Black Bottom Digital ArchiveHistorical MapHistorical FiguresHistorical SitesOral HistoriesAboutMenu

Y.M.C.A / Y.W.C.A

At a time when Black Detroiters faced social, political, and housing discrimination, there was no exception in gaining access to recreational facilities and shelters.  Between the mid-1920s and early 1930s, black residents of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley came together and established their own Y.M.C.A  and Y.W.C.A on St. Antoine.  Known as the St. Antoine Branch (Y.M.C.A) and the Lucy Thurman Branch (Y.W.C.A), both centers were deemed the largest buildings to serve African Americans.  They provided an array of amenities for residents to use such as a swimming pool, cafeteria, auditorium, banquet hall, gymnasium, barbershop for men, garden, chapel for worship, etc.  The centers also provided food service, a housekeeping arts training program, and boarding rooms and housing for men and women.  The Y.M.C.A was notably known for its undefeatable swimming team coached by Buddy Wilson, which was deemed “the pride of the city” by former teammate Herbert Metoyer (Paradise Valley Days, 72).


View more historical sites