Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Life in Greater Lansing 100 Years Ago

Life in Greater Lansing 100 Years Ago
Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 7:00 p.m.
Downtown CADL, 401 S. Capitol Ave.

President of Historical Society of Greater Lansing Valerie Marvin will present a talk 7:00 pm, Thursday, January 28 on "Life in Greater Lansing 100 Years Ago" which will explore the Capital City during an era of immense growth, the prelude to World War I, and an influx of immigrants. The address will be in the lobby of City Hall and will be preceded by the opening of the Society's newest exhibit.

The discussion complements the Society's new exhibit on Prohibition: the Wets vs the Drys, which is the first installment of the year-long celebration "Lansing Has Fun" which will be on display in the Lobby of Lansing City Hall. Marvin said each month during 2016, a new thematic mini-exhibit will be added. For example, February will celebrate love, dating, and marriage.

The Prohibition exhibit covers the period 1874-1933 and includes the prelude to Prohibition, the Temperance Movement, which was very active in Lansing and 1920-1933, which saw the emergence of speakeasies, stills, flapper girls, and police busts.

Marvin said one police bust ended with a life sentence for Etta Mae Miller for alcohol violations and created a national furor which contributed to the end of Prohibition. The Chicago Tribune compared it to the Salem Witch Trials. 

"It also surprises people that Lansing was "dry" well before prohibition," Marvin said.

Included in the exhibit are artifacts from the Women's Christian Temperance Union, Lansing Brewing Company, Carrie Nation, and some unique items from Lansing taverns.

Marvin said the decade of 1910-1920 brought about the construction of many of the buildings, churches and homes that are still part of Lansing today. She also said that even given some of the anti-German sentiment in the U.S. Lansing still elected a German born mayor who served during World War I, Mayor Reutter. Interestingly, the City renamed the old City Park in his honor during World War II.

She also said that then, as now, Michigan Agricultural College was beginning to grow and influencing the community.

Marvin said that immigration was an important issue in the 1900s and immigration of Southern and Eastern Europeans, along with the Great Migration fromt eh South, and the general movement from rural areas to the cities helped fill the need for workers driven by the expanding auto industry.

"A REO newsletter from that era reported that 87 Syrians who worked for the company became U.S. citizens through the company's night school program," Marvin said. "Also, in 1916 the largest number of students at MAC from any one foreign country were from China!"

"It's interesting--it seems the world should be so different, but it really wasn't!" she said.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

At the Crossroads of Fear & Freedom

At the Crossroads of Fear and Freedom

Dr. Robert L. Green
Tuesday, January 19 - 7:00 pm
Downtown CADL
401 S. Capitol Ave.

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting Dr. Robert L. Green, a civil rights activist and friend and colleague of Martin Luther King, 7:00 pm, Tuesday, January 19 at the downtown branch of the Capital Area District Library for a discussion and book signing of his new book, At the Crossroads of Fear and Freedom." The event is free and open to the public.

Green, while completing his PhD at Michigan State University, not only worked locally to assure open housing in East Lansing, but was recruited by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965 to serve as the education director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. 

In the role he advocated for educational equity and led the crucial 1966 March Against Fear which, despite Ku Klux Klan threats and attacks by southern state troopers, advanced Civil Rights legislation.

At the book release, Green will not only describe the time he spent with King, but also will provide his views on relationships with MSU President John Hannah, Walter Adams, and Clifton Wharton.

In the 1970s, Green would become the first Dean of the newly formed College of Urban Development at MSU. He later became an expert implementing court-ordered desegregation for previously segregated school districts. He continues the role of education consultant from his home in Las Vegas, Nevada, and, in 2012, he participated in President Obama's education summit.

Valerie Marvin, President of the Historical Society, said his memoir is a virtual who's who of the Civil Rights Movement in this country, as well as internationally.

"In addition to being on the front line of momentous change, Green also advanced the use of persons of color in textbooks which until the 1960s showed only white faces," she said. "He changed how children see history."

"His passionate dedication to Civil Rights has touched so many people's lives and the Historical Society is proud to be a part of the launch of this important book," Marvin said. 

"If you ever doubt the impact one person can have you much read this book."

Marin said that although Green was already active in social justice concerns and knew Martin Luther King prior to King's visit to MSU's campus in 1965 it was there that King turned to Green and said, "Brother Green, you ought to join us in the struggle."

Former Mayor David Hollister, a friend of Green and himself an activist  in the 1960s Civil Rights battles will welcome Green.

Books will be available for purchase at the event.