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00:00:00 - Mashatt family history

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Partial Transcript: T. INGRAM:…a grant that was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to do an oral history on the contributions on the part of black citi—citizens in the development of Ypsilanti. Today we’re in the process of, of interviewing the Mashatt


T. INGRAM: family.


T. INGRAM: And what is your name?

KEN MASHATT: Uh, Ken Mashatt.

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer asks Mr. Mashatt and Mrs. Palmer about the history of the Mashatt family, where the names comes from, when they arrived in Ypsilanti and their grandfather's well-digging business.

Keywords: "Hungry Hill"; 1971 Black Afro-American Festival; African-American working at Ford; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Black Arts Festival; Charles Mashatt; Charlotte Mashatt; Cornelia Mashatt; Eastern Michigan University; Ford Motor Company; Helen Mashatt Palmer; Helen Woodward Mashatt; Horace Mashatt; Inter-racial marriages in Michigan; Ken Mashatt; Kenneth Mashatt; Mashatt family; National Endowment of the Humanities; Springfield, Missouri; Underground Railroad in Canada

Subjects: African American families.

00:10:07 - Growing up in Ypsilanti

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Partial Transcript: T. INGRAM: What I would like to do uh, is, could you provide for me in discussion, uh, your, uh, view of Ypsilanti as a child, what was black life like as a child in Ypsilanti, growing up?


T. INGRAM: Then I’d like to get your perspective too, Mrs. Palmer. Okay? so, state your name again, and, and,

Segment Synopsis: Mr. Mashatt and Mrs. Palmers are asked about growing up in Ypsilanti in the 1920s and 1930s. Mr. Mashatt talks about his first memories of race and racial prejudice.

Keywords: Amos Washington; Church of God, Jefferson Street; Dr. Perry; Eugene Beatty; Harriet Street School; Helen Mashatt Palmer; Herbert Walker; Jim Crow; John Burton; Ken Mashatt; Memphis, Tennessee; Ruth Walker Simpson; Ypsilanti Board of Education; Ypsilanti High School; Ypsilanti Housing Commission; segregation in Ypsilanti

Subjects: Segregation--Michigan--Ypsilanti--History. African Americans--Education--History.

00:21:21 - Black businesses and leaders

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Partial Transcript: T. INGRAM: Okay. Uh, while growing up, what were some of the what were some of the various kinds of black businesses that you remember?

KEN MASHATT: Oh, I always said that Ypsilanti is going out of the world ass-backwards, it’s on tape now, so, because when I was coming up, we had our own drugstore, we had a soda bar, we had a restaurant, we had two restaurants, right there on Harriet Street, Amos Washington had a grocery store, we had a barb—we had barber shops, we had a fish market, we had a pool room, right there, right there on Harriet Street.

Segment Synopsis: Mr. Mashatt and Mrs. Palmer give memories of the former Black Harriet St. business district on Ypsilanti's south side of their youth. The give recollections of bars, cafes, pool halls and barbershops among other businesses.

Keywords: African-American business districts; Amos Washington; Black Cultural Festival; Black political activity in Ypsilanti; Dicky Atkins; Dolores Bennett; Dr. Bass; Dr. Samuel Clarke; George Moore; Glover's Fish Market; Hall's barbershop; Harriet Street; Herbert Francois; James Fuller; John Burton; Lanore Morgan; Mattie Dorsey; Monroe Street; Reverend Cartwright; South Hamilton Street; South side Ypsilanti services; Thelma Goodman; Washington Brothers Grocery; Ypsilanti Black businesses

Subjects: African American business enterprises.

00:28:05 - Growing up in a close-knit community

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Partial Transcript: T. INGRAM: I want to take you back a little bit, uh, could you share with me any, any discussions or impressions that your, your father, or your, your father’s grandfather may have told your father, or what your father may have told you, about how life was in Ypsilanti when you first came, you know, for black folk, you know, what was life like for them? You know, uh, yeah, did, did any of them ever, any of the old comments or anything, that filtered down, you know, in terms of what your father

HELEN PALMER: Well, back in them days, the black man stuck together a little, because different homes that were built in Ypsilanti, they build them, you know, they had a lot of, uh, masons, in Ypsilanti. Brick masons, and the masons was an organization, but them guys was together, you was going to build a house, they’d help.

Segment Synopsis: Helen Palmer and Ken Mashatt discuss their parents generation and the social solidarity of the community they grew up in. They also discuss inter-racial marriages in Ypsilanti.

Keywords: Arden Kersey; Black carpenters; Black home builders in Ypsilanti; Dora Kersey; Duckett family; Edna Rogers Kersey; Frank Mashatt; Hardy family; Helen Jay Mashatt; Jefferson Street; Kenneth Albert Mashatt; Lillian Mashatt; Marvin Mashatt; Prince Hall Masons; Sharon Mashatt; Shirley Mashatt; Thomas Mashatt; Thompson family; Ypsilanti, Michigan; inter-racial marriages in Ypsilanti

00:35:15 - The Black church in Ypsilanti

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Partial Transcript: T. INGRAM: If, if we were to look at the, uh, the present today, how do you view black life in Ypsilanti today, in terms of uh, race relations, in terms of education, in terms of the leadership. Do you see any significant advances on the part of black leadership in Ypsilanti today as compared to yesterday in the past? And if, and if so, and if not, why not? You know, share that with us.

KEN MASHATT: Well, that’s um, see, now that’s, see, I think that’s, that’s a touchy, because, uh, I, first of all, I, I used to get in, uh, I used to deal in politics a bit and I used to get in the city manag—I mean, uh, county, uh, I was a county youth director from uh, ’71 to ’74, and uh, I dealt in a lot of uh, educational problems, and a lot of uh, different kind of problems, and I’ve just refrained from uh, from dealing with those problems. I, I retired more or less and went into private life, I, I, I don’t want to deal with the, with the city. For one thing, I find that, uh, the leadership,

Segment Synopsis: Kenneth Mashatt, a former pastor, gives his views on black leadership in Ypsilanti and the role of the church in leading social life. He discusses community choirs and the banding together of different congregations in his youth.

Keywords: Black church social activity; Black ministers in Ypsilanti; Black politics in Ypsilanti; Helen Mashatt; Jefferson Street; Kenneth Mashatt; Olive Evans; Recreation Park; Ypsilanti Black leaders in the 1980s; Ypsilanti Community Chorus; racial segregation in Ypsilanti

Subjects: African American churches.

00:45:08 - Changing attitudes in the community

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Partial Transcript: T. INGRAM: What kinds of uh, solutions or alternatives do you see, or, or, or, or think about suggesting that might enhance the com—community life among blacks in Ypsilanti, in the area of branch, churches, ministerial leadership, education or whatever, you know, what are some of these ideas?

HELEN PALMER: I think people in Ypsilanti have got afraid of each other. Now I know that sounds a little ridiculous. But when I was a kid, there wasn’t anywhere we couldn’t go at night, when I was a young woman, we could go anywhere, we could walk from Jefferson to anywhere we wanted to go. Through the field, nobody never bothered us. Now I’m older, I wouldn’t do it now, but not so many young people, they won’t do it now either.

Segment Synopsis: Helen Mashatt Palmer and Kenneth Mashatt discuss what they see as generational differences in the black community as well as social and class divisions. Kenneth laments the growth of what he sees as a growth of materialism and decrease in standards in the Black community.

Keywords: "Affluent Society"; Harriet Street School; Helen Mashatt Palmer; Jefferson Street; Kenneth Mashatt; Perry School; Ypsilanti, Michigan; class divide in Black Ypsilanti; generational divisions in Ypsilanti

Subjects: Intergenerational relations.

00:52:30 - Childhood influences

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Partial Transcript: T. INGRAM: Uh, what, could you give me some names of, of, uh, cert—what were the names of important individuals that, that may have influenced your thinking, or, or helped you, you know, uh, grow and learn, were there any significant individuals in your life, as you were coming up, that had a real impact on your life, like you mentioned James Beatty,


Segment Synopsis: Helen and Kenneth are asked to give names of influences on their lives growing up in Ypsilanti. They mention teachers and their mother, Helen Mashatt.

Keywords: A.C. Green; Bernice Kersey; Detroit, Michigan; Dubois Patton; Harvard Glover; Helen Mashatt Palmer; Inkster, Michigan; Jackson, Michigan; Kenneth Mashatt; Miss Campbell

Subjects: African American educators. African American families.