Two beautiful murals illustrate the dynamic history of African American communities in Washtenaw County. The first, located on the corner of Fourth and Ann Streets in Ann Arbor, features several Black ministers, teachers, elected officials, and activists in celebration of the rich history of the Fourth Ward, the center of African American life in the city for much of the twentieth century. The second is located in Ypsilanti. A mural of H.P. Jacobs, an inventor during the late-nineteenth century, frames Currie’s Barbershop on Harriet Street, one of the oldest Black-owned businesses in the city.
These artistic renditions offer a glimpse into the rich histories of Black communities in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This public history project offers five narrative histories that function very much like these dynamic murals—to illustrate and animate the histories and labor of local Black residents of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
“Hold Me Up” is part of Michigan in the World (MITW), a paid undergraduate internship program where students develop online public exhibitions. MITW is coordinated by the U-M History Department in partnership with the Bentley Historical Library and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts .
Bentley Michigan in the World Fellows: Krista Albertins, Isabella Buzynski, Paige Hodder, Miriam Saperstein, Bennett Walling
Faculty Coordinator: Jennifer Dominique Jones
Graduate Student Supervisor: Eshe Sherley
Public Engagement Manager: Gregory Parker
Archivists: Sarah McLusky, Cinda Nofziger, Brian Williams
Bennett Walling, Isabella Buzynski, Krista Albertins, Miriam Saperstein, and Paige Hodder
Brian Williams, Cinda Nofziger, Eshe Sherley, Gregory Parker, Jennifer Dominique Jones, and Sarah McClusky
Bentley Historical Library and LSA Technology Services