Credit: Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.
Take a free interactive tour of Grand Rapids’ Civil Rights history. Sponsored through Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., (DGRI) and created by local high school students, residents were asked to share their stories and knowledge of African-American leadership, culture and community in Grand Rapids. The result? An interactive, self-guided walking tour that highlights some of the historical moments of the African American experience and legacy in Grand Rapids.
The History Tour of Downtown Grand Rapids encompasses two miles with accompanying podcasts narrated by City Commissioner and Grand Rapids Urban League President, Joe Jones. The tour features 11 points of interest, starting with Helen Claytor who was not only the first black President of the Grand Rapids YWCA, but also held the same unique position at the national level; other stops include the historic Fountain Street Church, which has hosted Malcolm X and Langston Hughes; and Crescent Park, where the urban renewal legacy of Lyman Parks, Grand Rapids’ first African American mayor, is still seen in the city’s ever-expanding skyline.
Take this tour, or other GR Walks tours, any time by downloading the GR Walks smart phone app at www.grwalks.com. The app is also available for download in the Apple App Store and Android's Google Play.
Idlewild was founded in 1912 largely composed of African American middle-class professionals and small business owners. Called the "Black Eden of Michigan" from 1912 through the mid-1960s, Idlewild was an active year-round community and was visited by well-known entertainers and professionals from throughout the country. At its peak, it was one of the most popular resorts in the Midwest and as many as 25,000 would come to Idlewild in the height of the summer season to enjoy camping, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, roller skating, and night-time entertainment. When the 1964 Civil Rights Act opened up other resorts in many states to African-Americans, Idlewild's boomtown period subsided.
One of the country's best assortment of Idlewild miscellania is on exhibit for the entire month of January from the private collection of CJ Kingdom-Grier.
January's additional exhibit displays African maps from the Museum’s collection dating from 1580 until the present day. See how the colonized continent was carved up by the European countries who invaded and modified the Earth's second largest continent. These maps will give you an idea of the true size of the African continent, it's weather, terrain, and people.
In partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal, GRAAMA is hosting, "Voices of the Civil Rights Movement," an interactive kiosk featuring stories and interviews with leaders of the struggle for equal rights. The videos in the kiosk are part of a collection of historical narratives and firsthand accounts of activists, participants, community leaders, elected officials and others.
Included in the new hands-on kiosk are interviews with key figures of the civil rights movement, including U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, the Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, the Rev. Samuel "Billy" Kyles and many more. Visitors not only experience history through the eyes of those who were there, they will also hear about key events and milestones through a series of 52 vignettes called "Moments in Civil Rights History." The series is narrated by the late civil rights activist Judge D’Army Bailey.
Idlewild Historic and Cultural Center
7025 Broadway Avenue
Idlewild, MI 49642-0435
Jim Crow Museum (Ferris State University)
1010 Campus Drive
Big Rapids, MI 49307
Tuesday - Friday: 12-5pm
African American Cultural & Historical Museum
PO Box 130724
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
315 East Warren Avenue
Detroit, MI 48201
Tuesday - Saturday: 9am-5pm
2648 West Grand Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48208
October 1, 2019 -May 1, 2020
Tuesday - Saturday: 10am-6pm
Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum
6325 West Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, MI 48209
The museum is currently closed as it undergoes renovations
James Jackson Museum of African American History
7 East Center Street
Muskegon Heights, MI 49440
Dr. Nathan Thomas House - Underground Railroad
Schoolcraft Historical Society
P.O. Box 638
Schoolcraft, MI 49087
Gilmore Car Museum
6865 Hickory Road
Hickory Corners, MI 49060
Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm
Saturday & Sunday: 9am - 6pm
Growing up in Idlewild, CJ Kingdom-Grier was given a first-hand view of African American history as it was happening. Over the years, he became fascinated with items individuals discarded which reflected, specifically, the black heritage surrounding Idlewild's culture. Inspired not to have it lost, CJ began his mission to preserve these gems from another period. His array of historic Idlewild items is now one of the best in the country - vast in volume and rich in content.
CJ will speak about his collection at the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives, Friday evening, January 24th from 6:00-7:00pm.
GRAAMA will be open from noon to 5pm for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Day. We will have on display MLK-related items from the museum's collection and will be especially emphasizing the impact of his spiritual sermons beyond those of remembered for civil rights causes.
Many people have forgotten his powerful presence as a pastor at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. When Martin was hired in 1954, the church was going through a lot of internal turmoil. King was selected as pastor because he was perceived as being noncontroversial and would bring morale to the church.