The Red Wagon – 1950 & 1954

Pearl and Barbara in the wagon. Kris (me) and Dee Dee standing.
Pearl and Barbara in the wagon. Kris (me) and Dee Dee standing.

This photograph was taken in 1950, the year before this other wagon photograph 3 in a wagon.  This time Dee Dee the photographer appears with us. My sister Pearl and I had just moved to Detroit from Springfield, MA.  We spent most Saturdays at our maternal grandparent’s house with our cousins Dee Dee and Barbara.

Fast forward to 1954 and there we are in the wagon again.
Fast forward to 1954 and there we are in the wagon again.
For more Sepia Saturday wagons, click!
For more Sepia Saturday wagons, click!

 

Television watching, drawing and not watching

Pearl and Kristin watching TV.
My sister Pearl and me, watching TV.

Both of these are from the house at 5397 Oregon, Detroit. I have no idea what Pearl and I are watching but it seems to have our interest.  I did the drawing below in my sketch book for one of my drawing classes a few years later.  You can see several other photographs of my mother and sister and me watching (or not watching) tv in the header above.

The corner of the living room on Oregon.
The corner of the living room on Oregon.

When I left home, I didn’t have a television until 1973 when my sister gave us a small TV so we could watch a program that she produced. We continued using that television until it was stolen in 1978 when I was at a prenatal visit. It was so wonderful not having a TV that it wasn’t until the 1990s that we got another one. That one was built so that we could watch videos, which is what we did for a long while.  I think it was several more years before we actually started using the television part of it.

Right now we do not have a working television. We do have a large computer screen that is hooked up to Roku and my computer and we can watch movies and videos that way now. We even catch a few television shows sometimes.

Click for more Sepia Saturday offerings.
Click for more Sepia Saturday offerings.

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.

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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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Rebellions Create Strange Leaders – By Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman

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[From Paul Lee, “UPRISING!   Rare testimonies and reports in the ’67 Detroit Rebellion,” Part 8, The Michigan Citizen, Oct. 14th-Oct. 20th, 2007, pp. A9-A11]

Rebellions Create Strange Leaders

 By Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman

(Rev. Albert B. Cleage, Jr.)

 Introduced and edited by Paul Lee

Pt. 8

This installment of our series on the ’67 Detroit Rebellion is the first not to be drawn from the records of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, or Kerner Commission, which President Lyndon B. Johnson established on July 28, 1967, to uncover the causes of the annual urban uprisings and make recommendations on how to prevent or contain future disorders.

Unlike the reports, surveys and interviews submitted by commission field investigators and consultants in the wake of the uprisings, written, compiled and conducted to present “a fair and accurate picture of what happened” and lead to the formulation of new government programs, initiatives and experiments, the following document offers a decidedly partisan, pro-black analysis of the complex social and psychological roots of the rebellions and their potential to help bring about fundamental social changes.

Voice of the Black Nation

 This penetrating and provocative analysis was offered by a 56-year-old veteran of the civil-rights and Black Power movements in Detroit:   Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman, then known as the Rev. Albert B. Cleage, Jr., the bold, charismatic and visionary black nationalist pastor of Central United Church of Christ, formerly Central Congregational

On Easter Sunday, March 26, 1967, he launched the Black Christian Nationalist Movement, later church, known as BCN, and unveiled a striking 18-foot chancel mural of a Black Madonna and child.   He called upon black people to reconnect with the African roots of Christianity, “resurrect the historic Black Messiah and stop worshipping a white Jesus who never existed” — thus making him the father of the black-liberation theology movement

            Seeing no distinction between the sacred and the secular, he worked to bring the black church to the center of the burgeoning liberation struggle, believing that the only real security for black people was to build counter-institutions and a counter-culture — a “black nation within a nation.”

Central church was formally renamed Shrine of the Black Madonna #1 in 1970.   In the early 1970s, two satellite churches were established in other parts of Detroit and churches were later founded in Kalamazoo, Mich., Atlanta, Ga., Houston, Tex., and Beulah Land, S. C., near Calhoun Falls.  

Jaramogi Agyeman, who was interviewed at least four times by Kerner Commission field investigators, adopted his African name in 1972 and the BCN Church was succeeded by the Pan African Orthodox Christian Church (PAOCC) in 1978.

When the Rebellion occurred, he was the divorced father of two daughters:   Kristin Cleage Williams, who recently directed the organization of the vast, Detroit-based Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman Archives, and Pearl Michelle Cleage, a noted essayist, novelist, poet and playwright, both of Atlanta.

Exceptional analysis

Almost alone among political and religious leaders, commentators and social scientists during that period, Jaramogi Agyeman’s analysis saw the Detroit Rebellion, which was the most destructive to date, as a “logical” outgrowth of the modern civil-rights and Black Power movements.

Also exceptional was the fact that, unlike most moderate black leaders, he refused to blame such uprisings on or denounce black “hoodlums.”   Indeed, he frontally challenged what sociologists termed the “riffraff theory” that the uprisings were the handiwork of a tiny “criminal element” among African Americans.  

This theory, which reduced the uprisings to orgies of criminality, was first made famous in Violence in the City:   An End or a Beginning?, the report of California Gov. Edmund G. (Pat) Brown’s Commission on the Los Angeles Riots, better known as the McCone Commission after its chairman, former CIA director John A. McCone.  

It examined the Aug. 11-16, 1965, rebellion in the mostly-black Watts district in Los Angeles, which was ignited by reports of police brutality following the arrest of an inebriated black motorist.

Jaramogi Agyeman’s analysis was made in a sermon delivered on Sunday, July 23, 1967 — only hours after the rebellion broke out following an early-morning police raid on a “blind pig,” or after-hours drinking establishment, near the corner of 12th Street (now Rosa Parks Boulevard) and Clairmount on Detroit’s near west side.   The incident coalesced years of frustration and outrage over police brutality and other social injustices.

From the overflow

According to Kris Williams, “My father never read his sermons. After writing them out, he rarely even referred to his notes.”   Longtime Shrine member Sala Adams recalls that he allowed himself to be led by “the overflow,” as he called it, in which he spoke freely and often powerfully from the spirit.

On the morning of the Detroit uprising, it appears that he intended to address the recent rebellions in Newark, N. J., Kalamazoo and East Harlem, N. Y., which he referred to in his sermon.  

This made it easy for him to incorporate the fast-escalating events on 12th Street even before the press was ready to describe what was happening as a “riot.”   The media felt bound at first by an informal agreement with the authorities to delay reporting the outbreak until the police could get it under control. But the agreement became unsustainable as the first reporters began arriving on the scene.

At 11:00 a. m., about the time that Jaramogi Agyeman began his sermon, Detroit Free Press reporter William (Bill) Serrin called assistant city editor Wayne King from a store on 12th Street.   “Wayne, there’s a riot going on out here. …”   King heard glass breaking in the background.   “They just heaved a brick through the window,” Serrin explained, then hung up.

Prediction

Unlike most Detroit and Michigan leaders, Jaramogi Agyeman had seen the handwriting on the wall years before the explosion occurred.   He even correctly forecast what might trigger it.  

“Yes, I’m afraid that there might be violence in Detroit,” he said in reply to a question by a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) television reporter in November 1965, four months after the Watts revolt.   “I think you cannot continue to press a people without eventually some perhaps unforeseen accident sparking violence, such as happened in Los Angeles.”

Indirectly addressing the widespread belief that Detroit was a “Model City” in terms of its administration and race relations under the liberal leadership of the youthful Mayor Jerome P. (Jerry) Cavanagh and would be an exception to the ever-growing tally of nationwide rebellions, he continued:  

“I think that the night before the violence in Watts, anyone in Los Angeles would have said, ‘It seems relatively unlikely that there will be violence,’ but the conditions existed there and the same thing [was true] in New York last summer” — referring to the first of the great urban uprisings, which occurred in Harlem from July 18-23, 1964 — “and I think the conditions exist here: police brutality, poverty, increasing unemployment, poor education.”

Alternative ignored

In contrast to most “militant” black leaders and activists, he did more than forecast doom and destruction; he sought to provide a constructive alternative to violence.   In his view, the fact that violence did occur was due to the failure of the “white power structure,” which then controlled the city, to respond positively to his efforts.  

“Do you think that your activities, your militancy, exacerbates rather than diminishes race tension?” the BBC reporter queried Jaramogi Agyeman in 1965.

“No,” he replied, “I think that my activities, my militant activities, are the only hope for peace in the city of Detroit.   I think in Los Angeles and Watts, the danger was that there was no militant leadership, that the masses of people, having lost all faith in middle-class Negroes, had no one to turn to.  

“I think in the city of Detroit, we have constantly kept some positive program available for the masses of Negro people — political action, protest, demonstration — but always with the idea that there is a hope that we can find a peaceful solution to the problem and that violence in the streets is unnecessary.

            “So I think that without my militancy we would be in exactly the same position that the Negro in Los Angeles was.   And I think I deserve more credit than the mayor for preventing violence in the city of Detroit because for a number of years I’ve given always a possibility for a positive program.”

Activist and innovator

            During the 1960s, Jaramogi Agyeman was Detroit’s most outspoken advocate for black freedom, rights and dignity. He spread his message from the pulpit, rostrum and over the airwaves.

            He wrote occasional articles for the militant Illustrated News, a small newsletter published by his family and friends, and a weekly column in The Michigan Chronicle titled “Voice of the Black Nation” in the wake of the Rebellion.  

            Church member and Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs, wife of labor theorist James Boggs, prepared the column.  

            In an interview with The Michigan Citizen, Boggs explained that she took shorthand notes during Jaramogi Agyeman’s sermons on Sunday mornings and met with him Sunday evenings at the home of his brother Henry Cleage, an attorney, where “Rev.” looked over the text and made minor changes.   On Monday mornings, she submitted the finished product to the Chronicle.

            Beginning on Feb. 4, 1968, WCHB-AM, then a black-owned radio station in Inkster, Mich., carried a weekly broadcast of Jaramogi Agyeman’s sermons and speeches, recorded by church member Ollie (later Omari) McKinney, under the same name as the Chronicle series.

            As a leading member of the black nationalist Group on Advanced Leadership (GOAL), he led campaigns for quality education and economic self-help and against job discrimination, police brutality and the forced removal of blacks from the inner city, which the government termed urban renewal and many blacks called “Negro removal.”

            He called for and helped organize the mammoth “Walk To Freedom” down Woodward Avenue, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on June 23, 1963, and was a co-convener of the historic Northern Negro Grass Roots Leadership Conference, held at Mr. Kelly’s Lounge and King Solomon Baptist Church on Nov. 9-10, 1963, which featured a momentous keynote address by Malcolm X, then the national representative of Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam.

            He was also a pioneer in independent black politics.  In 1961-62, he organized the famous “5 Plus 1,” “3 Plus 1” and “4 and No More” campaigns to support black candidates for elective office.

            In 1964, he made an unsuccessful run for governor on the mostly-black Michigan Freedom Now Party ticket. He also made unsuccessful bids for the Detroit Common (later City) Council in 1965 and the Detroit Board of Education and the U. S. House of Representatives (13th District) in 1966.

            Following the Rebellion, he considerably expanded his influence as the chairman of three organizations:   The Inner City Organizing Committee (ICOC), which was essentially the political arm of his church, the Citywide Citizens Action Committee (CCAC) and the Federation for Self-Determination (FSD), two short-lived united-front groups that sought to bring about the “transfer of power” in Detroit from whites, who then held it, to African Americans, who were becoming the majority.

            In 1973, he co-founded the Black Slate, which helped elect African Americans to local, county, state and national office, including Coleman A. Young, Detroit’s first African American mayor.  

            Jaramogi Agyeman passed away on Feb. 20, 2000.

Link to the journal I kept during the riot -> Detroit Rebellion Journal – 1967

In the Backyard with Toodles – Winter 1926 & Summer 1928

Grandmother, Doris, Mother, M.V.
Summer 1928 Grandmother, Doris, Mother, M.V. Toodles.” “Grandmother” was my great grandmother Jennie Virginia Turner, “Doris” was my mother, “Mother” was my grandmother and “M.V.” was my Aunt Mary Virginia

 

In the summer of 1928 my grandmother Fannie, identified as “Mother” in the photograph above, was pregnant with her 4th child, Howard.  He was born on September 6 and lived only 3 years before dying of Scarlet Fever.  Older son, Mershell had died the year before after being struck by a truck on the way to school.  But in this picture, she’s looking forward to the new child they believed had been sent to take his place. My mother Doris isn’t smiling but is giving the dog a pat.

Doris, M.V. Mershell, Toodles 1926.
Doris, M.V. Mershell and Toodles – 1926.

To learn more about the members of the Graham family pictured, follow these links:

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Summer of 1962 in a sound car – the 3 + 1 Campaign

"Hugh Cleage and 3 plus 1 car"My uncle Hugh Cleage standing by the sound car he rigged up for the 1962 Congressional election in Detroit.  My Aunt Gladys, my sister and I spent hours in that car riding through our community. “Make your children proud.  Vote for Frederick Yates, a Negro in the 15th District…” One of us would ride in the car reciting as Gladys drove down the street while the other would leaflet the houses.  My sister and I were both in high school. I would turn 15 in August 1962.  My cousin Jan sometimes rode with us but she was too young to man the mic.

Below are 4 pages from 2 issues of the Illustrated News put out before the election. Click to enlarge.  Diggs was re-elected but none of our other candidates won.

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For more Sepia Saturday posts from around the world, click!

Three Generations – 1939

Three Generations
Three Generations

From Left to right My grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner Graham, peeking over my greatgrandmother’s, Jennie Virginia Allen Turner’s, shoulder. My grandmother’s sister Daisy Turner. Behind and between Aunt Daisy and Aunt Alice Turner, is my aunt Mary Virginia Graham Elkins, although she was not yet an Elkins. At the end, behind Alice, is my mother, Doris Graham Cleage, although she was not yet married a Cleage either.

They are posed in Grandmother Turner’s backyard on the East Side of Detroit at 4536 Harding.  The house is gone now.  They look like they just came from Church, at Plymouth Congregational, however the photo is dated July 4, 1939 on the back.  July 4 was on a Tuesday that year. Maybe they went on a church picnic. My grandfather, Mershell C. Graham took the picture.

Home Coming Banquet -1966

Part of the crowd at the Banquet.
Part of the crowd at the Banquet.

October is Home Coming Month for the church I grew up in.  At the time of this banquet on October 9, 1966, the church was known as Central United Church of Christ. Later it became the Shrine of the Black Madonna. Looking over the room, I can’t find myself. I was a junior at Wayne State University and lived at home so I don’t know why I wasn’t there.  Maybe I just made myself scarce during picture making.  Or maybe I had a lot of homework due the following Monday and pleaded out. I don’t remember ever helping serve or dish up the food.  Now that I think of it though, I don’t see my cousin Jan either. Where were we?  My sister Pearl was a freshman at Howard in DC so that explains her absence.  But enough rambling.

The Banquet is taking place in the Fellowship Hall immediately after the morning service. Services started at 11:30AM.  My father preached for about an hour so 1 really would be right after the service. The sermon that week was a part of a Series that extended over several weeks. Women are circulating around bringing plates to the table.  Unfortunately there is no clock showing in these photos, so we don’t know what time it was.

By banquet time the next year, after the 1967 Detroit Riot, there would be afro hair styles here and there. This year there are quite a few hats, everybody still in their Sunday best, eating and waiting.  There are real plates and glasses and silverware being used. I wonder if there was a dishwasher in the kitchen or if after waiting table the women washed all those dishes by hand.

When
I see my mother, Doris Graham Cleage (with the white blouse) and aunt Gladys Cleage Evans (sleeveless dark top) over at the window to pick up plates to serve the waiting crowd.
My uncles Henry and Winslow with my little Grandmother Cleage in the hat and my Aunt Anna.
My uncles Henry and Winslow with my little Grandmother Cleage in the hat and my Aunt Anna.
bulletin sunday 1966
Church Bulletin

bulletin oct homecoming 1966 cover

My father's Sermon Notes.
My father’s Sermon Notes for that Sunday morning.
Annabell Washington 1966
Ms Annabell Washington serving plates. She was one of the advisors for the youth fellowship. She later retired to Tybee Island, off of Georgia and became an artist, a painter.
grace & Jimmy boggs 1966
Grace and Jimmy Boggs chatting with fellow diners while they all wait to be served.
Ed Vaughn, founder of Vaughn's Books. Sitting a few seats away on the left is Arthur Smith who later took an African name, but I can't remember it right now.
Ed Vaughn, founder of Vaughn’s Books. Sitting a few seats away on the left is Arthur Smith who later took an African name, but I can’t remember it right now.  I wonder if the people at this end of the table had been waiting a long time for their food.

 

homecoming menu 1967
I do not have the menu for the 1966 Banquet but it was probably similar to this one from 1967, except I think they had chicken.
Church dinner in the Fellowship Hall.
At the far end of this table was my family – on the left we see Henry Cleage, Winslow Shreve, Ernest Martin and Dale Evans with his eyes closed.  On the other side is my Aunt Anna Shreve and  her daughter Anna with glasses.
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Mr. Perryman at the head of the table. To his right is Oscar Hand, I don’t recognize the next man, then my father, then a man, I suppose, from the United Church of Christ Associateion, Rev Webb and his wife giving the photographer a very firm look.

And from that day’s service “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” sung by Mahilia Jackson. Of course she didn’t sing at our service but this is the same version we used.

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Anti-Police Brutality Demonstration – 1963

Police brutality was a problem in 1963, as it is today. Today I am sharing an issue of the Illustrated News that covered a demonstration held in front of the Detroit police station, then at 1300 Beaubien.  The protest was against the killing of Cynthia Scott, an unarmed woman.  She was shot in the back. The demonstration was peaceful and there was no interference by the police. The article says there were 2,500 people at the protest.  Also “We wonder if a grand jury investigation might not clear the air and throw some light upon the police brutality practiced on Negroes and why such shootings never come to trial.”  And that is something people are still wondering today.  There was no investigation and the officer was not charged. Click on all pages to enlarge enough to read them.

Richard Henry aka Imari Obadela leader of GOAL talking to police during a demonstration.
Richard Henry, later known as Imari Obadele, President of GOAL discusses protest with officers during demonstration.

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Picture lower left includes Malcolm X’s brother, Wilferd X and my father, Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr. On my father’s left in the beret is Charles Simmons.

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For more Sepia Saturday Posts, CLICK!

Dunbar Hospital Article – 1995

More about Dunbar Hospital which was recently saved from being sold at auction when the it was decided to let the owners pay all back taxes, fines and water bill.  The article seems to be based on an interview with my aunt, Barbara Cleage Martin/Cardinal Nandi.

dunbar 1995

The sign on front lawn reads:

Dunbar Hospital: Michigan Historic Site.

At the time of World War I, health care for black Detroiters was inferior to that available for whites. Black physicians could not join the staffs of Detroit’s white hospitals. On May 20, 1918, thirty black doctors, members of the Allied Medical Society (now the Detroit Medical Society) incorporated Dunbar Hospital, the city’s first non-profit community hospital for the black population. It also housed the first black nursing school in Detroit. Located in a reform-minded neighborhood, this area was the center of a social and cultural emergence of the black residents of the city during the 1920s. In 1928 Dunbar moved to a larger facility and was later renamed Parkside, operating under that name until 1962. In 1978 the Detroit Medical Society, an affiliate of the National Medical Association, purchased the site for their administrative headquarters and a museum.

You can read more about Dunbar Hospital in previous posts at these links A Speech on the Graduation of the first class of nurses,  Births, Deaths, Doctors and Detroit, Part 2,Dunbar Hospital 1922 and 2014.  You can read about this building being auctioned in September 2014 here Detroit’s first black hospital hits auction

And here is an article from The Michigan Citizen about the Dunbar Hospital being saved. Let’s hope something positive is done with it now. Saving the Dunbar.