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Ms. Queen Interview

Ms. Queen Segment 1
Ms. Queen Segment 2
Ms. Queen Segment 3a
Ms. Queen Segment 3b
Ms. Queen Segment 3c
Ms. Queen Transcription Completed

Part One

[[00:00:00]] Ms. Queen’s graduation from High School in ’51 – activities at church and Paradise Theater – saw Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday

[[00:03:00]] Ms. Queen on families moving away from Black Bottom in ’43, during WWII when tanks and soldiers would go through Detroit

[[00:06:00]] Ms. Queen on ’43 and ‘67 riots and how she “never was enthused about that” and how the policemen were white and wouldn’t protect her

[[00:09:30]] Ms. Queen talks about where she moved to over the years – says it’s a lie that people moved from Black neighborhoods to white neighborhoods

[[00:12:00]] Talks about diaspora of Black Bottom residents to the East Side and other areas and how discrimination was “always talked about”, though not between white and Black folks – Ms. Queen also says she was born in Children’s Hospital in Detroit – white great-grandfather on grandmother’s side was a slave-owner from Mississippi but lost his plantation

[[00:15:00]] white great-grandfather moved to Detroit when Ms. Queen was 8 or 9 – she had to cut his hair – doesn’t know where her Black great-grandparents on her grandfather’s side came from

[[00:18:00]] Ms. Queen’s Black-Indian grandfather on her dad’s side helped her mother raise her – importance of talking calm but firmly when demanding respect

[[00:21:00]] Parental discipline – family on father’s side came from Kentucky “Just on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line” – talks about clubs she used to go to on Hastings street

[[00:24:00]] Says prostitutes and pimps hung out on John R. and Oakland – goes to get pictures from downstairs

Part Two

[[00:00:00]] Ms. Queen shows pictures of her playing at clubs with Dinah Washington and Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald – Ms. Queen belonged to group called Michigan Blues Preservers with husband

[[00:03:00]] More pictures

Part Three

[[00:00:00]] Ms. Queen owned bar called Elegant Odyssey on Fourth Street – breakup of Blues Preservers

[[00:03:00]] Ms. Queen confirms that folks never called it “Black Bottom”

[[00:06:00]] Ms. Queen says name came about between riots between ’43 and ’55 – close community, could just go down street, knock on door – not a lot of activity in neighborhood

[[00:09:00]] Talks about a bad encounter with old acquaintance Queen hadn’t seen in years

[[00:12:00]] Ms. Queen says she went to Northeastern high school – has kept up with four grade school teachers “until they passed away” – “people were friendly all the way down to Gratiot”

[[00:15:00]] Recalls how city baseball league would play in field across from McDougall – went to Grandy Park after graduation and during summer – friends from Miller High School discussed, including the atheism of one

[[00:18:00]] Raised children on West Side of Detroit afterwards – didn’t go to Black Bottom unless something went on – thinks there is a kind of class difference between those who stayed in versus those who left Detroit

[[00:21:00]] Asked about opportunities available to Ms. Queen versus a darker-skinned woman – Ms. Queen says she always demanded respect

[[00:24:00]] Mama Akua and Ms. Queen discuss amount of respect demanded between generations – Mama Akua believes television and media “take the most negative, as far as I’m concerned, and that’s what they pump up. That’s what they exploit.”

[[00:27:00]] Ms. Queen says she wants the new generation to know respect: “My name is Queen… Treat me that way” – says if you confidently demand respect, you’ll get it

[[00:30:00]] Ms. Queen worked as a federal secretary – mother did housework for a doctor’s wife on 51 Longfellow, a white woman who would teach her how to set the table and answer the phone, with possible ulterior motives

[[00:33:00]] Other places Ms. Queen used to shop – her mother worked at a beauty shop on Garfield “Right at the corner of the alley” – father was in jail, got out and went back to his family in Kentucky – mother remarried to Walter Hammond when Ms. Queen was 12 or 13

[[00:36:00]] One of Hammond’s sons called when Ms. Queen was in school to borrow $2500 --  four-year-old granddaughter once visited house and called him nasty – Hammond was first Black construction worker in Detroit, worked for Barnes (Varnes?) Construction Company

[[00:39:00]] Talks about Elegant Odyssey bar she owned on Fort Street with husband and four other guys, two of whom are alive at time of interview – after fall of Black Bottom – Michigan Blues Preservers used to play there

[[00:42:00]] Count Basie, Johnnie Taylor, Miles Davis (“He got on my last nerve”) played there – John Lee Hooker as well, Tyrone Davis

[[00:45:00]] Ms. Queen recalls strict dress code at bar

[[00:48:00]] Recalls other musicians who played there – Ms. Queen sums up her life philosophy as “Do which you gotta, so you can do what you wanna do.”

[[00:51:00]] The impact of going to different clubs was “unforgettable” – everyone knows her – importance of hugging

[[00:54:00]] Convo on importance of personal communication without violating one’s boundaries – Ms. Queen firmly uses phrase from mother in situations like this (discussed earlier): “I beg your pardon?”


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