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.
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.
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”.
The Illustrated News was a weekly newsletter put out by my family and some of their friends in Detroit from 1961 to 1964. This issue dealt with the violence in Birmingham, Alabama during 1963 when the violence continued, uninterrupted. I was a sophomore at Northwestern High School in the spring of 1963. This is my offering after watching Episode 5 of Many Rivers to Cross. For links to other bloggers writing their response to this series, as well as the other posts I’ve written for earlier episodes, click this link – Many Rivers To Cross – Responses. To enlarge the pages for easier reading, please click on them.
While looking through old copies of The Illustrated News for something completely unrelated, I came across this advertisment for Vicki’s Bar-B-Que. I noticed the oven and immediately thought of the Sepia Saturday prompt for this week. I decided to google Vicki’s and see if there were any photographs or other ads from the past. Imagine my surprise when I found that the restaurant is still operating and that the same family still owns it!
Although I do not remember ever eating at Vicki’s or tasting their sauce, I was able to find a family member who has been to the restaurant recently and she said, “Yes. Vicki’s is still there. Some people love it! I’m not a fan but I’ve only been there once. Maybe it was a bad day. They have the kind of bbq that is grilled meat and then you dip it on the sauce instead of grilling and caramelizing the sauce while grilling.”
You can see an interview with the present owner, the oldest son of the original family, and photos of the food and building, plus reviews of the present food and service at this link Vicki’s Yelp Page. The link to the video is just under the photos of the restaurant at the top of the page.
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.
BLACK POWER POTENTIAL: Black Power advocate Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture, right at mic) endorsing the political candidacies of law student Kenneth V. Cockrel, Sr. (left of Carmichael) and Shrine of the Black Madonna founder Rev. Albert B. Cleage, Jr. (later Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman, fourth from left, hands in pockets), Jeffries Projects, Detroit, July 30, 1966. PHIL WEBB PHOTO/THE DETROIT NEWS. (See link to article this photo accompanied at the end of this post.)
Below is a newsletter from the Cleage for Congress campaign.
Unfortunately neither my father or Ken Cockrel won. I remember passing out campaign literature at Jefferies Projects all day with Jim, now my husband, and attending Ken Cockrel’s “Victory Party ” that night in a flat on Wayne State University’s campus. I just remember it as being almost devoid of furniture and dusty. Jim and General Baker gave me a ride home after midnight where I found that my father, who was supposed to tell my mother that I was going to the party and would be late, got involved in his own after election activities and forgot. Talk about talking fast. I was 20 years old.
To bring history back to the present, read The Roots and Responsibility of Black Power – a reprint in The Michigan Citizen of remarks by historian Paul Lee made at the Detroit City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. He wasaddressing the takeover of the government of the majority-Black city of Detroit by Michigan’s Republican governor. He appealed to their sense of history, to the struggle that Detroiters had gone through in the past to gain political power. The Council voted to turn the city over to a manager appointed by the governor.
When I saw the prompt, I immediately thought of some photos of a building in Detroit that my uncle Henry Cleage took. I found them in the first place I looked (amazingly). They aren’t labeled or dated but looking at a few old Detroit buildings I found they are of the old County Building. I would date them around 1950 from the people and cars. These are only a few of the many. Court was held in the building and Henry was a lawyer. Perhaps he had some cases there.
“The cornerstone was laid Oct. 20, 1897, in a ceremony that the Detroit Free Press called at the time “simple but impressive.” Under a headline in capital letters proclaiming, “It is laid!”, the Free Press wrote that it had rained all morning the day of the ceremony, but just at 2 p.m., as officials were gathering at Old City Hall, the sun broke and the clouds parted. A band led the procession down Cadillac Square to a platform decked out in American flags in front of the county building, where Judge Edgar O. Durfee had the honor of laying the cornerstone. Judge Robert E. Frazer gave what the Free Press called a “stirring address,” and Mayor William C. Maybury also participated.” Go to Old Wayne County Building – Historic Detroit to read a detailed history of the Old County Building.
“One of the building’s most prominent features is the pair of large sculptures flanking its center tower and portico. The copper sculptures are known as quadrigae, a Roman chariot drawn by four horses. The pieces were done by New York sculptor J. Massey Rhind, who intended the quadrigae to symbolize progress. They feature a woman standing in a chariot led by four horses with two smaller figures on either side.” From Old Wayne County Building – Historic Detroit
My mother’s sister, Mary V. Elkins, got a job at the County Building in 1940.
“June 10, 1940 — Mary Virginia has just gotten (through Jim and May) a good job at the County Bldg — God is so good to us. M.V. won high honor in her business Institute for typing and short hand.” Fannie Mae Turner Graham’s little diary.
Mary V. attended business school after she graduated from Eastern High School, then worked for awhile at her cousin’s Newspaper office until he helped her get a job in the old county building. She held the job for many years and received a proclamation from the City of Detroit for her service to the city during a Family Reunion when she was in her 80s.
Old Wayne County Building could soon be allowed to seek buyers. “A Wayne County Commission committee approved a nonbinding agreement today that would settle a nearly 3-year-old lawsuit against the owners of the Old Wayne County Building and allow the owners to seek potential buyers.” From an April, 2013 article in the Detroit Free Press.
Week 49. Historical Events. Describe a memorable national historical event from your childhood. How old were you and how did you process this event? How did it affect your family?
Me in the upper left corner. News photos from 1963.
In 1963 I was 16 and a junior at Northwestern High School in Detroit. In the news were pictures of dogs attacking people who were peacefully demonstrating, high pressure hoses being used on people who were peacefully demonstrating, bombings of homes and churches, people being abused while sitting at lunch counters, people being arrested. Governor George Wallace of Alabama, stood in the door to block the integration of the University of Alabama. Women were dragged from demonstrations to the paddy wagon. Medgar Evers was murdered in Jackson, MS in front of his home. Four girls were blown up while attending Sunday school in Birmingham, Alabama. Two teenage boys were killed during the rioting afterwards. There were two gigantic demonstrations that year, the Detroit Walk to Freedom followed by the March on Washington. Both drew over 100,000. President Kennedy was assassinated. Lee Harvey Oswald was killed, Cassius Clay who had not yet become Muhammad Ali was winning fight after fight. Malcolm X was speaking out and Martin Luther King, Jr was arrested in Birmingham, AL. Here and there people began to wear their hair in afros. In Detroit, the Freedom Now Party was seeking petitions to get on the ballot for the 1964 election and Malcolm X spoke at the Grassroots Conference.
How did all of this affect me and my family? I was angry but I also felt I was part of the struggle of the black community. I wondered why the federal government didn’t send troops down south to protect people who wanted to vote. I wrote revolutionary poetry. It wasn’t very good poetry. My family talked about everything that was happening. They were publishing the Illustrated News during that time and wrote about changes that had to come and the movement of the struggle from the south to the north and what the differences would be as this happened.