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Black History You Might Not Know

Updated on June 15, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish offers 30 years successful experience in medicine, psychology, STEM courses, and aerospace education (CAP).

Detroit at night.
Detroit at night. | Source

Why is Black History Important?

Black History is American history and recognized as important long before many imagined it was accepted.

First recognized as an event in 1915, Black History Month was celebrated at the 50th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

In 2012, we are just three years short of the Sesquicentennial of the proclamation that freed black slaves in America. The celebration grew into a month-long event that has continued to develop and gather events and opinions of all kinds.

Each year the study of African American histories becomes more interesting as the National Geographic, Smithsonian, and IBM Genographic Project indicate increasingly more closely that all races are related by DNA.This has also been demonstrated in TV shows like Who Do You Think You Are?

There are some ethnic genetic differences that look huge to us, but on the larger genetic scale, the percentages of differences are remotely tiny.

Broadcasts from National Geographic specialize in the surprises that genealogical seekers experience when they find their ancestors and current relatives they knew nothing about. I've been surprised and so have thousands of others, making a knowledge of ethnic histories necessary to the understanding of each of our backgrounds.

Detroit, Michigan is Full of Black History

Historic Sites Around Detroit

show route and directions
A marker441 Monroe, Detroit -
441 Monroe St, Detroit, MI 48226, USA
get directions

This is likely the last stop on the Underground Railroad before hurrying across the Detroit River by night.

B marker33 Forest, Detroit -
33 E Forest Ave, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201, USA
get directions

C marker315 East Warren, Detroit -
315 Warren Ave E, Wayne State University, Merrill-Palmer Institute, Palmer Institute, Detroit, MI 48
get directions

D markerCass Avenue and Putnam Street, Detroit -
Cass Ave & Putnam St, Wayne State University, Merrill-Palmer Institute, Palmer Institute, Detroi
get directions

E marker2648 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit -
2648 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48208, USA
get directions

F markerBrush Street, Detroit -
Brush St, Detroit, MI, USA
get directions

G markerBelle Isle, Detroit -
Belle Isle, Detroit, MI, USA
get directions

Last Stop on the Underground Railroad

One of my favorite US cities for historic installations and other attractions, Detroit is packed with interesting Black History. Several churches in town are historic stops on the Underground Railroad and some maintain museums in honor of that heritage.

Detroit was the last stop before Canada, namely Windsor ON, across the Detroit River. Underground Railroad installations are popular in the Province of Ontario as well. A popular tour takes visitors through Detroit and Windsor, then on to the North American Underground Railroad Museum in Ontario.

  • 1st Congregational Church of Detroit - 33 E. Forest. Underground Railroad. http://www.friendsoffirst.com/home/
  • 2nd Baptist Church - 441 Monroe Street in Greektown near Gratiot and Woodward. Underground Railroad.
  • Black Bottom Historic Neighborhood - Now Lafayette Park and on the National Register of Historic Places, it is on the Lower East Side and was formerly bounded by Gratiot Avenue, Brush Street, Vernor Highway, and the Grand Trunk Rail Line.
  • Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History - 315 East Warren, Detroit. -- This museum occupies 125,000 square feet in Downtown Detroit.
  • Motown Historical Museum - 2648 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit. http://www.motownmuseum.com/
  • Wayne State University -Cass Avenue and Putnam Street, Detroit. WayneState University is Michigan's only urban research university. Detroit African American History Project - www.daahp.wayne.edu/

All of the above attractions are pinned on the map offered below. While 1st Congregational Church of Detroit (map point A) may have been the very last stop on the Underground Railroad before Windsor, Ontario, Canada; I wonder if escapees and their conductors and guides ever used Belle Isle to the east as cover.

Underground Railroad Memorial Celebration with Aretha Franklin

African Americans Revive Michigan's Film Industry in 2012

A SAG producer, director, and actor, Sean H. Robertson is reviving Michigan's film industry after state tax incentives were cancelled in 2011. Operating 313Wood: The New Detroit, he has already garnered success and recognition for African-American and other artists in a wide range of venues.

One of Sean's latest adventures is his Internet-based film called Great Lake State. He is also working on filming his novel trilogy based on his Cries of Vampyra.

Important African Americans to Honor More Fully

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Nichelle (Grace) Nichols recruited many astronauts of color for NASA.Chris Rock, documentary maker.Miles DavisOlympian Lee Evans on the left, in France.
Nichelle (Grace) Nichols recruited many astronauts of color for NASA.
Nichelle (Grace) Nichols recruited many astronauts of color for NASA. | Source
Chris Rock, documentary maker.
Chris Rock, documentary maker. | Source
Miles Davis
Miles Davis | Source
Olympian Lee Evans on the left, in France.
Olympian Lee Evans on the left, in France. | Source

Black Cowboys and Indians

Statue in honor of Black cowboy William Pickett, placed in Forth Worth, Texas at the stockyards.
Statue in honor of Black cowboy William Pickett, placed in Forth Worth, Texas at the stockyards. | Source

The first Black cowboy is through to be a man born the same year as my grandfather, in 1970.

His name was William Pickett, held up as a legend for his roping, riding, and shooting skills. He was African American and Native American.

Pickett invented the rodeo sport known today as "bulldogging", a form of steer wrestling.

It is thought that, on some Texas trails, about a quarter of cowboys were Black.

— BBC News: "America's forgotten black cowboys." 3/22/2013

Black Cowboys in the American West

Black Cowboys of the Old West: True, Sensational, And Little-Known Stories From History
Black Cowboys of the Old West: True, Sensational, And Little-Known Stories From History

Some voices maintain that there are "no such thing as Black cowboys", but they are incorrect. My ancestors in the 1800s on their way to California saw the Black Cowboys, as this book describes real life individual. These cowboys of color are exactly real and this book is valuable in testifying to their existence. It has a favorite place in my own library.

 

Politics and War - Black America Is There

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Buffalo Soldiers were as far east as Tampa, Florida.Tuskegee AirmenMontford Point Marines
Buffalo Soldiers were as far east as Tampa, Florida.
Buffalo Soldiers were as far east as Tampa, Florida. | Source
Tuskegee Airmen
Tuskegee Airmen | Source
Montford Point Marines
Montford Point Marines | Source

© 2012 Patty Inglish

How Have You Been Affected by Black History?

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    • pmccray profile image

      pmccray 5 years ago from Utah

      Again another well done informative body of work. Voted up, marked useful and interesting.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Some of these should come in pretty handy to you and Hubbers are writing additional Hubs now on Black History Month. Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      Joan Whetzel 5 years ago

      Wow! What great resources. I'm bookmarking this one.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      That would be an interesting idea to have Black History Month and other ethnic appreciation days in the UK. The development of varying cultures is indeed fascinating.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, I think that we in England should have a Black History month over here, it would be fascinating, and bring everybody together especially in schools, I have also watched the Who do you think you are? programs and as you say its amazing at how many people do have different cultures in their background, I personally would love to find a different cultural background in my family, I would have to visit the country and find out more, really interesting hub and links, thanks nell