I Met My Husband in the Library – April 25, 1966

In late April of 1966 I was 19 and a sophomore at Wayne State University in Detroit.  Northern High students walked out of school on April 25 to protest the way they were being (or not being) educated.  Several other inner city high schools walked out in sympathy. Northwestern organized a supporting boycott and my sister, Pearl, was a leader. My father and others were providing adult support.

I usually studied in the sociology room of the Main Library, which was in the middle of Wayne’s campus.  As I was leaving to go to my next class that day, 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 aren’t in the photo but this was the demonstration.

We did and afterwards sat around for several hours talking in the “corner” in the cafeteria at Mackenzie Hall. The “corner” was where black students congregated. I felt strangely comfortable with Jim.  Strange for me, anyway, since I didn’t feel comfortable with anybody, unless I was in a political discussion. He tried to convince me to join a sorority and convert the members 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”, he was “nice”.  He said  yes, that’s what he meant.

Michigan State Police
Additional Complaint Report
Page No. 2 Complaint 99-133-66 file 1.15 Date 4-25-66

(note: seems to be continued from a lost page)…students take part in the meeting and form plans by themselves. Representatives from the following Detroit High Schools were present and pledged to back the walk-out, Cass Tech, Central, Chadsey, Cooley, Denby, Mackienzie, Mumford, Northwestern, Southeastern and Western.

Advisers to the students at this meeting were; Reverend Albert Cleage and Reverend Cameron Wells MED. The school representatives most active at this meeting were; Micheal Bach____, 17, Negro male of Northern HS, Pearl Cleage, 17, Negro female of Northwestern HS and Stanley Parker, 17, Negro male of Southwestern HS.

April 25, 1966: The “Freedom School” session (sic) were held in the day. No police incidents.

At 4:oo PM a demonstration and picket line formed at 5057 Woodward Avenue, the Board of Education building. The demonstrators carried signs demanding upgrading of the education at Northern and other inner-city high schools.

There were about 75 persons demonstrating. About 14 adults appeared to be parents of students, about 12 young people appeared to be high school students, the remainder of demonstrators were persons identified as members of such groups as SNCC, Young Socialist Alliance, Detroit Committee to end the War in Vietnam, Students for a Democratic Society and persons seen at Socialist Workers Party Forums.

The following persons were identified in the picket lines: _____ Allen, Kenneth Cockerel, Edward D’Angelo, Todd Ensign, Robert Higgins, Derrick Morrison, Marc ____, David Neiderhauser, Sol Plafkin, Micheal Patrick Quinlin, Harvey Roes, Sarah Rosenshine, Charles Simmons, Mark Shapiro, Tom____, Peter_______, Jackie Wilson and James Winegar.

April 26, 1966: The students met at the “Freedom School” at 8:00 PM a meeting was held.  They returned to the classes at Northern High School. Representatives of the students and the school authorities are going to continue meeting to improve conditions.

__________FAST FORWARD TO APRIL 26, 2012_________

Today, April 26, 2012, I received this email from a community organizer in Detroit about a student walkout yesterday.

“Today, 180 students  were suspended for walking out of Western HS yesterday.  Their cell phones were taken from them and messages and numbers were gone through by security. The police deleted numbers and messages from the students’ phones.

This month, Frederick Douglass Academy students walked out over constant turnover of teachers and shortage of supplies. The principal being fired was the catalyst in this student lead walk out. The secretary of the school was ultimately fired, as well.

Mumford HS students walked out, refusing to have Mumford put into the Educational Achievement Authority (failing district). The students were suspended and the teacher who told them they are not failures was fired for allegedly encouraging them to walk out.

To read more about the present walkout on huffpost go to Detroit Student Walkout.

To visit a website with information by the involved students about the freedom school that starts today (Friday, April 27) and more, click Southwest Detroit Freedom School. The article is on the left side and there are more links at the bottom of the article. I’m cheered to find organizing going on in response to what happened. Almost makes me wish I was in Detroit.

For more Sepia Saturday offerings, click.

There is no May Pole in this post but there are a couple of Demonstrations that I think will represent May Day.

29 thoughts on “I Met My Husband in the Library – April 25, 1966

  1. This is why I can’t wait to read your posts. I was SURE I was reading a transcription of the “complaint” until I saw “cell phones.” Just like that I was transported back to the future. Amazing. You need to submit this to the papers in Detroit. It just goes to show that while we “think” we’re making progress, the jury is still out.

    1. read carefully…

      Today, April 26, 2012, I received this email from a community organizer in Detroit about a student walkout yesterday.

      “Today, 180 students were suspended for walking out of Western HS yesterday. Their cell phones were taken from them and messages and numbers were gone through by security. The police deleted numbers and messages from the students’ phones.

  2. Oh Kristin, the details of the recent walk-out are frightening. It makes my head hurt to think what rights were violated and laws broken.

    1. I’m feeling better about it now that I know there are both committed students and committed adults (with skills) involved. There also seems to be a plan. I added some more links at the bottom of the post.

  3. This has got a bit of everything; romance, (undeniably), history, law, politics and human rights. No wonder we always learn so much from your posts.

  4. Some things remain the same. I, too, thought I was reading a continuation until I saw cell phone. The youth, the dreamers, are the catalyst for change. Public schools have too many failing districts, time for change.

  5. Any sort of slipping back is a crying shame. I couldn’t imagine ever living through any of that, and for what I know or read about, it’s such a shameful injustice, and those responsible should be so ashamed. We need to rise above this, and never let our lives fall back upon such ways ever again. People ask why we have wars, and when will they be over? Well, we first must learn to all get along and be accepting of all our brothers and sisters right here in our own back yards, before we could ever think about saving the world. You sure have posted much to think about here, yet again, thank you.

  6. I’d say the more things change, the more they stay the same, but I really would like to believe that their is progress. Some days it seems like there is and other days not at all.

  7. Whew, the juxtaposition of the old and new in this post is so powerful.

    And, the story about how you met your husband is wonderful.

  8. It’s so frustrating to think how things never seem to change. I remember the walk outs here in Los Angeles during the 60s. I doubt if those schools have changed much since then.
    I love the story about how you met your husband.

  9. Shameful that personal property was pawed over by school administrators looking for dirt, couched as intel gathering and protecting students. It is also shameful that 40+ years later, we are protesting the same darn things. I love this post. Your family was brave at a time when it could have been very dangerous.

  10. Thank you Kristin for reminding us of this other important aspect of May Day and focusing on the fight for liberty and improvements of every kind. One man or one woman standing up for the rights of their fellow citizens is worth ten thousand maypole dancers.

  11. We read about protests like those you mention but don’t realise what actions are being taken or not taken by the ‘authorities’. The lack of rights these days seems to extend further as shown by the actions taken with cell phones. One wonders what laws permit them to be taken.

  12. Hi Kristin,

    So much history in both parts of your post. I learned so much, and it was neat to hear about how your love story began.

    Thank you,

    Kathy M.

  13. So many emotions stirred with this post, Kristin. As I read it my first response was “Of course that’s how they met!” It’s perfect. And I’m grinning as I write this because I’m remembering where my husband and I met – the college cafeteria. Also perfect – for two foodies.

    But the juxtaposition with today’s demonstrations in Detroit was jarring. Progress that was made is being lost due to the economic collapse of the city – and much of the state. There is hope in the young people and those who care for them asserting their right to an education – one they may have to provide each other. I pray their actions today may instruct and inspire them tomorrow.

  14. Troubling times those were – and still troubling times. In some ways it makes me think the old adage “The more things change the more they stay the same” may be true. Weren’t you beautiful!

  15. Excellent family history, so well documented in stories and photos. I grew up hearing stories about my grandfather’s involvement in the movement for Puerto Rican independence, to the extent of having his teaching license suspended. These are histories we must keep alive through oral traditions, as well as documents, pictures, stories, etc.

    1. Thank you Linda. And yes, you are so right about keeping the stories alive. I think it’s harder now because our families don’t sit around talking as much as we used to about the olden days.

  16. This is so awful…to treat students, teachers and parents so bad for trying to improve education. And to think that it’s still going on! Can they legally take their cell phones away and remove things from them?
    The only bright note was the romantic part of the story. I liked your future husbands comment. He does sound nice!

  17. Kristin, I first read this post when you published it but I just couldn’t get my head around parts of it or what I wanted to say. I can’t believe (and yet, of course I can) that these things are happening today. Bad enough that they happened in the 60s and 70s but to just take kids’ phones and search their numbers and texts is mind-boggling. “They” don’t like people challenging them or their authority and regulations.

    In a very minor way some of it reminded me of Queensland in the 60s and 70s under our Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen (you can google him if you like). Police files on anyone who was even peripherally involved in protests etc etc. You were lucky that your father was such a strong role model with a great moral sense. As always I’m impressed.

    I liked that you met your husband in the library and then the refec. I too met my husband-to-be in the refectory. I think knowing each other from when we were idealistic teenagers is an important part of our relationship.

    1. It boggled my mind when I got the email about the demonstration about the same thing that was protested in 1966.

      Yes, it’s a very important part of our relationship too. We have both been there for such a long time and to have someone who can still see you as you were when you were 21 or 19 is nice.

  18. Given the students have been on strike here in the province of Quebec for many weeks now, sometime peacefully, sometimes, not so much, this post resonates with me.
    Nice to see how you came about to finding a husband… almost despite yourself!!

    1. I thought about those strikers in Quebec while I was writing this.

      Most people don’t find their mate in the library?!

  19. Somewhat depressing to read this. I’m not so naive to have thought we had gone beyond that sort of thing, but it’s depressing nonetheless.

  20. The police deleted numbers and messages on the students’ phones – what the???? Yes, as Pauleen says, it brings back disturbing memories and I suspect may be continuing in our land again today…sigh.

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