INGRAM: We're with Dr. Phillip Wells, a, uh, recent retiree from EasternMichigan University and professor. Uh, Dr. Wells, wh- where were you raised at?
WELLS: Uh, I was born in Wilmington, North Carolina and I grew up out in thecountry in Sampson County.
INGRAM: What year?
WELLS: I was born in 1915.
INGRAM: Okay, um-
WELLS: 26th of May.
INGRAM: 26th of May? What are the names of your parents?
WELLS: I'm the son of Mary Wells.
INGRAM: Your father's name?
WELLS: That's the part I regret to tell you I wanted to leave part of-
[TAPE STOPPED AND RESTARTED]
INGRAM: Could you, uh, provide me, uh, some information with your educational background?
WELLS: Well, I went to elementary school at Willard, North Carolina, high schoolat Burgaw, North Carolina.
WELLS: That's it. I graduated from Hampton Institute, received the master's and1:00doctorate degree from University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
INGRAM: What areas?
WELLS: I, um, my undergraduate degree was in [ ] education with majors inEnglish and Social Foundations.
INGRAM: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
WELLS: My master's degree was as a teacher of English.
INGRAM: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
WELLS: My doctorate was as Director of Teacher Education.
INGRAM: Okay. What are the names of your brothers and sisters, or do you haveany brothers and sisters?
WELLS: I have no brothers or sisters.
INGRAM: Okay. When did you first arrive in Ypsilanti?
WELLS: September 1959.
INGRAM: Why did you come to Ypsilanti?
WELLS: Well, for a number of reasons, primarily because, uh, Miss [MariettaQuick], the Director, or rather the Placement College Teacher at the University of Pennsylvania, was looking for some blacks to take jobs in schools that didn't 2:00have any black faculty members. And when the opening came at Eastern she contacted me and asked me if I would apply for it.
INGRAM: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. So how long have you been a resident at Ypsilanti?
WELLS: Since September 1959.
INGRAM: Since 1959. That's fascinating. What I'd like to ask you specifically isa variety of questions, like what have been some of your observations about black life in Ypsilanti since you've been here? Uh, and especially in, uh, three areas primarily, education, uh, socially and, and, uh, in terms of the black leadership. So I'll be more specifically, specific when I talk about the black leader aspect, but in terms of race relations would you consider Ypsilanti to have been a conservative or a liberal community? What are some of your observations?
WELLS: Well, I would consider when I came here Ypsilanti was not only3:00conservative but s-, uh in a way reactionary.
INGRAM: How do you mean? Explain.
WELLS: I mean that for example, all black teachers were in one school in thepublic schools. All of the black teachers were at Yp- at Yp- at Perry School and the ones who went into other schools, 'cause there was only one other that had black teach elementary level, they first had to prove themselves at Perry before they were commit- before they were transferred to teach in schools where they had white kids. I brought this up with the acting superintendent of schools and he said he thought that was a good idea.
INGRAM: How did you feel about it? What did-
WELLS: Well, I bawled him out for saying it. As a matter of fact, he was rathershocked because he knew me and, uh, we'd never had any [ ] contact before. But that was at the time that I decided that something had to be done about segregation and discrimination in Ypsilanti Public Schools.
INGRAM: So it was pretty rampant then, eh?
WELLS: Yes. I felt that, you know, no one...People talked about it, but no one4:00wanted to take the lead in trying to bring about any change.
INGRAM: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
INGRAM: All right.
WELLS: So I joined NAACP and [laughter] took over the leadership of theeducation chairman-
WELLS: ...and got things started.
INGRAM: Your observation on segregation in the public school system, did youalso find it to be so at Eastern? And what were your observations, uh, about Eastern upon first arriving, your experiences there of?
WELLS: Well, it was interesting. When I came, uh, apparently they had not beenable to decide on anyone for this position during this summer. So I came up for an interview and I guess my interview was successful. They offered me the job. At the time they told me that 5% of the student body at Eastern was black. Uh, Eastern had a little less than 5,000 students and if, uh, 5% was black they had 'em hidden. I couldn't find them, but I was the only black faculty member. No, 5:00no black had been able to get tenure before then apparently.
WELLS: So I more or less told them if I came I'd stay as long as I wanted to andif they didn't want me to not to hire me.
INGRAM: What do you see as some of the reasons why no black had been able toacquire tenure?
WELLS: I think it was, uh, attitude of the...It must have been the attitude ofthe administration, and particularly in the departments. Um, one department had told me that he, after I came, that he was interested in finding a, well to use his words, a colored person who had a doctorate degree, because they were afraid to hire one with less than that because if he didn't get any pr- advancement he would say it was because of his color when actually it would be because-
WELLS: ...of their regulations. Then, uh, as I said when I came, I came with theunderstanding that if I accepted a job as an assistant professor I'd be promoted 6:00in two years, which happened right on schedule.
INGRAM: How long did this kind of, uh, particular treatment continue and, andwhat time did it begin to get better in terms of improvement from your perspective?
WELLS: Well, [sighs] of course I personally didn't have any problem in terms ofdiscrimination and so forth. As a matter of fact if I asked for advice they were [ ] [laughs] to give it. Maybe because I'm not the most convivial person in the world. From 1959 to 1964 I was the only black on the faculty.
INGRAM: What college were you in?
WELLS: College of Education. And in '64 I persuaded Dr. Lamar Miller to apply.And he was hired by the College of Education in that same year, I believe, that Dr. Buchanan, who was a doctorate student at University of Michigan, came to the speech department. 7:00
INGRAM: Hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Could you, uh, try and give me a chronology or anoverview in terms, uh, things as they were versus, uh, how things got better? You know, or did things get better, in fact?
WELLS: Oh, boy. That's a hard one to answer. I supposed that, uh, after Buchananand Miller came we began to make some impact, but I think the real beginning for change probably didn't come until, well into, further into the '60s, uh, when the stu- we had the stu- black students sit in at Eastern. I called the black faculty what the ... It had increased then to where there were perhaps five faculty members and a number of people in other positions.
INGRAM: Do you remember the names of those five faculty members?
WELLS: Oh, boy. Let's see. There was Lamar Miller, Buchanan, I can't think of8:00his first name, Buchanan, Rosetta Hughes, uh, somebody in sociology.
INGRAM: Uh, Leroy Watts.
WELLS: Leroy Watts. And, uh, [ ]. I guess that was about it.
WELLS: There may have been one more. Anyway, I ca-
INGRAM: What, what about music department? Uh, a black guy in music?
WELLS: Well, he hadn't gotten-
WELLS: I don't think he got here yet.
INGRAM: Oh. Oscar Henry hadn't gotten there yet.
WELLS: No. He came right after that or right about that time.
WELLS: But anyway, we, I called the black faculty together and we organized aBlack Faculty Association.
WELLS: And Henry became a member of that right after that.
WELLS: Uh, and then we pushed, of course, for more faculty. We also took on someof the problems, took on the problems that the students had and we met with the president. But by that time we did have another president, Sponberg was here, 9:00and, uh, he was b- he was more open to discussion and so forth than the previous president had been.
INGRAM: What was the name of the previous president?
WELLS: I was hoping you wouldn't ask me that [laughs]. He was the president whenI came and to save me I can't think of his name.
WELLS: Uh, he was a former state superintendent of school and the, and been withthe Republican party.
INGRAM: Okay, yeah.
WELLS: But, uh, anyway, uh, that point is we began to req-, uh, ask for more andmore black participation and we, and so forth. We began to get more and more blacks.
INGRAM: In terms of, in terms of promoting social change in the campuses, wereyou, and if you were, what kind of the social changes were you able to promote and get, and get it enacted as part of [ ].
WELLS: Social changes?
WELLS: Oh, that's a difficult, that's a difficult one.
INGRAM: Well, educational changes.
WELLS: Because [ ]...I suppose, see, I was on a number of committees and, uh, I10:00was one of the presidents of the representative council, Chairman of Representative Council of the College of Education. Uh, I worked with the, uh-
WELLS: ...fac-, I mean the faculty ... What was it? Faculty-
WELLS: I have it down here. No, it had to do with fraternities and s- on thecampus. I worked with that group. I think the, the most difficult, one of the most difficult problems we had, and it's been true of blacks on many campuses in this country with the matter of promotions-
WELLS: I, um, as I said I came with the com- the commitment that I would getpromoted to Associate Professor, which happened in '61. But then when I applied for the, for a full professorship, they found any number of reasons why they would not, uh, promote me. And, uh, that was about the same time that I was involved in trying to do something about the situation in the public schools. 11:00And so I finally talked with the Dean and I told him I'd been busy, you know, working for the kids and so forth. This was in spring of '67, but I was ready to start working for myself. And I also informed him that if I didn't get a promotion that I would not take it lying down and et cetera, et cetera, that he would have a fight on his hands. So he turned me down again and I appealed it and during the course of the discussion they decided that perhaps it would be more expedient to give me the final promotion then to not. And of course, to show one of the ways things had changed, when, uh, Dr. Henry came, he came as a full professor.
INGRAM: Oscar Henry?
WELLS: But Oscar came, it must have been '68, or fall of '67, 'cause I had mypromotion before he came.
WELLS: He came either that year or the following year. I'm not sure exactly which.
WELLS: I could look it up but you can get that.
INGRAM: Mm-hmm. Also, um, what have, have been, uh, over a long time period,some of your observations, uh, in regard to black leadership in Ypsilanti, say over, uh, since 1959 versus today in terms of progress? Could you provide me with the names of perhaps, uh, some of the black leaders or community leaders back then and what you saw them doing or what the community was into versus today?
WELLS: Well, I, I guess that when I came here the really strong community leaderwas John Burton, who was involved, of course, in the city government.
INGRAM: Who was he?
WELLS: At that time he was a member of the city council. He was the only blackmember of city council. He was not the first, but he was the only one at that time. And, uh, he also became the first mayor of Ypsilanti. 13:00
INGRAM: First black mayor?
WELLS: First black mayor.
WELLS: There was some considerable, uh, commotion in connection with this, uh-
WELLS: We went down at the NAACP and others to council meetings and, and ofcourse their argument then was that the city of Ypsilanti was not ready for a black mayor. And of course, John told them that was hogwash.
WELLS: Of course, [laughs] he put it a little more positive than that.
WELLS: So the next time around they did elect him mayor and of course, in thefield of education it was, uh, Amos Washington, who had been a former city council member and who at that time was in charge of the city housing.
WELLS: And, uh, was also a member of the school board. He was the only blackmember of the school board, and he was a very good man, but not a fighter.
INGRAM: Okay, Amos?
WELLS: Amos Washington. And he would tell you, you know, he would tell you that14:00that's not my bag. So when I started to fight with the school [laughs] board, I got, you know, I got information in advance about what was planned for him. He's not living now so I can say this [laughs].
WELLS: He would let me know in advance what was coming up, so when I went to theboard meeting I knew exactly where to get started. And we had some very strong confrontations. This is-
INGRAM: School board.
WELLS: ...school board. When I say we, and I'm going to say this-
WELLS: ...it started out with three of us going to the school board. ReverendSmith who was president NAACP, myself, and my wife.
INGRAM: Smith was the, a minister you say? Of what church?
WELLS: He was just a priest.
INGRAM: Oh, a preacher.
WELLS: He was not a pastor [laughs].
INGRAM: What was his first name?
INGRAM: Reverend Bennie Smith.
WELLS: Reverend Bennie Smith.
WELLS: You might want to talk with him.
INGRAM: Is he alive today?
WELLS: Yeah, he's around here now.
WELLS: You might want to talk with him. And, uh, wouldn't anybody else touch ituntil we started making some progress. Then other people got involved. The main 15:00group of black leaders at that time, of course, was the Business and Professional League.
INGRAM: What year was this?
WELLS: This was in '59. Well, this is in '60s that we, that I was talking aboutthe school thing.
INGRAM: Ypsilanti Business and Professional League?
INGRAM: It's been in operation that, that long?
WELLS: Oh, they were in operation when I came here.
INGRAM: Oh, really.
WELLS: And I joined.
WELLS: And I quit.
INGRAM: Okay, why did you resign?
WELLS: Uh, I felt that, uh, we were doing lots of discussing and no acting.
INGRAM: Alright. So in other words they were passive leadership, group?
WELLS: Yeah. And we’d, although we'd have some people on there whoindividually were very strong like Dr. Bass.
WELLS: See, Thomas Bass [laughs] was really something. Uh, he was the kind who'dmake the people, Chamber of Commerce come to him to get his dues. [Laughs]. He was, he was sending down. You know, he's that kind of per-, but with the League itself- 16:00
WELLS: ...and so I quit and we organized Emanon Club.
INGRAM: What, what, is that, that's a acronym, isn't it?
INGRAM: Emanon Club?
WELLS: No Name.
INGRAM: No name?
INGRAM: Just No Name Club?
WELLS: Yeah. Emanon is No Name backwards.
INGRAM: Oh. Oh, okay. Okay. Oh, okay.
WELLS: And so we organized the Emanon Club because we wanted more action, andnot just we ... We started out doing lots of things. For example, for, when, uh, Ypsilanti was, uh...All the election was on the city-wide basis. The Emanon Club practically picked and got elected all of the black council members after John Burton.
INGRAM: Who were the members of the Emanon Club?
INGRAM: They were separate from the Ypsilanti Business and Professional League, right?
WELLS: Yes. Some people had membership in both and still do, like VanzettiHamilton has-
WELLS: ...a membership in both.
WELLS: A number of our members, of course, original members have gone.
INGRAM: Why was there need to form the Emanon Club?
WELLS: 'Cause we felt we needed a group of people who, uh, had not already made17:00their drive and lost.
INGRAM: What do you mean?
WELLS: Let's see if you can follow me. For example, I understand some time inthe past before I came here there'd been a move to end discrimination in the public schools. It had fallen through, and, uh, these people more or less were not ready to try again. There's sort of, I think they had sort of a defeatist attitude. They, they organized as the, supposedly the black equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce.
INGRAM: The Emanon Club?
WELLS: Business Professionals.
INGRAM: Oh, Business Professional League, yeah.
WELLS: And so we felt, there were many of us who felt that, uh, maybe they werenot direct enough. Maybe they were not really getting out trying to bring about change.
INGRAM: How come you didn't seek to promote change through the NAACP? What, theEmanon Club was separate from-
WELLS: I was working with both of them.
INGRAM: Okay. So how, how...Was the Emanon Club more radical then than NAACPtoo, more militant or what?
WELLS: Well, when I first came here the NAACP had practically gone out of business.18:00
WELLS: No, really. It was, uh, re-start, it was started again by MargueriteEaglin and, uh, Herb Francois, and I got in on this, too. And so I was with the, for a while I was with all three groups and finally I dropped out of the Professional League.
WELLS: But, uh, at that time at the NAACP we were working primarily on housingand employment.
WELLS: We were doing nothing in the area of education. Housing and employment.And this was a real problem.
INGRAM: Who was-
WELLS: We would take- We would take people down to take the test for a job andthen we'd be told that they didn't pass the test. And we asked what the passing score was and what this kid's test scores were and it was privileged information. So we could never find out what passing was or what the scores were. A couple of people went out of, a couple of places went out of business rather than to have to deal with this at that time.
INGRAM: Who were some of the community leaders during this time period? [ ]19:00
WELLS: Oh, I-
INGRAM: [Laughs] '74.
WELLS: Well, I mentioned Dr. Bass. I would say he was.
WELLS: Herb Francois.
WELLS: Marguerite Eaglin. Uh, well, I mentioned Amos Washington. Ooh, VanzettiHamilton. I guess among the young people one of the most effective was Reverend Roberson.
INGRAM: Which one, S.L. or Garther?
WELLS: Garther was not a minister then.
WELLS: Uh, S.L. was effective at long, up through the teens. After that hetended to lose them. Well-
INGRAM: I'm sorry. Explain that better for me.
WELLS: [Sighs] Well, you see, S.L., and I'm saying this, I don't know how youcan use it, is a high school graduate.
WELLS: When these kids got up and went to college and finished high school and20:00came back, they became a little bit intolerant of his inability to express himself, his old fashioned method of approach and so forth. This is what I ... It was not, uh, anything that was wrong with him. It was just that he was not prepared to handle them in this period of transition. Some of them came back later on, but, uh, he tended to lose them at that point. And of course, I worked with him, uh, for a period of time. I put in a Christian Education program at his church. I reorganized the financial program at his church and then he decided he wanted to tell me how to live, so I left. [Laughs] Neither preacher, teacher, or anyone else can tell me how to live. He couldn't understand that, and I would help him. And I've helped [ ]. I'll help them on my time, not theirs.
INGRAM: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
WELLS: And that they would not impose theirs on. It causes some problems, but21:00it's worth it.
INGRAM: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
WELLS: I don't know whether I'm giving you the kind of answers you want or not.
INGRAM: Sure, sure. I want, I want your answers.
INGRAM: You know, your feelings.
WELLS: And, uh, of course on the campus...Going back to the campus again. Thereal problem in discrimination, except for salary and promotion, the real problem is students. Uh, when Eastern started growing, they grew so fast they could be very selective in terms of students they admitted. And at one time the grade requirements for admission to Eastern was higher than it was at the University of Michigan.
INGRAM: What year was this?
WELLS: Oh, this was, uh, mmm, I would say in the late '60s and, uh, on into the '70s.22:00
INGRAM: You said that the admissions requirement at Eastern was higher than thatat Michigan. Why was that? What are your observations?
WELLS: The, uh, the, well...It was that Eastern was getting so many applicationsand they didn't have the facilities, so they were able to pick and choose. For example, anyone with a B average was admitted, less than a B average, say C plus, they had to be admitted, they were admitted by, uh, examination.
INGRAM: By examination.
WELLS: Uh-huh. So this was when we had, we made a very strong push for blackstudents, for many black students coming out of high school, because of lack of motivation or whatever. There's no relation between the grades they made in high school and their potential. We finally got the agreement that for, how was it, four semesters they would not be dropped. Give them a chance to [laughs]...
INGRAM: Oh, that's interesting. That's interesting. What have been some of yourobservations, um, of the problems that were facing the black community in 23:00Ypsilanti? How did, how did, what was your perception of the black community at Ypsilanti? How did you see the problems besetting it and, and-
WELLS: I, I felt that the black community in Ypsilanti, when I came here, wasrather complacent. Uh, they had their own school. They wanted their own school. Uh, they didn't realize what was happening to the kids there when they went to junior high, the conflict. For two groups who had been separated up until, you know, [laughs] teenage and then brought, suddenly brought together and, you know...For example, East Junior High, it was awful. The kids, the black kids sometimes white kids say hi. They say, "What the hell you speaking to me for?" You know.
INGRAM: So you're saying that blacks attended Perry and whites attended EastJunior High.
WELLS: No. What I'm saying is the blacks attended Perry but they did not come incontact with whites-
WELLS: ...until after they graduated from Perry School, many of them just rightover there in the south side. Then they went to East Junior High where they were brought together with white students, who had come from schools where there were 24:00no blacks.
INGRAM: Where, and when they got out of junior high school where did, whatschool did they go to?
WELLS: They all went...Let's see. The blacks and whites both separately,uh...integration began at junior high.
INGRAM: Okay. Okay.
WELLS: And this is where the problem was.
INGRAM: All right.
WELLS: When the white student and the black student first met.
INGRAM: I got you.
WELLS: 'Cause each one had his own group, his own cliques, his own everything.
WELLS: And now here we are, two sets of values and there so forth, and they ranhead into each other. At, uh, West Junior High was not as bad because, uh, Chapelle School was integrated. But East Junior High was a completely new, almost completely new association. Uh, housing, one member of city council made the statement when, uh, Project 65, I guess it was, which was headed by Doug Harris, who was also, I guess we put in community leaders group.
INGRAM: What was Project 60, 65?
WELLS: Project 65 was a project in which that group over there had decided they25:00were going to bring about certain changes in Ypsilanti during the year of 1965.
INGRAM: And who was Doug Harris at this time?
WELLS: At this time? At this time he was Vice Mayor of the City of Ypsilanti. Imean, not Vice Mayor, whatever they had then.
INGRAM: Was he a council man?
WELLS: Not at that time.
WELLS: And, um, Project 65 was saying that they needed more public housing-
WELLS: ...but not on the south side of the, of Michigan Avenue. That, uh, theyneeded to spread it out in the rest of the city. And one member of city council at that time made the statement that if blacks tried to move north of Michigan Avenue the streets would run red with blood.
INGRAM: One white council man made that statement?
WELLS: Mm-hmm. He was also a member of [laughs] Ford Motor Company and theyshipped, they immediately shipped him to California.
INGRAM: What was his name?
WELLS: I'm trying to think of his name. I don't remember his name. That, this is26:00quite a while ago back in the '60s. And they shipped him to California. Uh, but anyway, there was this attempt to contain blacks.
WELLS: And the funny thing about it was there were people who got upset whenblacks moved out of that area. Like for example, when I bought a house in '64, I bought a house on, uh, Summit Street, and a lot of people got really upset about that.
INGRAM: Where is that house located?
WELLS: Uh, you know where the tower is, the water tower, and you look to theleft there going toward Michigan Avenue, to the left you got these brick apartment houses?
INGRAM: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
WELLS: The next house was mine.
INGRAM: Oh, okay.
WELLS: ...North Summit Street. And I also understand that the people in thecommunity there got upset, which I didn't know. It was a long time before I knew it.
WELLS: Because as I said, no one said anything to me. The only thing I heard was27:00when, uh, the day that I was getting ready to move in. I bought it, bought the house from Mel [Sudd], who was a member of the faculty, taught at Roosevelt High School and Mel was, elementary school, and Mel was getting ready to accept a principal job in Massachusetts. And he told me he heard I wanted to buy a house. And he said [ ]. Well, I had to have a house so I was ready to push for it. So I bought it, and the day before I was to move actually he was all upset and he said, "Phil, I have this need. I need to talk to you." I said, "Well..." He said, "Yeah." He said, uh, "Mrs. Rosa asked me if I was selling my house and I told her yes. So then she asked me who I was selling to. I said I was selling to one of the professors at Eastern. So she was very happy." He said, "The next thing you knew she was out standing out there crying that I thought you had more respect for my property to sell it to a black man." [Laughs]. So I started laughing and Mel said, "You don't mind?" I said, "No." I said, "She was on the 28:00other side of the fence, wasn't she?" I said. He said, "Yeah." “So, she can stay over there and water her lawn all she wants to." I said, "But now, if she come on this side of the fence on my property," I said, "It's going...Or anybody else,
WELLS: it's going to be a different story." But he was surprised. He thought Iwas going to be upset. But you know, when I moved, guess who the first person to welcome me? Mrs. Rosa. She had been the principal of the school on the campus, uh, the one that just closed for the, uh, handicapped. You remember the name of that school?
INGRAM: No, I don't.
WELLS: Well, we had a school, that's where the handicap...We ran the handicapprogram for an intermediate school district and so forth, and trained teachers for special ed.
WELLS: And she had been the principal of that school. Now, let's see if I...Youwere asking about community leaders. I'm trying to think as I was talking.
INGRAM: Mm-hmm. You mentioned-
WELLS: And I'm finding it hard to find any real strong, outstanding leadership except-29:00
INGRAM: What about black ministers and black churches?
WELLS: ...except for A-, except for Amos Washington and, uh, and John Burton.John Burton was a strong one.
INGRAM: Okay. He-
WELLS: Understand he was the first one on the city council. He challenged [ ] onthe outside. [Laughs] Said he was, he was the only one up there, he going to fight all of us. But he learned over the years to be better and he became very effective. And of course, he's a, was a member with International Union, UAW, and on the international bargaining committees. Hot tempered!
INGRAM: What role did the black church play in the community, if any at all?
WELLS: Well, I think that, uh, at that time if the whites wanted to know whatthe black community wanted they tended to go to the black church, to the black ministers. Uh, for example with S.L., judges would go to him.
WELLS: Uh-huh. Like somebody, like a black person was before the court and so30:00forth and they would ask S.L., "You know what kind of person he was and what he thought about?" And all this went into the decision. It was sort of a, uh, r-...The only thing is for many of the people in the black community, S.L. had no idea how they thought. For example, I had some stuff in court and he got involved in that, which was stupid. It was a divorce thing,
WELLS: and he got involved [laughs] and you know, that was stupid. He didn'tknow anything about, you know, my problems, my perception of my problems, how I go deal with my problems, or anything. Well yet, he was up there.
WELLS: Now, but, I mean, this is, this is the kind of role they played. And sofar as bringing about change I think their feeling was that it should be sort of patient, sort of the old fashioned thing. For example, uh, Reverend Robinson- 31:00
INGRAM: First name?
WELLS: Uh, the one from Ann Arbor.
INGRAM: Anthony Robinson.
WELLS: ...and I and another pastor was at a meeting of the Ministerial Arts. Ihad been invited to talk to them about NAACP and they [ ] our colored brother in war. And I told them, "You should know." They said, "That's what everybody say." I said, "Well, sure. You should know. You know what you want, don't you? If you know what you want you know what I want."
INGRAM: Yeah, yeah.
WELLS: I said, "I want to participate in society and I want to help to exercisethe power they..." "Well, you know, you can't delegate power." I said, "Not like that." Well, anyway, Anthony and I really got it going there and Anthony told him, said, "Another thing, we'd been better off if you people just stayed out of our families” [laughs]. He, he got all mad with white m-, whites, you know, messing with black women and, and he said [laughs] people would give him a fit. 32:00Well, again, Reverend Hopkins almost had a baby.
INGRAM: He, he almost had a what?
WELLS: He almost had a baby. He was so uncomfortable because Frank, because, uh,Robinson and I were giving the white minister a hard way to go. My minister quit talking and just [laughs] sat there because he was white. And, uh, but in other words the churches trying to build an empire within the black community, and I really think that to a certain extent they were afraid that too much progress might cause them to lose their, ministers to lose their power.
INGRAM: What about the black ministers today? Are they performing [ ]?
WELLS: You got the same ones [laughter]. There really isn't that much change.
INGRAM: That much change, eh?
WELLS: If they're doing anything I, I, I...Frankly, if they are doing anything Idon't know anything about it. I'll admit that I'm not associated with a black 33:00church now, but if they were doing some, you know, doing anything real community improvement, it should leak over because members of the Emanon Club, members of my fraternity, are all members of those churches. And if something was going on really productive to, I would know.
INGRAM: What could you suggest as some, uh, viable alternatives for, forbuilding kind of leadership that's needed in Ypsilanti? Do you have any ideas or suggestions?
WELLS: Well, I think the leadership in Ypsilanti today is far, far superior towhat it was during the time that we were talking about earlier.
WELLS: Well, I think one of the people who have done a lot has been George Goodman.
WELLS: Now, there are lots of people, blacks who don't like George. They saythat George is too white-oriented and so forth. Now, when George first became a leader in the black community, see, George found it difficult to sympathize with the conditions of blacks in general. 34:00
WELLS: Because he had been brought up behind a white picket fence. Uh, he wasnot even permitted to play with the black kids in the community. He was kept behind that fence and when he went to school he was not permitted to go to the public schools. All his schooling was at Roosevelt on campus. So that his folks had, had shielded him, you know, had shield him from the realities of life.
WELLS: And, uh, he would tell, uh, he used to tell me, he'd say, "Well, I just,you know ... " He said, "It's hard for me to understand it, but I'm trying." And he did. But now, when George, when he became mayor he was the only black in City Hall. I mean, not one black person was hired down there to do anything except, you know, clean the streets and things like that. Well, you see, he's changed all of that. He's responsible for all the change that has taken place down there. Of course, we had paved the way for him in the NAACP. We had paved the 35:00way for him. We've turned, we've turned city council out. We turned, you know, we turned everybody out down town. And, uh, but an interesting thing, uh, when they started building program in the black community like, uh, Reverend Sullivan's program, you know the title?
WELLS: OIC? You know, one of the people they didn't contact?
WELLS: Me. Now, I knew Sullivan back in Philadelphia when I-
INGRAM: Who ran OIC?
INGRAM: Who, who was over OIC here in Ypsilanti?
WELLS: Reverend Hopkins.
WELLS: Now, you see, I knew Sullivan when he was getting started inPhiladelphia, 'cause I was working at Dr. Gray's church right down the street from him. You know? [ ] Sullivan, one of my frat brothers, until they sent somebody told him I knew Sullivan, and then he was busy, you know, trying to get somebody [ ]
INGRAM: What was the purpose of the OIC in Ypsilanti anyway?
WELLS: Well, the same thing. Tried, you know, building black business trainingprograms and all of this happenstance, but it never got off the, it never got going.
INGRAM: Who was the leading, uh, black businessmen, you know, in this area when36:00you came here-
INGRAM: ...versus today. Has there been an increase?
WELLS: Well, I would say there's really two.
WELLS: Oh, what, the guy that had the factory.
WELLS: Barfield. And the other one I would say would be, uh, mmm, Forbes.
INGRAM: Oh, Forbes?
INGRAM: What b- kind of business does he have?
WELLS: Well, you know, he built one s-, he had one store going. He was, uh,bought out the rest of that property. You know where his store is?
INGRAM: His store?
WELLS: Yeah. Well, it's sort of a, uh, hmm...
INGRAM: Is it still, it's still operating today?
WELLS: Yeah. He just opened it up. He sold one. He, he, he was, he owned thatstore that was at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Summit Street.
INGRAM: Okay. Where's the new store at now?
WELLS: Right across the street from that. He built one across the street from that.
INGRAM: Is it a grocery store?
WELLS: No. It's a, sort of a, uh, what's the name of it? For selling, you know,just knick-knacks and little things. You know, it's not a grocery store. 37:00
WELLS: It would be a pharmacy without, with no medicine.
INGRAM: Oh, okay.
WELLS: [Laughs] I guess that's the best way I could describe it.
INGRAM: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
WELLS: Now, you know where that filling station is on the corner there?
WELLS: He had bought that.
WELLS: And he's going to rebuild. He's going to transfer that into something else.
INGRAM: But those are the only two entrepreneurs you can think of?
WELLS: Well, then my brother-in-laws.
INGRAM: What's his name?
WELLS: One is Tom Hall-
WELLS: ...who owns Miss G's Place.
WELLS: You know where that is?
INGRAM: No. What is Miss G's? What is it?
WELLS: It's a bar over there.
WELLS: Bar and food place. It, uh, used to...It's on Michigan Avenue, uh-
WELLS: And my other brother-in-law, J.D. Hall-
WELLS: ...he had two barber shops. He has two beauty parlors and he has lots ofrental property.
WELLS: As a matter of fact, Halls Barber Shop in, uh-
INGRAM: Isn't that the one across the street from, uh, the housing project? Thebarber shop?
WELLS: Yeah. That's one of his.
WELLS: The other one is in Ann Arbor.
WELLS: And he owned that whole building where that one is in Ann Arbor, too. Andin that place across the street from the housing project, there's an apartment, a small apartment house behind that-
WELLS: ...which he owns. He's building something else back there, too.
WELLS: Uh, and then there is, I have several nephews who, uh, have small businesses.
WELLS: Most of them are in the landscaping business.
WELLS: And like, Tom who own Miss G's Place, he also has a landscaping.
INGRAM: Hmm. That's very interesting.
WELLS: Mm-hmm. Let's see. Any other black entrepreneurs that I can think of?There's got to be some more. A number of the black businesses went out of 39:00business. You do have another...Someone has a store, some type of store there on, uh, Adam, not Adams Street, uh, across from City Hall. There's a couple of black businesses right across from City Hall.
WELLS: I'm not sure how big they are, how much business they do.
WELLS: And of course, uh, the eating place. Oh, the guy who used to own it ownsthis place here. Uh, also across from City Hall, remember that eating place right across the street there on Michigan Avenue?
INGRAM: Yeah, I just-
INGRAM: That black chef owns that, or black and white chef owns
WELLS: That’s right. [They own it, they own the joint].
INGRAM: What's his name?
WELLS: I don't know. I've never met him.
WELLS: So we have those types of businesses and a couple, and a barbecue place.I guess it's still open. It was supposed to open up again.
INGRAM: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. That's interesting.40:00
WELLS: Um ...
INGRAM: The black community in Ypsilanti, what do you see as some, as many ofits problems? Does the black community of Ypsilanti have a problem? What are the problems in the, in that community?
WELLS: Yes, it has a problem. One problem is that it's run down. It has a verysevere housing problem. At one time that, it was beginning to develop some political clout, but they s-, the area has been so uprooted that, uh, much of the voting power that was in that area is now in [ ], out in Ypsi Township, because of urban renewal which broke up the, uh, the voting power-
WELLS: ...on the south side. And some of the leadership that has died off hasnot been replaced. For example, I mentioned, uh, Goodman.
WELLS: Okay. Goodman is not on the south side there.
WELLS: And he doesn't have the same kind of influence there he would have if he41:00lived there. I'm not saying he should live there or shouldn't.
INGRAM: Sure, sure.
WELLS: I'm just saying that, uh, this is true. And, uh, many of the other blackleaders, of course, I was one of the first to move out of the south side. Um, Marguerite Eaglin moved out of the south side. Um, so now you have people like Harris, Gene Beatty...Um, Gene Beatty is a very likable person, has had a tremendous influence I think, [phone rings] but is not the one who is going to confront issues, not issue-oriented.
INGRAM: What is he, then?
WELLS: Uh, a very friendly person, well-liked and less hot headed. Most of hisinfluence has been...He's been in education for a particularly long period of time. Uh, his, uh, popularity goes back to the time when he, I believe won in 10 relays, or at least represented Eastern in 10 relays back in the '30s.
WELLS: He was an outstanding athlete. Do you know him?42:00
INGRAM: No. I've met him, met him once or twice.
WELLS: Well, you don't, you don't, uh, quite think of him as the man who ran thehurdles. Do you?
INGRAM: Not at all.
INGRAM: Not at all.
WELLS: But he ran the hurdles and would have gone to the Olympics, but heknocked over one of the hurdles in the Olympic tryout.
INGRAM: Oh. What are some of the other problems you'd say in the blackcommunity, do you think?
WELLS: Well, I mentioned housing. Uh, education is another. You know, this isone our problems everywhere we go, of course. So it's not peculiar to Ypsilanti, but education is one.
WELLS: Uh, I think there's a certain amount of internal distension.
WELLS: ...where one leader seems to be afraid somebody else is going to out-leadhim. And, uh, and you know-
WELLS: ...influence. I remember one time when someone said the only people who'ssupposed to own big cars on the south side was, uh, only blacks supposed to have 43:00a big car was Gene Beatty and Herb Francois. And, uh, what lady told me when I came here, if you want to get along in black vis-, in black society you got to either come by [ ].
INGRAM: Who was this, who told you that?
WELLS: Well, her name was Mrs. Francois, Herb Francois' mother. And I, you know,I thought this was unusual because I've lived lots of places, I've worked lots of places-
INGRAM: Who is Herb Francois?
WELLS: ...I've never heard anything like that.
INGRAM: Who is he?
WELLS: He's dead now. He was a realtor. He's, he was in real estate and he owneda lot of the south side. And you know, and you had this type of attitude back then.
INGRAM: What about today? How do you see the black community today? Are, is theblack community today still confronted with the same problems of yesterday-
INGRAM: ...or has it gotten better?
WELLS: I, I can't see how it got any better, really. I guess that in terms of44:00jobs yes, they, blacks are into more jobs and more types of jobs and so forth. But then this was not-
WELLS: You know, [laughs] this was something that was sort of unavoidable in,uh, today's society. But, uh, I don't see any strong leadership from the people who live on the black side with the exception of Doug Harris. Now, lots of people don't like Doug because he can be a pain in the neck, but he has courage. He fights for what he believes and takes on almost anybody, and he try. You know what I mean. He, at least he's out there trying. When he was on the school board it was the same thing. He had been on the school board. He's now on the council.
WELLS: And to show that there's some change...[Laughs] At one time he couldn'thave got elected dog catcher, so the attitude of the people have changed some. They did elect him-
WELLS: ...to council to represent the south side.
WELLS: Um, I'm just trying to think. I can't see where there's all that much improvement.45:00
INGRAM: Can you suggest alternatives to enhance community life among blacks inYpsi that would make the south side a much better community?
WELLS: Well, I think that in any area of this type an organized community inwhich people work together cooperatively is the answer rather than fighting against each other.
WELLS: Now that’s about the only alternative I can see. I don't know what canbe done about housing now. Now, particularly in the, you know, situation as it is today. Because if people don't have income and money there's not much they can do about housing.
WELLS: And if our community has, uh, never developed a strong financialbase...You had some people there who had money, yeah,
WELLS: but, uh, there was never any really joint effort to practically...I, westarted Interfaith Housing Corporation, uh, in which all of the churches were 46:00supposed to participate. Uh, we had, uh, planned to build some low and moderate income housing. Churches didn't participate.
INGRAM: Why not?
WELLS: I don't know. They wouldn't even send representatives to the meetings.And actually, you know, [laughs] the people we were most interested in helping were the black community. They wouldn't participate. They wouldn't send representatives to the meeting. They wouldn't do anything. And I saw how it was happening is that if we did anything it's going to be all for whites in white communities. And, uh, I, uh, went before the board in Ann Arbor and my minister who had started the whole thing hadn't even told them about us. And they were supposed to be backing us, and we were supposed to be out here with these ministerial groups and so forth, the community groups backing. He hadn't even told them about us. 'Cause I went over there and we had been in existence a couple of years. We had got our, you know, got our charter. 47:00
WELLS: We had contacted the Michigan Housing Authority. We were ready to getmoney and everything, and the people who were supposed to be sup- our support groups hadn't even heard of us.
WELLS: So the organization died, you know? Two of the key people, one of oursecretary who was a, really a key person because of his contacts throughout the state, got killed in an accident.
INGRAM: Who was this?
WELLS: Uh, I forget what his name...He was the one who was the head of the[Kidney] Foundation. That was several years ago. That was about '70. And the president who also was very strong within the Lutheran Church left and went to Texas, and the whole thing dropped on me and these p-, you know, those whites weren't about to [laughs] you know...
WELLS: They weren't about to give me the kind of leadership I wanted and-
INGRAM: What do you see the future of the black community today as? Not gettingany better?
WELLS: Ohh. I think you gave me a hard question to answer.48:00
WELLS: Because, uh, I'm on the Board of Directors of the Boys Club, and in orderto get some blacks out of the south side, after we got Mickey Roberson to get someone who might actually function we went to the parents. And we hope we got a woman who will function. Because most of us on the Boys Club Board live outside of the so called black community.
WELLS: In fact, about 80% of the boys who go to the club were black. So it'sbeing run, um, administered by a group outside of the area.
WELLS: Uh, mostly white of course.
WELLS: But we did get Mickey Roberson on, and like we got Maude Forbes on there.Maude teaches at Perry School. No, she doesn't. She did teach at Perry School but now Maude is the principal at Fletcher School, and they live right, live 49:00over here on...Well, right down the street here. So they're not, they don't live on the south side.
WELLS: So again, and I live here, so then again your leadership is outside ofthe community trying to make a provision. Um, I don't see any strong organization within the black community. The NAACP now has an egotist as president who is sure he knows everything and doesn't have time to be bothered too much of what other people have to say.
INGRAM: [Laughs] Who is this?
WELLS: Raymond Mullins.
WELLS: Do you know him?
INGRAM: Uh, yeah. I went to school with Ray Mullins.
WELLS: And, well he's the president of NAACP now.
INGRAM: Oh, yeah?
WELLS: Before him it was Louise, Mary Louise Foley. And with all of her goodintentions sh- she gets...[laughs]. You know what I mean? This is the kind of leadership in the NAACP you got. And if I say, the churches haven't changed any. Uh, Garther, well, is, well Garther may be well-meaning. S.L. is definitely 50:00well-meaning, but I'm afraid they can't give the kind of leadership that the community needs.
INGRAM: What do you think it needs?
WELLS: It needs someone who can get out and work with grass root people, getthem organized, get clubs organized, and so forth. And they got this organization over there now with Doug and other ones pushing like crazy. The guy who's running it is an assistant pastor of a church in Detroit, Cunningham.
INGRAM: Barry Cunningham?
WELLS: Barry Cunningham. And I know the board is very unhappy with him. Theydon't see if he...They told him that he had to get out in the community, meet the people, find out what their needs were, and then try to work and, uh, just be getting him to, to get him to contact the ministers and stuff...Well, he contacted one minister who was very popular, but, uh, he hasn't been around that long to know the roots of the problem and so forth. 51:00
INGRAM: He lives up here now, I heard.
WELLS: [ ]. Well, they had to get, he had to get on pretty strongly. Iunderstand 'cause I'm not involved in that organization 'cause I don't live in that area.
INGRAM: Yeah, yeah.
WELLS: If I did I'd be in there with
WELLS: the fellows. It's-
WELLS: ...a sort of a local organization.
INGRAM: How do you see, uh...Has Eastern gotten better today? If you were tolook at Eastern today has E-, has Eastern made dramatic improvements?
INGRAM: Yeah, in terms of-
WELLS: Not unless it did it in the-
INGRAM: ...enhancing its image with the black community.
WELLS: Not unless it did it in the last year. [Laughter] No, I'm serious. Uh[laughs], you know, one of the things that they had, one of the reasons they gave for holding down on my promotion was the fact that they didn't feel I had done enough research and so forth. So I had to remind...See, when I came here the first thing Ken [ ] said to me was, "Philip, we have a very poor image in the black community on the south side of the city. And I would like for you to 52:00do what you can to improve that image." Now, how do you do this? Go over and say to the people, "Look. We over at Eastern are nice," or do you go over there and go to work? Now, there's only, you can only so much time. Right? So I went over there and I went in the community and started working. I worked at the churches. I've worked with NAACP and the Business Professional League with the Emanon Club and with the political aspect, without joining political party. I worked with politics [ ]. Now, I don't have time to do that, all my work at Eastern, and sit around writing. And so people be- then began to feel better about Eastern because I was the first, uh, person at Eastern who had ever bothered to go into the black community. Now, the guy before me in sociology, I understand, had been there about four or five years. They didn't even know him. They thought he was a great guy, but never came in contact with him. I got out there and started working with them and some of them didn't like me too well. I understand they were afraid I was going to try and take over the social leadership of the south 53:00side because I had a doctorate.
WELLS: 'Cause I never found all the society they were talking about. I mean, Idon't know where it was.
WELLS: You know, like I don't know where those students were they were talkingabout at Eastern.
INGRAM: Yeah, yeah.
WELLS: But Eastern, yes it has improved for the simple reason you've got moreblacks there.
WELLS: Now, the very fact that you have more blacks there is going to have aninfluence on the attitude of the institution toward blacks.
WELLS: Then I came out as the only one, and so blacks were coming to me,students come to me with their problems.
WELLS: See, I was the first tenured black at Eastern. I was the first one to gettenure, the first one to go beyond, uh, assistant professor, first one to go beyond associate professor, and the first one to retire. I retired before my [ ].
INGRAM: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
WELLS: But, uh, so I guess I, I guess I did something toward opening up. I54:00recruited the first black after I got there.
INGRAM: Yeah, yeah.
INGRAM: Uh, but students were being accused of things in which they were notguilty and they would come to me and the vice president would say, "Well, Phil, I'll take it over from here and I'll see that it's straightened out. I'd rather you get out of it," 'cause he was afraid I was going to turn the people against him, and I didn't give a damn. You know, he didn't understand that. But I didn't care how they reacted, you know?
WELLS: If a black kid's in trouble and I can help him, I'm going to help him,and if administration, board, anybody else didn't like it or not like it.
WELLS: Uh, but actually when...One of the reasons I told when I came here [ ] Itold him, I said, "Now, I don't know whether you're going to offer me a job or not." I said, "You say [ ]," I said, "but the one thing you should understand, if you hire me, five years from now you're not going to tell me I don't have tenure."
WELLS: I said, "Because if you hire me and I resign my job and I come here, I55:00will stay as long as I want to stay." And he said, "Okay." And I didn't want him to, you know, think he was hiring somebody he's going to kick out, see. So he said, "Okay." So it worked out. Uh-
INGRAM: Hm. Well, what I'd like to do, I'd like to thank you for taking thistime off and allowing me to conduct this interview. What we generally do is this. I'm going to have this tape transcribed and typed out.
INGRAM: And you'll receive a copy in the mail which will allow you anopportunity to reread the document, make deletions or additions accordingly, and I'll get back with you on that. Okay?
WELLS: Okay. And if there's any information in the thing I gave you-
WELLS: ...that you can use, you can just incorporate it in there.
[END OF TAPE]
0:00 - Opening Eastern Michigan University to Black faculty
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: INGRAM: We're with Dr. Phillip Wells, a, uh, recent retiree from Eastern Michigan University and professor. Uh, Dr. Wells, wh- where were you raised at?
WELLS: Uh, I was born in Wilmington, North Carolina and I grew up out in the country in Sampson County.
Segment Synopsis: Dr. Wells briefly gives his personal background of growing up in rural North Carolina. He then details his education history before describing his initial thoughts and activities on arriving in Ypsilanti in 1959 as Eastern Michigan's first African-American professor.
Keywords: African-American faculty at Eastern Michigan University; Black academics; College of Education; Dr. Buchanan; Dr. Lamar Miller; Hampton Institute; Maretta Quick; Mary Wells; Perry School; Phillip Wells; Race relation in Ypsilanti; School segregation in Ypsilanti; University of Pennsylvania; Willard, North Carolina: Burgaw, North Carolina; Wilmington, North Carolina; Ypsilanti NAACP; Ypsilanti Public Schools; Ypsilanti, Michigan
Subjects: African American educators. Race relations--Michigan--Ypsilanti--History. Eastern Michigan University.
7:42 - Organizing Eastern's Back Faculty
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: WELLS: Oh, boy. That's a hard one to answer. I supposed that, uh, after Buchanan and Miller came we began to make some impact, but I think the real beginning for change probably didn't come until, well into, further into the '60s, uh, when the stu- we had the stu- black students sit in at Eastern. I called the black faculty what the ... It had increased then to where there were perhaps five faculty members and a number of people in other positions
Segment Synopsis: Dr. Wells recalls the history of Eastern Michigan University's first Black faculty members and discusses how they organized in response to student strikes in the 1960s.
Keywords: Black Faculty Association; Dr. Buchanan; Dr. Henry; Eastern Michigan University Black Student Strike; History of African-American professors; Lamar Miller; Leroy Watts' Black student strikes; Oscar Henry; Phillip Wells; Rosetta Hughes
Subjects: African American educators. African American student movements--Michigan--Ypsilanti--History. Eastern Michigan University.
Hyperlink: April 17, 1970 Ann Arbor News article on the Black student strikes at Eastern Michigan University.
12:13 - Community leadership in the 1960s
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: INGRAM: Mm-hmm. Also, um, what have, have been, uh, over a long time period, some of your observations, uh, in regard to black leadership in Ypsilanti, say over, uh, since 1959 versus today in terms of progress? Could you provide me with the names of perhaps, uh, some of the black leaders or community leaders back then and what you saw them doing or what the community was into versus today?
WELLS: Well, I, I guess that when I came here the really strong community leader was John Burton, who was involved, of course, in the city government.
Segment Synopsis: In this section, Dr. Wells discusses his view of the leadership of the Black community when he arrived in the late 1950s. He talks about his own role in organizing the Emanon Club, a rival of the Business and Professional League, Dr. Wells also describes struggles on the Ypsilanti School Board over segregation in the 1960s.
Keywords: Amos Washington; Dr. Bass; Emanon Club; Herbert Francois; John H. Burton; Margaureite Eaglin; NAACP; Reverend Bennie Smith; Reverend S.L. Roberson; Vanzetti Hamilton; Ypsilanti Business and Professional League; Ypsilanti City Council; Ypsilanti Housing Commission; Ypsilanti School Board; Ypsilanti, Michigan
Subjects: African American leadership. Segregation. Race relations--Michigan--Ypsilanti--History.
Hyperlink: Listen to and read the interview A.P. Marshall conducted with Vanzetti Hamilton.
21:12 - Segregation of schools
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: WELLS: And, uh, of course on the campus...Going back to the campus again. The real problem in discrimination, except for salary and promotion, the real problem is students. Uh, when Eastern started growing, they grew so fast they could be very selective in terms of students they admitted. And at one time the grade requirements for admission to Eastern was higher than it was at the University of Michigan.
INGRAM: What year was this?
WELLS: Oh, this was, uh, mmm, I would say in the late '60s and, uh, on into the '70s.
Segment Synopsis: In this segment Dr. Wells looks at the situation facing Ypsilanti's public schools when he arrived and the issues facing students and the community as it made early steps to desegregate education.
Keywords: 226 N Summit Street; Black students at Eastern Michigan University; Chapel School; Chapelle School; Doug Harris; East Junior High School; Eastern Michigan University; Housing discrimination in Ypsilanti; Mel Sudd; Michigan Avenue; Phillip G. Wells; Project 65; Racial discrimination at Eastern Michigan University; Roosevelt High School; Segregated neighborhoods in Ypsilanti; West Junior High School; Ypsilanti High School
Subjects: Race relations--Michigan--Ypsilanti--History. Segregation. School integration.
Hyperlink: "Ypsilanti NAACP To Mark Anniversary" from the Ann Arbor News, October 20, 1989.
29:36 - Meeting the challenges
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Partial Transcript: INGRAM: What role did the black church play in the community, if any at all?
WELLS: Well, I think that, uh, at that time if the whites wanted to know what the black community wanted they tended to go to the black church, to the black ministers. Uh, for example with S.L., judges would go to him.
Segment Synopsis: Mr. Wells talks about some of the divisions in the Black community in confronting issues of racial inequality in the city. He gives his assessment of various business, religious, and political leaders. Mr. Wells talks about the his own story of moving from the south side.
Keywords: Ann Arbor Michigan; Emanon Club; Eugene Beatty; Forbes; George Goodman; Hall's Barbershop; Herbert Francois; J.D. Hall; John Barfield; Marguerite Eaglin; Michigan Avenue; Miss G's Place; NAACP; Philadelphia Pennsylvania; Phillip G. Wells; Reverend Anthony Robinson; Reverend Hopkins; Reverend Sullivan; Roosevelt High School; S.L. Roberson; Summit Street; Tom Hall; Ypsilanti Black business owners; Ypsilanti City Council; Ypsilanti's Black churches
Subjects: African American leadership. African Americans--Michigan--Ypsilanti--History. African American business enterprises.
Hyperlink: "Goodman Wins Overwhelmingly In Ypsilanti" Ann Arbor News, April 8, 1975.
43:49 - Thoughts on the present and the future
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: INGRAM: What about today? How do you see the black community today? Are, is the black community today still confronted with the same problems of yesterday-
INGRAM: ...or has it gotten better?
WELLS: I, I can't see how it got any better, really. I guess that in terms of jobs yes, they, blacks are into more jobs and more types of jobs and so forth. But then this was not-
Segment Synopsis: Dr. Wells looks at the present situation in Ypsilanti and on the campus of Eastern Michigan University after decades of attempts at desegregation. He talks about what he perceives as a lack of leadership in the city's Black community. Finally he addresses his own role in breaking down barriers as a pioneering Black EMU faculty member.
Keywords: Ann Arbor, Michigan; Barry Cunningham; Boys Club; Business and Professional League; Doug Harris; Eastern Michigan University; Fletcher School; Garther Roberson Jr.; Interfaith Housing Corporation; Mary Louise Foley; Maude Forbes; Michigan Housing Authority; Mickey Roberson; NAACP; Perry School; Phillip G. Wells; Raymond Mullins; S.L. Roberson; Ypsilanti City Council; Ypsilanti, Michigan
Subjects: African American educators. Race relations--Michigan--Ypsilanti--History. African American leadership.
Hyperlink: Article on Dr. Wells' 1970 run for Washtenaw Community College's Board of Trustees.