Updates on the Alma Powell Branch Library can be found on kpl.gov/pow

Black History

African American Churches

List includes both active and inactive congregations Ministerial Alliance of Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1969 Allen Chapel A.M.E., founded in 1855 Bible Baptist Church, founded in 1968 First United Baptist Church, founded…

African American Newspapers

In addition to Kalamazoo’s principal newspapers (The Kalamazoo Gazette and The Kalamazoo Telegraph [1844-1916]), everyday life of black Kalamazoo residents during the 1960s and 70’s was chronicled and archived by…

Afro-American Journal and Directory

Rev. John L. Davis, c.1894 Published by Rev. John L. Davis of Kalamazoo, this 48-page Afro-American Journal and Directory was printed by The Kalamazoo Publishing Company in 1894 to celebrate and…

Alexander, Dr. C. Allen

“An extraordinary personality, who is a physician, surgeon, community leader, oral historian, sportsman, raconteur, and author.”–Paul L. Maier’s foreword to Alexander’s autobiography Photo by Don Rice Born in 1900, Cornelius…

Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church

Early Years Founded in 1855 by a handful of members, the Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church is the oldest black church in Kalamazoo. Prior to 1855, members met for prayer meetings…

Baseball in Kalamazoo: Black Teams

From as early as 1877 or before, Kalamazoo’s leading African American baseball players were forming independent teams and successfully squaring off against other local and regional clubs, both white and black...

Black Arts Festival

“The Black Arts Festival is founded on the belief that Black Awareness should be an integral part of our society. Through artistic expression we help promote the essence of our…

Black Lives Matter Street Mural

Photo credit: Fritz Klug You likely have seen the beautiful Black Lives Matter street mural on Rose Street between South and Lovell. But do you know the amazing story of…

Bradley, Gilbert H., Jr.

“Gil has something unique to offer our community. During his ten years as a resident of Kalamazoo, he has been a student, factory worker, union member, teacher, social worker, and…

Civic Black Theatre

Founded in 1978, the Civic Black Theatre (CBT) “recognized a need” for “black theater” in Kalamazoo. According to WMU faculty members Leander C. Jones and Thomas Small, two of the…

Council Hawes Jr. and The Pacific Club

In 1946, after returning from military service in World War II, Council Hawes Jr. (1910-1982) managed The Pacific Club (aka The Pacific Inn), a restaurant, bar, entertainment venue, and residence…

Douglass Community Association

The Douglass Community Association was a byproduct of the First World War. Camp Custer was home to large numbers of mobilized troops, both during the war and in the immediate years that followed. These men needed something to do in their downtime...

Graine, Judson C.

I first stumbled across the name of Judson C. Graine while looking for photographs of the Arcadia Brook Golf Course, a recreational business that was owned by real estate entrepreneur…

Harris, Enoch and Deborah

Among the earliest pioneers in Oshtemo Township were Enoch Harris and his family, the first black settlers in Kalamazoo County. They arrived in Michigan from Marion County, Ohio, in approximately 1830, bringing with them seed from which they ...

Hill, Forrest M.

Forrest M. Hill. (Gazette 18 Feb 1934) The name Forrest Hill won’t likely conjure a collection of grand biographical accomplishments for most residents, but Hill’s influential contributions to life in…

Johnson, Pauline Byrd

Pauline Byrd Johnson was many things: an outspoken critic of forced desegregation policies, an active member of the Kalamazoo Republican Party, a tireless advocate for the value of education, and…

Las Amigas Club

Mrs. Robert Woodford, Glenn Allen, Mrs. Albert Allen model clothes as part of a fashion show with proceeds going to the Las Amigas Club, Kalamazoo Gazette, 6-15-1975 Social clubs have…

Minott, Margaret

Margaret Minott was the first African American elected to the Kalamazoo Board of Education. She was instrumental in the effort to desegregate Kalamazoo Public Schools and it was through her efforts that the Oshtemo Branch Library came to be.

North Burdick Grocery and Market

“These local grocery stores were much more than food outlets. They were places where neighbors connected with one another, shared news, learned important life lessons, found support, and built a…

Northside Neighborhood

There is a book waiting to be written about Kalamazoo’s Northside neighborhood, however no sketch of this length can do justice to its rich, complex and fascinating history. The current boundaries of the neighborhood run from Douglas Avenue...

Share: Facebook Twitter