Black Bottom Digital ArchiveHistorical MapHistorical FiguresHistorical SitesOral HistoriesAboutMenu

Ms. Juanita Francis Interview

Ms. Francis Segment 1a
Ms. Francis Segment 1b
Ms. Francis Segment 1c
Ms. Francis Segment 2
Ms. Francis Transcription Completed

Part One

[[00:00:00]] Ms. Francis introduces herself—came to Detroit in 1945, mother passed away when she was two, raised by her mother’s cousin (“second mother”)

[[00:03:00]] Lived in Tuscaloosa before with grandmother – aunt used to cook – might have gone back in late 40s or early 50s – second mother went to beauty school in 1948 and started Lipscomb Beauty and Barber Shop with husband later on

[[00:06:00]] Ms. Francis attended Alger Elementary School – met best friend (“spiritual twin”) Betty there

[[00:09:00]] Talks about how they met, how nice school was with Family Fun Night once a year – old TV/radio shows she used to watch/listen

[[00:12:00]] Shows more pictures, including another friend, Alberta Blackburn – picture of Ms. Francis as little girl in barber shop (in collection)

[[00:15:00]] Continues to talk about folks in pictures Mama Akua shows her – one pastime was Bid Whist and playing cards at social clubs

[[00:18:00]] Ms. Francis recalls movies she used to watch at Alhambra Theater, including short movies with subtitles for sing-along – cartoons

[[00:21:00]] Recalls games she used to play outside—skates, jacks (mother played with her in house) – took piano lessons for a while, performed at home – interactions with white people were kept separate (self-contained) – remembers fish market and place on Oakland where she’d buy Buster Brown shoes

[[00:24:00]] Ms. Francis recalls the only white folks were white Jews who owned housing – Mama Akua recalls how Dr. Kramer, who was Black, went to jail for performing abortions – friend’s father owned restaurant on John R.

[[00:27:00]] Mama Akua recalls how no one was given notification that their homes would be torn down – as other participants say, Ms. Francis says it wasn’t considered Black Bottom where she lived

[[00:30:00]] Ms. Francis’s mother’s beauty shop was brought into her basement during the riots – Mama Akua recalls that if you could buy a house, you were middle-class – no violence in Black community, professionalism

[[00:33:00]] Ms. Francis thinks the quality of child-raising has declined

[[00:36:00]] Debra Taylor thinks folks have shifted into survival mode – Mama Akua thinks that whenever something is done, “folks’ll act like now when they have that, that they’ve done you a special favor instead of the fact that that should be in a community” – Ms. Francis has four great-grandkids

[[00:39:00]] Mama Akua and Debra discuss social economics, unemployment, community involvement

[[00:42:00]] Mama Akua points out that the freeways and dismantling marked the beginning of Detroit’s decline – Ms. Francis says redlining is still occurring

[[00:45:00]] Mama Akua and Debra discuss Black pensioners being hit between 2003 and 2013 – Ms. Francis worked in McNamara building for Internal Revenue Service

[[00:48:00]] Mama Akua and Debra keep discussing families and job-holding – Ms. Francis recalls Sunday dinners, her mother’s butter and yeast rolls

[[00:51:00]] Ms. Betty calls, Mama Akua talks to her – Ms. Francis went to south for vacation every summer – Mama Akua recalls encounter she had at segregated fountain in the south, unlike her experience in north

[[00:54:00]] Mama Akua and Debra discuss generation Ms. Francis belongs to – clubs/societies she and her family belonged to (Masons) – generation preceding her was the “Greatest generation”

[[01:00:00]] Mama Akua and Debra discuss upward mobility and the sacrifices older generations made

Part Two

[[00:00:00]] Mama Akua recalls moment white Jewish lady talked to her mother about how she was “looking for somebody to clean” – mother said, “So am I” – mother left south because she didn’t want to do domestic work

[[00:03:00]] Mama Akua discusses her family history, how aunt’s mother came to Detroit – Mama Akua talks about teenagers she helped

[[00:06:00]] Mama Akua talks about her experiences as an organizer

Tags

View more interviews