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Black History: Special Delivery!!

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July 29, 2015

1963 Walk To Freedom: 1st Time “I Have A Dream Speech” Shared By MLK

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

(11886) Civil Rights, Marches, "Walk to Freedom", Detroit, 1963

Left to right: Walter Reuther, Benjamin McFall, James Del Rio, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rev. C.L. Franklin. Behind Franklin is Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh.

Two months before the “March On Washington” was held, there was The “Walk To Freedom”  on June 23, 1963.  Held in Detroit, it was the largest ever civil rights demonstration in the country at the time. It was estimated that approximately 125,000 people marched down Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

It was also the first time that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous, “I Have A Dream Speech”.  National and state leaders who marched along with Reverend King included United Auto Workers president Walter Reuther, former Michigan governor John B. Swainson, and Detroit mayor Jerome Cavanagh.

The march ended at Cobo Hall where Dr. King was cheered by thousands of supporters when he stated that segregation needed to end.  Dr. King believed that it was the responsibility of African Americans to take part in peaceful demonstrations like the Walk to Freedom, which he called, “one of the most wonderful things that has happened in America.”

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WGPR/Channel 62 – 1st African American Owned TV Station In The U.S.

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

In 1961, Dr. William V. Banks, took a lead role when the International Free and Accepted Modern Masons bought WQTI 107.5 and renamed it WGPR.  He changed the format to R & B, gospel and soul music to make it more appealing to African American Detroiters.  In 1975, he would do the same thing in the television industry by launching Channel 62.  Bank’s purchase made WGPR the first television station ever to be wholly owned by African Americans.

The station created an opportunity for African-Americans in front of and behind the cameras. At that time not only were there no black-owned television stations, but there weren’t a lot of black people working in television.  One TV-62’s signature shows was, “The Scene”; a dance show featuring African Americans.  “The Scene was on air from 1975-1987”.

In 1995, WGPR-TV was sold to CBS.  CBS changed the tv station name to WWJ-TV and targeted its programming for a general audience.

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Geraldine Bledsoe Ford: 1st African American Woman To Be Elected As A Judge

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Born in 1928, Geraldine Bledsoe-Ford was the first African-American to be elected as a judge in the United States.  She was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan.  In 1966, she scored a surprising upset victory to become a judge on the Detroit Recorders Court.  Ford’s qualifications swept the election and she led the ticket repeatedly for the following 33 years. After a court reorganization, she served another year as a Circuit Court Judge, before retiring in 1999.

She spent much of her career hearing criminal cases.  On the bench she was known as “Mean Geraldine” to unprepared attorneys and those to whom she issued tough prison sentences.  However, Judge Ford also had a softer side; serving as a mentor to many aspiring lawyers.  Her daughter, Deborah Geraldine Bledsoe-Ford also served as a judge in Detroit as well.

Geraldine Bledsoe-Ford died in 2003.

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