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A-Z Challenge 2020 Cleages Detroit

Y – YOUNGEST Cleage Anna Cecelia born 1925

Anna Cecelia Cleage was born on January 29, 1925. The youngest of the seven children of Albert and Pearl Cleage, she was named after her paternal grandmother, Anna Celia Rice Cleage Sherman. Anna was born at home in the house on Scotten, as were all the Cleage girls,.

Trouble in Detroit the year that Anna was born

By 1925  Detroit’s total population was growing faster than any other Metropolitan area in the United States, the black population was over 82,000.  Housing segregation was widespread, although there were neighborhoods such as the East Side neighborhood where the Grahams lived that black and white lived together without friction. Unfortunately that was not the story citywide as people began to try and move out of the designated black areas into the other neighborhoods. Families moving into homes they had purchased were met by violent mobs that numbered from the hundreds into the thousands. This happened in 1925 during April, June, twice in July and in September.

Ossian Sweet  was physician in Detroit. He is most notable for his self-defense in 1925 of his newly purchased home in a white neighborhood against a mob attempting to force him out of the neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan, and the subsequent acquittal by an all-white jury of murder charges against him, his family, and friends who helped defend his home, in what came to be known as the Sweet Trials.In the years after the trial in Detroit, his daughter Iva, wife Gladys, and brother Henry all died of tuberculosis. Ossian Sweet himself eventually committed suicide

21 replies on “Y – YOUNGEST Cleage Anna Cecelia born 1925”

I had planned to do it with more stories, but it just takes so much time and energy to do that and I didn’t do it. Maybe next year. Or inbetween.

As always love the pictures. But good grief what a tumultuous and disgusting history this country has!

I love the photo of sturdy little Anna on the box, and the photo of them sitting with their mother in the middle of the field. A
Thank you for the video of the Sweet trial. It put me in mind of Lorraine Hansberry’s father, who had moved from Chicago’s South Side to a white neighborhood in 1937, having to buy the house secretly.

“The Hansberrys moved into the house on Rhodes Avenue in May 1937. The family was threatened by a white mob, which threw a brick through a window, narrowly missing Lorraine. The Supreme Court of Illinois upheld the legality of the restrictive covenant and forced the family to leave the house. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision on a legal technicality. The result was the opening of 30 blocks of South Side Chicago to African Americans. Although the case did not argue that racially restrict covenants were unlawful, it marked the beginning of their end.”
https://www.chipublib.org/lorraine-hansberry-biography/

No such legal battle, even if it loses, is in vain. It clears the path for more successful battles in the future. Sadly, in the meantime people’s lives are ruined, even lost.

I could not do it. During the 1960s my family had bought a place on a river to get away from Detroit without going as far as Idlewild. The first time we went out there with family and friends, the man who we bought the place from came over and said not to bring Negroes out there. When he found out we all were, he said the deal was off and threw the check in the car. My uncle Henry Cleage was a lawyer and could have taken them to court, but what kind of relaxing enviornment would that be to go to for a relaxing time away from the city? Not to mention they could burn the place down in the meantime etc.

In the 1970s we were looking for a place to buy in Mississippi. There was a nice place in a white area and a white friend offered to buy it and then sell it to us. How crazy would we have been to do that?

I love the picture of Anna on a box. The racist attacks by neighbours are appalling and unsettling. Not sure one would want to have such horrible neighbours 🙁

It is a chapter of Michigan history they don’t teach in school but one that everyone knows the dynamics of. Thank goodness they were acquitted. Someone needs to make a movie about this! Things are getting better but we have a long way to go.

I am struck by the contrast between the lovely photos of your relatives and the ugly, vicious racism depicted in the video. Your family’s portraits are all the more poignant knowing the backdrop against which your strong, determined ancestors were able to strive and thrive after their migration to Detroit.

If I’d had more time, I would have put more news events into the other stories. Maybe not though. Sometimes it’s good to just focus on the good.

That was a difficult clip to watch. The saddest thing is that so much seems to be the same even today–not just in America but all over the world.

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