MARSHALL: Well, I think that, I think we’ve gotten to a point now where, and I guess I’m proud to see it, and ’cause I know of your part in the formation of it, indirectly, I mean, I never knew quite as much as you told me today, but I did know that. And that of course made me very proud. But then I guess I look at these people, now, and I see: well, they have dignity.

KERSEY: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: They have dignity. And I think this is the, this is the, difference, in, in in in in, in the generation before you and me. And then to some extent, it’s the difference in our generation because there are a lot of our people who didn’t get dignity, and there’s some of them who don’t have it yet. And I think this is the, this is the one, great contribution to make. Once you give them dignity, then they’re not going to stand for a whole lot of stuff.

KERSEY: That’s right.

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

KERSEY: I remember when we [would go, and the] key issue was this: I was concerned in [seventy]


KERSEY: Uh, I had to say we were, negotiations had stumbled to a, you know, 1:00just had a roadblock, had an impasse,


KERSEY: so we were waiting to hear from the university, and I had sent a letter to the university, and told them, if we, uh, I, I went into a meeting on Sunday,


KERSEY: and the members wanted to strike, they wanted to strike, not come to work the next morning. And I stood up and I told them, no. I said, it don’t take no guts not to come to work. And management don’t think you mean it. And they don’t believe we mean what we’re going to do. I said, now. What I want you to do, sit up here and vote, that at noon tomorrow, you walk off of them jobs and meet me over there by the water tower. Unless you hear from me.


KERSEY: Then I sent a, a, a, telegram, to hand-deliver, not a telegram, a letter, delivered to them, [off] to tell them that, uh, they had a, uh, committee, to respond to and, and, agree to our position on these [ ].



KERSEY: Didn’t hear nothing from them. So I, went over and stood on a hill. Now, I’m nervous as hell: are these people going to do what they’re supposed to do, or what?

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

KERSEY: I’m telling you. But, uh, based on, on my work,


KERSEY: so, uh, the best sight I saw, saw them people walking up from the kitchens and the campus, coming across that campus, old women, and, and young, can’t hardly walk, but they was [peeling] over there and they gathered over there in that, between the water tower and


KERSEY: the drugstore, right out in that, that area.


KERSEY: They gathered over there, and right then, they were sent out to, to, to, their picket spots, and we only had 3 people out of all them unions, out all them people, uh, three hundred and sixty-some people, that stayed on the job.

MARSHALL: Oh, three people.

KERSEY: It was the most beautiful sight I ever—it was worth all that I’d gone through

MARSHALL: [Laughs].

KERSEY: to see them people come over there and stand over there. And then of course, uh, immediately, the university sought an injunction



KERSEY: And, uh, that, that didn’t bother, so we went on up there in front of [Jesse Egger], and I [ ] said, well, you know, he told us, you know, it’s against the law, he said, but I can stall them all, I’ll ask for the [whup] he said I can stall them all for a whole bunch of days, if they don’t want to act right, if he thinks about giving them an injunction,


KERSEY: And we had one of the best, well, the best labor lawyers in the state, Abe Zwerdling, out of Detroit, and uh, he knew his business.


KERSEY: So we went up there, and the judge told, told us to well, how he was going to send us down to Detroit to the, uh, state labor mediation board to negotiate and see if we can get, come up with a solution to this thing.


KERSEY: And he told the university, because he didn’t want that university closed, he wanted it left open,

MARSHALL: I remember that, yeah, yeah.

KERSEY: Yeah. And, uh, so we went down there, [ ] down there to negotiate and send them kids home, about that Thursday. So we came back, they wasn’t moving, and I told the mediator down there, I said, look, a matter of fact, one of the 4:00men on our negotiating team threatened to throw, I don’t know whether it was [Hauser] or [Bill Schmart], fact, we up there on the tenth, twelfth floor, he threatened to throw him out the damn window. [Laughs] And Bill were going at it hot and heavy, and I got up and out of the room and I told him, [to meet], I said, look, they’re, they’re not moving, I said, they’ve even backed off on some of the stuff they said before.


KERSEY: He says, I know it. So he called it off. So it went back to, to court. The judge was told, he said, I’ve been informed what you said, he said, so, now they know about it even here. He said, they want the union to go over here into this room, and the university officials to go into this room, it was Judge [Agar] up there.

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

KERSEY: And [anyhow] we started negotiations all, all, all that afternoon, the evening, though the night, he kept going back and forth, and I, I, and I’m proud to say that, uh, he had told, he had come back to us to get us to change, 5:00and it wasn’t so much that we were wrong, he knew they were wrong


KERSEY: and what we was asking wasn’t, uh, out of line


KERSEY: So he said, well, what is your uh, last effort to resolve this, he said, now, you tell me what you want, and I’ll go in there and I’m sure that they will accept it, or I’ll have every one of them regents up here in the jail. Now that’s what he told them, just like that. President and everything, ain’t nothing but these…


KERSEY: so he [wasn’t] on back and told them, so ’cause they finally kind of come to an agreement, we come to an agreement about five-thirty in the morning.

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

KERSEY: And, so, um, the judge says, well, when do we have this ratification here, I says, well, I don’t know, but he—how we can get word to the people—we’ll get word to the people. And, uh, said, have them up here, so, they came, I think it was ten o’clock in the morning, and too many of them to get in one courtroom, he had two courtrooms, so, [laughs] I didn’t know this loudspeaker was on,

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

KERSEY: And I was explaining to one group of our members, and it was [Jasmine of overhead], it was just here in this room, but there was a loudspeaker on, and 6:00I walked into the meeting, I said, well, here come the judge!

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

KERSEY: And they were busting out laughing—I didn’t know they could hear it, but they [laughs] so I went through all of this stuff, told them that I had to go into another, uh, room and do it with them all over again, and we got the thing, uh, got ratified, matter of fact, after the leadership was called back to work, uh, that afternoon.


KERSEY: Now here they done sent those kids home on Thursday, and right after they did, we agreed to this contract and, uh, it was just a plain mess.

MARSHALL: Well, university didn’t have the skill then that it has now, I think.

KERSEY: Well, they should have had it, though, ’cause we

MARSHALL: They should have had it, yes.

KERSEY: That was in ’70, and we’ve been in negotiations, and this is the same people—

MARSHALL: But they weren’t taking you seriously, see, that’s—


MARSHALL: That’s it. You see, now—

KERSEY: They didn’t believe that we would go on strike.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Well, see, now, they take you serious.

KERSEY: And our people wasn’t out there, but see, Monday, they was off on the picket lines, uh, by, uh well, they were through by Thursday night.


KERSEY: Well, Thursday, on Friday morning when we agreed to it, we pulled in the picket line. Now they were, they were only out there a short time. ’Cause, 7:00uh, they were, they’d always taught me that, uh, make sure you got your facts straight so you can, so your people is out there is the shortest time possible.


KERSEY: See? So, it was just due to their stubbornness that the people were out there as long as they were.

MARSHALL: They do a pretty good job of training you, don’t they?


MARSHALL: AFSCME. They do a pretty


MARSHALL: good job of training that leadership.

KERSEY: Yeah, well, education is our, uh, is the, is the main thing that we bear down on. Uh, especially the leadership of the union. It’s there, if you can get them involved and get them to,


KERSEY: to go to it. And, uh, I, I only had one problem with it, uh, uh, a lot of the teaching of the leadership is done through these, uh, labor schools, at the [Depman] university. Well, you know there that the same people that are teaching us are teaching them. And, uh, I’m a stickler but they ought to be [treating] to teaching the things that they should. Now, I, the university can teach them, fundamentals


KERSEY: Basic [store] training. But they can’t teach you the stuff that you 8:00run into out here, that it’s the same thing as a kid going and getting his diploma. In school. He got his diploma, give him the background and the basics, to go out here and do a job.

MARSHALL: But he still got to land a job.

KERSEY: That’s right. This is what, uh, [Gary Moss] asked me once, when Wayne Douglas was put in there, he said, uh, how’s Wayne doing? Well, I said he’s not too bad, but, uh, uh, mostly, problem I got with him is, that they slap that diploma in his hand, and he couldn’t learn.

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

KERSEY: See? I said, he couldn’t learn. I said, now, you know, and [Gary] will tell you today, that, uh, I showed him a lot of things, he learned a lot of things from me, to improve himself. But Douglas’ mind was closed to learning anything. It was he kept bulldozing right into the same problem every time he turned around. And he’d get upset and get mad, and lose his cool. Just like him and uh, what’s his name, been up there. Uh, that little, uh, affirmative action


MARSHALL: Affirmative action man, yeah. He loses his cool.

KERSEY: Yeah. So consequently, uh, you know,

MARSHALL: [ ] that is your great contribution.

KERSEY: Don’t forget, don’t forget this one. The greatest contribution, is I was going to tell you when she came in the room, was her contribution. Her firmness and her strength behind it, and, uh, sacrifices that she had to make. Me [long] here, going there, to this thing, and a lot of these educational things, she went with me.


KERSEY: And as I said, or begin to say, each year, we have a—when I was going to run for office, I said, now look, you know there ain’t nobody to do it.

MARSHALL: Yeah, mm-hmm.

KERSEY: And I know it’s hard on you to think, but can we stand it one more year, and she [ ] without that much of a problem, and, uh, that’s what, she’s the one that made it all possible, ain’t no doubt about that. Because, uh, and I can’t emphasize that part of it too much, you know, you know her, she’s kind of quiet, but she’s got a, got a,

MARSHALL: A [strap]. [Strap].


KERSEY: That’s right. That’s what’s there.

MARSHALL: [thinking] all that was needed back then.

KERSEY: Yeah. That’s right. That’s the whole thing in a nutshell, ’cause she’d hear people talking about me out there, and she’d [laugh] I’d tell her, look, don’t pay any attention to them, don’t get involved with them, any kind of discord with them, ’cause, uh, uh, for every one that’s saying this, there’s fifty of them out there that’s saying something just the opposite. So just don’t worry about it.

MARSHALL: I had the same problem…wives are…my wife


MARSHALL: Something I wanted to—oh yeah, I wanted to ask you about, one thing, I never gotten from anybody. Where’d you get your, where’d you get your place over on the lake? Was that something that you bought, or

KERSEY: No, uh, uh,

MARSHALL: Bass, Bass?

KERSEY: No, Jeremy’s

MARSHALL: Oh, Jeremy’s

KERSEY: Jeremy’s uncle.


KERSEY: found it over there. And, uh, you know, I didn’t know anything about it exactly; he lived in Detroit.

MARSHALL: Uh-huh. Such a nice place.

KERSEY: So, uh, he had the land and stuff with us and we started getting involved, my dad, and that one end of the house had, my dad and I put that on 11:00the back, and Daddy was just getting to where he was enjoying the thing when he died, see?

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah.

KERSEY: My dad only lived about eleven months or so after he retired.

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

KERSEY: And so, uh, then, uh, we were over there doing the work and taking care of the place, and all that, and [Tacky] had two daughters, but they didn’t amount to nothing.


KERSEY: So, uh, and then he took sick.


KERSEY: Come down with the cancer, and, uh, we brought him out here, and uh, took care of him. But he was a, a loner, he was a, he was a member of the musician’s federation, a drummer, for over fifty years.

MARSHALL: Did, did, did he kind of a band or something here, probably band, didn’t he? Marching band? Was he in a marching band?

KERSEY: Oh yeah—no, he wasn’t involved with that, no, no, no.


KERSEY: Uh, so, he, um, come up and be up in Detroit, and, and, uh, he just didn’t trust people.


KERSEY: And it was a long time before he even trusted us, but it begin to dawn on him.

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

KERSEY: and he wanted that place kept for uh, his friends, and so, people to 12:00come up there and enjoy themselves

MARSHALL: Uh huh, uh huh.

KERSEY: So, uh, he will, in turn deeded the thing before it ever went up to, took us up to, took us to [blimp] and he deeded the place over to us.

MARSHALL: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

KERSEY: ’Course, I had put money and stuff into it, and work and all that stuff, just [ ] thing, so, that’s how we really got ownership of it, but we were fooling around for a good ten years before that.

MARSHALL: Now let’s shift for just a minute, I want to ask you something else, um, back around nineteen-um, I guess it was the forties, there were a lot of you people who were involved in some political activity. Were you involved in any of that? See, you had Seymour was elected to council,

KERSEY: Oh yeah, but I, I haven’t gotten involved in political…

MARSHALL: Washington was elected to the school board,

KERSEY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: and all that kind of thing, and then of course, next thing to do after you got on that, next thing you had was, um, John Burton becoming mayor, and…


WOMAN: I get interested in stories.

MARSHALL: Yeah, that’s what we’ve been getting interested in,

WOMAN: [Laughs]

MARSHALL: we just—

KERSEY: She talking about her stories

MARSHALL: Oh, I see, your story, well, we’ve been getting at the real story. We talking about the real [laughs]

WOMAN: Well, these stories that you come home every night to look at.

MARSHALL: Ah. I never have gotten interested in [ ]. Oh, I might [get it], I get it in sometime, Roots? [ ] I might see that. [Laughs]

KERSEY: Sure you’re going to get your hair done?

WOMAN: Yeah.

MARSHALL: Well, uh, I, I really, it isn’t like it is now, there was a closeness,

KERSEY: That’s right, that’s right,

MARSHALL: Now, now there’s a, yeah, I read that thing. I read that thing.

WOMAN: tell me [ ] I want [ ]. This guy here.


KERSEY: Face looks familiar.

WOMAN: That’s that Ben Turpin you’re always talking about.

KERSEY: Oh, old Ben Turpin, we used to, uh, Ben used to back our baseball team. I used to play ba—well, his team in Detroit used to come out here to play us,


KERSEY: And we used to run ’em back to Detroit with their tails between their legs. Old Ben would come out here, he’d have a, a, gun on this hip and a gun on this hip, like a [Ben was stalk], and he’d go

WOMAN: [ ]

MARSHALL: That’s right, yeah.

KERSEY: We didn’t need, we didn’t need no police force when Ben walked down the street, just like the one we had here, what was his name, he got in all that trouble, we had a policeman here who used to do that, he used to keep those little [ ] off the street.

WOMAN: [ ]

MARSHALL: Well, I decided that just about every police had a Ben.

WOMAN: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Now we had a Ben [Tail], in Kansas City. And he was just like this. I mean, he would beat Negroes’ heads every Saturday. And, I mean, didn’t have 15:00to do too much to make him a little angry. And that—we had a joke on him, though. And that was—uh, we can talk about that later.

WOMAN: [ ]

MARSHALL: They didn’t talk much. [ ] they didn’t say it was bad about him.

WOMAN: Uh-huh. Anything good.

MARSHALL: I’m thinking of [ ] you played baseball, too, did you play with Fred, uh, Grady?

KERSEY: No, I played with, uh, John Burton,

MARSHALL: I guess Fred Grady was a little ahead of you. ’Cause he’s been, uh,

WOMAN: No, I don’t think so.

MARSHALL: Fred’s been retired now, eleven years.

KERSEY: Yeah, that’s right! Yeah, I played with him, I played with Fred, near the tail end of it, I’ve seen him play,


WOMAN: Fred Grady?


WOMAN: I know you play with Fred now.

KERSEY: No, well, Grady was, uh, just as I got into her. He got, uh, he was leading it.

WOMAN: All right.


KERSEY: And then, you know, there’s my dad, and there’s [Milfred Starks], and Harry Starks, they all played with my dad,

MARSHALL: I was just going to say, name the guys that you played baseball with, 16:00as many of them as you can.

WOMAN: Jimmy [Cowler], [Jimmy] Wilson, Burton,

KERSEY: John Burton, Richard, Richard Denard from Ann Arbor, remember Richard Denard? He was one of those

MARSHALL: I’ve seen the name. Richard Denard.

KERSEY: Richard, the counselor from Ann Arbor? politics, I think he was.

MARSHALL: so, I think so.

WOMAN: And what was the one that died?

KERSEY: J. W. Anderson, uh, Leo Anderson,

WOMAN: But what was the…

KERSEY: George Berry.

WOMAN: did the guy in Ann Arbor that died play with

MARSHALL: Oh, Wally Franklin?

WOMAN: Wally Franklin?

KERSEY: Yeah, yeah. Uh, Moses

WOMAN: Gray.


WOMAN: Gray, was it?

KERSEY: Chester Gray. Uh, [whom?]

WOMAN: [a safe] guy [in the minutes] over there [ ]

KERSEY: Sylvester Coleman.

WOMAN: Yeah, there’s another one.

KERSEY: Oh, darn it. The one I can see right in my mind’s eye.

WOMAN: I can see him too. He lives over there on Monroe, doesn’t he? His mother used to take care of these children here. Oh…

MARSHALL: And you, you-all used to play different teams around, and, uh,


KERSEY: Yeah, we played, I played some semi-pro ball.


KERSEY: and we used to go, we played for the, uh, they had a team called the, uh, Toledo, Toledo Cubs. Our name here was the Ypsilanti Cubs, when we played for Ypsilanti, was the Ypsilanti Cubs.


KERSEY: And, uh, we would go to Toledo and play as the Toledo Cubs.


KERSEY: We even had part of a team out of Detroit, some players come out, called that the Detroit Cubs.

MARSHALL: Well, who were you sponsored by?


MARSHALL: Who were you sponsored by?

KERSEY: In the city, we more or less sponsored ourselves.


WOMAN: And Lawrence Crosley.

KERSEY: And Lawrence Crosley. that was [the middle of the good one], he, he, uh, took us all over, we’d go to Canada, play, oh, practically everywhere. Down, uh, in the semi-pro ball, what’s this guy’s name, we used to play in parks, run by Gus Greenly.


KERSEY: from Pennsylvania. He had all of these big-league parks tied up.

MARSHALL: Oh yeah.


KERSEY: And then we’d go on and play different things, we’d have the zoo, Giants come here and play a game over here at the university, and, uh, we had just one heck of a ball game, as far as this goes, we could give anybody some competition. And they were mostly Ypsilanti boys.

MARSHALL: Did you ever, did you ever, did you ever play Kansas City Mohawks?


MARSHALL: I saw them

KERSEY: We’d play, we’d play the exhibitions, we’d play the exhibition game when uh, uh, Jesse Owens was out racing a horse around over in Toledo.

MARSHALL: I remember that.

KERSEY: Race that horse around—and beat him!

MARSHALL: I remember that [laughs] Yeah, I remember that.


WOMAN: What they call the good old days.


KERSEY: Yeah, I bat, I go, I batted against Satchel Paige and I ain’t seen the ball yet.

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

WOMAN: [Laughs]

KERSEY: till that ball behind that Bigfoot and look like a pea. But you know, we couldn’t get in the big leagues.


KERSEY: Johnny Bass, uh, Jimmy Wilson, Jimmy’s dead now, they’re all, yeah, all good ball players.

WOMAN: But Perry played in that.

KERSEY: Yeah, [Pud] played third base, you know, [Pud] Perry? He’s over there 19:00on First Avenue, he’s dead now.

WOMAN: [ ] think of that guy’s name.

KERSEY: I…it’s not [Song], oh, and another one, Harvey Fann,

MARSHALL: Is that F-A-N-N?

KERSEY: Mm-hmm. He was, uh, Harvey was a, was a fighter for a long time, his brother, his brother was a fighter.

MARSHALL: Oh yeah.

KERSEY: Harvey was a heck of a ball player. Clyde [Bick].

MARSHALL: Clyde [Bick]? Now I remember him.

KERSEY: Yeah, yeah. He could play ball and have, and he had, he could only be the one man in the outfield, cover every bit of that ground, he could move.

WOMAN: [ ] play, Williams, was it?

KERSEY: Jack, Jack was a pitcher, Jack Williams was a pitcher,

WOMAN: I couldn’t remember that other guy.

KERSEY: Jack Williams throws what I call a heavy ball. He would throw a ball to you and it would almost knock you down, it felt like he still had a hold of it, when he, you know,

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

KERSEY: some, some people could throw a feather ball, or light, when he throws 20:00something, oh, it was heavy.


KERSEY: Now this time I’ve had some, some, some pretty good ones at, at that, that ball team, and these people followed.


KERSEY: We’d, we’d go to uh, we’d go to, uh, Canada and play a game in Chatham in the morning, [best team on panel on crazy], and then we’d go to the old, uh, first of August celebration over at Buxton.

MARSHALL: Oh yeah, yeah.

KERSEY: and, uh, played a game there during the uh, evening, during the afternoon during the celebration. It’s, it’s, uh,

MARSHALL: Well, listen, [ ] because I’m supposed to be someplace else at 4:30. I think I have gotten the basics of everything, of what I wanted from you Flick, the, uh—

0:00 - Labor struggles at Eastern Michigan University

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: Well, I think that, I think we’ve gotten to a point now where, and I guess I’m proud to see it, and ’cause I know of your part in the formation of it, indirectly, I mean, I never knew quite as much as you told me today, but I did know that. And that of course made me very proud. But then I guess I look at these people, now, and I see: well, they have dignity.

KERSEY: Mm-hmm.

Segment Synopsis: A.P. Marshall and Floyd Kersey discuss the 1970 strike by AFSCME workers at Eastern Michigan University. Mr. Kersey was then President of the union's Local 1666.

Keywords: A.P. Marshall; Abe Zwerdling; African-American trade unionists; AFSCME union; Eastern Michigan University labor relations; Floyd Kersey; Judge Jesse Egger; Labor mediation; Wayne Douglas; Ypsilanti water tower

Subjects: Eastern Michigan University. Labor unions--Michigan--Ypsilanti--History.

Hyperlink: August 21, 1970 Ann Arbor News article on the Eastern strike led by Floyd Kersey.

9:13 - A family retreat

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Partial Transcript: KERSEY: Don’t forget, don’t forget this one. The greatest contribution, is I was going to tell you when she came in the room, was her contribution. Her firmness and her strength behind it, and, uh, sacrifices that she had to make. Me [long] here, going there, to this thing, and a lot of these educational things, she went with me.


Segment Synopsis: Floyd's wife, Geraldine, enters the conversation and they talk about getting a vacation house on a Michigan lake and about the Kersey family. Floyd says that all of his contributions were possible only because of his wife.

Keywords: A.P. Marshall; Arden Kersey; Edna Lucille Roderick; Floyd Kersey; Kersey family; Ypsilanti, Michigan

Subjects: African American families. Marriage. Vacation homes.

Hyperlink: Workers at EMU strike in support of Floyd Kersey, 1971.

12:32 - Baseball and politics in 1940s Balck Ypsilanti

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: Now let’s shift for just a minute, I want to ask you something else, um, back around nineteen-um, I guess it was the forties, there were a lot of you people who were involved in some political activity. Were you involved in any of that? See, you had Seymour was elected to council,

KERSEY: Oh yeah, but I, I haven’t gotten involved in political…

Segment Synopsis: A.P. Marshall briefly asks Floyd about his participation in the 1940s political developments in the city. Then Floyd lights up as he remembers his days playing ball with Negro League players in the Ypsilanti Cubs. Flick and his wife, who has joined the conversation, share memories of old ball players form the city and Floyd recollects getting pitched to by Satchel Paige.

Keywords: African-American baseball team; Amos Washington; Ben Turpin; Buxton, Ontario; Chester Gary; Clyde Bick; Emancipation Day; Floyd Kersey; Frank Seymour; Fred Grady; Fred Knox; Gus Greenely; Harry Starks; Harvey Fann; J. W. Anderson; Jack Williams; James Wilson; Jesse Owens; John Bass; John Burton; Kansas City Monarchs; Lawrence Crosley; Leo Anderson; Milford Starks; Negro Leagues; Pud Perry; Richard Denard; Satchel Paige; Sylvester Coleman; Toledo Cubs; Ypsilanti Cubs: Detroit Cubs

Subjects: Political participation. Baseball--Michigan--Ypsilanti--History. African American baseball players.

Hyperlink: July 22, 1942 Michigan Daily articles on the Ypsilanti Cubs victory over the University of Michigan baseball team.
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