Greater Grand Rapids Womens History Council
  P.O Box 68874, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-8874                     Phone: 616-574-7307



February 12, 2017

GGRWHC Board of Directors

Mary Seeger,
Jo Ellyn Clarey
Susan Coombes
Connie Ingham
Ruth VanStee
  Newsletter editor 

Jennifer Bryant 
Jo Ellyn Clarey
Kristin Du Mez 
Connie Ingham 
Kyle Irwin
Mary Seeger
Ruth Stevens 
Amy Dunham Strand 
Julie Tabberer
Kate van Liere   
Ruth Van Stee

Deirdre Toeller-Novak
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SCROLL DOWN! Early and Recent 
History in Grand Rapids

Snapshots of African Americans in Early Grand Rapids

by GGRWHC's Ruth Van Stee

Monday, February 13, 7:00 pm
Faith United Methodist Church
2600 7th Street NW, Grand Rapids

T omorrow, s ponsored by the West Michigan Postcard Club, GGRWHC's Ruth Van Stee will give an overview of African Americans in early Grand Rapids. Before 1920, this 1% of the local population was a small but culturally rich community, as snapshots of individual lives will illustrate. Pictured below are Emma Ford, a leading club woman from the 1890s, with her popular husband, "Senator" Joseph Ford. 

The 1850 Grand Rapids census shows only fifteen citizens naming their race as "Black" or "Mulatto." Until the first "great migration" of African Americans from the rural south to northern cities after 1920, the African American population in Grand Rapids remained small but contributed much to the culture of this area. More at
Retired from the local history department of the Grand Rapids Public library, Ruth Van Stee is an officer of the GGRWHC.
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Randy Wyatt's
One Simple Question

Performed by the Ebony Road Players
( discussion following)

Thursday, February 23, 7-8:30 pm
Aquinas College Wege Center Ballroom

Co-sponsored by Aquinas College's Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center and the Center for Diversity & Inclusion,  A Simple Question is a thirty-minute celebration of the landmark court case overturning miscegenation laws. This five-woman ensemble piece includes a kaleidoscope of stories about interracial love and marriage in America, beginning with the famous Richard and Mildred Loving and flashing forward to real experiences in present day West Michigan.
Following the performance will be a discussion considering how things have or haven't changed in fifty years-- with Randy Wyatt, author; Edye Evans Hyde, founder of the Ebony Road Players, and Latoya Booker, director of the Aquinas Center for Diversity and Inclusion.
Edye Evans Hyde's Ebony Road Players offer high quality professional performances focusing on the black experience. Read more about them here:
*** The GGRWHC congratulates Edye on her 2017
Ethel Coe Humanities Giants Award!

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Beginning in February
& Sliding into Women's History Month~
The 6th Annual WMEAC Women and the Environment Symposium
Sponsoring six events between February 23rd and March 2nd, WMEAC's Women and Environment Symposium will feature renowned activist Winona LaDuke on March 2nd, when WMEAC will also present its Hidden Heroine awards celebrating West Michigan women who work to protect our environment. Complete information at

For more information on this program, other events and news, visit the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council website.

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Not a current member of GGRWHC?   Register or renew your membership and help offset the expenses associated with annual research and programs. Your membership helps to set the record straight on the women who've made history here in our community.

GGRWHC Board Meetings

Board meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month at 4:30 p.m. in the Vanderveen Center for the Book at the Grand Rapids Public Library. If you have suggestions for programs, oral histories, or other items, please email us or plan to attend a meeting.



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Thank you for your interest in preserving and celebrating the history of the many phenomonal women who've helped to shape West Michigan!  If you aren't already a member of the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council, consider showing your support through annual membership.  Visit our web site for more information and the ability to register using Pay Pal online!

Hats off to the historical women who've shaped West Michigan!