BEATTY: Correct.


BEATTY: That is correct.

MARSHALL: All right. When were you born?

BEATTY: I was born—Asheville, North Carolina, April the 24th, 1909.

MARSHALL: 1909. And, you, um, when’d you leave there?

BEATTY: I left Asheville, it must have been 1925, after the death of my father. My mother died first, and then my father died, and, uh,. I came to Detroit to live with my sister, Hester O’Donnell, who is still living in Detroit now.

MARSHALL: And then you went to high school.

BEATTY: I went to North—I entered Miller Intermediate School in Detroit in the 7th grade, and it went through the 9th grade. I, uh, went to high school at Northeastern High in Detroit and, uh, graduated from Northeastern High School in Detroit. I entered Eastern Michigan University in the fall of 19, ah, 30, and 1:00um, I graduated from Northeastern High and entered, uh, I said that. Came to, came to Eastern Michigan after graduating from high school.

MARSHALL: And then you, and then, and then, I guess I have to [get in]—what attracted you to Eastern? What, what, what what what, um, to what [can] you—

BEATTY: Well, let’s put it this way. I had, uh, established a pretty good track record at Northeastern High School as a runner. And, uh, first when I first came, I didn’t know anything about running—I thought everybody was supposed to run anyhow. So, I ran. I had never seen a track meet, and, um, so when I came, when I first got to Miller, in a gym class, the man lined up everybody at the end of that day, end of the class, and, uh, we had to run into 2:00the shower, which is about a 125 yards. So, he’d line up maybe 20 or 30, uh, boys and he’d say, “On your marks, get set,” and he’d hit against the fence with a baseball bat and that group would take off. The next group would come up—bang—take off, until all of them, gym class, kids were in. So, um, I wanted to be first in the shower, and I got in the shower, and I was taking, uh, a shower, and, in came, uh, one of the coaches. I didn’t know who he was or anything, and he said, “You! I want you to come to my office.” I—I didn’t know what I’d done. I knew I hadn’t gotten into any fights, ’cause I didn’t fight. So, uh, he asked me what my name was and I told him. He said, “How long you’ve been here?” I said, “Oh, I’ve only been here about a week.” And he said, “Did you ever run track?” and I said no. He said, “Well, I want you to come out for track practice this afternoon.” So I went out for track practice that afternoon, and, uh, I—I didn’t know what was happening—the whole school was out. What had happened in the race that I ran in to take a shower in my group of guys, about 20 of us, they had the 3:00fastest runner in the school, named Fred Calloway, and, um, word got around that we got somebody here that beat Fred Calloway, see? And so he ran us, three separate races that afternoon, just the two of us, and, uh, each time I beat Fred. And, uh, that’s when I found out that I—I could run, y’know. So um, uh, I was quite successful in high school, established several high school world records, and, uh, naturally, uh, uh, people in colleges, uh, were seeking out me. I had a chance to go to Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern University. Uh, practically every school in the Big Ten, uh, had heard about me because of the, um, national interscholastic track meet.

MARSHALL: Ah [yeah], mm-hmm.

BEATTY: And, uh, Eastern had wanted me, but I had no c—no thought about coming to Eastern.


BEATTY: I got a job working at Ford Motor Company during that summer, and, uh, I was working in the foundry. And, uh, I of course—that was pretty tough work. Anyway, um, these colleges—I had, I had my mind set on going to Northwestern 4:00University because I had gone there for a national high school track meet and I had met some fine people. And, um, they were inter—quite interested and they told me what they were going to give me and everything, and, so, but I didn’t start when school started and they kept after me, calling, and so I had intended to work until the second semester, but in the meantime, I got laid off. And so, when I called Northwestern, they, uh, asked me to go to some other school in Michigan, because, uh, freshman week had already passed, and then transfer to Northwestern the second semester. So, I knew that someone from, uh, Eastern had called me, which was Michigan State Normal College at that time, so I—I didn’t want to stay out of school, so I went to, uh, Michigan State Normal, talked to, uh, one of the coaches, and, uh, they were expecting me, [laughs], so I didn’t have any credits sent there at all. We had a registrar by the name of 5:00C. P. Steimle, and, um, so he called my high school principal and said, “Now, can you recommend this guy?” And he said “Yeah, sure! He’s one of our fine, fine students,” see? And, uh, so, I entered on his word, but my credits were sent later.


BEATTY: And once I got here, I liked it so well, I just stayed.

MARSHALL: Stayed, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. And you were, uh, of course, that was, uh, an entirely new experience too, that coming in, coming in, and having opportunities to compete on a college level. You, um, once you got here, what—what were some of the competitive, uh, races, uh, that you entered? Like, I’m not, I guess I’m thinking about some of those—

BEATTY: Well, I had—

MARSHALL: [higher] ones.

BEATTY: I had, um, in high school, I ran the hurdles and, uh, I ran the—I did the broad jump.


BEATTY: And I had held the national interscholastic world record indoors for 6:00half-mile, and I competed on the um, mile relay team for Northeastern High School, and also on the half-mile, and our team had set a world record for the half-mile, uh, relay at one minute and 30 second. Of course, during that time, you ran on a cinder track. And, um, the time now is so different because they have these, uh, synthetic tracks, y’know, and regardless of what the weather is, you can make good time, but, in the case of a rain, the track was slow, and things of that nature, see? So, uh, when I got to college, the coach had me concentrate on the broad jump and the hurdles, and I ran a leg on the relay team. But so far as running um, half mile, that was out. I’d tried the high jump when I was in high school, and, um, because I—I didn—just didn’t know what I could do, and, and the high jump was just too much, I was a shor—I was 7:00short, I did jump 5 feet 8 inches and uh, once or twice, but, that was good for a guy my height, though. And, uh, I tried to pole vault and uh, I got over ten feet once.


BEATTY: And that was extreme. No, I—I beg your pardon—eight feet, and I thought that was extremely good, ’cause the world record only twelve feet eight inches at that time, and now it’s over eighteen feet.


BEATTY: So, um, I more or less specialized when I got to Eastern, which, Eastern Michigan now, Eastern Michigan State Normal then, and I took part in the high hurdles and the low hurdles. Um, there was a track meet coming up at the University of Pennsylvania known as the Penn Relays; it had been a long-established event. And they had the 400 meter hurdles, so my teammate Red Simmons and myself asked our coach to let us uh, go to Penn Relays—because we always had gone to Drake Relays prior to that time.


BEATTY: So, um, after con—we finally convinced him that we’d like to enter in those 400 meter hurdles, height, the height . So, he says, “OK, we’ll 8:00go.” And, uh, we didn’t have any 400 meter hurdles—the height—the height of a 400 meter hurdle is three feet. The height of a low hurdle is two feet six inches.

MARSHALL: Oh, I see.

BEATTY: And the height of a high hurdle is three feet six inches. So, we had a six-inch, uh, addition made, so we could put on the top of each hurdle, to give us the height of an intermediate hurdle. So, uh, he did that and we went out—we used to practice in, uh, Yost Fieldhouse, because it was in the wintertime, we, y’know, and we could not compete outside. Every now and then we’d get a good day and we’d go out and work out, ’cause this track meet was one of the first outdoor meets of the year, and it always came in April. And around here, you’re lucky to get weather that you can run in in April. So we went out there, and um, the first year, 1931, I won the 400 meter hurdles and, ah, my teammate got ah, third. Uh, the second year, uh, I won the hurdles, and my teammate got third. He got second that year. second. The third year, 1933, we 9:00had—the banks had all broken, we had money in the bank, ’t was frozen, we couldn’t get to it. So, the coach wanted me to try to defend my title for the third year, and um, so they put tin cans around all over the Ypsi and help sent Beatty to the Penn Relays. And, um, so that’s how I got to Penn Relays the third year in order to defend my, uh, my title.


BEATTY: And after I had gotten there, uh, the news had reached Detroit that I hadn’t—didn’t have a way to get there, so, uh, the Greyhound bus line, no, not the Greyhound, uh, Michigan Central Railroad Track had offered me a ticket. But by the time that—I had to leave early, and I took the bus, and I didn’t have a chance to take the, uh, train, but a train ticket was offered to me, to get there. But I did get there, and I defended my title for the third straight year. Ah…in 1932, I set the record there, that stood for 18 years, and, uh, in 10:001932, that was the Olympic year., see. So, uh, I was, established in 1932 as the outstanding 400 meter hurdler in not only the country, but in the world, until the Olympic Games. During the Olympic Games tryouts, uh, I defeated everybody, uh, they were only picking three, and uh, we—

MARSHALL: You [began to be] 34?

BEATTY: 1932.

MARSHALL: Thirty-two. Oh, I see.

BEATTY: We met, we met in California, Los Angeles.


BEATTY: And, uh, the thing about it was, that um, I had had quite an easy time up until the final race, only four men in the race, and, um, we’re picking three. And I had lane number one, these lanes were staggered. Number one was the inside lane, number two was about, uh, seven yards ahead of number one, and, but you had to run in your entire lane during the entire race and if you got out of 11:00that lane, then you would, you’d be disqualified. Glen Harding had lane four which put him about uh, 12 to 15 yards ahead of me, but the distance was made up on the curves, but if you dropped out of lane 4 down to lane 3, then you’re not running 400 meters.


BEATTY: But what happened, I had judged my time, and, uh, when I hit the straightaway with about the last 60 yards, I heared somebody was ahead of me. And, uh, so I caught him, but in catching him I used up the speed that I was reserving for the final spurt, and in so doing, um, I tipped the last hurdle which knocked me off stride, and I maintained my balance without falling until about five yards from the finish line, and then I lost my balance and fell. Even during the time when I was stumbling and couldn’t get myself together, I was still out in front. And um, so when I got up, naturally all the other three 12:00fellows had passed me, because we had the four fastest runners in the country in that one heat, and so naturally they weren’t too far behind. So they went by me and I got up and I walked across the finish line, and I mentioned to the coach that um, I’m finishing this race. So, um, I went into the locker room very dejectedly, naturally, something I had looked for all my life and then one of the newspaper reporters came in, who had won the 400 meter dash in the 1928 Olympics and he sought me out and he said “Did you know that Glen Harding ran the wrong hurdles?” And I said, “No, I didn't.” He said, “Well, what are you going to do about it?” I said, “What can I do about it?” He said, “Let’s go out and talk to Mr. Brundage.” Mr. Brundage was chairman of the, uh, in, uh, Michigan Amateur Athletic Union and also a member of the Olympic, uh, Committee. So, the first thing he asked me, “Did you finish the race?” And I said “Yes, I finished the race.” So he dis—they disqualified Glen 13:00Harding because he did not run 400 meters at all. He not only dropped down from lane 4, he dropped down to lane two, which gave him a decided advantage and, uh, he, he ran less. So, however Mr. Brundage didn’t mention what, what Monday—that was a Saturday, and that Monday never came. He went back and he selected Glen Harding to run in place of me. The excuse was that one of the officials helped me to my feet, which was not true. I got up and walked across the finish line myself. And, uh, ’course the Los Angeles papers knew the whole story and they criticized, uh, Mr. Brundage severely for doing that, but he was the czar and that was the way it stood. So, that’s how I missed out on the Olympics, the Olympic Games, see.

MARSHALL: That was 1932.

BEATTY: 1932, mm-hmm.


BEATTY: And Glen Harding, who won the race, went on and won the Olympic Games—


BEATTY: —you see.

MARSHALL: Now after that, of course, you went on and, uh, finished [school]?


BEATTY: Well, I finished, um, I went on and graduated from Eastern in, uh, 1934. Uh, ’course, this was during the Depression time and jobs were hard to get. So, uh, Lloyd Olds, my track coach, uh, was constantly looking out for me and his other athletes, and there was a job open here in Ypsilanti at Harriet School now known as Perry Child Development Center and he interceded for me and I had an interview. I got the job teaching fourth grade. And, um, I stayed right here in Ypsilanti because I liked it, and then in 1940 I was made principal of that particular school, see.

MARSHALL: Go ahead.

BEATTY: Go ahead, that’s all.

MARSHALL: Well, I was just going to say that at the time you, at the time you got, went into uh, Perry as a teacher, how many other black teachers were there?


BEATTY: We had one black teacher, a very fair-complected person, who, uh, very light woman, she had taught one year prior to my getting there, and then she taught my first year. She taught second grade. Then she left and went to Detroit and uh, taught there and just finished up recently, retiring from the Detroit Public Schools.

MARSHALL: What’s her name?

BEATTY: Her name was Louise Conger, she’s now Louise Marshall, see. And her husband was also a teacher in Detroit and he has recently retired also, see.

MARSHALL: Well, now at that time, ’course this is nineteen—[coming]—nineteen—

BEATTY: 1935.

MARSHALL: Thirty-five, OK. 1935 was the school over here on, uh, over here on, um,

BEATTY: Adams Street.

MARSHALL: Adams Street, was that closed?

BEATTY: That school had long been closed, long before I even knew it was a school. It was a sort of a one-room school, um, y’know, uh, and most of the blacks went to that school, see.



BEATTY: …who lived on this side.

MARSHALL: That means then that Mrs. Kersey—where was Mrs. Kersey teaching then?

BEATTY: Mrs. Kersey was not a teacher. She did her first teaching with me. She had not taught school at that time.

MARSHALL: Oh no, she taught at the old school.

BEATTY: Uh-huh.


BEATTY: Uh, well, I guess we’d call it Adams. Well, at least she was not teaching at that time and did not teach, um, for years until I had became principal.


BEATTY: When I became principal, I hired, uh, uh, Olive Evans, who was previously Olive Kersey and then, uh, Bernice Kersey—

MARSHALL: Bernice, yeah.

BEATTY: …who later, uh, had received her degree by that time. So if she taught at Adams, it was uh,

MARSHALL: Prior to your time.

BEATTY: Prior to—


BEATTY: —my time and uh, uh, had not received a degree, but she did receive a degree and taught at Harriet school with me.


BEATTY: We had a beautiful combination between Bernice Kersey and Olive Evans, who once was a Kersey, and they both were music. One played the piano, while the 17:00other directed.

MARSHALL: Oh yeah.

BEATTY: And Bernice played the piano and Olive [did] directed.


BEATTY: At the time, we had some very outstanding, uh, programs. We had a radio program that we put on, um, with our youngsters, and uh, Olive did the directing, while Bernice played.


BEATTY: And barring any other elementary school anywhere, uh, we had, we had the greatest musical program of anybody, see. And, uh, the kids had an opportunity to put plays on and they not—didn’t have to be just the maid, they were everything— kings, queens,


BEATTY: Court people, and so on. I say that because, uh, in some of the mixed schools when you have a few blacks in the school,


BEATTY: uh, they would be the butler or the maid.

MARSHALL: Oh, yeah.

BEATTY: …or something [lesser]. But that never happened in our [sway], see.

MARSHALL: Uh, when, when, when, you, when you went in, when you were at Eastern, or when you were at Michigan Normal, how many other blacks were there?


BEATTY: We had, uh, seven black men, uh, I could name them all [laughs]. Just seven black men and about 25 or 30, uh, women. Uh, that—that was all at that time. And four of us all lived in one building, fact, no, there were five of us lived in one, not building, one home. At that time, uh, Eastern did not have any integrated housing at all, see. I recall very strongly that we had a, a girl from Jackson, Michigan that was taking Home Economics. And, um, one of the requirements was to live in this house, uh, this housekeeping shop, uh, place where everybody taking Home Economics had to live there,


BEATTY: …for at least one semester.


BEATTY: They waived that for this girl because they did not want her to live there, see? And she lived at our house—

MARSHALL: Oh, yeah.

BEATTY: …at that time, see. And, uh, by this time, now, I’m, I’m married and I’m teaching, uh, [aches] and this very home here, we built in 1941, see. 19:00And, anyway, um, things had um, have changed tremendously. Uh, we had uh, Dean of Men was James “Bingo” Brown. I tell you this because, uh, everybody loved James Brown. We had, every week we had what we called the Kresge Dances, and students would pay 10 cents to go in the old gymnasium and we’d dance. McKenny Union was under construction at that time. And, every time we paid our, uh, registration fee which was, um, three times a year, um, they took a certain amount of money from us to build McKenny Union, see? When they built McKenny Union, uh, they moved the Kresge Dances there. Now, with our six black kids, uh, black boys on campus, I don’t know who it was, but they did not want us to go to those dances because, uh, the black boys would dance with the white girls.


BEATTY: And, um, so Bing Brown called us in one day and he, he didn’t tell us 20:00we couldn’t do this, but it was an indication that they did not want us. Well, two, three of the fellows were sorta, not militaristic but they wanted to stand up for their rights, and so we met with Bingo to ask him why, see. Well, Bingo died and never told us, but—we had no more trouble getting into the Kresge Dances, see. And those people—some of us didn’t go. But after that, every boy on campus went, see. And we got all the girls to go, see. Ah, Bingo was smart enough, smart enough man and an intelligent enough man to withhold whatever he wanted to tell us. He said, “Well, I’ll get back with you,” so, he never got back with us, and we made all the Kresge Dances, see.


BEATTY: If we had backed down at that time and not have gone to these dances, no telling what could have happened.


BEATTY: We would have been fostering the segregated—



BEATTY: —pattern that they wanted us to have, see.


BEATTY: So. But Bing was a very fine person, everybody loved him, he had a very strong voice and he was dynamic and uh, very touching, and, and uh.

MARSHALL: His nickname was Bing—

BEATTY: Bingo. Bingo.


BEATTY: Bingo Brown.


BEATTY: James Bingo Brown.

MARSHALL: [I’ve heard some stories].

BEATTY: And once, he was a State of Michigan Boxing Commissioner,


BEATTY: …see. He came from I think it was Cornell University here, he was a football player in his day, see.

MARSHALL: Um, I guess the thing I was getting around to, uh, in our interview the other day, we discovered a woman who graduated from Mi—Michigan State Normal in 1916. But she says that that time, they would not give her a certificate to teach. They gave her a certificate of graduation, but not a teaching certificate.

BEATTY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: And she said they wouldn’t give it to her unless she had a job,

BEATTY: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: …but she couldn’t get a job [in any] she’s staying in Ypsilanti,



MARSHALL: …that’s what she said. And she said, if she wanted to leave town and go down South someplace, she could have gotten a job and then they would have given her a certificate. ’Course, this was all a little bit unusual for me.

BEATTY: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: And particular [I], when I had this picture, I have this picture of, of the teachers at um, at uh, um, Adams School.

BEATTY: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: And that’s the reason I knew about Miss [Triss]—


MARSHALL: —because Miss [Triss] is on that picture.

BEATTY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: And I knew that they had always had teachers there.

BEATTY: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: And I wondered—and I, ’cause, I haven’t even checked this with Eastern, but I wanted to verify the fact that they were withholding teaching certificates?

BEATTY: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: At least [under there].

BEATTY: I didn’t know anything at all about them, because, uh, when we came through, and uh, they were giving, y’know, what-whatever you earned, you could see that. And that was before my time, so, I don’t know anything about that.

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm. Well, anyway, uh, in then, then in other words, in the nineteen—but—while you were there, at least they broke down that practice 23:00of, of barring you from the dances. I suspect though that when you went to the dances, most of you, most of you still danced with your own folks.

BEATTY: Well, I did, but we had a couple of fellows, uh, that didn’t. They made a purpose of just going in. ’Course, I never danced with those girls anyhow—


BEATTY: —see, I hadn’t been up from bigfoot country long enough to get used to that stuff! [laughs]

MARSHALL: [laughs]

BEATTY: So, I never danced with them anyhow. But we had two fellows that, uh, uh, y’know, that did, and I’m, I’m glad that they did.


BEATTY: Because I just hadn’t been used to that, and uh, I, because we had, we had plenty girls on campus—

MARSHALL: —Mm-hmm.

BEATTY: —plenty of black girls.


BEATTY: [And we] And there were nice-looking girls, fine girls, and uh, so, was no reason for us to.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Now, I guess the thing I want to ask you about, uh right through here, is I want to ask you about your wife. When did you meet, and what circumstances did you meet?

BEATTY: Well, in—


BEATTY: I had, I met Evelyn at a dance one night—no, no, I’m, I’m sorry. 24:00I met her at a track meet, I was at Eastern and she was at the University of Michigan. She had a friend, boyfriend by the name of John Johnson, who had told her about this fellow that, uh, he thought was one of the greatest runners that he’d ever seen, greatest hurdlers. ’Cause at that time, we didn’t have many black hurdlers throughout the country. And, uh, prior to that time, there was, uh, uh, Ned [Gourdine] who had run hurdles for Iowa I think, or one of the schools out in the Middle West, but uh, in this part of the country, we didn’t have anybody who had run hurdles. And, uh, he had seen me run, and, uh, we had a meet at the University of Michigan fieldhouse, and he wanted to go see this person, see. So, she came out, and she thought that, she said “He thinks he’s kind of cute or something because,” said, “He kept, so why does he keep running and skipping over hurdles?” And he explained to her, “Well, 25:00he’s warming up, y’know,” he said, um, “You have to warm up so when the race starts you won’t pull a muscle, see?” So, when she saw me run, uh, she understood why he was constantly bending and stretching his muscles and so on and, um, that was the first time that she had ever seen me. Uh, it so happened that, we uh, worked on a playground in Detroit one summer.


BEATTY: And uh, she was assigned to my playground. Well, I had worked during the summers on the playground, uh, but she had never worked on it. She didn’t know anything about athletics, but she was quite a smart girl in academic studies.


BEATTY: So we had to take a civil service test,


BEATTY: …and uh, she made it by excelling on the um, academic side, but when it came to the uh, um, activities so far as shuttleboard, shuffleboard, tennis, track, all of—those questions she didn’t answer, but didn’t know how, some of them she hit at it and did get good, so we were thrown together there, see?



BEATTY: And her father was a dentist, and he brought her to the playground that day, and he had heard of me but had never met me before. Her name was Evelyn Douglas, so, anyway, um, Evelyn was an only child, and, um, she didn’t know anything about work—that was her first job. So, uh, we worked together, and, uh, she’s the kind of girl that I like, she was small and uh, y’know, sort of petite and so on, so, we got to know each other there, and so, um, when he brought her to the playground, and, he said, “Beatty! Gene Beatty!” No—he called me John, John Beatty, not, said, “No, it’s—my name is Gene, see?” So anyhow he asked me to look after and take care of her so we did and we became acquainted, and uh, we went out to a, um, dance a couple of times, and at that time, I had to borrow some clothes because I hadn’t worked long enough to earn money enough to—so anyway, that—that’s how we met each other, and uh, we got married in 1935 and uh, we’ve been married ever since, so. We have three kids.


MARSHALL: When did she graduate from Michigan?

BEATTY: She graduated from Michigan, uh, nineteen thirty, thirty, thirty-two. She graduated the University of Michigan School of Music and then she went to Wayne State and, uh, and got her, um, teaching certificate in uh, in elementary education. And she taught kindergarten for 33 years in, in Detroit, see, and retired in 1975, see.

MARSHALL: Now, you-all married in 35, and what about your children?

BEATTY: We got married in, uh, November the 27th, uh, 1935, and, um, we didn’t have any children for six years after we got married, and, since that time, we’ve had three young, three children who are all married now and all have children of their own, OK?

MARSHALL: Yeah, [know that] know that first child, the name of the first child and the date that child was born.

BEATTY: Our first child is Mary Louise, and uh, she was born—


MARSHALL: Married name is now—

BEATTY: Mary Shorter.

MARSHALL: Shorter.

BEATTY: Shorter, mm-hmm. And, uh,

MARSHALL: What’s her husband’s first name?

BEATTY: Her husband’s first name is Donald.


BEATTY: Right. Mary Louise has three children: She has the young—oldest daughter, but she has the youngest children. She has one child that just started the school last September, she’s five and a half,

MARSHALL: Her name?

BEATTY: Her name is, uh, Traylonne.

MARSHALL: Spell that.

BEATTY: T, R, A, Y, L, O, N, N, E, OK?

MARSHALL: Second child.

BEATTY: Second child is Donyelle.

MARSHALL: Donyelle.

BEATTY: D, O, N, Y, E, L, L, E.


BEATTY: Donnelle is part of Donald’s name, see.


BEATTY: And she’s three and a half. And the baby—

MARSHALL: [What’s her] birthday?

BEATTY: Uh, Traylonne’s birthday is January, waitaminute. I can’t think of her [we can’t want her]

MARSHALL: Yeah, we can [manage her].

BEATTY: And, um,

MARSHALL: And the third child.

BEATTY: The third child is, uh, Donald. Donald Charles.

MARSHALL: Donald Charles.


BEATTY: Shorter, and he will one year old the 19th of January, this year, 1981, see? And his, his birthday is January the 19th. Uh-huh. The other two children are born in May. One—the oldest child is born May 4th. And the next one is born May 19th, that’s Donyelle.

MARSHALL: OK, OK. Now. Um, the second child.

BEATTY: Uh, Charlotte. Charlotte. Charlotte Jean, J, E, A, N. That’s my middle child, and um,

MARSHALL: Her last name is?

BEATTY: Her, her last name is Jordan.


BEATTY: And, uh, she has the oldest daughter, um, Stacey, Stacey was born—

MARSHALL: Stacey is spelled S, T…

BEATTY: S, T, A, C, E, Y uh-huh. Stacey was born—now, she has two. One born on the twenty-ninth of May, and the other is the 31st of May. Stacey was born on May the twenty-ninth. And, uh, Dulice, D, U, L, E, C, E, um, is 13. And she was 30:00born on May the 31st. Just a day in between the two, the two, the two [of them,] see. Charles, my son, and the youngest, was born on May the 27th. And, uh, he has two children. And his children, the oldest child is 14 years of age, and her birthday is, on, um, in March. I don’t know the exact date. And her—his son, um, is Charles the third.


BEATTY: And his birthday is August. August the t—in August, the middle of August. I can’t think of the exact date, see.

MARSHALL: [What is] Charles’ wife’s name?

BEATTY: Charles’ wife’s name is Mini, M, I, N, I. She was a Slater, S, L. A, T, E, R.

MARSHALL: Slater, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Um, is, is she a local? I mean, have, have folks…


BEATTY: No, She was raised here, but she wasn’t born here. I don’t know where Mini was born, but they came from a big family.


BEATTY: And, um, she’s not the baby, but, uh,

MARSHALL: No, [uh-huh].

BEATTY: …she’s somewhere in the middle.

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm. OK, now, you, you came here now, you started working here in 1935, you got married in 1935,

BEATTY: Right.

MARSHALL: And, uh, then you, uh, I tell you one thing I wish you would tell me, if you can remember. When you first got married, where did you live?

BEATTY: We first got married, um, we rented a place on Harriet Street, just two doors from the school. The place was uh, owned by um, Louise Mahaley.


BEATTY: And, uh, Mrs. Mahaley just passed away here about a month ago. And, uh, we had an apartment upstairs. We lived there, and in the next year, my wife started [in] teaching in Detroit. Uh..and then she, she didn’t, she commuted, not every day. But she stayed at home in Detroit and she’d come out on 32:00Wednesday and go back Thursday morning, and then she’d come back Friday and spend the weekend and go back Monday morning. And, we did that about a year and, uh, then we purchased an automobile, and then she went ba—back and forth, uh, for 33 years, uh, every day, see.

MARSHALL: Mm. Mm-hmm. And you, you first lived in this house on…

BEATTY: Uh, on Harriet. Four thirty, it’s called four thirt—it’s four thirty-three Harriet street at that time.

MARSHALL: Still there?

BEATTY: Uh, the house has been torn down, it’s right on the corner of Perry and Harriet Street. And the school, uh, extends now, the yard extends all the way [there]. But there was, uh, two houses. One house was sitting on the property of the school. And it was a custodian’s house. Then the other house, sitting, uh, right next door to it, which would be east of the custodian’s house, uh, was Louise Mahaley. It was a two family apartment and we lived upstairs. We had one bedroom, we had uh, sort of little small dining room, a 33:00kitchen, and a living room and bath, see. Which was big enough for the two of us. In 1940, we um, uh, started negotiations to build the house we’re in now. At that time, um, uh, we purchased a lot and had the lot free and clear. FHA was really coming into its own, but they would not build a house for us because they wouldn’t build in this community. And I had tried every place conceivable to get money to build this home and I couldn’t get it. Uh, FHA came out and looked and they said, “Well, we won’t build in this area,” and said, “Go up around the college and purchase a lot and we’ll build a home for you.” And I said, “Well, I can’t, um, buy a lot up there, for the same reason that you won’t, uh, build a house for me, see?” Because they don’t want any blacks up there. There was one black family living on Cross Street which was the Curry family, and they had been there for years and years and years, and generations of them had worked at, um, Eastern Michigan.


MARSHALL: Eastern Michigan.

BEATTY: And, um, I think all of them are dead now except one of the males, had one male and um, a, a sister, who is, uh, her name was Mrs. Smith. Well, anyway, um, that family has, has lived there for all these years, they’ve been living there prior to nine—

MARSHALL: You said on Cross Street.

BEATTY: I’m sorry, it’s on uh, Washtenaw.

MARSHALL: Washtenaw.

BEATTY: Washtenaw.


BEATTY: Uh-huh. Their lot extends all the way back to Cross Street.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

BEATTY: Well, anyway, um, I—neither bank would build a house for me, so finally I talked to a fellow who had had a house built, and he told me to go and see, uh, Mr. Harry Schafer, who had a hardware store, and talk to him. So I did talk to him, and he talked to Mr. McAndrews, who was head of the Ypsilanti uh, um, Association.

MARSHALL: Savings and Loan.

BEATTY: Savings and Loan Association. And, um, he said he’d give me, uh, they’d give me 60% but I’d have to have my lot free and clear and 40% of the house. And then they—I put my 40% in first, and then they would, uh, come 35:00through with the rest of it. Well, I wanted the house badly and I says okay. I did not have 40%, but I did have the lot free and clear. And, um, on $1,500 a year salary that was not too much. My wife was teaching in Detroit making more money than I was, which didn’t make any difference to me. But um, uh, we went out and we borrowed money from our credit union here in Ypsi, and I, book number 83, and, um, so that was kind of low, we hadn’t started this [?],


BEATTY: So I borrowed the full amount that I could borrow, which was $500, and uh, I um, when the basement was in, I paid $500, see. When the roof was on, I had to pay another installment, $500, see.

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

BEATTY: Well, by this time, I had borrowed money everywhere I could. And, I thought that if I got enough money into the place, and got it up to a certain, I just took a chance at letting it, I knew I wasn’t going to have 40%, so I 36:00went back to Mr. McAndrews and I told him I had exhausted all of my means and if I keep borrowing money to, um, put in to get 40% that I’d, I’d never get a house built, see? And, I just, um, labored upon his—uh, just feel that being a human being, that he wouldn’t let me go down the drain. So he came out, he took a look at what was, the roof was on, and, uh, I had—was lucky enough to get a man who was a expert builder and had built many many homes in Ypsilanti. But, uh, had for the past two years had been ill, and with undulant fever. So he gave me a break on the house, providing that I would let my house be shown to other people, which I did. Uh, we could not build the house like we wanted to, it was supposed to be brick veneer, and uh, so we changed from brick veneer to uh, siding, uh, we, he took the, built the house like it was supposed to be, but 37:00he had to narrow the house down and make it smaller, see? And, uh, so, Mr. McAndrews came out and he was amazed at it and he says, “Tell your builder to come in and see me and I’ll give him the go ahead sign,” and that’s how we got the house built, see. So uh, uh, and several other homes in Ypsilanti has the same style because people came in to look at our house and wanted it built the same way, see?



MARSHALL: Now, to, to your, to your, to your general knowledge, what was it, what were the circumstances concerning black folks and the ability to get money to build a house at that time?

BEATTY: The ability to get money at that time was terrible. Absolutely terrible. We had some, uh, people, we had some nice homes owned by black people, uh, old-timers, I don’t know how they got the money but I, I suspect that um, the house that we lived in, Mr. Alfred Davis, it was a well-built home, solid, but he and uh, other friends of his helped, they built each other their homes.



BEATTY: There’s a beautiful home on South Adams, Mrs. Dennis, 427 S. Adams.

MARSHALL: Oh yeah, [I know].

BEATTY: She had a very beautiful home, and um, I just don’t know how they did it, but I, I, I can’t say how they did it and I’ve never inquired, but I do know the local banks, uh, did not help these people build houses. You could get money, the banks would loan you money to buy automobiles, any kind of car you could buy. But they didn’t want to take a chance on on people with homes. Because they f—would force you to live in this area,


BEATTY: …and they wouldn’t loan you money to build on the other side of town. And, uh, t they figured that they’d lose money because if you didn’t keep up your payments, uh, they’d have to rent to some other blacks because 95% of the blacks living in Ypsilanti lived south of Michigan Avenue, see. It was just one of those things, y’know. But, um, a little later on, uh, I think the first real big home that was built by a bank was built for Dr. Perry on 39:00South Hamilton Street. Uh, the bank…

MARSHALL: [He’s still there] and his wife.


MARSHALL: [Compound]

BEATTY: Yes, he’s still there. And then, uh, a little later on, it was a little easier to get money, but it was too late for me.

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah. Um, [now] tell me something else, Gene, um, um, about the time you started off here, uh, suppose you wanted—tell me about the problem with insurance, or did you—were you able to get any insurance that you wanted?

BEATTY: Well, I had taken out insurance um, company in Detroit, Great Lakes Mutual Insurance Company, um, I had to have enough insurance to cover, in case I should happen to die, um, cover the cost of the house. Um, Metropolitan was the big insurance that black people—


BEATTY: um, y’know, um, had insurance in. I had many people who came to me, but the rate was much higher because the, uh, black people were supposed to have 40:00long-longevity of life was not—lifespan was not as long as a white person.


BEATTY: Therefore, you had to pay more for insurance, uh, this, If I had gotten a $10,000 coverage, I couldn’t have been able to keep up the premium, it was too high.


BEATTY: A white person could have gotten a $10,000 insurance policy and paid about half as much as we were paying at that time, see. Right now the span, Negro span of life has increased, uh, y’know, and, uh, it’s not as tough now as it was then, see. It’s, it’s, the market has come closer together.

MARSHALL: Did you get mortgage insurance or did you take, just take out life insurance?

BEATTY: Well, I had mortgage insurance and I had life insurance also, see. The one that I had from Great Lakes, um, I had to have several insurances in case that I did die.


BEATTY: The insurance that I would receive would pay off the mortgage on the 41:00house, y’see.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Well, tell me this. When you, when you got your of life insurance, and I guess that’s the one [I’m going to ?] What, what, uh, what kind of insurance was it? Was it the same kind of insurance that white folks get, or was that the same story?

BEATTY: It was the same kind of insurance, but we had to pay more for it.

MARSHALL: Was it industrial insurance?

BEATTY: Yes, that’s, I guess that’s what it—yes, yes, uh-huh.


BEATTY: But you, you, you paid more for it, y’see.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Well, I, I, I’m asking that question specifically because I think that, that, the problem was national.

BEATTY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Because even in the 40s, I went out to get insurance, and the only kind of insurance I could get was industrial, and if I went through a black company, the only thing they sold was industrial, and if I went to a white company, the only kind they’d sell me was industrial. I couldn’t get a professional insurance in the 1940s. And I, I was just trying to verify the fact that this was true here as well.

BEATTY: It was—I’m, I, I, I, I knew it was, ’cause all over the country it was like that, y’know, so far as black people were concerned, so.


MARSHALL: [While] this, y’know, only, only in fact in recent years, in fact it was only after I got here, or a little before I got here, that I was able to get a real—a really professional insurance.

BEATTY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Y

MARSHALL: …of me and my occupation.

BEATTY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: OK. You, um, you ah, now about, about the time you started working here of course, uh, uh, the Depression came, Depression, well, we were—

BEATTY: Depression, was already in it.

MARSHALL: What I’m really trying to say, the war came. And the war brought about some changes, and I understand that, uh, when the war came, you were almost immediately placed on the, uh, draft board.

BEATTY: Uh, no, I didn’t get on the draft board until, um, Mr. [Chaco] had been on—I, I spent 15 years on the draft board. I think I went on the draft board in nineteen…fifty…somewhere around 1950.


MARSHALL: Oh. Then you weren’t on it during the war.

BEATTY: Oh yes, I was—n—not World War Two,

MARSHALL: That’s what I mean.

BEATTY: No no no, no no no no.

MARSHALL: Yeah, I was thinking World War Two.

BEATTY: No, no, no.

MARSHALL: I haven’t gotten down to the—

BEATTY: There were no—I, I was the first black to have been placed on the, on the Selective Service.

MARSHALL: During World War II, then, there was no blacks on it at all.

BEATTY: No, not at all, not at all. And I spent 15 years on the draft board, until—

MARSHALL: I, I want to get to that, but right now I want to cover this period of 1940. I want to find out what you were doing, the political activities and other things that were going on in town around 1940. And I guess I want to give you a leading question now. There was a newspaper published by a friend across the street, his widow, of course, [I talked to], I haven’t interviewed, but I want to talk to her about—that paper was the Washtenaw—

BEATTY: Washtenaw Sun.

MARSHALL: Sun, uh-huh. Now. Do you remember approximately the length of time that paper was published?

BEATTY: Well, I know during, um, during the 40s, late 40s, and, uh, in the 50s, 44:00uh, he published the paper, see. And, uh, he did all the work right there in his house. I don’t know where he had it printed or published, but…uh, the work was done in his house there. And, um, he had several people working on it. Frank Seymour was one of the persons, he had several people out getting, uh, getting news, y’know, and they, um, they liked sensational style, y’know, and um, a lot of it was extremely biased, y’know, uh, but it, it, it had a lot of good points, too. It had a lot of good points. I would say that he would—he had the first black-publishing paper that was put out in Ypsilanti, see. And a lot of it was very good and kept you up to the time, had a column for young people. Young people’s column in [down].

MARSHALL: You didn’t by any chance keep a copy of that, did you?

BEATTY: I have a copy of a Wa—I have a cop—couple of copies of the 45:00Washtenaw Sun.

MARSHALL: Well, ’cause you know what I’m going to ask you.

BEATTY: Uh-huh. [laughs]

MARSHALL: [laughs] I want to, I’ve got to, I’d like to make a copy of it.

BEATTY: Now wait a minute. It may be a copy of the Sun, or it may be a copy that was uh—I don’t think it’s a copy of the Washtenaw Sun. It’s a copy of a, um, uh, a little paper that was put out by the youth, and they had a lot of material in there that was published in the Sun, but a copy of the Sun itself I do not have, see.

MARSHALL: That’s what I’ve been trying to find.

BEATTY: Yes. Uh-huh.

MARSHALL: Trying to find copies of the Sun. Now, there was another little paper that was put out about that same time, not at the same time, but near the end of—

BEATTY: Miss Annie Simpson had—

MARSHALL: Miss Simpson’s paper.

BEATTY: Annie Simpson had a little paper that she—

MARSHALL: Lots of [sheets.]

BEATTY: Yeah, that she sent around, and she would take around and deliver it herself in person, to people, y’know, see. And it was an in—quite an informative little thing, and, um, I have great respect for the woman because um, um, she was up in age and she got around and she let you know what the clubs 46:00were doing,


BEATTY: …and things of that nature. It was not really a paper that would down people, y’know,


BEATTY: Uh, if something happened, she’d print it, y’know. She wouldn’t sensationalize a thing, y’know, see.

MARSHALL: Well, I, I’ve heard, I’ve heard, uh, a lot of [incense] good comments about it.

BEATTY: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: …and about how well-received it was.

BEATTY: Yes, yes, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: But I guess it’s just one of the things I want to document, I’d like to see copies of it.

BEATTY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: And as you and I know, during that time, white folk weren’t interested in it. While they would keep other papers in the library, they wouldn’t pay attention to that.

BEATTY: Yes, that’s right.

MARSHALL: And of course, I don’t know yet whether…Fran…Francois has copies of hers or not.

BEATTY: She, she just might have a copy.

MARSHALL: I, I’ve written her a letter, and I asked her for an interview, and I’m hoping she does, and on the other one I’m hoping to run across somebody, there’s a man who lives over there someplace who used to live with Miss 47:00Simpson, I understand, and somebody gave me his name, Mrs. Bass gave me his name and said, uh, he might just, might accidentally have a copy of it. But anyways, I was interested in that. Now, about that time of course you had a, a, you had a kind of an awakening, an awakening during that period of the 40s in particular. I think there was a kind of awakening, political, uh, interest, in black people. And, I know it was national, and I also have a feeling that it what I [may have] been led to understand it was also local. In other words, uh, tell me anything you can remember about that. About, uh, well, about that time you elected Seymour, for example.

BEATTY: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: For example, what went on behind the scenes toward the election of Seymour? Beatty: Well, I, uh, Frank had moved out here, Frank was, um, working I think out at um, General Motors, at the [Bama] plant, as we called that, but was living in Detroit, and, uh, I was the one that found him an apartment out 48:00here so he could live out here. And he um, lived right down the street here at 148 Hawkins, and had a nice apartment, uh, uh, house is owned by John Davis and, um, he and his wife. Lovely couple. And, um, they didn’t want anybody, although they built the apartment, they didn’t rent it to anybody. So, I convinced them that Frank was a fine person, and, uh, and he turned out to be a fine person, clean and not noisy, and not rough, anything like that, so they let him have the apartment, which was about 4 or 5 doors from here. And, uh, at that time, uh, we began to um, uh, form committees and various clubs and uh, uh, we became interested in politics, not that we hadn’t been before. Ben Neely was one of the pioneers in, um, in, in the political movement here in Ypsilanti, and Ben is still living, but he’s in very bad shape now.


MARSHALL: [hurt performance]

BEATTY: Yes, and, um, uh, he, he was one of the um, forerunners in this thing. Um, John Burton had come into town, and um, uh, they were the sort of the crux of this political uprising uh, movement, as far as the black people were concerned, see. And everybody got together and elected Frank Seymour, ah, to the um, to the city council, see? Then later on he was elected, um, well no, he was never married, he was elected…y’know, sometimes people will always find ways to um, to keep you from getting anything. One of the things that happened, ah, they passed a law, bill, something, saying that you had to own property in the city to become a member of um, the city council, or hold any kind of public 50:00office, see? Of course, at that time, Frank had planned on ah, resigning and not getting back on the council anyway, so it didn’t affect him. So he moved down to Detroit and established a public relations firm, see, and um, then, we, um,

MARSHALL: Was that just after one term on council?

BEATTY: Uh, I think he only spent one term on, on the city—

MARSHALL: One term is two years.

BEATTY: Yes, term of two years. I’m trying to think now—then Amos Washington or John—I can’t think who was first, Amos Washington or John Burton who was next on the uh, uh, the city council. But one of the two of those men, so close together I can’t recall now. Um, we had a faction there that, uh, uh, they, they changed the, the, the rules. In other words, instead of electing from wards, they went to district-wise, see.


MARSHALL: Oh yeah.

BEATTY: And, uh, that’s when uh, Amos ran. John Burton happened to be the second man who was, uh, to be elected to the council. So, Jo—uh, Amos, I told Amos that I thought that he could win, see, and Amos thought he could win too.. A lot of people thought that um, that I was supporting Amos because I knew that uh, we couldn’t elect two blacks on the council, see? I’ve always felt that um, I would never do anything to hurt the progress of the black man, never, but I figured that if we stuck together that we could place two people on the council. I sa—I knew that Amos had enough people on the—enough relatives on the south side who could influence other people, and I knew he had enough friends on the other side of town, because he had established himself, uh, to get enough votes. We could elect seven people, seven people, and [right fresh], 52:00and uh, I said, this would be the only time that we could elect two blacks at one time, see. Ah, we had quite a controversy on that, and uh, I was, uh, rai—branded a traitor and I, I couldn’t understand that because I figured that everybody had a, a right to his own opinion, and if I had thought that I was doing anything that would uh, hurt the black people, I would not have done it, see. However, I kept insisting that two people can be elected to the city council, see. Well, my name was “mud,” but however, when it came out, uh, both John Burton and Amos Washington were elected to the city council as I had predicted they would be. And John—Amos Washington received the highest number of votes over all seven candidates, see. So, uh, I mean, I felt real good about that, see. So, um, then, after the death of Dr. Lawrence Perry, who was the 53:00first member of our school board, uh, Amos was now working for the Housing Commission. He got off the city council, see, he got off the City Council because it was a conflict of interests for him to stay on the city council and be uh, ah, with the Housing Commission, see. So, then, he took the place of Dr. Perry on the school board. Dr. Perry was the first black ever to serve on the Ypsilanti School Board, see. And then Amos Washington was appointed and after he was appointed, then he was re-elected again at the end of the, at the end of his term he was serving for Dr. Perry. Then after that, Douglas Harrie was the third person to be represented on the school board, and the first time I became elected, and we had two blacks at the same time on the school board, that’s the only time—

MARSHALL: Yeah, but there’s a period in there when you didn’t have any, wasn’t it?

BEATTY: Oh yes, well, from the time that Dr. Perry, ah, Dr. Perry was the first,


BEATTY: …see. Amos Washington filled out the term—prior to Dr. Perry was 54:00nobody, see.

MARSHALL: Yeah, right.

BEATTY: And then Amos Washington filled out the term, of Dr. Perry, see. Alright, then Amos, when Amos Washington got off the Housing Commission, uh, J. D. Hall filled out the unexpired term of Amos Washington, at the death of Amos Washington,


BEATTY: …see. Alright. Then he was re-elected again, see, then, then when he got off the board, he did not run, Douglas Harris was elected. He spent one term on the board of Education, and uh, he spent one year with me, see. I was elected in 1975, and he spent one year, then he was not, he was not reelected, he was defeated, see. Then I was re-elected to the board back in 1979.


BEATTY: …see, and now, in the second year of a four-year term, see. And I 55:00think it’s about time we start grooming somebody else to, to get on the board. But, uh, I think that’s five people, Dr. Perry, Amos Washington, J. D. Hall, Doug Harris, and myself, we’ve had five blacks in the history of Ypsilanti to serve on the school board.

MARSHALL: Now, that’s starting with [back], starting sometime in the 40s.

BEATTY: Yes. Uh, uh, late 40s, late 40s. Late 40s or early 50s.

MARSHALL: I know when I got here J. D. was on it.

BEATTY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Well, anyway, um, you, but, I guess the thing I’m interested in, Gene, is, uh, the, the, the, um, how did you bring this about? I mean, you were still only fifteen to eighteen per cent of the total population.


MARSHALL: How did you—tell me about the organization, the community organization, that went into this election.

BEATTY: Well, we had an NAACP organization here at this time, and, uh, the blacks just got together. They got together and said, “It’s about time that 56:00we, we stuck together.” And, um, what the blacks did, in other words, uh, you could elect two people, uh, they only voted for one, see. And about the only way that we could get—


BEATTY: —anything done was to vote for one person because if you voted for two people, you voted for a black and you voted for a white.


BEATTY: And, uh, if you vote, you’re always giving this other man a vote, see?

MARSHALL: Yeah, right.

BEATTY: And when they, they were voting for two people, chances are they were, were voting—

MARSHALL: Dividing them up.

BEATTY: …for one man and another white man,


BEATTY: —they were, so, if the Negroes pooled their votes, ah, you could do a lot of things, even today, if Negroes could pool their votes,


BEATTY: We would be a power, wherever we are, see. And, uh, but we have to stick together, see, and this is what was happening at that time, see, we were sticking together.

MARSHALL: Now, you must have had a, a, a group, you must have had a, a group who was sitting back and sort of synthesizing these efforts. I can visualize, um, uh, uh, the man whose name you mentioned a while ago,


BEATTY: Ben Neely?

MARSHALL: Ben Neely, one of those persons. Who else was involved in this? I’m talking about this nucleus group that you must have had that would come around and plan the strategy in order to take it to the people, and so forth, was that done the regular through NAACP?

BEATTY: Well, Frank Seymour, and Ben Neely, uh, and John Burton uh, they, they were some of the people. Now, we had a lot of women involved in there, Mrs. [Ranslide], she’s passed on, Mrs., uh, um, Ethel Williams, was involved in that, uh, it, it, it was a, a, a nucleus of people like that, um. They weren’t always together, they weren’t always together. Their ideas were, the ideas were good, but, uh, they weren’t polarized like they should have been. And, and, it just happened, y’know, that the churches, all the churches were pulling at the same time, see. And, um, but if you want to see a nucleus of 58:00people, um, that got out there and, and actually fighting, it was, it was a small group of people that got most of the people together, see. And, ’course, later on, people began to fight each other and pull one way and one the other. We have managed to keep at least one black person on the city council ever since, uh, Frank Seymour was the first one, see.

MARSHALL: Um, I guess somewhere I picked up, and I think this is right, there was a club of women, some of the names that you mentioned were involved in it, but that this club, actually got on the telephone and went around ringing bells and so forth, to get people to get out and vote.

BEATTY: Well, there are so many clubs in town,


BEATTY: I don’t reall—know the exact name of the club that you’re thinking about.

MARSHALL: This was the club that was involved in the Community Center.

BEATTY: Carver Center?



BEATTY: Carver Center.


BEATTY: Well, there, practical—as I say, there’s the Palm Leaf Club, there’s the Kentucky Wonder Club, there’s a Sewing Circle Club, and uh, those are all women’s clubs. Uh, then we had the Jolly Men’s Club y’know, there are, are, are a lot of different clubs that now, they all work together, see?

MARSHALL: Oh, I’m just saying, then, this [they all got on], see, the story I, when I heard it, and I heard it from one person, and that person was telling me how that particular club had done this and done that, but you’re—but I’m hearing you say is yes, that club may have done so and so and so and so, but then the other clubs


MARSHALL: …were involved [as well]. In other words, it was more of a joint—

BEATTY: It was joint, joint thing, yeah, I don’t, I don’t think you could give one club all the credit.


BEATTY: Because they had people from, uh, all clubs, y’know, may have been one or two people from each club, but, uh, this was what was happening in our city.

MARSHALL: How much resistance was there to that, from the white folks?

BEATTY: Uh, I, I don’t think that it was too much resistance, because I don’t think that they thought that—



0:00 - Early life and school in Detroit

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Partial Transcript: I left Asheville, it must have been 1925, after the death of my father. My mother died first, and then my father died, and, uh,. I came to Detroit to live with my sister, Hester O’Donnell, who is still living in Detroit now.

Segment Synopsis: Beatty describes coming to Michigan in the 1920s after the death of his parents in Asheville, North Carolina, beginning track and enrolling at Detroit's Northeastern High School.

Keywords: Asheville, North Carolina; Detroit; Eastern Michigan University; Eugene Beatty; Fred Calloway; Great Migration; Hester O’Donnell; Hurdles; Miller Intermediate School; Northeastern High; Sherrills Ford, North Carolina

Subjects: Detroit (Mich.). Track and field athletes. High school students. African Americans--Migrations--History--20th century.

Hyperlink: Photo of Beatty and track team from Detroit's Northeastern High School, 1927.

3:21 - Coming to Ypsilanti and college track and field experience

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Partial Transcript: I was quite successful in high school, established several high school world records, and, uh, naturally, uh, uh, people in colleges, uh, were seeking out me. I had a chance to go to Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern University. Uh, practically every school in the Big Ten, uh, had heard about me because of the, um, national interscholastic track meet.

Segment Synopsis: Beatty describes his college track and field experiences at Ypsilanti's Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University) in which he established a number of speed records.

Keywords: black hurdlers; C. P. Steimle; Drake Relays; Eastern Michigan University; Ford Foundry; Great Migration; Michigan State Normal College: Penn Relays; National Interscholastic; Red Simmons; Track and Field; Track speed records; Yost Field House; Ypsilanti

Subjects: Eastern Michigan University--Sports. College athletes--Recruiting. Hurdling (Track and field). African American track and field athletes.

Hyperlink: Beatty in his Michigan Normal (Eastern Michigan University) track uniform.

10:20 - Olympics hopes dashed

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Partial Transcript: Ah…in 1932, I set the record there, that stood for 18 years, and, uh, in 1932, that was the Olympic year., see. So, uh, I was, established in 1932 as the outstanding 400 meter hurdler in not only the country, but in the world, until the Olympic Games. During the Olympic Games tryouts, uh, I defeated everybody,

Segment Synopsis: Beatty describes the Los Angeles try-outs for the 1932 Olympics and his bitter disappointment at being rejected for the team.

Keywords: 1932 Olympics; African Americans in the Olympics; Avery Brundage; black athletes of 1930s; Black hurdlers; Eastern Michigan University; Eugene Beatty; Glen Harding; Los Angeles; Michigan Amateur Athletic Union; Michigan State Normal College; Olympic tryouts; Track and Field

Subjects: Summer Olympics. Sports--Psychological aspects. African American track and field athletes.

Hyperlink: April 30, 1933 newspaper clipping of Beatty running the hurdles.

14:07 - Teaching at Harriet Street School and segregation at Eastern Michigan

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Partial Transcript: I went on and graduated from Eastern in, uh, 1934. Uh, ’course, this was during the Depression time and jobs were hard to get. So, uh, Lloyd Olds, my track coach, uh, was constantly looking out for me and his other athletes, and there was a job open here in Ypsilanti at Harriet School now known as Perry Child Development Center and he interceded for me and I had an interview. I got the job teaching fourth grade. And, um, I stayed right here in Ypsilanti because I liked it, and then in 1940 I was made principal of that particular school,

Segment Synopsis: Beatty discusses being principal of Ypsilanti's Harriet Street school and black teachers in the city. He also recounts segregation at, now, Eastern Michigan University and opening the Kresge Dances to black students.

Keywords: Adams Street School; Bernice Kersey; Black school principals; black teachers; Depression; Eastern Michigan University; Hawkins Street; James "Bingo" Brown; Jim Crow; Kresge Dances; Lloyd Olds; Louise Conger; McKenny Union; Michigan State Normal College; Olive (Kersey) Evans; Perry Child Development Center; school segregation; segregated schools in Michigan; segregation; Ypsilanti; Ypsilanti School Board

Subjects: African American teachers. Segregation--Michigan--Ypsilanti--History.

Hyperlink: A view of Ypsilanti's Harriet Street school in the late 1940s.

23:49 - Marriage and family

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Partial Transcript: We became acquainted, and uh, we went out to a, um, dance a couple of times, and at that time, I had to borrow some clothes because I hadn’t worked long enough to earn money enough to—so anyway, that—that’s how we met each other, and uh, we got married in 1935 and uh, we’ve been married ever since, so. We have three kids.

Segment Synopsis: Beatty describes meeting his wife, fellow teacher Evelyn Douglass, and their children and grandchildren together.

Keywords: Charles Beatty Jr.; Charles Eugene Beatty III; Charlotte Jean Beatty; Donald Charles Shorter; Donald Shorter; Donyelle Shorter; Dulece Jordan; Eastern Michigan University; Evelyn Beatty; Evelyn Douglas; John Johnson; Mary Louise Beatty; Mini Slater; Ned Gordine; Stacey Jordan; Traylonne Shorter; University of Michigan School of Music

Subjects: African American families. Marriage. Children.

Hyperlink: Evelyn Douglass and Eugene Beatty's 1935 wedding certificate.

31:16 - The struggle for housing in segregated Ypsilanti

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Partial Transcript: In 1940, we um, uh, started negotiations to build the house we’re in now. At that time, um, uh, we purchased a lot and had the lot free and clear. FHA was really coming into its own, but they would not build a house for us because they wouldn’t build in this community. And I had tried every place conceivable to get money to build this home and I couldn’t get it. Uh, FHA came out and looked and they said, “Well, we won’t build in this area,” and said, “Go up around the college and purchase a lot and we’ll build a home for you.” And I said, “Well, I can’t, um, buy a lot up there, for the same reason that you won’t, uh, build a house for me, see?” Because they don’t want any blacks up there.

Segment Synopsis: In this segment AP Marshall and Beatty discuss the struggle for Black people to get adequate housing in segregated Ypsilanti in the context of institutional racism in the banking and insurance industries. Beatty details the years it took for him to build his own home on Hawkins Street.

Keywords: 427 South Adams; 433 Harriet Street; Alfred Davis; College Heights; Curry family; Dennis family; Dr. Lawrence Perry; Federal Housing Authority; FHA; Harriet Street school; Harry Schaefer; Hawkins Street; housing covenants; housing insurance and racism; housing segregation in Ypsilanti; institutional racism; Louise Mahaley; racism; red lining; red-lining; Schaefer Hardware; segregation in Ypsilanti; South Hamilton Street; Thomas Dennis; Thomas McAndrew; Ypsilanti Credit Union; Ypsilanti Savings and Loan

Subjects: Discrimination in housing. Discrimination in mortgage loans. Racism--Michigan--Ypsilanti--History.

Hyperlink: An African-American family moves into a trailer near Ypsilanti during World War Two.

42:31 - Black Ypsilanti newspapers and the emergence of new leaders

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Partial Transcript: I want to find out what you were doing, the political activities and other things that were going on in town around 1940. And I guess I want to give you a leading question now. There was a newspaper published by a friend across the street, his widow, of course, [I talked to], I haven’t interviewed, but I want to talk to her about—that paper was the Washtenaw—

Segment Synopsis: A conversation about local Black-published newspapers that developed during the heightened political climate of World War two-era Ypsilanti. Herbert Francois' "Washtenaw Sun" and Annie Simpson's paper are discussed.

Keywords: "Washtenaw Sun"; African American journalists; Annie Simpson; black journalism; black newspapers; Civil Rights in World War Two; Frank Seymour; Hawkins Street; Herbert Francois; Mrs. Bass; Ypsilanti Draft Board

Subjects: African American newspapers.

Hyperlink: An example of a period Ypsilanti Black-published newsletter, The Ypsi-Ann,

47:41 - Organizing to elect Ypsilanti's first Black city council members

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Partial Transcript: Now, about that time of course you had a, a, you had a kind of an awakening, an awakening during that period of the 40s in particular. I think there was a kind of awakening, political, uh, interest, in black people. And, I know it was national, and I also have a feeling that it what I [may have] been led to understand it was also local. In other words, uh, tell me anything you can remember about that. About, uh, well, about that time you elected Seymour, for example.

Segment Synopsis: A discussion of the political developments that grew out of World War two-era anti-segregation struggles and Ypsilanti's elections of it's first Black council members in the 1945 and 1947. The first Blacks on Ypsilanti's Housing Commission and School Board are also mentioned.

Keywords: Amos Washington; Ben Neeley; Black political power; Black politics in World War Two; Carver Center; Douglas Harris; Dr. Lawrence Perry; Ethel Williams; Eugene Beatty; first African American elected in Washtenaw; Frank Seymour; Hawkins Street; institutional racism; J.D. Hall; John Burton; John Davis; Jolly Men's Club; Kentucky Wonder Club; National Association of Colored People; Palm Leaf Club; racial segregation; Racism in city charters; Sewing Circle Club; Seymour and Lundy; Willow Run; Ypsilanti City Charter; Ypsilanti City Council; Ypsilanti Housing Commission; Ypsilanti School Board

Subjects: Local elections. African Americans--Politics and government. Racism--Political aspects.

Hyperlink: "Washtenaw Sun" clipping of Frank Seymour thanking the electorate for his historic 1945 city council victory.
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