The Illustrated News – Walk to Freedom 1963

Bringing this back from 2011. The Illustrated News was published during the earlier 1960s by my father’s family and family friends.  Two of his brothers, Henry and Hugh, started a printing business because the family was always looking for ways to be economically independent.  The main business was printing handbills for small grocery stores.   And they started several newspapers.  First they did The Metro but the one I remember best is The Illustrated News. It was printed on pink paper (that was what was left over after printing the handbills) and distributed to churches and barber shops around the inner city. Some people had subscriptions. My father wrote many of the lead articles. My Uncle Louis wrote Smoke Rings, which was always on the back page. Billy Smith took most of the photographs.

Rev. Albert B. Cleage, Junior. Photo by Billy Smith.

This issue is from June 24, 1963. The focus is the Walk To Freedom which took place in support of the people in the south who were fighting for equality.  I was a high school junior at the time and I remember the crowds and crowds of people downtown for the march. It was very well organized and as the main march went up Woodward, to Cobo Hall, the side streets, filled with people who joined as the march went by. Estimates of the number went from 100,000 to 200,000.  It was an amazing feeling to be in a peaceful crowd, most dressed in their Sunday best, marching for FREEDOM NOW! At the end of the newsletter there are several photographs from the day of the march.

 My father is behind the first row, third and a half from the right.
Photo from the Detroit News. I think.  My father is on the right.

My maternal grandfather (poppy), Mershell C. Graham, has his finger by his nose, my uncle Hugh Cleage, smiling with the glasses next to him and my paternal grandmother, Pearl Reed Cleage, smiling with the hat on.  Older people who couldn’t walk all the way in the huge crowd went in earlier and got good seats. I don’t remember where I was sitting.

My father giving them hell about conditions in Detroit in 1963. They finally unplugged his mike to shut him up.

Below is a link to a video by Paul Lee about the “Walk to Freedom”.

33 thoughts on “The Illustrated News – Walk to Freedom 1963

  1. Kristin,
    I know I've told you this before. You REALLY need to write a book! At the very least, you need to use blog2print or some other service and print your blog. It needs to be shared. You have such incredible source material. Now I know that writing was in your genes — just a different medium.
    Have you considered a book?

  2. I agree that you should write a book. You have such good source material and have already done a lot of research. I have seen some interesting memoirs by university presses. Arcadia publishes a lot of locally oreiented books too.

  3. Even knowing what you've shared about your father and his family it's still impressive to see this. Looking forward to the book.

  4. Kristin, I ditto what everyone has said here about your book! I love it that your father was such a force to be reckoned with; the fact that they unplugged his mike to silence his voice — proves it!! I have certainly spent a WONDERFUL evening reading your blog!

  5. What a wonderful post. I must have spend most of my life starting small half-private, half public magazines and newspapers. I suppose blogging is a natural progression of this – just as your blogging is the continuation of your family traditions.

  6. Kristin, when I opened your blog it made me realize that my mom's bus trip to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, as well as a subsequent trip to Selma, is a story well worth telling and I plan to do that.

    I am so grateful to have found your blog today. There are so many stories out there worth telling and your family has way more than average!! I agree with everyone else, this would make a wonderful book.

    thank you!

  7. I've spent nearly an hour enlarging and reading the Illustrated News. You have such a wealth of material that you must, as others have urged you, turn it into a book.

  8. Alan, I've put out my share of those newsletters too. I hadn't thought of it that way but blogging does go right along with that.

  9. Kristin, another thoroughly enjoyable post. It would be great to publish your book to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the March. I want to hear you giving an interview on The Daily Show!

  10. A wonderful piece of history! It's so much more interesting when there is a personal link. That way it comes alive.

  11. Cool powerful picture of your father! It is striking that the word 'Negro' is used a lot in the newspaper.

  12. Rob, that's because it's from 1963. "Black" didn't come into usage until later in the 1960s.

  13. Yes ditto to all the encouragement to publish a book from some of these historical sharings you have put on Sepias. Your family was nothing if not innovative in looking for ways to make $$. How interesting to have these to record that part of our history of the times.

    I remember only hearing "colored" when I grew up in PA. I always thought that was because my grandparents used the Polish reference translated to English which was colored. But the term stuck my 93 year old uncle who just passed in May still said, "colored."

  14. I look forward to the book. This is a fascinating post. I was surprised to see the page about A&P and Kroger, as I wasn't aware that they didn't hire black people back then.

  15. What an amazing piece of history to have in your families possession. Yes, I agree please write a book.

  16. Wow this is one amazing post! I'm glad you did decide to do this…quite the era that was, and these kinds of stories need to be printed more than they are! Nicely done!

  17. A Studs Terkle style post! Thank you for sharing a family history interwoven into the larger history of America. It's an amazing fabric!

  18. Wish my father and uncles were here to see how popular their newsletter is. I've got 4 years worth of Illustrated News issues here.

  19. i'm not surprised to see this today. a natural choice!! i don't know what your plans are in this regard, but you're holding a piece of history which should be donated to a museum, city, state or federal. this needs to be preserved and shared, though you are doing a great job here, but i mean for the future, to preserve such documents. any idea what you will do?

    PS:i laughed when you said they had to unplug his mic to shut him up…
    what a great pic too!!

  20. Tickle, I've already donated copies of all the issues to the Bentley Collection at University of Michigan, where I also donated my father's papers. Also donated copies to the Wayne State University Library in Detroit where my father and I both graduated from. My father's church archives has a set also.

    I gave a local historian a set and to a cousin who worked as a printer at the plant when it was put out. Not to mention several cousins got cd's with complete sets of issues. I do believe in putting the information where it can be widely shared. No use having it rot in boxes in my closet. since the illustrated news was printed on newsprint the copies are becoming more and more fragile. I am thankful to have a cd with the copies for myself too.

  21. then i am most proud. you put in the work, it deserves to be preserved and known. no way all of this can disappear now. nothing worse than having only the original and see it deteriorate tot the point of being of no more use.

    good girl!!
    good, good girl!!

  22. I believe in sharing the information and preserving. No way it's going to disintegrate or get hidden away on my watch.

  23. This is very cool. I will be back to read more. I remember this period so well. I had grown up in a tiny white town and then went to college in Milwaukee, where the civil rights movement was picking up steam. The courage of the movement leaders was so moving to me. Glad you found me, and glad I found you!

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