Posts of interest to local history buffs, written by local history buffs!

Black and Blue: a Timeless Lesson

Join us at the Downtown library for AADL's screening of "Black and Blue" on Wednesday January 18th from 7:00-8:30 PM. This is the story of the 1934 game between Michigan and Georgia Tech. When the Yellow Jackets agreed to play the Wolverines in Ann Arbor that season, they insisted on one condition – Willis Ward, the lone African-American player on the U of M team, had to sit out the game. Ward's teammates - especially Gerald Ford, Ward's roommate and a UM lineman - were outraged when U-M officials agreed to the demand. The incident galvanized UM students and the Ann Arbor community, which held loud and vocal protests against the decision.

Willis was later inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. Read the article from the May 22, 1981 issue of the Ann Arbor News.

Ann Arbor Architecture Archive

Curious about the history of the homes and buildings around us in Ann Arbor? Be sure to visit our beautiful Ann Arbor Architecture Archive. Packed with a gallery of images and text about Ann Arbor's historic structures, this reference resource includes the full text of Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg. Learn about old local breweries that were wiped out by prohibition, the Ann Arborites who had peacocks roaming their lawn in the 1800s, and so much more. For example, every year people from around the globe make pilgrimages to Rocco Desderide's grocery store here in Ann Arbor without even knowing it. If you have visited Zingerman's Deli on Detroit Street, then you've been to Rocco's too. Built back in 1902 by Italian immigrant Rocco Desderide, the iconic brick-veneered building, with bands of corbelled bricks fanning out above arched windows, served as the home of the Desderide grocery and confectionery business until 1921.

To access the Ann Arbor Architecture Archive, you can always go to the research page and select Ann Arbor Architecture Archive from the Ann Arbor category.

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Freeing John Sinclair Website

Check out our newest local history project, Freeing John Sinclair: The Day Legends Came To Town, a website chronicling part of Ann Arbor's countercultural past - from the John Sinclair Freedom Rally and free concerts in the city's parks, to the CIA Bombing Conspiracy and the history of the Hill Street commune. The site includes original interviews and essays; historical photographs; historical audio files; and newspaper articles. You can also search or browse the full run of the Ann Arbor Sun, the underground newspaper published by the White Panther Party and Rainbow People's Party in Ann Arbor circa 1968-1975.

This is just the beginning, with photographs and more interviews to come. If you also have information or memorabilia from this period of time in Ann Arbor's history, let us know!

AADL Talks To Bev Willis of the Washtenaw County Historical Society

The Museum on Main Street is the most visible project of the Washtenaw County Historical Society. But there is much more the Society does to keep history alive in the county, including Washtenaw Impressions, a newsletter with feature articles from local historians like Susan Weinberg, family historians and history buffs with interest in everything from farm tools to heirloom toys. The Society hosts lectures, mounts exhibits and works with libraries and organizations throughout the county to share the Society's collections and knowledge.

Bev Willis, administrator for the WCHS, keeps it all running smoothly. Bev sat down with us to talk about her background in graphic arts, how she came to WCHS, Impressions and the history of the Museum on Main Street. Bev talked about some of the unique collections at the Museum and the people who visit, including the descendants of the original owners of the house that became the Museum.

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AADL_Talks_To-Beverly_Willis.mp3 24.16 MB

AADL Talks To: John Sinclair (May 3, 2011)

In this interview from May 3, 2011, John Sinclair elaborates on the importance of black culture and, in particular, the Black Panther Party, in the formation of both the White Panther and Rainbow People's Parties in Ann Arbor; as well as the more humorous and theatrical elements of their antics during those years. He also reflects on his brother David Sinclair, his ex-wife Leni Sinclair, White Panther co-founder, Pun Plamondon, and artist Gary Grimshaw.

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AADL_Talks_To-John_Sinclair2.mp3 29.65 MB

AADL Talks To: Genie Parker

Genie Parker was the former "Minister of Foreign Affairs" for the White Panther Party, a leader in the Rainbow People's Party, and a candidate for the Human Rights Party in Ann Arbor's 3rd Ward in 1972. In this interview, Genie recalls life at the Hill St. commune where she lived from the late 1960s through early 1970s and reflects on the personalities of some of the people she lived and worked with, including Leni Sinclair, David Sinclair, artist Gary Grimshaw, and White Panther co-founder, Pun Plamondon.

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AADL_Talks_To-Genie_Parker.mp3 26.90 MB

AADL Talks To: Hugh "Buck" Davis

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In the late 1960s and early 1970s Hugh M. "Buck" Davis, a lawyer with the Detroit National Lawyers Guild, worked with Chicago Seven Trial lawyers William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass to represent John Sinclair, Pun Plamondon, and Jack Forrest in Ann Arbor's CIA Bombing Conspiracy case. In this interview, Davis talks about his life as an unrepentant radical lawyer; the importance of Judge Damon J. Keith's famous "Keith Decision" ; and reflects on the personalities of former White Panther friends and clients.

Read Buck's People's History of the CIA Bombing Conspiracy.

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AADL_Talks_To-Hugh_Davis.mp3 20.04 MB

AADL Talks To: Gary Grimshaw

Gary Grimshaw is one of the most renowned and recognizable poster artists to come out of the 1960s. His most prolific period as a graphic artist was his time spent with John and Leni Sinclair in the mid-1960s and early 1970s, first in the Detroit-based Trans-Love Energies commune and then in Ann Arbor with the White Panther Party/Rainbow People's Party. In this interview we talk with the former White Panther Party Minister of Art about creating art for the Grande Ballroom and the White Panther Party, the night John Sinclair met both him and the MC5, and how he made his art then and now.

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AADL_Talks_To-Gary_Grimshaw.mp3 17.32 MB

AADL Talks To: Judge Damon Keith

In June, 1972, then-U.S. District Judge Damon J. Keith of Detroit foiled the Nixon Administration's plan to use the Ann Arbor CIA Conspiracy trial as a test case to acquire Supreme Court sanction for domestic surveillance. Keith's ruling - that the Justice Department's wiretapping was in violation of the 4th amendment - led to a unanimous Supreme Court decision making domestic surveillance illegal…during the same week as the Watergate break-in. In this interview, Judge Keith, now Senior Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, recalls his memories of the case and his famous Keith Decision. He also talks about how he handled similarly difficult cases, and the legacy of his work.

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AADL_Talks_To-Judge_Damon_Keith.mp3 21.91 MB

AADL Talks To: Pun Plamondon

Pun Plamondon was a directionless teen with left-wing leanings when he met John Sinclair, Leni Sinclair, and Gary Grimshaw in Detroit in the mid-1960s. He grew to become the co-founder of the White Panther Party/Rainbow People's Party as well as its Minister of Defense. In that role he found himself on the run as one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Criminals and the subject of a case before the United States Supreme Court. In this episode we talk to Pun about that journey, including the formation of the White Panther Party and Rainbow People’s Party, being there for some of the key events in 1960s Ann Arbor, and finding his Native American roots.

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AADL_Talks_To-Pun_Plamondon.mp3 57.26 MB
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