Viewing of 1937 Film Black Legion
Thursday, February 23 – 5:30 p.m.
Lansing Community College, Dart Auditorium, 500 N. Capitol Ave.
Movie explores reign of terror in Detroit
The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and Lansing Community College are hosting a showing of the award-winning 1937 movie “Black Legion” Thursday, February 23 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Dart Auditorium in downtown Lansing. The event is free and a discussion of the movie’s themes will follow.
By the mid-1930s the white hoods of the Klan gave way to black hoods of another hate mongering group called the Black Legion. The membership which espoused white supremacist and nativism ideas was centered in Detroit, Pontiac and other large Michigan cities.
Catholics, Jews, Blacks, Eastern Europeans and Communists felt the brunt of the group’s numerous beatings, bombings and other brutish crimes including the murder in 1935 of a Detroiter employed by the WPA. The murder would garner national attention when one of the murderers squealed to the police. More than 50 Legion members were charged with crimes ranging from murder to arson. Ultimately, 46 were convicted of crimes including murder.
Newspapers across the country covered the murder trial with two inch headlines. The coverage got the attention of Hollywood and by January 1937 the crime drama “Black Legion” centering on the murder and starring Humphrey Bogart (as the murderer) began showing in theatres. Movie posters were illustrated with a black-hooded man holding a whip with the sub headline “death to squealers.” In Lansing, the movie was shown at the Capitol Theatre. The film is considered a classic noir crime movie starring Bogart who would later become a major star in 1941 after starring in the movie High Sierra.
The movie is part of a year-long commemoration and look at the tumultuous year 1937 in Michigan and across the nation and world. The inspiration for the in-depth look at the historical figures and events of 1937 was Lansing’s June 7 city-wide “Labor Holiday” which saw thousands of union members stream into the streets virtually shutting the city down.
“The Lansing Labor Holiday was overshadowed by the Flint Sit-down Strike which had ended in February of 1937,” said John P. Beck who is the chairing of the Commemoration Committee “We are working to bring this significant labor event out of the historical shadows.”
The catalyst for the “Holiday” was the arrest of several union members for labor activities including picketing the Capitol City Wrecking Company. “Community-wide general strikes were rare in the 20th Century and it is time for the Holiday to get the recognition it deserves,” Beck said. In addition to hosting several lectures on topics relating to the year 1937, the Historical Society will launch the exhibit “1937: The Year” in May 2017 which will examine what Lansingites were living through that year including the year’s major architectural, design, fashion, religious and political highlights. The exhibit will be hosted in the lobby of Lansing City Hall.
The year 1937 saw spectacular events like the Hindenburg disaster, the Spanish Civil War, the rise of Hitler, the loss of Amelia Earhart, and the inauguration of Michigan Governor Frank Murphy, who would become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and also the Flint Sit-Down Strike, the REO Sit-Down Strike and the Battle of the Overpass among other monumental Labor events.
Participating in the “Lansing Labor Holiday” events are the REO Olds Transportation Museum, Representative Randy Schor, Lisa Fine, author of “REO Joe” and MSU History Professor, Capital Area District Library, the United Auto Workers, the City of Lansing, Lansing Community College, Historical Society of Greater Lansing, Motor Cities National Heritage Area and the United Steel Workers.
Following the one hour and twenty three minute movie David Siwik, history professor at LCC, will facilitate a discussion on hate groups throughout history. It is still believed by many in Lansing that the death of Earl Little, Malcolm X’s father, in 1931 was at the hands of the Black Legion.
Calling All Collectors
Saturday, March 18, 2017 - 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Delta Township District Library - 5130 Davenport Dr.
This year HSGL will be co-sponsoring the 3rd Annual Collectors Showcase to be held March 18 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Delta Township District Library. Collectors willing to display their collections and talk to the public about their passion are needed for this just-for-fun, no buying or selling
event. Collections at past events have included both antique and contemporary collectibles, such as Pez dispensers, vintage hats, postcards, dolls, Dionne quintuplet memorabilia, Lansing dairy items, and salt and pepper shakers. All collections suitable for family viewing are welcome. One collection will receive the People’s Choice Award, chosen by visitors the day of the event.
In addition to HSGL, the Collectors Showcase is co-sponsored by the Delta Township Historical Society and the Delta Township District Library. The event will be held at the library, at 5130 Davenport Dr., located off Elmwood across from Sharp Park. For more information or to register as a collector, contact Thomas Moore, DTDL Adult Services Librarian, email@example.com, or 517-321-4014, or check the library website under Events at www.dtdl.org/collectors.
The Filth of Progress – Save the Date!
Saturday, March 11, 2017 – 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan – 702 W. Kalamazoo
Join HSGL and the Library of Michigan for a program by author Ryan Dearinger on his book The Filth of Progress: Immigrants, Americans, and the Building of Canals and Railroads in the West. More information about the event will be coming soon.