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Black History

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...

Oliver v. Kalamazoo Board of Education

The following is not intended to be a comprehensive history of the Kalamazoo Public Schools desegregation case (Oliver v. Kalamazoo Board of Education), but rather an abridged, introductory timeline of…

Phillips Brothers

Of all the dance orchestras and concert ensembles that Kalamazoo produced during the 19th century, the Phillips Brothers’ Orchestra was among the busiest… and perhaps the best. Five talented violinists; Joseph, Joshua, Sylvester, Albert and Gilmore..

Pratt, Charles A.

One of several existing legal associations in Kalamazoo, is the Charles A. Pratt Bar Association, which takes its moniker from a homegrown success story. Pratt, who passed away on 21…

Roberts, Duane L.

Duane L. Roberts was a native son of Kalamazoo, and one of its most important voices for community change for more than three decades. At the time of his death…

Spradling, Mary Mace

Mary Mace Spradling, Martin Cohen, Shirley Miller. Undated Photo from KPL Archives The following text is taken from a brochure printed for the dedication ceremony of the Mary Mace Spradling…

Stafford, Wallace F. W.

Little is known of the life of Wallace F. W. Stafford aside from a few early life events that speak to Stafford’s community standing and professional interests. And while his…

Underground Railroad in Kalamazoo

More than three million African-Americans lived as slaves in the Southern United States in the mid-1800s. They had few human rights and were regularly bought and sold at auction. Whole…

Van Avery Drug Store Protest

By 1963, the post-World War II fervor for civil rights, which had begun several years earlier in southern states like Alabama and Mississippi, had reached northern states like Michigan, where…

Washington, Arthur, Jr.

In January of 2003, the Justice Center facility at Crosstown Parkway and S. Burdick Street was named in honor of Kalamazoo’s first black city commissioner, Arthur Washington Jr.. A humble…

White, Albert

Albert White was an African American building contractor who lived and worked in Kalamazoo from the 1870s until his death in 1930. He and his men helped build a number of well known structures in Kalamazoo history.

Whitten, Anna L.

In 1999, Anna Whitten received the Women of Achievement Award from the YWCA of Kalamazoo. In their brochure for the event, Whitten was described as “one of the busiest public…

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