MARSHALL: [what]?

SMITH: Smith.

MARSHALL: Smith. What other name do you have?

SMITH: [another name?]

MARSHALL: Do you have another name? Do you have a—

SMITH: Maxine?

MARSHALL: Maxine? Ometha Maxine or Maxine Ometha?

SMITH: Ometha Maxine.

MARSHALL: Ometha Maxine Washington

SMITH: Smith.

MARSHALL: Smith. Okay. You were born in Ypsilanti.

SMITH: No. I was born in Oklahoma.

MARSHALL: Oh, you were born in Oklahoma—I see, I see. I knew your father had been from Oklahoma but I didn't know whether he had come here directly after school. When your father came to Ypsilanti; do you know when he came?

SMITH: Yes, ah, it was around ’32.

MARSHALL: And of course, for the record, his name was—Amos

SMITH: A—Spencer Washington.

MARSHALL: Spencer Washington. And you came here around 1932.

SMITH: No, I came in ’37.

MARSHALL: You came in ’37, he came in ’32.

SMITH: Right.

MARSHALL: Okay. And, uh, did he come here to teach?

SMITH: No, he came here to go to the University of Michigan.


SMITH: Um, he, uh, got his master’s from Michigan in ’34, I believe it was.


MARSHALL: And did he—then what did he do? Did he teach, or did he—

SMITH: No, surprisingly, he never taught.

MARSHALL: Oh, didn’t he? Somehow I had the feeling that he’d taught at least once.

SMITH: Well, in, in Oklahoma, ah, but after he came here he was working at Ford’s.


SMITH: ah, in the elec—as an electrician. Ah, and in ’36 he started working with the CCCs.


SMITH: And, ah, he did do some teaching at that,


SMITH: in, at that time, because he was call—what they call the educational advisor, and of course he left Ypsilanti at that time.

MARSHALL: Oh. Uh, how many children, how many, how many children did, uh, did, well, they—how many siblings?


MARSHALL: There was you, I know,


SMITH: And I have a half-sister

MARSHALL: And the half-sister, right.

SMITH: That’s—oh, and I have a brother who’s dead.

MARSHALL: Oh. Okay. And your half-sister is named

SMITH: Beverly.

MARSHALL: Beverly.

SMITH: Washington James.

MARSHALL: James, right, mm-hmm. Now [you…] Well, uh, uh, then, then of course, uh, uh, you came here in 1937, did you go, when you went to Lincoln, did you go from here or did you go from Oklahoma?

SMITH: No, I’m sorr—yeah, I came to Michigan in ’37 but I didn’t live here.

MARSHALL: Oh, I see.

SMITH: Uh, my father was with the CCCs up in Northern Michigan,


SMITH: and I lived up there.

MARSHALL: Oh, I see.

SMITH: I really did not, ah, although our home base was Ypsilanti, I really did not live in Ypsilanti, until ’41.

MARSHALL: Oh. When’d you go to Wayne?

SMITH: Before the war.

MARSHALL: Before the war. That’s, that’s the way we missed you. I believe 3:00we, I believe you said that earlier. That was where we missed you. Ruthe and I married in June of ’41 and September of ’41 we went to Winston-Salem.

SMITH: Uh, that’s, that’s when I went, that’s when I went.

MARSHALL: Ah, then, ah, now I guess, uh, one of the things I’ve been trying to restructure, and if I can use your memory to some extent on that, I’m trying to re—to restructure your father’s work in Ypsilanti. Now, somehow I picked up, picked up an idea that once he had a store.

SMITH: That’s correct.

MARSHALL: Where was his store?

SMITH: The store was on the corner of Harriet and Hamilton.

MARSHALL: Harriet and Hamilton. What kind of store was it?

SMITH: Ah, he had a grocery store. At first, ah, at first, um, during the war he had a cafe,



SMITH: matter of fact he had two cafes.

MARSHALL: Where were they?

SMITH: One was in the um, um, what is now the present, ah, Post. They had a cafeteria right in th—

MARSHALL: Present was?

SMITH: Post. Over on Wharton Street. Post 4-0-8?

MARSHALL: Oh oh oh oh yeah, Whar—yeah, Wharton, mm-hmm.

SMITH: Um, there, there were a lot of migrants here


SMITH: at that time, ah, so, uh, Daddy ran, he was working for the Housing Commission, but he also ran this cafeteria at the post, that’s what it was really built for, was a cafeteria. Ah, and they also then we had a cafe at the corner of Harriet and Hamilton, and then after the war, and because it was too much for him, we closed the store and then we had a grocery store, next door, when we closed the cafe we had a grocery store, uh, on the other side, ah, and then the, the old cafe became a cleaner’s.


MARSHALL: Oh. Who ran it then?

SMITH: Lena Anderson.


SMITH: Lena Anderson.

MARSHALL: Was she black?

SMITH: Uh-huh.

MARSHALL: That’s a new one on me, I didn’t know about that. I did, I did a, a talk yesterday on Afro-American entrepreneurs. And I covered lot of people but I didn’t know about that cleaner’s.

SMITH: Uh-huh, yeah, and that—then, then there was a Mrs. Mertice Stinson. She may have first ran the cafe after Daddy uh, closed it, um, y’know, Mrs. Stinson did. You know Benny Edwards? Well, it was her mother.

MARSHALL: Well, anyway, then he did run that business. Now um, at that time, and of course, uh, after, after leaving the business, was it after leaving the business that he ran for public office?

SMITH: Just a minute. Yeah. [STOP TAPE, RESTART] Okay, um, I would say that it 6:00was in perhaps ’45 or ’46,


SMITH: um, that he became a member of the city council, somewhere in that period of time. Uh, I believe Mr. Seymour was,


SMITH: was, was the first person in. I, I think that was of short duration. and, and Daddy was very shortly, I think he really replaced not replaced,

MARSHALL: Yeah. Succeeded.

SMITH: because I think he ran for election and he succeeded.

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. And then I understand that he, how many terms did he serve?

SMITH: I, I’m not too sure of, of that, uh, I would, I would say at least four or five years that, that he was on the council, but I’m really not, not sure.

MARSHALL: Okay. Well, then he was—as I understand, he withdrew from the city council in order to accept the position as Housing Director?




SMITH: Now, that would have been, um, in the late 40s.

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. And then and then was it while he was Housing Director that he became a member of the Board of Education, or was that after that?

SMITH: Ah, no, that was while he was Housing Director. He remained Housing Director until the time he died.

MARSHALL: Oh, yeah, okay. But then he, he was on the Board of Education in the ’50s.

SMITH: Yes, he um, when, ah, Dr. Perry died,


SMITH: he succeeded Dr. Perry

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah.

SMITH: on the Board of Education.

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm. Well, Dr. Perry, yeah, Dr. Perry, I have that Dr. Perry was on the board before that time. Well, that’s interesting. Um, the way I remember some of this, is, is, I was working with the alumni, and I remember getting the sheet back from him in which he was on the Board of Education, and that was in the ’50s. And I didn’t start until 1950s.


SMITH: [Laughs]

MARSHALL: [Laughs] I was reading my news. And even though I never met your father personally, I knew about him, becau—you know, through the alumni thing. Well, anyway, um, uh, uh, do you remember, what, when did he die, what year did he die?

SMITH: ’67.

MARSHALL: ’67. Then, then you, uh, of course, through your, through your father then you were here doing very, a, a period of active, uh, I guess progress, and black participation in the community.

SMITH: Actually I was not here, um, I was away in school, and to actually live in Ypsilanti,


SMITH: I only lived in Ypsilanti from ’43 to ’46.

MARSHALL: Yeah? When did you come back?

SMITH: In ’60.


SMITH: Uh-huh.

MARSHALL: Well, that’s period, what, what did you call that period?


SMITH: Ah, well, I came back in 1960.

MARSHALL: Do you know when I came here in ’60 I couldn’t find a real estate man to show me a house? Including Francois?

SMITH: I, I don’t think real estate has been one of our strong points.

MARSHALL: No. I found that there was a, the first real estate man, well, the first real estate man of course was here back in 1880, found a real estate man listed 1883, that was John Fox. But I don’t find any after John Fox died, and John Fox died at age 32, and I haven’t yet found out what, why he died or anything like that. But then the next one I found was a guy by the name of Richardson? In the ’30s.

SMITH: I think there w—I, I’m not sure, but I think there was a Richardson, that was…

MARSHALL: Yeah. And that was in the ’30s, and that was even before Francois.

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: And then, uh, of course, uh, might have been more, but those are the ones that stand out in my mind, and then there was not really an important 10:00entity in, in, in, in real estate until our time, until really today, since the time when I’ve been here.

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Not really an important [in real estate]

SMITH: Well, we were, we have not really, uh, gotten into real estate I think chiefly

MARSHALL: [to visitor] Hi.

SMITH: because of um, there’s nothing, y’know, people are kind of staid, and to, to get a listing you’ve got to go out of the area


SMITH: and, um, usually it’s kinda hard to find those. Um, eh, those people who wish to sell, unless it’s somebody that knows you personally


SMITH: and they call you up and say, “I want you to sell,”


SMITH: during the, um, eh, during the late ’60s, when there was an urban renewal program, ah, there were a number of houses built that I was a part of,



SMITH: but, other than that, uh,

MARSHALL: So it went on, between two and three.

SMITH: Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, very small.

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

SMITH: that we do.

MARSHALL: Well, uh, another thing I’ve been trying to do is to restructure that whole period in that of, of, of, of, of, of, of progress of, of Afro-Americans in town and uh, I guess some information that I’ve gotten is Ypsilanti was not too different from most places in that uh, um, well, a business like, like your father’s restaurant and so forth was built upon a fact that they were not welcome at other restaurants

SMITH: Uh, at that time, you could not eat downtown.


SMITH: Um, so um,

MARSHALL: You know that’s a matter of debate, don’t you?


SMITH: Well, uh,

MARSHALL: Because I talk to some people who say they always ate downtown.

SMITH: Well, maybe so.

MARSHALL: [Laughs]

SMITH: But you, eh, let’s put it that you were not welcome.

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s the reason I said not welcome. Uh, I, I have talked with some people who have said they, even in the ’30s in high school that they ate down, ate, ate downtown. And this is interesting. But, uh, I have sort of uh, decided that it d—depend on who you were.

SMITH: It did. Uh, I can’t, I, I am not certain it is a fact but I think I can remember some sit-ins downtown.

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah. I was just wondering about that.

SMITH: Yeah. I, I think there were some.

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm. Now, you, we, another, another angle that we were interested in also is this matter of employment. Now, you came, you came back here in ’60. And, uh, that wa—employment of course was a part of this overall drive 13:00that black people were making. What was the situation with employment in Ypsilanti? Now, I know that you go to work for Ford and General Motors, what were other employment?

SMITH: I don’t know. Ah, I wasn’t too familiar with it. I could have joined the school system,


SMITH: ah, at that time, ah, but I wasn’t interested.



MARSHALL: Well, school system of course had opened up before anything else.

SMITH: Yeah.

MARSHALL: What about other things? Uh, what about banks?

SMITH: As, as far as I know at that time there were no openings. Um, I, I would say it was well into the ’70s before any blacks got into the banks. Uh, and I know of no other management-type of, uh, situations that they were in, either.

MARSHALL: What do you, what do you, what do you, what do you hold responsible for that?

SMITH: [Sighs] Well, I have a twofold policy, uh, I don’t know if it’s 14:00twofold, but anyway. I, in the back of my mind, I feel that opportunities in Ypsilanti were missed by blacks because of lack of preparedness. I, I’m not sure that I would always lay it to prejudice. I would say that we were not prepared, and I, I, I maintain this very strongly, it’s my feeling. We do not have the background or the education to go into these fields when the opportunity does present itself, which resemble like, like me managing this project. Um, I got that job because I knew two years before the job was coming up so I prepared myself.

MARSHALL: Yeah, right, mm-hmm. That that, there, there is a kind of a, y-y—one word I think you overlooked, and, and I was thinking along with you, I’d say inclination, too.


SMITH: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Uh, we don’t seem to be inclined to try to look towards the future, and that’s really what you were saying. We don’t te—seem to be able to look to the future to see what’s going to happen, and to be prepared. But we always coming up at the rear, coming up in the rear, and after it comes and then we’re ready to go out and say, “Well, they won’t let me do this, or they won’t let me do that.” But, one, one case in point on that is, I can’t, can’t recall the woman’s name, [is a woman], but there is a woman that’s at the savings bank, who was there when I got here, do you know who I’m talking about? And she’s still there, and she has a very important position there.

SMITH: I’m not too familiar with the savings bank. Um,

MARSHALL: I should have remembered her name. She is a member of the Business and Professional League.


MARSHALL: And, uh, I met her, ’course I met her through that, but then, and hearing people talk about her, I understand that she’s been at that savings 16:00bank for some years.

SMITH: Uh, as I say, I’m not familiar with the savings bank

MARSHALL: Perhaps the

SMITH: Uh, I, I, I don’t know, I, I, I can’t say that, becaus—as, I’m not really, um, sure who you’re talking about. It would, I would possib—uh, I’m thinking, uh, she is a Caldwell. Is it Jordan? She’s not a Jordan? No, the Jordan girl went to the city. Uh, I think she is behind me, I think she is behind me,


SMITH: Max something.

MARSHALL: I believe it is.

SMITH: Uh, um,

MARSHALL: Or maybe just Max something.

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

MARSHALL: Well, anyway, that was what I was told, what I’ve been told, and, and I, I, I, that’s usually given to me as an example of what one can do if you’re prepared. Now, of course, I got here in time to uh, I guess, be in on 17:00the tail end of a kind of an era

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: and that is whether you would call certain people when they wanted to hire somebody.

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: For example, I was called by Gene Butman

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: and asked [the senders] if he wanted to hire blacks.

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: And of course, I got in touch with Gene Beatty.

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: And we sent him one.

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: [Laughs] But that’s the way they used to do it in the old days.

SMITH: Yeah, it was depending on who you knew.

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah, But now, the young man, the young man that we got came from the South Side, but he never would have applied on his own. He wa—you know him, too, he was, uh, involved with that new—little newspaper out here

SMITH: Oh, Spencer Lewis.

MARSHALL: Lewis, right. Ah, well, he was involved with that newspaper and he had gone up to Eastern, he dropped out of Eastern, and when I saw him I thought he was a pretty nice boy, least he’s hard-working, and honest


MARSHALL: I don’t know if he’s still out there or not.

SMITH: This is hard to believe but I think um, I was, uh, close to the first or 18:00second black to graduate from Eastern that lived in this area.


SMITH: There were a number, there were many people from Detroit, blacks from Detroit and other areas, but the people right here in Ypsilanti did not take advantage of Eastern at all, and at that time the tuition was $33.50 a semester [laughs] Uh, Theresa Hamilton and I graduated at the same time, and

MARSHALL: [Ofan’s] sister.

SMITH: Yeah. And, and, uh, and, and married Clay, but before that time, there, they, they, they just didn’t go. I don’t know why. They, many, many of them went to Cleary.

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah. Understand. Well, perhaps they saw, they saw more of an immediate future. Uh, uh, the thing I’m thinking is, I talked to one woman who 19:00graduated from Eastern in 1916, but I think that was a one-year certificate. And she says the reason she dropped out was, that, uh, there were no tea—you couldn’t get a job teaching. And her idea was that if you finished, you had to take a job teaching, and you were going to go teaching. Unless you were going down South,

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: to teach, then there wasn’t no point in finishing. So, she still lives here, by the way, and she goes to our church. I’m not going to tell you her name, ’cause, ’cause I haven’t had a chance to run that down yet.

SMITH: I, I’m, I, I, I often wondered about that.

MARSHALL: Uh-huh. Well, now there were some that finished, at least, but now I can’t, I can’t, I, I, you left room for that, you said they weren’t, they are not Ypsilanti people. And she’s the only one from Ypsilanti that I know that finished there.


MARSHALL: The rest of them are down with, [Maude Forbes], and

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: that bunch of people. Neil Block. George Goodman. So, what I know, I 20:00know, uh, I, I guess the, guess Eastern’s, Eastern’s tuition was $33 a semester, but it was still a hotbed of prejudice.

SMITH: Y’know, I don’t know about that. Y’know, um, when I started at Eastern, um, I walked in, and entered the library program, there never had been a black in that program,

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

SMITH: and I don’t know if it was my ignorance or what, but my father and I [and all guides] had always chosen the classes I was going to take and et cetera,

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

SMITH: and I, even as a junior,


SMITH: and I did not bother sending an application to the school of library science. I walked in and at that time the librarian’s name was Miss Andrews, 21:00and I walked in and I announced the classes that I was going to take.

MARSHALL: Mm. Mm-hmm.

SMITH: And I don’t know if it was through surprise or whatever but, ah, they permitted me to enter the school of library science, so,


SMITH: there I was. Um, at that time there were lots of people from, from other cities and places that came to Eastern but I presume like any place else at that time, there were prejudice.

MARSHALL: Mm. Now what year, what year was that?

SMITH: I, eh, I, I, um, I, I, came, um, in ’44, let’s see, ’44 through ’46 I was at Eastern.


SMITH: At that time Michigan State Normal College.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Uh-huh, uh-huh. Well, uh, I guess what I was doing was echoing, 22:00I, I, I guess, the echoing that I was giving was a reflection of what some people have felt, even though they may not have been in a position to know.

SMITH: I, I, maybe I feel about prejudice uh, a little bit different than a lot of people, uh, I think confidence in yourself


SMITH: and your ability and the ease in which you go into something reflects more on how you feel about prejudice, and when you go into a sit—situation with confidence and not looking for prejudice, if you look for prejudice you gonna find it

MARSHALL: Yeah, right.

SMITH: but if, if you, to my idea, if, if, if you don’t go in worrying about 23:00who’s going to be prejudiced I don’t think you’ll find that it’s there.

MARSHALL: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

SMITH: Now maybe one thing about it was in most of the classes that I took, uh, except something like government or, or, or literature class, I was the only black in it, so they didn’t have to worry about me.

MARSHALL: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Were there, why did you get out of the library area?

SMITH: [Sighs] Well, in Detroit, in the late ’60s, in the early ’70s, the school system underwent a radical change. At that time, discipline uh, was almost non-existent. Uh, and it became such a, a mental uh, state for me that I 24:00dreaded going to work. And as I say at that time, since ’55 I had been, um, involved in real estate and, um, I, when I moved to Ypsi I got my broker’s license, at that time I thought I would get filthy rich under the urban renewal program. And Mrs. [Dorothy] sued the city and knocked that out. Ah, so I continued to teach. And then, when, um, when I knew that there was a, a housing complex going to be built I uh, took steps to get out of the teaching field and do something else.


SMITH: And fortunately, um, I, I figured that with a guaranteed salary plus 25:00anything I might make in real estate, it would compensate me, and that’s how I got here [laughs].

MARSHALL: [Laughs] Well, I think that’s, that’s good thinking, definitely good thinking. Were you, uh, you, you said you’re a member of some of the [city uns].

SMITH: I, I wa—

MARSHALL: Were you involved in any other

SMITH: No, I was not.

MARSHALL: Were you ever involved in any of the political machinations [that is to say] in the, in the election of, uh, of any of these people we’re talking about?

SMITH: No, as I say, um, I wasn’t here.

MARSHALL: No, I’m talking about the ’60s, now.

SMITH: in the ’60s

MARSHALL: [no ma’am, in] the ’60s was when you elected your first mayor.

SMITH: No, I was not—my father was always the political activist,


SMITH: and I was not involved in it myself

MARSHALL: Now I think, why, see, in ’67 when John Burton was elected mayor, that’s the first black mayor in the state of Michigan.

SMITH: Yes, he held a unique position, I think there were only about two or 26:00three in the country at that time.

MARSHALL: Well, of, of, of, of, of white, uh, of, of predominately white towns.


MARSHALL: I always have to make that, thing we call. There were a lot of black towns [it were]

SMITH: Oh yes.

MARSHALL: There always traditionally have been black mayors. Uh, now we have a book, we have a book that came out on several years ago on black mayors, and in there you get some who’ve been, who black, some black mayors going back into the early 1900s. But predominately, they came in the ’60s, ’60s, uh, particularly. But he was the first in Michigan, not the first in the United States, in a, in a similar situation. Um, well, I guess the, the, the, um, thing, that I want to get at is how you view this changing scene, for example, 27:00the talk I gave yesterday had to do with entreper—entrepreneurship among Afro-Americans and after giving a, a trace of its, uh, development in the city, uh, the first being in 1838 and that was a barber shop and, of course, ending with uh, ending with Johnny Barfield and Williams and a few other people who are currently in business downtown. What do you see as the possibilities for blacks in this area?

SMITH: I think the sky is the limit. I am not real optimistic unless the average young man changes.



SMITH: Well, I am more concerned about the achievement of black men than I am about the achievement of black women, because I like to feel that someday uh, black manhood will ca—oh, I’m sorry will catch up wit—here, I, I’ll make it,

MARSHALL: Sit down.

SMITH: catch up with black womanhood in the Ypsilanti area

MARSHALL: Well, yeah, I guess that, I would say the same thing all over [laughs].

SMITH: Well, it, it disturbs me that you can’t find a young black man in just, in going into business or in taking a, a management course or in taking ah, business administration or, or preparing himself for any type of, of area in 29:00which he can, y’know,

MARSHALL: Yeah, I know.

SMITH: Achieve.


SMITH: And, and I find, now, for example, even before I knew there was going to be a hotel over there in our still, every young man I see tell, go get you some courses in hotel management, there’s going to be some job opportunities, and you know what’s going to happen if that place opens next year and they say they’ve already committed four black administrative positions, in Ypsilanti we don’t have a single black to qualify for any of those, and they’ve already have a year or two to prepare themselves, they will have another year or two and there isn’t going to be one

MARSHALL: What do you, what do you, uh, hold responsible for that? Is there any, any particular thing—


SMITH: I wish I knew, because my son is in the same boat.

MARSHALL: Well, you don’t seem to have any trouble, your daughter seems to have a lot of drive.

SMITH: I told you I wasn’t worried of black, black women. I don’t understand it. And, and, and almost every young man that I run into I try to talk to him about preparing himself for anything, and it, those I know that go to Washtenaw, it take them six years to do two years of work and when they get through, they’re not prepared to do anything, unless there’s something I don't know about.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Well, I, I have to agree with you, I guess the thing that I’m, I’m really after is, um, what,

SMITH: what history?

MARSHALL: what’s, what, what, what, what there, what is there, what, what 31:00causes it, what is there that seemingly in some families there seems to be an orientation towards preparation towards success and in other families it, it seems to be the dead end.

SMITH: I, no,

MARSHALL: And, and, and I guess the thing that my wife and I discuss all the time, is why is it so prevalent among successful black families, particularly you take a, well, a family like mine for example, where I am the first-generation college graduate. Okay. My daughter graduated from college, ah, the next generation is likely not to do so, according to, according to well, it happens, yeah, in, in so many cases, what is the reason for that, what is the right way, and I mean, you don’t have to look around you, at people even here

SMITH: Mm-hmm. I don’t know the answer, because if anybody had told me that 32:00my son would not have graduated from college I would have told them they were crazy.


SMITH: He was brilliant, now he rate, when he went up in the 98 percentile, all that kind


SMITH: of stuff. But, and, I thought I was doing him a favor sending him south to a black college, because I wanted that exposure to him, because I felt, one, although I wasn’t at Lincoln very long, ah, it was a very, ah, big part, seasoning part of my life,


SMITH: ah, because up to that time, ah, when I was going to school in northern Michigan there were, I was either the only or the one of two blacks in a predominately Polish town,


MARSHALL: Oh, mm-hmm [laughs].

SMITH: Ah, and so, ah my, my life was not typical,

MARSHALL: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

SMITH: and I thought by sending Harry to a black college that I was going to expose him to all—

MARSHALL: Where’d he go?

SMITH: He went to Clark.

MARSHALL: Oh, mm-hmm.

SMITH: I was going to expose him to all of these educated black men and he would be inspired and et cetera. He found a wife [laughs]

MARSHALL: What does he do now?

SMITH: He is a car salesman for Ann Arbor Volvo.


SMITH: He’s doing very nicely.

MARSHALL: Perhaps that’s part of, part of, part of what the, what the problem is.

SMITH: There’s no problem, really, except that, um,

MARSHALL: Well, I mean, the problem insofar as doing what you want him to do.

SMITH: Oh, yeah.

MARSHALL: I mean, I, I, I, what I’m getting at here is, is, uh, if they do 34:00well in something which makes few demands on them

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: then this tends to, it tends, many times they tend to be satisfied and put off on—only under pressure do many people go on and I really wonder this about myself for example, uh, uh, I think I probably went to college to escape the Depression

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: Uh, I had been washing dishes and shining shoes and mopping floors, and I think I went to college to escape that, but now if I had been in an environment where I was making Ford employee money I don’t know what I would have done. Because you see there was a different kind of a, a different kind of a thing, and, and, and, especially in a family where, well, my mother was not a college graduate, so she couldn’t expose me to what college graduate—graduation meant,

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

MARSHALL: now in your case you had a father who had, but in my case, my mother 35:00had a third-grade education. All she could say is “I want you to do better than me,” but she couldn’t tell me how to do it.

SMITH: I know what you mean.

MARSHALL: See what I’m saying? There are different motivations that enter in, and I think I see in this particular area I see the, the fact that blacks could go into Ford Motor Company and to General Motors and get I guess jobs that are hard-working and all that, but they paid good money. And, and one thing about most people they don’t mind working. Not, not many of these people are going to be a Gene Beatty. Gene Beatty said that was the reason he went to college, to get out of Ford’s. And you find a few people like that, but the majority of them are perfectly happy

SMITH: [think they know]

MARSHALL: And especially if you look around at some, some, some of my friends, see, I got a friend in Brown Chapel for example, who, whose, why, she has three years of college. Her husband works at Ford and he can hardly write his name, 36:00but he makes a lot more money than she makes.

SMITH: I know. My d—my sister makes more money than I make.

MARSHALL: Okay. Well, look at the, then look at the, look at how the child looks at that. Do you see my point? I mean, unless he happens to be somebody who is basically lazy, and figures, well, I’m not going to go out and do all that hard work, or, he looks at it and say, well, I’ve got my goals set on being an engineer or something like that, and he goes for that because he knows that’s going to be satisfying if it’s just a matter of how much money am I going to work, make in my life, and I’m having a lot of fun now, and should I forego having my fun, and all this, without leaving my friends and then they end up staying where they are, but it doesn’t mean the same to him as it would have meant to me.

SMITH: Well, I, I think that, that, here, you're right, that the money is a factor, and of course, these hard times, and no jobs, might turn a few people around


MARSHALL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

SMITH: uh, if, if, if that’s the case, but it’s sad when you think of it, because I have always felt that Ypsilanti was a wonderful opportunity

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

SMITH: I don’t believe anything is stopping anyone from being anything in Ypsilanti.

MARSHALL: Do you by, by any chance do you know this Williams guy that, uh, sells cars?

SMITH: Yes, I know John.

MARSHALL: Johnny. Is Johnny a college graduate, or high school?

SMITH: No. He, he’s, uh, I’m not even sure I think he did, but I’m not even sure that he graduated from high school.

MARSHALL: He said he graduated from high school.

SMITH: Well, well, he possibly did, but I think as soon as you know, he was from a, a large family and very poor, and the father died and was ill for a long time, his father was ill for a long time.


SMITH: Uh, and, uh, uh, I think Johnny went into the service right after



SMITH: his graduation, and stayed there for a number of years, I’m, I’m not sure how many, but for a number of years he stayed in the service, and when he came back he seemed to have a gift of gab,


SMITH: uh, and has done very well.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Well, it’s always interesting to me, because, and now, and now, see, I didn’t know all that about Johnny, but Johnny is very much concerned about the attitudes of young people,

SMITH: Well, he would be, as I say, there, there were, I would say at least ten or eleven of those children,

MARSHALL: Yeah, mm-hmm.

SMITH: uh, and, uh, the, the father ah, was ill and did hand-printing


SMITH: and that was just about their source of income, was, was, printing the bulletins and so forth


SMITH: for the church.


SMITH: So they, they saw real hard times.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Well, Johnny is very much interested in, in trying to adopt the, the young people to stay in school, trying to open, trying to show them the 39:00different kinds of occupations for which they should prepare themselves, you know, I guess it’s, uh, and this has nothing—


0:00 - The Washingtons come to Michigan

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Partial Transcript: SMITH: Smith.

MARSHALL: Smith. What other name do you have?

SMITH: [another name?]

MARSHALL: Do you have another name? Do you have a—

SMITH: Maxine?

MARSHALL: Maxine? Ometha Maxine or Maxine Ometha?

SMITH: Ometha Maxine.

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Smith answers the questions of A.P. Marshall about her father, Ypsilanti political leader and businessman Amos Washington. The two discuss the early years of Amos Washington's life in Michigan after coming here from Oklahoma during the years of the Great Migration.

Keywords: A.P. Marshall; African-American housing in Ypsilanti; African-Americans in the CCC; American Legion Post 408; Amos Spencer Washington; Benny Edwards; Beverly Washington James; Civilian Conservation Corp; Dr. Perry; Ford Motor Company; Frank Seymour; Great Migration to Ypsilanti; Harriet Street; John H. Burton; Lena Anderson; Lincoln University; Mertice Stinson; Oklahoma; Ometha Maxine Washington; Ruth Marshall; South Hamilton Street; University of Michigan; Washington Brothers Grocery; Worden Street; Ypsilanti Board of Education; Ypsilanti City Council; Ypsilanti Housing Commission; Ypsilanti Housing Director; Ypsilanti, Michigan

Subjects: African American families. African American business enterprises. African Americans--Politics and government.

Hyperlink: August 1, 1947 article on Ometha's enrollment and what is now Eastern Michigan University.

8:20 - Thoughts on the Civil Rights era

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: ’67. Then, then you, uh, of course, through your, through your father then you were here doing very, a, a period of active, uh, I guess progress, and black participation in the community.

SMITH: Actually I was not here, um, I was away in school, and to actually live in Ypsilanti,

Segment Synopsis: Mr. Marshall and Ometha M. Smith discuss her thoughts on segregation in Ypsilanti, the difficulty in getting housing and the racial atmosphere of the city in the post-Civil Rights era.

Keywords: African-American bank tellers; African-American employment in Ypsilanti; African-American real estate agents; Amos Washington; Cleary College; desegregation in Ypsilanti; Eastern Michigan University; Eugene Beatty; Gene Butman; Herbert Francois; John H Fox; John Richardson; Leo Clark; Mary Clay; Maude Forbes; Michigan Avenue segregation; Ometha M Smith; Spencer Lewis; Theresa Hamilton; Urban Renewal Program; Vanzetti Hamilton; Ypsilanti Business and Professional League; Ypsilanti Savings Bank; Ypsilanti, Michigan

Subjects: Segregation--Michigan--Ypsilanti--History. Discrimination in housing. African Americans--Employment.

Hyperlink: April 24, 1956 Ann Arbor News article on Amos Washington.

20:18 - Going to Eastern and getting work

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Partial Transcript: SMITH: Y’know, I don’t know about that. Y’know, um, when I started at Eastern, um, I walked in, and entered the library program, there never had been a black in that program,

MARSHALL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Smith discusses her education and getting a job with the Detroit Public Schools. She discusses returning to Ypsilanti to get her real estate license to take advantage of the Urban Renewal Program proposed for the city.

Keywords: African-Americans at Eastern Michigan University; Black mayors; Detroit Public Schools; Eastern Michigan University; John H. Burton; Mattie Dorsey; Michigan State Normal College; Miss Andrews; School of Library Science; Urban Renewal Program in Ypsilanti

Subjects: Eastern Michigan University. Library science. African Americans--Politics and government.

Hyperlink: 1961 Ann Arbor News article on the debate over Urban Renewal in Ypsilanti.

27:01 - Looking to the future

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: Um, well, I guess the, the, the, um, thing, that I want to get at is how you view this changing scene, for example, the talk I gave yesterday had to do with entreper—entrepreneurship among Afro-Americans and after giving a, a trace of its, uh, development in the city, uh, the first being in 1838 and that was a barber shop and, of course, ending with uh, ending with Johnny Barfield and Williams and a few other people who are currently in business downtown. What do you see as the possibilities for blacks in this area?

SMITH: I think the sky is the limit. I am not real optimistic unless the average young man changes.

Segment Synopsis: Mr. Marshall and Mrs. Smith discusses the future of Black Ypsilanti and their opinion on the need for young people to take advantage of opportunities by acquiring the skills to necessary for upward mobility.

Keywords: African-American businesses; African-American education; African-American Ypsilanti; Brown Chapel AME; Class mobility among African-Americans; Ford Motor Company; John Barfield

Subjects: Intergenerational relations. African American families. African Americans--Employment.

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