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Detroit’s Historic Black Women’s Clubhouse Being Preserved Through National Grant 

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September 1, 2023

An important piece of Black history in Detroit, Michigan, is being preserved with the help of a National Parks Service grant.

The Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board has been selected for a $75,000 History of Equal Rights Grant, reports The Detroit News. Funds from the grant will be used for the preservation of the headquarters of the Detroit Association of Women’s Club.

Originally named the Detroit Association of Colored Women’s Club, the group was founded in 1921 and worked within Detroit’s Black community to help address social and welfare issues.

Eight clubs of Black women came together to establish the organization. The headquarters was purchased in 1941. Civil rights leader Rosa Slade Gragg was the club’s president at the time.

The building was located between Ferry and Brush Streets. But the address for the building had to changed due to a covenant on the property that barred Black people from living on Ferry Street, reports The Detroit News.

“At the time they were looking to acquire a clubhouse, Black people could not live on Ferry Street between the Woodward and John R,” said Janese Chapman, director of the Historic Designation Advisory Board. “So … they had the address changed. There was originally an address on Ferry Street, and they changed the address and moved it around the corner to the address on (Brush Street) so they could buy the property.”

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Chapman told The Detroit News that this is the first time Detroit has won a History of Equal Rights grant since being established in the 1970s. She added that this is an exciting moment for Detroit and the history of “one of the oldest continuing Women’s clubs in Detroit.”

“The grant itself is basically to bring (the National Parks Service) to align with the history of all America,” said Chapman. “The National Park Service, what they have been doing and what they strive to do, is to make sure that the history of America is being told particularly from the point of view of underrepresented folks (and) communities.”

The funds from the grant will be used to preserve the building and apply to be included on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board was one of just eight projects across the nation to to receive a History of Equal Rights Grant. 

Photo by Marlene Ann Brill at CC BY-SA 4.0

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Eloise Samuels
Eloise Samuels
7 months ago

This is so important that today’s generation of youth know about the Detroit Association of Women’s Club (aka Detroit Association of Colored Women’s Club). What a clever way to get around racial bias in the purchase of real estate.

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