black history | WMUK

black history

Courtesy of Jermaine Jackson

Kalamazoo has a link to an African-American woman who, involuntarily, contributed to seven decades of medical breakthroughs in cancer, AIDS, polio, even the coronavirus vaccine: Jermaine Jackson is a nephew of the late Henrietta Lacks. He recently completed a traveling exhibit about her.


Courtesy of Sonya Bernard-Hollins

Sonya Bernard-Hollins once produced a coloring book about prominent Black graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools, among them former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Now she’s at it again—this time she’s created a coloring book of firsts of Kalamazoo African-American women and a similar coloring book of firsts about local African-American men. And she’s involved her all-girls Merze Tate Explorers travel and community-service group in the project.


Courtesy of Buddy Hannah

Kalamazoo leader Buddy Hannah was born in Miami. But by age 10, he found himself living on a farm in Georgia with his grandparents. Hannah, who is Black, recalls that his newly adopted small town had an historic structure in the middle of the road, a slave market, where enslaved persons were once bought and sold. Hannah says it’s still there. He's 73 years old.


Courtesy of Donna Odom

The national AARP has picked Kalamazoo's Donna Odom as one of its 2021 Purpose Prize Fellows. The honor is awarded to those over 50 who are tackling tough problems.


Donna Alford

A new project hopes to tell a more complete - and inclusive - version of Kalamazoo's history.


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