Walking in the Steps of Black Women: A History of the University of Michigan

Black female students have been attending the University of Michigan for over a century, well before many other colleges and universities began admitting black students or women. This project explores the social world of Black students—investigating their lives before, in, and after their time at U-M.

This self-guided tour is intended for Ann Arbor newcomers and locals alike. Participants aren’t simply told that African Americans were long forced to live on the periphery of town. Instead, they venture to off-campus sites like 1102 E. Ann Street, a former boardinghouse where many black women resided. Participants don’t merely hear about the Negro-Caucasian Club or its founder, Lenoir Beatrice Smith. Instead, they visit the site on Church Street where Smith led meetings alongside faculty advisor Oakley Johnson.

“Walking in the Steps of Black Women: A History of the University of Michigan” is part of Michigan in the World (MITW), a paid undergraduate internship program where students develop online public exhibitions about the history of the University of Michigan and its relationships with the wider world. 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

Project Team

Bentley Michigan in the World Fellows: Bryan Foster, Lakyrra Magee, Taniya Moore, Brittany Simmons, Mahal Stevens, Chelsea Vergiels

Walking Tour Website and Map Design: Maria Garcia Reyna

Faculty Coordinator: LaKisha Simmons

Graduate Student Supervisor: Severina Scott

Public Engagement Manager: Gregory Parker



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