowndes County. My grandmother was the oldest, born in 1888 when Jennie was 22.  Daisy was born in 1890. In 1892 Jennie’s husband died. She later remarried and her youngest daughter was born in Montgomery, AL in 1908 when she was 42. Of her 3 daughters, only my grandmother had children.  Jennie Virginia Allen Turner had three children and four grandchildren.



My maternal 2X great grandmother,  Eliza Williams Allen was born into slavery about 1839 in Alabama. She gave birth to 13 children. Eight survived to adulthood.  All were born in Alabama. The oldest daughter was born into slavery in 1856. Eliza was about 17 years old. Her other children were born free in Montgomery, AL.  Her youngest child was born in 1879 when Eliza was 40.  Eliza had thirteen children and eighteen grandchildren.


My 3X maternal line great grandmother, Annie Williams, was born into slavery about 1820 in Virginia. I only know of one child, Eliza above, who was born in Alabama in 1839 when Annie was about 19. Annie died before the 1900 census so did not answer the question “How many children did you give birth to?” There is no oral history of Eliza having siblings.  Annie had one daughter and eight grandchildren.


My 2X great grandmother Emma Jones Turner was born into slavery about 1842 in South Carolina. She was later taken to Alabama.  She gave birth to ten children. Six of the children survived to adulthood.  Her first child was born when she was about 18 years old and the youngest was born when she was 30. Emma had ten children, and sixteen grandchildren.


Posted in Cleages, Eliza, Grahams | 15 Comments

Alpha Dance 1952

atkinson Doris & 'Toddy" Alpha dance1952

Doris and Toddy, Alpha dance 1952.

I do not remember seeing my parents dressed up for this dance. I was six years old. I do not remember ever seeing my parents dressed up and going out.  After we moved off of Atkinson to Chicago Blvd, I remember that my mother had several fancy gowns hanging in her closet.

I looked for information about an Alpha dance in Detroit in 1952.  I couldn’t find anything. Neither of my parents were members of a sorority or fraternity. I am assuming that some members of the church invited them to the dance.

“In 1951, when I was four, my father received a call to St. Marks Presbyterian church in Detroit. We left Springfield, Massachusetts  and moved into 2212 Atkinson, down the street from my paternal grandparents who lived at 2270 Atkinson.    St. Marks was located a block away, in the other direction, on 12th Street.  The 1967 Detroit riot started a block from the church.”    For more click  A is for Atkinson.

Moving from Springfield to Detroit in 1951.

Posted in Cleages, Grahams | Tagged , | 29 Comments