MARSHALL: Major concern is establishing your name.


MARSHALL: Van, Vanzetti—

HAMILTON: My name is, my name is Vanzetti, Vanzetti M. Hamilton.

MARSHALL: M. Hamilton.


MARSHALL: For the sake of uh, of uh, anybody who might misspell it, spell ‘Vanzetti.’


MARSHALL: Okay. What does the M stand for?




MARSHALL: Morris the cat. [Laughs]


MARSHALL: Um, what was the date of your birth?

HAMILTON: August 19, 1927.

MARSHALL: August 19, 1927. Now. Give me your father’s name.

HAMILTON: George E. Hamilton.

MARSHALL: George E. Hamilton.


MARSHALL: And do you remember his birthday? He did live here.

HAMILTON: Yes, yes, in Ypsilanti, yes. Umm…hmm…

MARSHALL: Probably already got it, but I’m just going to have to double-check.

HAMILTON: I have it in a, in a particular locale but I don’t have it with me.



HAMILTON: But it was in, it was September, I believe of 1894. Yeah, September of 1894. I’m not sure of the date right offhand.

MARSHALL: Okay. What about your mother?

HAMILTON: Her name, or…

MARSHALL: Yeah, her name. Her maiden name.

HAMILTON: Her name was Sarah Louise Beatty.

MARSHALL: Sarah Louise Beatty Hamilton.

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. Uh! Excuse me, excuse me. Sarah Louise Beatty Shuford. She always liked to use that.

MARSHALL: Shuford.



HAMILTON: That was her maiden name.


HAMILTON: Shuford was her maiden name.

MARSHALL: Shuford was her maiden name, Beatty was evidently

HAMILTON: [Mike] Beatty was her mother’s name.

MARSHALL: Right, right.

HAMILTON: She always thought about that, because there weren’t too many Shufords around, but there were a lot of Beattys.

MARSHALL: I never heard of anybody I guess named Shuford. Shuford is a new one.

HAMILTON: No, no, there weren’t, there weren't too many Shufords.


HAMILTON: They were, they were out of North Carolina.

MARSHALL: Oh yeah.

HAMILTON: Around um, Troutman, and, and, uh,

MARSHALL: Now where’s your father?

HAMILTON: He was out of, uh, in the area of Little Rock, uh,


MARSHALL: Arkansas?

HAMILTON: Arkansas. Little Rock, Arkansas, in that area.

MARSHALL: That’s where my father’s from, Little Rock, [down east]. Little Rock and

HAMILTON: His family’s still


HAMILTON: still around there, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Some of mine are still around there. That’s my mother’s side. Maternal side.

HAMILTON: His father was a teacher.

MARSHALL: Oh, yeah?


MARSHALL: What, what’d your father do?

HAMILTON: He was, well, he was a laborer really.


HAMILTON: But he, he was one of those fellows who, uh, was caught up in the World War One


HAMILTON: problems, and he was in college in fact. And, uh, had to drop out of college to go to war, and never got back.

MARSHALL: When did he move to Ypsilanti?

HAMILTON: About 1936.

MARSHALL: Well, that was after you were, you were all born. ’Course, I

HAMILTON: We were all born, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: All of you were already born.

HAMILTON: We were all born in Detroit, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Give me a run, rundown on your siblings.


HAMILTON: Well, there’s, there’s—

MARSHALL: Next one to you.

HAMILTON: Well, I better start with the oldest and come back.

MARSHALL: Oh, oh, that’s right, that’s right, you’re not the oldest.

HAMILTON: Would be better. I’m the middle one.


HAMILTON: There’s Theophilus, T-H-E-O-P-H-I-L-U-S. Middle initial E,


HAMILTON: he has my dad’s middle name, Theophilus Elliott. And then Theressa, T-H—

MARSHALL: When’s his birthday? The—Theo?

HAMILTON: Theo’s birthday is February, February the 6th, I think Theo was born in about nineteen…about 1921. Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Well, one of the things about—I am interviewing Theo.


MARSHALL: So, we’ll get that.

HAMILTON: Not quite sure offhand, we’ve got it written down, I [don’t have casing] though.

MARSHALL: Okay. follows

HAMILTON: Next one was my sister Theressa, T-H-E-R-E-S-S-A. A, middle initial E, Hamilton.

MARSHALL: The one that lives in…Flint.

HAMILTON: Flint, mm-hmm. And she’s the next in age to him. She probably 4:00wouldn’t want me to give her birthdate. If he was born in ’21 or ’22, then you know when she was born.

MARSHALL: Yeah, sort of figured out. Some of these they already have down there, but I’m trying to—you know, they have a file down there of everybody who ever lived in Ypsilanti.

HAMILTON: Oh, really?

MARSHALL: And they give all this information.


MARSHALL: But some of it

HAMILTON: is not accurate.

MARSHALL: is not complete,


MARSHALL: especially when they’re black.


MARSHALL: And one of the reasons I’m asking those questions is to complete the files. Now, becomes very very handy

HAMILTON: I can imagine.

MARSHALL: For example, my running down such families as the, the, the, the, the…oh gosh, I forgot the name, the first family that lived here, first black family that lived here, came here in 1838,


MARSHALL: anyways, I was able to [eye] them and run them down, because on his card I could find his children, and then I could follow that child,


MARSHALL: and then just trace it right on down, and even when the name changed,


MARSHALL: when they have daughters,


MARSHALL: You see.


MARSHALL: Because they have that found. But that’s all right, I mean it 5:00isn’t, we’ll, we’ll have many, many ways of getting, so


MARSHALL: so, what you don’t remember, don’t worry about it. Okay, who followed her?

HAMILTON: The next, the next child is Dalphon, D-A-L-P-H-O-N, Dalphon A. Hamilton.

MARSHALL: What does the A stand for?

HAMILTON: Augustus.

MARSHALL: Augustus.

HAMILTON: He’s named, he got the A from my, my grandfather.


HAMILTON: My father’s father, who was named, middle name was Thomas Augustus. And he was named, he got his middle name.

MARSHALL: Uh-huh. Where’s he live now?

HAMILTON: He lives in Chicago.

MARSHALL: Chicago, okay.

HAMILTON: And I’m the next one. Then after me is Phanuel, P-H-A-N-U-E-L, Phanuel J. Hamilton.

MARSHALL: [Cleveland].

HAMILTON: He lives in Chicago, too.

MARSHALL: Oh, Chicago?



HAMILTON: And then after him is Aquilla, A-Q-U-I-L-L-A, Aquilla Hamilton. And then the youngest one is Donald Uziel U-Z-I-E-L, Hamilton.

MARSHALL: Well, gee, you’ve only mentioned one girl,

HAMILTON: One daughter.

MARSHALL: She’s the girl, out of six boys,

HAMILTON: One girl and six boys, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: That’s interesting.


HAMILTON: Yes, she’s…one girl.

MARSHALL: Now they moved here, your family moved here, around 1936.


MARSHALL: All of you, well, yeah, all of you, grew up here,

HAMILTON: All of us grew up here.

MARSHALL: even, even, uh, uh, the 1921.

HAMILTON: Yes. He, he, when he came here, he was in, when we came, when they came in, he was,

MARSHALL: about fifteen years old.

HAMILTON: Well, he was in junior high school.

MARSHALL: Yeah, mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: Yes, mm-hmm. He and my sister.


HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. He was in junior high school.

MARSHALL: Okay, now, you came here and, and, ’36, and, ’course, um, do you remember anything specific about the area when you came?

HAMILTON: Oh yeah, yes.

MARSHALL: so far as, um, it being black in Ypsilanti was concerned?

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

HAMILTON: Yes…we can only live, or by, south of Michigan Avenue.


HAMILTON: And, where we bought, we bought from a black person. And, uh,


MARSHALL: Wasn’t a real estate person.

HAMILTON: Oh no, no, no. It was a citizen. A citizen.

MARSHALL: I was just thinking, you didn’t have any real es—black real estate people then, did you?

HAMILTON: No, when we bought I don’t recall any being

MARSHALL: Yeah. You did have some later on.

HAMILTON: Yes. But I, as I recall, we—when we bought, we—there weren't any.


HAMILTON: Because, I was quite a youngst—I don’t remember any


HAMILTON: till I, when I got along in, along in high school. I don’t remember any then. Real estate people. Um…mm…well, there were people who as I recall, names were talked about when they talked about selling property,

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: they should go see, like, uh, Pete Brooks.

MARSHALL: Oh yeah, mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: And, as I got older in high school, Herbert Francois.


HAMILTON: But Pete Brooks’ name pops up there, as being a person who seemed to have some, I, some,

MARSHALL: influence

HAMILTON: contact, or influence


HAMILTON: with the purchase of property. And um, uh, but we were, we all lived, 8:00we had to—we didn’t have to, but I’m sure we did, because uh, we, we, the only place we could buy, we, we bought a nice piece of property that was prime land in that day.


HAMILTON: And, uh, and there were no sidewalks, dirt streets, y’know,


HAMILTON: rough roads. And, uh, but the land, but it was a beautiful rural area, semi-rural area in south Ypsilanti.

MARSHALL: I have heard from other sources that the Hamilton children, uh, uh, were quite, quite influential in the schools, in the schools, as they went through. The [thought and we feel] who was music—who was musically inclined. That he sort of paved the way, because first of all he was smart, and secondly he had this ability, and that in some cases he was a first, in some of the participations that he, in which he, well, some of the things in which he participated, and that the other boys in their way sort of, sort of like your 9:00boys have been.

HAMILTON: Well, we sort of um, he was, he was um, very in—musically—in fact, he and my sister were very musically inclined,


HAMILTON: my dad really encouraged them, in fact, they both learned to play the piano and they played in Sunday School in church, and uh, and, he was very active in the, in the instrumental and the vocal music departments at Ypsi High, and uh, we all sort of fell in line with that, ’cause my dad really encouraged us to, uh, participate in

MARSHALL: Of course, with his, sort of, he, I’d say then that he sort of paved the way for you, maybe that’s the question I need to ask him. He’s, he says he was already up there, I would say he sort of

HAMILTON: He did, he did.

MARSHALL: As many, as many cases, those who come younger, the way’s already paved

HAMILTON: Already paved, they’re just gonna expand on it.

MARSHALL: Right, yeah, yeah.

HAMILTON: ’Cause it was little, many of the kids at his age, they were 10:00dropping out of the school in the eighth grade. They were leaving school like flies [laughs] and, uh, fact, he ju—he just got through high school when the war started.

MARSHALL: Oh, mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: Well, the war had started, he just got through high school.


HAMILTON: And went right in the service.


HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. He and my sister went. And then right, and the third boy, second, second boy, Dalphon, he went.

MARSHALL: Mm. But your—you didn’t go.

HAMILTON: No, it was, uh, I, uh, my third, my third brother, the one younger than me, volunteered.


HAMILTON: But, uh, I, uh, I had just, I finished high school, just, uh, just before VJ Day.


HAMILTON: In 1945.


HAMILTON: And, so, they didn’t want me,

MARSHALL: You were pretty young.

HAMILTON: Well, they were taking 18-year-olds,


HAMILTON: oh yes, but I was, I was, I was not 18.

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah

HAMILTON: And uh, so I didn’t have to go, so I, I just—

MARSHALL: How’d you miss, how’d you miss the Korean War?

HAMILTON: Uh, nn, I don’t know, other than that the, they just didn’t call me.


MARSHALL: Didn’t call you.

HAMILTON: And I was teaching school.




HAMILTON: Uh, no, I was, I think I was, let’s see, forty…

MARSHALL: That came around ’48, ’49.

HAMILTON: Yeah. I was teaching school.


HAMILTON: No, I’m sorry, I was just finishing up school.


HAMILTON: Finishing up college at Eastern.

MARSHALL: Oh, yeah.

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm, I just finished, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Now, you uh, uh, uh, let me see, you said there’s six boys and one girl.


MARSHALL: Now, all of them went to college at some place, right?

HAMILTON: All of them started.

MARSHALL: At least started, okay.

HAMILTON: Yes, mm-hmm. They all started at Eastern.

MARSHALL: Uh-huh. But all of them didn’t finish.


MARSHALL: In other words. Now, you are the lawyer.


MARSHALL: Theo is the educator, so to speak.


MARSHALL: Musician dash educator, or educator dash musician

HAMILTON: Musician—he’s given it up pretty much now.

MARSHALL: Yeah, uh-huh.


MARSHALL: Now. Your sister is a counselor.

HAMILTON: Well, no, she’s an educator. She’s really an educator.

MARSHALL: Educator. Okay. That’s in Flint.


HAMILTON: Yeah. She’s just, she's the principal.

MARSHALL: Oh, she the principal?

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Oh. I got to ask you that, ’cause I


MARSHALL: wasn’t sure.

HAMILTON: uh, she’s a principal.

MARSHALL: Now, you got these two brothers in Chicago.

HAMILTON: Yes, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: What are their names?

HAMILTON: Well, the one, one in Chicago is below, younger than I am, Phanuel, we call him PJ,


HAMILTON: He, uh, he graduated from Eastern


HAMILTON: And that’s—and then he went into the service, that’s

MARSHALL: I see, uh-huh.

HAMILTON: what it was. He left Eastern and went into the service.


HAMILTON: And uh, went to officer’s candidate school.


HAMILTON: got a, got a, uh, and he was discharged as a captain.

MARSHALL: Oh, sure.

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. But my sister also went into the military.

MARSHALL: Yeah. She was, she was an officer.

HAMILTON: Yeah, she was a, she’s, she’s still an officer. She’s a, what is that next, before you go


HAMILTON: into the general ranks?

MARSHALL: Colonel?

HAMILTON: Is that what it is?


HAMILTON: She’s a colonel.

MARSHALL: Mm. I knew she was that, ’cause I’ve met her.

HAMILTON: Yeah, she’s—

MARSHALL: Uh-huh. I knew she was something, I—

HAMILTON: She finished Eastern. And uh, she’s about, she has her, she’s gone on and got her Ph.D. now.

MARSHALL: Serious?


MARSHALL: Serious?

HAMILTON: And, uh, now, the next kid, next son, below her, he didn’t go to college.


MARSHALL: Oh yeah.

HAMILTON: He went in the service and, and uh, he’s probably the most mechanically-inclined of all of us [laugh]

MARSHALL: Oh yeah.

HAMILTON: And the last two, one of them started at Eastern, but he was, he became ill, in fact, back in those days, uh, as you probably know, blacks, some blacks, seemed to contract tuberculosis. And he did. But they hospitalized him for about, oh, about three years


HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. And, uh, well, I say three, it seems that long, but, may not have been that long,


HAMILTON: but it’s amazing how they, uh,

MARSHALL: But they were able to—

HAMILTON: Oh yeah.

MARSHALL: I know by that time, there was a cure.

HAMILTON: Oh yeah, they cured it, in fact they closed down the, he was up at Howell, my dad every Sunday for three years he’d go up there to see him. Took us all of course, y’know. Every Sunday. Boy! But that’s how loyal he was to his kids.

MARSHALL: I remember, I remember, um, well, I remember, we used to call it ‘consumption.’



MARSHALL: I have several relatives who died.


MARSHALL: Consumption.


MARSHALL: In fact, my father had four brothers, and they all died of consumption.


MARSHALL: Um, all, all except my father, my father died of something else. Uh, but they all, none of them lived beyond ’33.


MARSHALL: My father died in ’33.


MARSHALL: So I know what you’re talking about.

HAMILTON: That was, that was, that was pretty rampant in this community.


HAMILTON: ’Cause you talk around this community, you will find that there are several people who uh, who were hospitalized at

MARSHALL: Well, it, it—

HAMILTON: Howell Sanitarium.

MARSHALL: It can be c—I mean, it’s a, it’s a disease you can catch.

HAMILTON: Oh yes, yeah,

MARSHALL: from somebody else.

HAMILTON: and you wonder how they

MARSHALL: Yeah, and of course now, they have so many treatments,

HAMILTON: Oh, yes, they can, they can

MARSHALL: they can knock it out.

HAMILTON: oh, they can take care of that.

MARSHALL: In those days, you couldn’t.

HAMILTON: they really can take care of it now. Moment’s notice.



MARSHALL: I know what you mean.


MARSHALL: Uh, then, um, how’d you get to, well, you, you, well, let, let me [and for] go ahead and establish some basics, again. You graduated from Eastern 15:00what year?


MARSHALL: ’49. And then,


MARSHALL: did you go right into law school, or—

HAMILTON: No, no, I um, it was at that time, I thought I may have to go into the service


HAMILTON: because I just turned 18.


HAMILTON: I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I turned, I had just, well I had just finished and they were still talking about drafting people.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: because I had just turned seven, just turned eighteen shortly before V-J Day.


HAMILTON: But they did let me finish, um, um, Eastern, they never, they never drafted me.


HAMILTON: And, um, so when I finished Eastern, I, I wasn’t even old enough to teach.

MARSHALL: Oh yeah.

HAMILTON: In fact, I wasn’t old enough to vote. 21 in those days.


HAMILTON: So, I turned 21 in August, graduated in June, turned 21 in August, and I, and, I signed my contract to teach in Willow Run before I was 21, but the princip—superintendent knew I’d be 21 by the time fall

MARSHALL: Yeah. Uh-huh, uh-huh.

HAMILTON: came around, so I could sign the contract. I always wondered about that.



HAMILTON: And so I went, I went out to teach at Willow Run, I was fortunate, though, because I didn’t, that was kind of a rough time, Kaiser was slowing down, Kaiser was the big producer, employer in this area then, they were really going strong,

MARSHALL: And of course the war’s over,

HAMILTON: war was over

MARSHALL: don’t need more ships

HAMILTON: but Kaiser was building cars

MARSHALL: and he start building cars, and

HAMILTON: cars, before the other companies got going again.

MARSHALL: yeah, uh-huh.

HAMILTON: he was really going strong

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah.

HAMILTON: there, back in ’48, ’49, and ’50, and then, ’52, he started going down, because the other’s car—other companies started moving along.


HAMILTON: and his car wasn’t doing too well. And then, at that, at that time, as I remember, we had, uh, that’s when the union star—was,


HAMILTON: becoming strong, and John Burton was very active then, in fact John was the, um, John was the, um, buying committee chairman out there

MARSHALL: Oh yeah.

HAMILTON: at Kaiser-Fraser.

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: And, uh, it was interesting [laughs]

MARSHALL: Yeah, I’m sure, I’m sure that was interesting.

HAMILTON: Yeah, so…

MARSHALL: We had some ones I had, well, my wife had some interesting 17:00experiences with the union, but I would get John on that.

HAMILTON: So that’s what I did, I went, uh, and while I was, so I immediately, that summer in fact, I started on my Master’s. That summer I immediately enrolled in the University of Michigan, worked on my master’s, got everything set to go to teach at, uh, Willow Run, so I did six hours of my master’s that summer,



MARSHALL: How many, how long did you work before you decided to cut out and go to law school?

HAMILTON: Well I, I taught for five years


HAMILTON: I got my master’s in ’52.


HAMILTON: And, um, I always thought—

MARSHALL: You got a master’s in education.

HAMILTON: In speech communication.

MARSHALL: Speech communication.

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm, and, uh, J—John Burton was very instrumental in me completing that, because at that time, they were just developing some new methods in labor negotiation, one of which was, what we in, in speech education call ‘conference methods,’ and so I was doing my thesis on that, and John helped me get on at Kaiser, and I’d work midnights. I know I didn’t get the 18:00experience of the relationship between the foreman and the,


HAMILTON: and the, and the worker, and then, and the, and this, the committeeman [lynn goat] in the, in the morning sit in on the conferences where they were negotiating for a new contract.


HAMILTON: So I wrote my thesis on the conference methods of resolving


HAMILTON: labor-management disputes.


HAMILTON: John was very instrumental in that.

MARSHALL: That’s nice.

HAMILTON: And, uh, but, again, so I finished that up in ’52.


HAMILTON: And then in, ’54, uh, I reached the point where I thought that I’d better get on to law school if I was gonna go. We had one child


HAMILTON: and so I thought I’d better get to work.

MARSHALL: Was law always kind of in the back of your mind?

HAMILTON: Oh yeah. I had planned—I, I didn’t have enough funds to go to law school full time, when my dad was living, but, uh, I, he couldn’t help to put me through law school, and many other guys were going on the G.I. Bill, some of the lawyers around here now were going to law school I know now who went right 19:00through, that is live in the service, like, some of the, but no, no black fellows

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah, mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: in this area, and so, uh, so I went to, I, I in ’54 decided I would, I applied and took the exam, and I apparently did okay on the exam, but they weren’t letting too many blacks in school at that time, in fact, of a, of the, of a entry class, freshman class at Michigan in that year, of ’54, 1,500, there were two blacks.

MARSHALL: Blacks, mm.

HAMILTON: And they kicked me out before I’d even got started, [laughs] and left one black, who is now a legislator in the, state legislature in Georgia

MARSHALL: Oh, yeah?

HAMILTON: His name is—ah, come to think of it, his name is Bill Alexander. [Laughs]

MARSHALL: Yeah. [Laughs]

HAMILTON: Oh, you know Bill Alexander?

MARSHALL: Oh, I met him, yeah, yeah.

HAMILTON: You may have, he’s a tall,


HAMILTON: lanky fellow,


HAMILTON: very personable fellow.


HAMILTON: He and I were the only blacks in that freshman class. And I guess they just figured they were only gonna have one, because I, uh, I, uh, I was 20:00always told, well, I talk about them [one of the] blacks because I was the o—the fellow who dropped me out, because you had to get, I, they said I could come in but I had to get—they, they felt maybe I wouldn’t be able to make it because I’d been away from school for


HAMILTON: three or four years


HAMILTON: I, I always try to rationalize it that way,


HAMILTON: but I knew what it was. And so, they, uh, the fellow gave me a D, in a, in a, what when a tort class, as we call it, tort class, in fact, he’s, he’s, he just retired recently,


HAMILTON: but I, somehow through the good faith of the Lord I’m sure, and, and, uh, I’m sure, I’m sure that was it, I always say it was, because I don’t see how it could be possible, I immediately, immediately, I was so disgusted I went and applied to Wayne State, and I’ll be doggoned if they didn’t take me in.

MARSHALL: The admissions director

HAMILTON: They took me right away!


HAMILTON: And they were much more liberal than, uh, Michigan in, in taking blacks in, because in my freshman class, in the freshman class at Wayne State there were 5 of us blacks in the day school, as they called it, and there were about 6 blacks in the night school. They had night and day sessions. There was, 21:00there was a fellow here came all the way from Florida to get in law school,


HAMILTON: couldn’t get in law school anywhere in Florida.

MARSHALL: [And] came up here.

HAMILTON: Came to Michigan, got in to Wayne State.

MARSHALL: Now, they were, I know they were [rougher in those] states.

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. I, I just, I just said, “Okay, I’m going to show you.”

MARSHALL: [Laughs] I know what you mean. I know what you mean.

HAMILTON: So I said, so, somehow it, it worked out, and, uh…

MARSHALL: Okay, uh, somewhere along here you met your wife.

HAMILTON: Yes, I, I had met her when I was going to Eastern.


HAMILTON: She was going to Cleary. And so, uh, she, uh, we were dating, uh, frequently, and so she uh, the year I graduated, from Eastern, she had a choice of either staying here and working, either in the Ypsi Housing office, or the Willow Run housing office, or in Eastern housing office, they, as you can imagine in those days, they, they just didn’t hire the black girls were all, they were good, but they just wouldn’t hire them in other places. The federal 22:00government was a primary employer.


HAMILTON: And uh, so, she, she said she, she, I wasn’t about, I wasn’t ready to get married.


HAMILTON: So she went back to Battle Creek and worked with the federal agency, the VA in fact. And then um, and then something opened up for her here, at the, uh, now I’m getting mixed up now, let me say this, I’m sorry, she was working in the, s—in the Willow Run housing office


HAMILTON: She was working when I graduated.

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: And, she wanted to settle down here, and I wasn’t really ready to settle down so that’s when she thought, “Well, I’ll go on back to Battle Creek,” because she just didn’t like the idea of living away from home. So uh, she went back to Battle Creek, to work, work in the VA office, and then we eventually kept in touch with each other and then we got married in ’52. Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: And then you had four children.

HAMILTON: Four children, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Now, run down, run those down.

HAMILTON: Well, the oldest one is Mark.



HAMILTON: And he has the, he has my mother’s maiden name.

MARSHALL: What’s his [ ] birthday?


MARSHALL: That’s all right, I’ll get it from [her]. But go ahead. [Laughs]

HAMILTON: Well, Mark was born in, Mark was born in ’54.

MARSHALL: ’54, okay.

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. Mark was born in ’54. In February of ’54.


HAMILTON: Just about when I started to law school, well, I was in the middle of my first year of law school.


HAMILTON: In, uh, February of ’54, and, uh, [what uh] he has my, he has my mother’s maiden name as his middle name, Shuford.

MARSHALL: Oh, I see, that’s what that S is for.


MARSHALL: And then the next child is Lawrence.


HAMILTON: who was born in ’57.


HAMILTON: And uh, he has my wife’s mother’s maiden name as his middle name.

MARSHALL: Oh, I see.



HAMILTON: And, uh, in, just [coincidence] with Lawrence, we were very fond of Dr. Perry.

MARSHALL: Oh yeah.

HAMILTON: So we named him somewhat in honor of Dr. Perry, Lawrence.


HAMILTON: And, uh, then the third child was a daughter. She was born in 1960. 24:00And we were very fond of a, a teacher who I had had, and we both knew him when we were younger, who was, um, [Gray Mellon’s] mother, her name was Laura.

MARSHALL: Oh, yeah.

HAMILTON: Laura. Her name was Laura Joiner.


HAMILTON: She married Mr. [Mellon]. She was quite an influential teacher, very strong-willed teacher, in those days,

MARSHALL: I’ve heard that.

HAMILTON: very good lady, and, um, we were just fond of her so we named Laura, someone in her honor and memory, a daughter. And then three years later came John. ’63.

MARSHALL: baby. [Laughs]

HAMILTON: His name was John, because it’s John the last.

MARSHALL: [Revelations]. [Laughs]

HAMILTON: [Laughs] So we named him John. And John has my, uh, my dad’s middle name, as John Elliott.


MARSHALL: Now your wife’s name was what before she got married?


HAMILTON: her name was Fullerton. Barbra J. Fullerton.

MARSHALL: And that’s A-R-B-R-A.

HAMILTON: Yeah. Mm-hmm.



MARSHALL: What’s the J, Jane?

HAMILTON: Barbra Jean.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Jean.

HAMILTON: And my daughter, daughter Laura, has her middle name, Jean.


HAMILTON: Laura Jean.

MARSHALL: She spell it G—




MARSHALL: Fullerton.


MARSHALL: And of course, she’s from Grand Rapids.

HAMILTON: Battle Creek.

MARSHALL: Battle Creek, Battle Creek, yeah.

HAMILTON: Her folks are, are from Arkansas and Mississippi.

MARSHALL: Oh yeah.

HAMILTON: Her mother is from Arkansas, Mr. Fullerton, her father, is from Mississippi.

MARSHALL: Now, okay, uh, now, of course, I know about, I know that, uh, Mark went to uh, went to, uh, Morehouse.


MARSHALL: And Morehouse, [he made probably cap].


MARSHALL: Okay. And then the second son, Lawrence.


MARSHALL: He went to…


MARSHALL: Fisk. Did he make Phi Beta Kappa?

HAMILTON: No, no, he made an honorary, for, an honorary society there but I’m 26:00not sure what it is offhand.

MARSHALL: Ummm…I think I know what it is.

HAMILTON: I know what it is, because they also have it at, uh, at Hamilton.


HAMILTON: And he, and he

MARSHALL: It’s primarily on black schools.

HAMILTON: Right, right, yeah.

MARSHALL: I know about it. It’s, it’s high, it’s high-caliber,

HAMILTON: Yes, yes.

MARSHALL: it’s high-caliber, because it was established back when, well, right after I was out of college it was estab—not that I would have made it, but it was established after I was out of college, but I remember, the peop—within that ranks of people who started, there was some high

HAMILTON: Yeah, they, they, they, it, it is the honorary,

MARSHALL: qualify for [ ] Phi Beta

HAMILTON: it is the honorary society for


HAMILTON: at those schools that don't have a Phi Beta Kappa


HAMILTON: chapter yet.


HAMILTON: And Fisk—I often wonder why Fisk never had a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. It’s a [law school college].

MARSHALL: Well, no school, no black schools had them until about fifteen, twenty years ago.

HAMILTON: Oh, really?


HAMILTON: Even, uh, Morehouse?

MARSHALL: Not even Howard.


MARSHALL: Morehouse recently got [ ] I was reminded of that when I heard about your son.


MARSHALL: When I heard about Mark. My wife and I were talking about it, said 27:00“Oh, yes, [they finally have it].”


MARSHALL: But no black school, up to fifteen years ago, had a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. No black school.


MARSHALL: So, uh, we were, we felt down [at the course] at Morehouse.

HAMILTON: Yes, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Morehouse in black in, in the black educational circles.


MARSHALL: See, Morehouse, and Lincoln Pennsylvania,


MARSHALL: Howard University, I would say those three were the top institutions. I was at the other Lincoln. But the Lincoln that I went to was not nearly as high as the Lincoln in Pennsylvania.


MARSHALL: Now, you’ve got some other schools down South that are well thought-of, but academically they didn’t rank


MARSHALL: with those schools, or come out of Howard, or come out of [Fearson], or out of uh, out of, uh, Morehouse. And you could rank the, it was just known, 28:00that you could rank with anybody.


MARSHALL: But if you come, come out of the other schools, you could, it didn’t mean that you couldn’t,


MARSHALL: But it meant that uh, well, all the people who came out of these other schools could not measure up where we thought that anybody who came out of Morehouse could [laughs]

HAMILTON: I kind of thought that that was the way about Fisk, too.

MARSHALL: Fisk, Fisk is in that group, yeah, Fisk

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. And Howard, of course.

MARSHALL: Yeah, Fisk, Fisk should be in that group. Fisk

HAMILTON: And Lincoln [Hall] in Pennsylvania

MARSHALL: Pennsylvania, and Morehouse. I’d say those four.


MARSHALL: Those were the good schools.

HAMILTON: I can imagine, yeah.

MARSHALL: I think, I think Lincoln has been a good school. For example, a graduate of, of, of, a graduate of Lincoln Missouri, of my class, was an honor student at Lincoln, and he went on and got his doctor’s degree, and he’s the president of Central, in Ohio now.


MARSHALL: So I mean, he is one person who was way up there, and I think, would have succeeded anywhere he went. And this is true I think of all of them. But 29:00Lincoln never did have the reputation of the Lincoln, Pennsylvania.


MARSHALL: Morehouse, Morehouse, furnishes, furnished the presidents for Howard.


MARSHALL: But [Morty got town]

HAMILTON: Yes, that’s right, yeah, [Mordechai town]

MARSHALL: [Glen More was, Mordechai] He tried to build Howard, and he did a good job of building Howard. [Mordechai’s] product [Marks]. [Laughs]


MARSHALL: Well, anyways,


MARSHALL: uh, now, I just wanted, that’s—

HAMILTON: Yeah, that’s interesting.

MARSHALL: a side issue but the, the point is that we were just so happy about, uh, Mark, and his, his going through that. And what Mark is now practicing law where he lives?

HAMILTON: Yes, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: And now Lawrence is pursuing graduate work.

HAMILTON: He’s finished, Lawrence, he got his master’s in public administration at the University of Alabama.


HAMILTON: I just got a letter the other day. Because he finished the year’s course requirement


HAMILTON: And they like for them to go on what they call a program of internship, for six months, even if they get a job



HAMILTON: So he was fortunate to get placed at, well, he applied and he was fortunate to get hired at, uh, Cincinnati.


HAMILTON: Where [Sy Murray] is.


HAMILTON: In fact, the personnel director at Cincinnati came from Ann Arbor too.


HAMILTON: His name is Garritt. Mr. Garritt.

MARSHALL: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

HAMILTON: He’s a Fiskite.


HAMILTON: So he was glad to, to, to hire a man, and so he’s down there in personnel, and uh, uh, he, fini—did, wrote a paper as to what he did during his first six months there,


HAMILTON: and that was satisfactory for the university to grant him the master’s degree in public administration, [which] he wrote a letter home

MARSHALL: Is he planning on going to a black [ ]

HAMILTON: I think he really wants to work in public administration, city manager,


HAMILTON: I don’t think he’ll go to law school. He might, he might go on the side.


HAMILTON: Mostly ’cause he’s still very energetic and

MARSHALL: There’s so many people now who go into law who never really practice it.

HAMILTON: That’s right, I’m aware of that, I mentioned that to him, that he could, uh, he could use that law degree in anything. If he wanted to go, he 31:00could go night school if he wanted to, but, um…

MARSHALL: [One last] woman who was here, when I got here, can’t recall her name now but she left here and went to the University of Maryland. And then she left University of Maryland and moved to Colorado as, as chancellor

HAMILTON: She a lawyer? Had a law degree?

MARSHALL: Well, she—well, while she was


MARSHALL: in there she got a law degree from the University of Michigan. She had a Ph.D. She had a Ph.D. in history. And that was my first year here. And, the end of that year, she got her law degree [and then she went out] and, and then she became president, not president but chancellor of the University of Colorado


MARSHALL: And then, President Ford, I mean President Carter [catched] her to Washington, and made her the commissioner of higher education.

HAMILTON: Not, not Patricia Ayres?

MARSHALL: Oh no no no, she’s [handling it],

HAMILTON: She’s a part of it.

MARSHALL: this woman is not, she was not the head of the Department, she was 32:00not the head of Education


MARSHALL: She was second to the Commissioner.


MARSHALL: But she had the responsibility for higher education.

HAMILTON: That—I, I vaguely remember but I don’t

MARSHALL: I can’t recall her name at the moment. But anyway, but I remember her stressing the importance of that law degree


MARSHALL: for her own plans for progress in higher education.


MARSHALL: That’s really the point I was trying to make. So, you, that law degree, you can do so many things, nowaday. And of course the other thing I was thinking is how easy it can flow off our, flow into our speech now, University of Alabama

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. Yeah…

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

HAMILTON: That was a, that was a good experience and of course he had gone to Fisk


HAMILTON: But that was a good experience because when he moved, and when he went there, the first he went there, he was all alone, in Michigan,


HAMILTON: and he lived in a, he stayed in a motel while he found a room and that was the, the fall he started there, which was two years ago. The Ku Klux Klan was coming in for a national meeting and that boy said he was shaking in 33:00his boots he said, he called home and want to know…

MARSHALL: You know what I remember about it

HAMILTON: The Ku Klux Klan was coming.

MARSHALL: when I was a youngster, and the Ku Klux Klan come around, we shuddered.


MARSHALL: But now, black folks aren’t scared.

HAMILTON: No, no, they don’t, no…

MARSHALL: They stand on the, when they parade, blacks stand on the street and laugh at them.


MARSHALL: But when I was a kid,

HAMILTON: Oh, you got out, you got out of the way, I know.

MARSHALL: You ran and hid. But anyway,


MARSHALL: that’s just

HAMILTON: That’s interesting, though. Yes.

MARSHALL: part of the change that took place [laughs].

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: So you saw them in youth, but during this particular period of which we speak, you saw many changes taking place here in this community.

HAMILTON: Oh yes, yes, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: For example, what black businesses in your time of growing up here do you recall?


MARSHALL: And I’m thinking of the, any type of entre—mostly entrepreneurial, all we can go into.

HAMILTON: Yeah, barber shops, there was a barber shop

MARSHALL: There was one downtown, wasn’t there?


HAMILTON: Not when I was,

MARSHALL: Not when you came [over]?

HAMILTON: I don’t know anyone down there. The only one I knew close to town was old, was the, oh, I can’t think of his name, but he was, he was on the, on South Washington,


HAMILTON: I can’t think of the gentleman’s name.

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: You’ve heard his name mentioned, I’m sure.


HAMILTON: ’Cause [J. D. Hoss] started there, and, and um, oh, I can’t think of his name. But anyhow, that was there, and then of course, on, on South Washington the Richardson Funeral Home was there, next door, Sam Travis! That was his name. The barber. Sam Travis. Mm-hmm. And um, um, there weren’t really many businesses, uh, there was a store, or

MARSHALL: Was there a restaurant? On…

HAMILTON: Well, eventually one, one, uh, a restaurant developed, uh,

MARSHALL: Down near

HAMILTON: on Harriet Street

MARSHALL: on Harriet

HAMILTON: on Harriet Street, and there was one on Harriet Street between, uh, Washington and South Adams, South Adams on Washington, then, there was one that, that developed, there’s always that bar, on the middle of, of, uh, Harriet 35:00Street there, between South Adams and South Hamilton.

MARSHALL: Oh yeah.

HAMILTON: Northern Lights. When we were coming up.

MARSHALL: That’s owned by white folks, isn’t it?

HAMILTON: No, that was owned by Mrs. Mahaley.

MARSHALL: Oo, was that Mrs. Mahaley?


MARSHALL: That’s still owned by blacks?

HAMILTON: Well, she still, y’know, her, her estate owns it


HAMILTON: But they’re trying to transfer the license.

MARSHALL: Oh, yeah.

HAMILTON: They’re trying to sell the property.

MARSHALL: Do white folks have it or blacks have it?

HAMILTON: Blacks have it.

MARSHALL: They’re still—I mean, have it, I knew they had it, but have

HAMILTON: No no no no no

MARSHALL: Blacks still have it.

HAMILTON: Oh yes, cur—the, the, the title, the license is still in her name.

MARSHALL: Oh, okay.

HAMILTON: And her estate’s trying to sell it. They've been trying to sell it.

MARSHALL: I know she’s been trying to sell it for

HAMILTON: Oh yes, yeah, yeah, mm-hmm. Then across the street, uh, coming north, coming west up Harriet, going west up Harriet, was, there was a little restaurant that, that, that, before Amos Washington became busy in the ci—in the city, there was a restaurant there that was run by some people

MARSHALL: That’s up where, uh, [Ebeth’s], where, uh, [Onetha’s] place is?

HAMILTON: No no, right now, it’s where, uh, it’s, it’s vacant now, it’s on the corner of, it was on the corner of, of Harriet and South Hamilton. It’s 36:00all vacant through there now.

MARSHALL: Oh I see, uh-huh, uh-huh. Do you remember a restaurant there where Ometha is?

HAMILTON: Oh yes, yeah, oh yeah, yeah, that was, that was a little later, we were all, I was in the, in the, mmm, yeah, the forties, late forties, mm-hmm. Hart Cartwright, uh, ran that, Reuben Cartwright.

MARSHALL: [That] Cartwright [don’t mind where he is?]

HAMILTON: Yes, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: [when I got back] down there I was scanning the people in

HAMILTON: Well, his, he’s—

MARSHALL: admitted to the hospital


MARSHALL: he’s just going to the hospital.

HAMILTON: Oh, he’s been in and out, um,

MARSHALL: Yeah, well—

HAMILTON: His wife still lives

MARSHALL: Yeah. She dresses hair.

HAMILTON: No no no, that’s his, that’s his second wife.


HAMILTON: His first wife, he and his first wife opened this restaurant.

MARSHALL: Oh, I see,

HAMILTON: He was a minister.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Still is, I think.

HAMILTON: Oh yeah, he still is.

MARSHALL: Yeah. [Least he told me that.]

HAMILTON: But he’s, he’s, he’s pretty senile now.


HAMILTON: pretty…y’know, uh, in—incapable of really caring for himself, poor fellow.


HAMILTON: But he seemed to live on.


HAMILTON: But, uh, he and his wife have this restaurant. And they just—Mrs. Cartwright did a good job of—back in those days, you see the war was on, war 37:00was coming down, and that area was surrounded by temporary housing.


HAMILTON: On Harriet Street.


HAMILTON: Fellows who worked in the construction, they’d come there and eat a good hot meal, at least once or twice a day, and, and it served a good purpose, because they couldn’t eat downtown.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Did you have a USO?



HAMILTON: They, this, there was one, but it was out at the airport.

MARSHALL: But that was for…

HAMILTON: For military.

MARSHALL: for everybody?

HAMILTON: No, just for—

MARSHALL: I mean, blacks and whites?

HAMILTON: Yes, if they wanted to, out there.

MARSHALL: Yeah, uh-huh.

HAMILTON: But that was really for the military personnel

MARSHALL: Well, I was, I knew for the military.


MARSHALL: But I wondered if there was ever any reason to have a separate—you know, some cities had separate ones.


MARSHALL: whites and blacks.

HAMILTON: But they, they, uh, because it’s housing, because of the housing on the South Side, they had a, what they call a community building.


HAMILTON: Which is where the Post is.

MARSHALL: Yeah, mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: That was the old community building


HAMILTON: for that housing project


HAMILTON: for that area and, and eventually the Post, American Legion Post, when they closed it down, took over it as their facility.


HAMILTON: ’Cause they still couldn’t get into the post on North Huron.


MARSHALL: Oh yeah, yeah. Still can’t.

HAMILTON: No. Oh, you can, you can,

MARSHALL: I guess you can.

HAMILTON: You can, but, um,

MARSHALL: But they don’t want you.


MARSHALL: Well, you know, I, I don’t know, I suppose it’s about, one, it’s about as much a one as any other. They don’t want us, but really, we don’t want them either.

HAMILTON: No, mm-mm.

MARSHALL: At least I don’t.

HAMILTON: No. If they come, if they come into the post down here, I don’t go down there.


HAMILTON: If they don’t want, they’ll ask him, “what are you, what are you doing here?”


HAMILTON: And if you go down here, somebody’s going to ask you, uh, “You sure you’re at the right one?” I was in there, I said, “No, I, I came, came to the post! This the American Legion post?” I knew half the guys who were there.


HAMILTON: I didn’t stay very long.

MARSHALL: Well, I belong to the War Memorial [ ]


MARSHALL: But I’ve never been down there.

HAMILTON: No, the, it’s, it’s, it, it, at one, at one time it was a very influential group.


HAMILTON: When Dr. Perry was a member, in the


HAMILTON: and some fellows in the churches, but the fellows, the young veterans came back and say,

MARSHALL: [like Jason’s]

HAMILTON: They say, “This is too slow. We need to have a party place!”

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

HAMILTON: They, they moved them out.


HAMILTON: Those guys, would, they’d, they’d leave from church and go to the post, you know, the older fellows say “Wait a minute, we don’t, you don’t, 39:00you’re not supposed to be open on Sunday,” they say “Well, it’s a private club, isn’t it?”

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

HAMILTON: So they, they finally [fielded out]


HAMILTON: the older fellows. Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Well, and then after a time of course,

HAMILTON: But there weren’t any businesses. There weren’t, there weren’t any, there were a lot of fellows [in that earth] people around town who did little odd jobs.


HAMILTON: I remember that Reverend English was one of the first, um, as I grew up, uh, in the ’40s, in the ’50s, and a concrete worker,


HAMILTON: But he couldn’t get the kind of business he wanted, and, and, just like Herb Francois. Herb, as you probably know now, tried to have a newspaper.


HAMILTON: And uh, and uh, he did have it published,


HAMILTON: he did, and in fact I wrote for it, summer I got out of college, because, I um,

MARSHALL: I’m trying to find a copy of this newspaper, Washtenaw Beat. No, Washtenaw—

HAMILTON: Washtenaw Sun.



MARSHALL: And I haven’t found a copy of it.

HAMILTON: I probably, I may have some around.

MARSHALL: find a copy of that.

HAMILTON: because I used to, I, I, I’m sure I got some around. I’ve [ ] clippings from them.


MARSHALL: Clippings are definitely

HAMILTON: And Mrs. Simpson

MARSHALL: Mrs. Simpson

HAMILTON: had a little paper, her little paper was a little,


HAMILTON: it was a nice little thing [to do] in the community. I should have some of those around. I’ll look and see.


HAMILTON: because, uh, my, my dad used to keep them all at his place, and when he passed, uh, we cleaned out my sister, well, my stepmother cleaned out the place


HAMILTON: and many of those things she threw away before we got here


HAMILTON: Just kind of left in a…


HAMILTON: Not the best moment.

MARSHALL: By the way, just for the record, when did your mother die?

HAMILTON: My mother died 1941.


HAMILTON: Yeah. She died of, uh, at home.

MARSHALL: Then your father remarried.


MARSHALL: And who did he remarry?

HAMILTON: He married Reverend Garther Roberson’s sister, Mrs. Willie Wilson.

MARSHALL: Willie Wilson.


MARSHALL: Willie Roberson Wilson?


MARSHALL: Willie Roberson Wilson.

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. She was—

MARSHALL: The one you refer to as your stepmother.

HAMILTON: Yeah, she was a grand, she was a grand lady, she was really a, she really helped to raise us.

MARSHALL: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

HAMILTON: ’Cause we were all youngsters.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Now, you, you came back, and you came back here, what 41:00year, what year did you actually open up for practice?

HAMILTON: Well I, I finished law school in ’57. And I had uh, then, uh, I wanted to open a law office, but, I just couldn’t seem to find, believe it or not, I just couldn’t seem to find a place. And, uh, in fact, back in those days, can you believe it, in 1957, I um, I began to be active in the Democratic Party.


HAMILTON: And, uh, because I couldn’t do it when I was in law school. I just, I just had to keep my nose to the grindstone, ’cause I was a little, I just felt I would, they would kick me out if I flunked anything.


HAMILTON: But anyhow, so I got back and I got active in the Democratic Party, and getting active in the Democratic Party, one of the, one of the, um, one of the fellows who was in the area, whose name I won’t name, said, uh, “Well, look, Van, we got this house over here on Emmet Street, that, uh, no blacks was there, why don’t we, why don’t we break the ice,” y’know, I said, 42:00“Well, that’s all right with me,” it was just an old house. So we bought it, for a song. A couple of fellows who were at, one is dead and one now is a judge, were going to file a lawsuit to keep me from buying that house. One is now a judge.

MARSHALL: And I’ll bet you when you see him, you disagree with it.

HAMILTON: Oh, he just, arms open. So anyhow, uh, so we bought it. And well, he, they didn’t care, all they wanted to do was keep it occupied and have some money coming in, because there was a, it was in an estate, which didn’t have any money.


HAMILTON: And, uh, so I took it as it was. But it was, it turned, we fixed it up. And then I’d begin, then I said, and I started practicing out of the house. I’d ta—seeing people in the house, they knew I was a lawyer and I’d lived here most of my life,


HAMILTON: And I said, “Well, I don’t have to do that, I’m going to get a, get a place.” And I’ll be doggoned that things were really starting to move then, in 1960, because, I got in, I, I, I, talked with the, with the, with the Wuerth Theater. I saw these two rooms up above the old Martha Washington 43:00Theater, and said, look, everybody else had small offices, and, and I had talked around to other people in other communities, and they said, “Look, you just, why don’t you let your roots down where you are, and get your, just go on and work where, because if you come here, you’ve got to move your family, it’d just be too expensive.” And things weren’t going too well then anyhow,


HAMILTON: But I was building up enough contact with people at home that I thought I, I didn’t really want them coming to the house. We had two youngsters then, so, believe it or not, we got the place, Marsh Office Supply sold me my furniture, all the furniture, on a time basis, with a loan to Ypsi Savings Bank, and we started work. And I was just amazed. But things were breaking then, for blacks.

MARSHALL: That was you and these other lawyers.

HAMILTON: No no no.

MARSHALL: You and these other lawyer, or was that you by yourself?

HAMILTON: I opened it all alone.

MARSHALL: You started by yourself.

HAMILTON: Alone, yes, all alone.


HAMILTON: Right across the street from one lawyer who, who, uh, one of my first clients said he came over to see me because the lawyer across the street represented his wife and said, uh, “You, you, you need to go over and see that 44:00nigger lawyer because he ain’t going to help you.” I said [BANGS SURFACE] “We’re going to win, you watch. [Laughs] We’re going to win.” and we did too, we did. Not, when I say ‘win,’

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah.

HAMILTON: I mean, the poor fellow came out—what could you do in those days

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

HAMILTON: y’know, all he wanted was a fair shake and we had, we had one judge at that time, who ran the show in this county, and he—

MARSHALL: Is that Breakey?

HAMILTON: Judge Breakey, He was just, he was just, he, he was a, he was all right, he was, he was right, but he was too right.


HAMILTON: But, uh, I told that fellow, and, and, and, Judge Breakey knew me, because I had grown up here,


HAMILTON: and he had been close—these things I learned rapidly when I was coming along, Judge Breakey would, he was very close to Reverend Garther Roberson, whenever they had anything, he believed in people going to church,

MARSHALL: When you say Garther, you’re talking about the old Garther.

HAMILTON: The old Garther Roberson. He was—and when I was coming up, that was the only church.


HAMILTON: Other than, other than the, that was the oth—the largest church, black church, other than the Methodist church


HAMILTON: and a few uh

MARSHALL: a few little

HAMILTON: little Churches of God.


HAMILTON: So that was the church.



HAMILTON: And, and, Methodist church and that church, well, the churches, and Judge Breakey kept in touch with those ministers. And they kept in touch with him, because our people were always before Judge Breakey.


HAMILTON: He was always asking, “Well, are you going to church?” “Yes, Your Honor.” “Where are you going?” “Second Baptist.” “Oh, I’m going to talk to Reverend Hot—Reverend, Reverend Roberson, see if you’re going to church.” “Oh, yes, yes, Your Honor.”

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

HAMILTON: Reverend Garther Roberson would just smile, [laughs] he was a grand old fellow. He didn’t have much education but he was a great leader.


HAMILTON: He could lead people, and that’s a, that was important.


HAMILTON: But anyhow, so I got to meet Judge Breaker from coming to church,


HAMILTON: and he encouraged me to go into practicing law, so really, when I was in my office, Booker had opened his, and he had a hard time too.

MARSHALL: Booker Williams?

HAMILTON: Booker Williams had a hard time getting a place.


HAMILTON: And, uh, downtown.


HAMILTON: And Booker was another one who encouraged me, “You can do it. You just go ahead. Open it up. You’ll make it. Look, I’m

MARSHALL: Did he come out of the same law school you did?

HAMILTON: No, he went to Michigan.

MARSHALL: Oh, I see, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: But Booker was, uh, he opened up here, so he, he had a lot of contact with uh, the old Simons family. He married the Simons daughter. So they had, he 46:00had a lot of contact with him. And that helped him to get a, a, a base, among, among the powers that be.


HAMILTON: And, uh, so here we were, and I always thought too that [laughs] the Democrats thought that here was Booker who was catering to the Republicans, who was a lawyer, we’d better get a black Democratic lawyer in here. So they, I was catering to the Democrats, so that gave us both, we really had a good base, we really did. We had, and we, we, I don’t want to put that down, anyhow, it was interesting.


HAMILTON: I don’t want to put that down on the table. But anyhow, so, he, I must, I must, I must say, he encouraged me to open up because he knew me,


HAMILTON: and, and uh. So it uh, and Judge Breakey was very helpful.

MARSHALL: Well, of course, I, I, I was, I, I’m assuming, there’s an assumption in my mind and that is, that about the time that you were, were, were going into business for yourself, was really a, a good time, because


MARSHALL: up to that time, even in my own knowledge, black folk just didn’t [pinch] them at it, weren’t very good at [pinching out black folk]


HAMILTON: No, no, but we had, we had uh, Dr. Bassett been here,


HAMILTON: and I must admit now, by that time, Dr. Bassett was, was able to build his building,

MARSHALL: Yeah, mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: And, uh, he, he had to struggle to get that money,

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah.

HAMILTON: And Dr. Perry had opened his, Dr. Perry had, had, was in his office


HAMILTON: And Dr. Perry’s, frankly, Dr. Perry’s, uh, practice was, was 75 per cent white.

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah, mm-hmm, yeah.

HAMILTON: Blacks just didn’t go to the dentist that frequently.

MARSHALL: Had to go to the back door.

HAMILTON: That, that’s right.

MARSHALL: They’d go to somebody else’s back door.


MARSHALL: I remember that much.

HAMILTON: Sure, but the, but the, Dr. Perry, he just couldn’t handle them all anyhow.

MARSHALL: Yeah, uh-huh.

HAMILTON: And uh, but he was a, yeah, well, there was Dr. Perry, so you see, as I, as I, Dr. Perry of course, he practiced out of his own house


HAMILTON: for a long time, you see, and he eventually, the war helped open things up. That was the ’60s, and the ’50s and the ’60s,


HAMILTON: There were Dr. Perry and Dr. Bass, and, and um, mm, as as I, as as, as in the late ’50s of course, early ’60s, businesses in the, among blacks 48:00began to really

MARSHALL: Yeah, mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: expand. Reverend Reeves was contractor, and he

MARSHALL: Oh yeah.

HAMILTON: he was building houses, and, and, it helped to get, be able to have some contact with these banks.

MARSHALL: [Was ever] Reeves a pastor of a church?

HAMILTON: Yes, mm-hmm. He had his, he pastored that little church where, that is now next to your, next to Brown Chapel.

MARSHALL: Oh, I see.

HAMILTON: He, he um, he, he was a, he was a minister, and he—

MARSHALL: Yeah. I know he was a minister

HAMILTON: organized his own church with his own family, there.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Oh, I see.

HAMILTON: starting up there. He had enough, we always say, he had enough in his family to have his own congregation.

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah.

HAMILTON: And his kids would say, “Yeah, you Hamiltons do, too,” so we laughed at each other.

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

HAMILTON: We always had a good joke about that.


HAMILTON: He had all girls, too.

MARSHALL: Yeah, one of them worked for me up on campus.

HAMILTON: Yes, yes.

MARSHALL: Well, well, the, the other thing I want to find out from you is, now you, along about that time of course there was just, there was just a, a doubling of interest in civil rights and that kind of thing

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. Yes.

MARSHALL: in Ypsilanti, and one of the things that I know about, and this was 49:00partially at least at the instigation of the NAACP, was the Human Rights Commission.


MARSHALL: You were, were you involved

HAMILTON: Human Relations Commission.

MARSHALL: Human Relations Commission.

HAMILTON: Oh yes, mm-hmm. Yeah, first they just had a uh, um, I, I’ve got information on it, back in my files.


HAMILTON: But it wasn’t Human Rela—it was more of a, an advisory committee first.


HAMILTON: And, and, um, in the NA—we were all active in the NAACP then, everybody was really active in the NAACP back in those years.


HAMILTON: And uh, because uh, you couldn’t join anything else

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah.

HAMILTON: but you could, uh, you could join the, I guess you could join the, uh, oh, well, you couldn’t join much of anything else.

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

HAMILTON: so, and their own churches. But they were coming, they were coming. So, uh, you’re asking me, well, I was, I began, I began, in fact, I, I was one of the first members, Marguerite Eaglin, Reverend S. L. Roberson,


HAMILTON: Dr. Bass. I have to think.


MARSHALL: But you must have had some white members.

HAMILTON: Oh yes, yes, yes, mm-hmm,

MARSHALL: Was Ericson in that group?

HAMILTON: Yes, that’s right, Ericson from the Eastern Michigan, that’s right, mm-hmm, Ericson, and, uh, bless her heart, the lady who lived down here on Pearl. What taught at, uh, Lincoln.


HAMILTON: Oh, I can’t think, I can never think, I will think of her name, but she was


HAMILTON: Uh, but the whites were on the, on there, the majority of them were really interested in trying to resolve any differences. There were a couple of them who were just there as a thorn in your side, so to speak, and we almost came to blows one night, about it, publicly.

MARSHALL: Was Bass the first chairman?

HAMILTON: I’m not sure if he was the first chairman, but he was a chairman. He was a chairman. I’m not sure. I’d have to look at my files on that, it’s been

MARSHALL: Do you remember any of the

HAMILTON: twenty-five to thirty years ago, you know?

MARSHALL: Yeah, I know it. Do you remember distinctly any of the, and this is going back, I know it, is, this is, this is stretching your memory, do you remember any specific accomplishments over there? I know it was persuasive and 51:00all of that, but, what did they really accomplish?

HAMILTON: Well, I don’t think the Human Relations Commission accomplished anything formidable in the way of say, legislation? But they, they did, they did open the doors for what really was, was to come, and such as the election of John Burton, I mean


HAMILTON: the city just, just knew it had to do better,


HAMILTON: because the blacks, blacks and whites were gonna have to get along, that’s all. We were going to be here, and we just weren’t going anywhere, so they just might as well, they might better settle down and try to get along.


HAMILTON: And that’s what the commission, I think that started that attitude. And some, and there were, there were some dedicated people on there.


HAMILTON: Like, well, well, Ericson, and um, another gentleman from the psychology department at Eastern, he’s in Ann Arbor, oh, oh I can’t think of 52:00his name. But I’ll think of it eventually.

MARSHALL: [oh going combo]

HAMILTON: He’s in Ann Arbor now, he’s very active with the B’nai Brith.


HAMILTON: But, uh, I can’t think of it, but, uh, there were some really dedicated people, and they were al—well, they were almost all alone at first.

MARSHALL: Well, anyway, they sort of helped to gel public opinion,


MARSHALL: to move them in the direction that they had to go. Now at that time, of course, we weren’t able to go to, we, we didn’t have any hotels

HAMILTON: There was one.

MARSHALL: Oh, there was?

HAMILTON: The Huron Hotel, but they didn’t particularly care to have blacks coming there, but we took care of that eventually.

MARSHALL: Okay, when, when you say ‘we,’ was that the NAACP?

HAMILTON: Along with the Ypsilanti Business and Professional League.

MARSHALL: Business and Professional League, okay.

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: I take it that as soon as you, almost as soon as you started practicing, you became a member of this league


MARSHALL: Business and Professional League.

HAMILTON: Business and Professional League, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: And then, uh, well, of course, then you had restaurants, you had some problems with restaurants.

HAMILTON: Yes, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Even Haab’s.


MARSHALL: Didn’t care about you coming in.

HAMILTON: No, mm-mm.

MARSHALL: But, uh, they eventually…


HAMILTON: Yes, but, but by that time, by the time, by that time, uh, blacks just really didn’t go to those places,


HAMILTON: They didn’t want to go anyhow.


HAMILTON: Unless they were coming through town and they had some


HAMILTON: people or visitors in


HAMILTON: [such live with the] Ypsi for the Huron Motor Inn. We—

MARSHALL: Well, I don’t know why, I, I question why you say they didn’t, really didn’t want to go.

HAMILTON: Well, I, I, I, uh,

MARSHALL: E—e—either they couldn’t afford to go, or they felt they weren’t welcome.

HAMILTON: Very probably

MARSHALL: Well, do you feel it was more that?

HAMILTON: More not being welcome.

MARSHALL: But there were some of us who couldn't afford it.

HAMILTON: That’s true, oh yes, yeah, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Okay. So we didn’t go even if, even if on occasion we had the money we sort of shied away from them because we knew we wouldn’t be welcome.

HAMILTON: That’s probably right.

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm. Well, I mean, I’m just

HAMILTON: That’s probably right.

MARSHALL: You know, you know,

HAMILTON: but we younger blacks

MARSHALL: we’re talking about the same country.

HAMILTON: but we younger blacks, the younger blacks decided we were going to go anyway.

MARSHALL: Going to go in there, right.

HAMILTON: So, because I, I used to, but I

MARSHALL: That’s the issue, yeah.

HAMILTON: The fellows in town used to always go across the street and eat lunch at the Huron Motor Inn.



HAMILTON: Ho—Huron Hotel, at noon.


HAMILTON: Se we visi—I, I went, too.


HAMILTON: I, I eat lunch down here, too.


HAMILTON: But I thought it was just good to, to commingle with the fellows.

MARSHALL: Well, what you eventually did, of course, you got the white folks used to us.

HAMILTON: Probably.

MARSHALL: Well, we went through the same thing.

HAMILTON: I’m sure.

MARSHALL: when we were

HAMILTON: I’m sure.

MARSHALL: [laughs] I remember my wife, my wife was working downtown, and there was a restaurant where they said, they didn’t, they didn’t even, didn't even know if they served black folks, and she’d been eating in there for months and months.


MARSHALL: And finally when they discovered that she was eating in there, then they changed it, they put it on the list of those that would serve them.


MARSHALL: But I also know by 1961, when I was president of the Michigan, Missouri Library Association, I called a meeting of, uh, of, of, my [ ] community and I had them come to Jefferson City, and we went to a hotel that had just recently opened up.


MARSHALL: And, they take us in the rooms, and they would take us in the major dining room, but they had another dining room, and they wouldn't serve us there.



MARSHALL: I mean, this was the kind of, it was in ’60, ’61.

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. You see, in those years, John Burton was the, and uh, John Burton and Amos Washington, and, uh, I forget the first fellow’s name, I don’t know why I always forget his name, he just passed recently, but they were on City Council


HAMILTON: But one at a time.

MARSHALL: Oh, you’re talking about uh, the guy in Detroit.


MARSHALL: Yeah. I know who you’re talking about.

HAMILTON: I’ll think of it.

MARSHALL: Ben [Bombadill].

HAMILTON: I’m sure you’ve heard his name in your discussions.

MARSHALL: I knew about him when, I knew about him before he died.


MARSHALL: Yeah, I know who you’re talking about.


MARSHALL: But anyway,

HAMILTON: Santee [Eggle,] Santee Brockman was a member of Council


HAMILTON: back than, way, that’s a long time ago.

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

HAMILTON: He was all alone there, we don’t know how they kept him on.

MARSHALL: Santee Brockman.

HAMILTON: Brockman, mm-hmm. He used to live near, near Beatty on Harriet—on Hawkins street, there.

MARSHALL: I don’t think anybody ever


MARSHALL: ever mentioned his name?

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. He was on there one term.



MARSHALL: Santee Brockman.

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. S-A-N-T-E-E.


MARSHALL: Yeah. Let me write that down, here. Uh, no, nobody mentioned that name to me. T-E-E Brockton.


MARSHALL: City Council.


MARSHALL: Do you ever remember anything about a, a man being on the City Council who was never informed that he was elected?

HAMILTON: Now who was that…

MARSHALL: This was even back before the other guy.

HAMILTON: Before uh, the other fellow out in [Canton] right now?

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah, right, right. And, somebody told me about that, and said this guy was on the City Council and then they never informed him, or something, until his term was up. He didn’t find out about it till his term was up. He didn’t find out that he had been elected to City Council.

HAMILTON: Gee, I don’t know, that, that had to be,

MARSHALL: No, I think that would have been before your time.

HAMILTON: Sure, that would have been—

MARSHALL: You would have been young, but seems to me that was in the latter 57:00’30s. Talking about ’30, ’39, something like that.

HAMILTON: But I know in those days, there were, they had, they had aldermen,

MARSHALL: Yeah, right, yeah.

HAMILTON: called them aldermen, matter of fact, my dad ran for,


HAMILTON: for the City Council back in those days.

MARSHALL: Well, I had a, I know I went back in the city directories to look for that guy’s name, just looking, yeah, looking for his name, and I didn’t find it. And I, then I began to question it, but I said, one of these days I’m going to get down into City Hall and look at some of those records,

HAMILTON: He was, he and Herman Curzie, old, old Mr. Herman Curzie was a long-time member,


HAMILTON: his son, a long-time member of Brown Chapel

MARSHALL: Was Herman, was Herman ever in the Business and Professional League?

HAMILTON: No, no, no, but he was, he, now he was a

MARSHALL: But Ben Neely was. Ben Neely. Was Ben Neely still active when you came along?

HAMILTON: No. No. Not—no.

MARSHALL: I understand Ben Neely was a charter member.

HAMILTON: I don’t know if he was, now, I don’t now.

MARSHALL: Well, now, this is what [Angel]

HAMILTON: He could have been, he could have been.


MARSHALL: told me that.

HAMILTON: But I know, when I came along, he wasn’t active anymore.

MARSHALL: Yeah. But of course, he’s pretty old. By the time you came along, he was a pretty old man.

HAMILTON: No, he wasn’t, he was

MARSHALL: Had to be, ’cause he, he pretty old now.

HAMILTON: Well, he’s been, can’t be more than 70 now.

MARSHALL: Is that all?

HAMILTON: Maybe 70? So he’s probably, he’s probably close to 75.

MARSHALL: [How’d he] [ ]

HAMILTON: Oh, no no no no, he’s about, at the oldest he’s probably maybe 75.


HAMILTON: I’d say. Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Well anyway, they said, uh, [James] was telling me that he was a

HAMILTON: He may have been, he may have been, because he was a good friend of Mrs. Mahaley’s,


HAMILTON: He had married her niece.


HAMILTON: And uh, so uh,

MARSHALL: But they said the old man was really, was really something.


MARSHALL: back in those days.

HAMILTON: Well he was, well he, his brother, his brother was, Mary Louise’s father. Mary Louise Foley’s father


HAMILTON: was really the key, he was the one who was really active, he was tough. And this Ben was, was strong too. He, but he did his, they both were


HAMILTON: but his, oh, his dad was, his brother was something.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Well, see, I gotta—


HAMILTON: He was a, he was a long-time Republican, but he spoke up.

MARSHALL: I got a date with Ben Neely.

HAMILTON: You should, because he isn’t well, you know.

MARSHALL: Yeah, that’s what I hear.

HAMILTON: You know, you should talk with him before he, uh,

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah, that’s what I hear.

HAMILTON: I, I saw him in the hospital, oh, a month or two ago.


HAMILTON: He was saying how he “Just forget about the old man,” I said, “Oh, no, we didn’t—” I, I told him that you were, you would be trying to reach him


HAMILTON: because uh, he’s, I’m sure he’s got something interesting to say, if he’s

MARSHALL: Well everybody referred me to him.

HAMILTON: If he can just remember. His health is failing, though.

MARSHALL: want to mention one other thing that I picked up and I’d like for your comment on it. I picked up that Martha Neely, you know Martha? Martha is Old Lady Clara’s sister.

HAMILTON: Uh, yeah.

MARSHALL: She is Foley’s mother.

HAMILTON: Yes, yes.


HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. Yes.

MARSHALL: Martha Neely graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1960.

HAMILTON: Now that, I, I can’t, I cannot verify.

MARSHALL: I know, I know, I know you can’t verify

HAMILTON: Unless I knew


MARSHALL: just wondered if you’d ever heard it.

HAMILTON: Never heard it, no.

MARSHALL: She, she graduated, now this is—

0:00 - Family history

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: Major concern is establishing your name.


MARSHALL: Van, Vanzetti—

HAMILTON: My name is, my name is Vanzetti, Vanzetti M. Hamilton.

Segment Synopsis: Vanzetti Hamilton answers questions about his family and gives the names and birthdays of his siblings. He also talks about the families early history and move from Detroit to Ypsilanti.

Keywords: African-American soldiers in World War One; Aquilla Hamilton; Dalphon A. Hamilton; Detroit, Michigan; Donald U Hamilton; Flint, Michigan; George E. Hamilton; Little Rock, Arkansas; Phanuel J. Hamilton; Sarah Louis Beatty Shuford; Theopolis Elliot Hamilton; Theressa Hamilton; Vanzetti M. Hamilton; Ypsilanti, Michigan

Subjects: African American families.

Hyperlink: Photo of Vanzetti Hamilton editing the Aurora, school newspaper.

6:42 - Early memories and school

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: Okay, now, you came here and, and, ’36, and, ’course, um, do you remember anything specific about the area when you came?

HAMILTON: Oh yeah, yes.

MARSHALL: so far as, um, it being black in Ypsilanti was concerned?

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

HAMILTON: Yes…we can only live, or by, south of Michigan Avenue.

Segment Synopsis: A.P. Marshall and Mr. Hamilton discuss going to school in Ypsilanti and the leading role his older brother, Theo, played in his school career.

Keywords: African-American military officers; African-American real estate agents; consumption; Eastern Michigan University; Hebert Francois; Howell, Michigan; Michigan Avenue; Michigan State Normal College; Pete Brooks; PJ Hamilton; segregation in Ypsilanti, Michigan; Theo Hamilton; Theressa Hamilton; Ypsilanti Public Schools; Ypsilanti south side; Ypsilanti, Michigan

Subjects: African American families. African Americans--Education--History--20th century.

Hyperlink: Vanzetti Hamilton's 1947 High School senior photo.

14:54 - Going to law school in Detroit

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: Uh, then, um, how’d you get to, well, you, you, well, let, let me [and for] go ahead and establish some basics, again. You graduated from Eastern what year?


MARSHALL: ’49. And then,


MARSHALL: did you go right into law school, or—

HAMILTON: No, no, I um, it was at that time, I thought I may have to go into the service

Segment Synopsis: Vanzetti Hamilton describes his choice to become a lawyer and some of the difficulties in getting admitted to law school from Black students at the time.

Keywords: African-American lawyers; Bill Alexander; Eastern Michigan University; GI Bill; John Burton; Kaiser-Frazier; labor negotiations; United Auto Workers; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Wayne State University; Willow Run High School; Ypsilanti, Michigan

Subjects: African Americans--Education--History--20th century. Labor unions. African American law students.

Hyperlink: Vanzetti Hamilton portrait.

21:27 - Starting a family

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: Okay, uh, somewhere along here you met your wife.

HAMILTON: Yes, I, I had met her when I was going to Eastern.


HAMILTON: She was going to Cleary. And so, uh, she, uh, we were dating, uh, frequently, and so she uh, the year I graduated, from Eastern, she had a choice of either staying here and working, either in the Ypsi Housing office, or the Willow Run housing office, or in Eastern housing office, they, as you can imagine in those days, they, they just didn’t hire the black girls were all, they were good, but they just wouldn’t hire them in other places. The federal government was a primary employer.

Segment Synopsis: Vanzetti discusses meeting his wife, Arbra Jean Fullerton of Battle Creek, a student at Cleary Business school, and having children.

Keywords: African-American Colleges and Universities; Barbara Jean Fullerton; Battle Creek Veterans Administration; Central Ohio University; Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleary Business School; Dr. Lawrence Perry; Howard University; John Elliot Hamilton; Laura Hamilton; Laura Joyner Mullins; Lawrence White Hamilton; Lincoln University, Missouri; Mark Shuford Hamilton; Moorehouse College, Fisk College, Phi Beta Kappa; Ray Mullins; University of Alabama; University of Maryland; Willow Run Housing Authority; Ypsilanti Housing Authority

Subjects: Marriage. African American families. African Americans--Education--History--20th century.

33:30 - Memories of Ypsi's Black businesses

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: So you saw them in youth, but during this particular period of which we speak, you saw many changes taking place here in this community.

HAMILTON: Oh yes, yes, mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: For example, what black businesses in your time of growing up here do you recall?


Segment Synopsis: Mr. Hamilton is asked about his memories of Black businesses, business owners and other professionals in the Ypsilanti community as he was growing up. Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Marshall have a conversation about Black and white American Legion Halls.

Keywords: African-American businesses in Ypsilanti; American Legion Post; Amos Washington; Annie Simpson; Dr. Lawrence Perry; Harriet Street; Herbert Francois Sr.; JD Hall; Mrs. Cartwright; Mrs. Mahaley; North Huron Street; Northern Lights bar; Rev. Cartwright; Rev. English; Rev. Garther Roberson; Richardson Funeral Home; Samuel Travis; South Adams Street; South Hamilton Street; South Washington Street; Washtenaw Sun; Willie Roberson Wilson; Ypsilanti, Michigan

Subjects: African American business enterprises.

Hyperlink: Aerial view of the former Harriet St. Black business district, circa 1940.

41:03 - Opening a law practice in Ypsilanti

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Now, you, you came back, and you came back here, what year, what year did you actually open up for practice?

HAMILTON: Well I, I finished law school in ’57. And I had uh, then, uh, I wanted to open a law office, but, I just couldn’t seem to find, believe it or not, I just couldn’t seem to find a place. And, uh, in fact, back in those days, can you believe it, in 1957, I um, I began to be active in the Democratic Party.


Segment Synopsis: Vanzetti Hamilton describes what it took for him to open his legal practice in Ypsilanti and his developing political role in the Democratic Party.

Keywords: African-American lawyers; Booker Williams; Brown Chapel AME; Democratic Party; Dr. Bass; Dr. Lawrence Perry; Emmet Street; Judge Brakke; Martha Washington Theater; Rev. Garther Roberson Sr.; Second Baptist; South Hamilton; Weurth Theater; Ypsilanti Savings Bank; Ypsilanti, Michigan

Subjects: African American lawyers. Political participation. Democratic Party (U.S.).

Hyperlink: A September 13, 1963 news story on a Civil Rights movement case in which Mr. Vanzetti was counsel.

48:48 - Memories of the Civil Rights-era

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: Well, well, the, the other thing I want to find out from you is, now you, along about that time of course there was just, there was just a, a doubling of interest in civil rights and that kind of thing

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm. Yes.

MARSHALL: in Ypsilanti, and one of the things that I know about, and this was partially at least at the instigation of the NAACP, was the Human Rights Commission.


MARSHALL: You were, were you involved

Segment Synopsis: Mr. Hamilton and AP Marshall discuss the Civil Rights-era in Ypsilanti and the reforming of the area's NAACP.

Keywords: Amos Washington; Ben Neely; Civil Rights-era in Ypsilanti; discrimination in Ypsilanti; Eugene Beatty; Frank Seymour; Haab's restaurant; Hawkins Street; Herman Kersey; Human Relations Commission, Ypsilanti; Huron Hotel; Huron Motor Inn; Jefferson City, Missouri; John Burton; Martha Neely; Mary Louise Foley; Maurgerite Eaglin; Missouri Library Association; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; S.L. Roberson, Dr. Bass; Santee Brockman; segregation in Ypsilanti; Walter Ericson; Ypsilanti Business and Professional League; Ypsilanti NAACP

Subjects: Civil rights movements--United States--History--20th century. NAACP (Organization). Segregation. Race discrimination.

Hyperlink: Photo of Ypsilanti NAACP leader Marguerite Eaglin.
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