Niles History Center
Profiles and Portraits: African Americans in Niles
$24,915 • Niles
The Niles History Center (NHC) along with several area partners, spearheaded a project called Profiles and Portraits: African-Americans in Niles’ Past, Present and Future. This collaborative project expanded a community history engagement initiative that aimed to uncover and share stories of African-Americans in Niles from the 1850s to the present. The largely untold story of African-Americans who arrived as part of multiple networks such as the Underground Railroad and settled here has lessons with tremendous potential to address issues facing the community of Niles. The support systems, family structures and community dynamics of Niles led to the establishment of black-owned businesses and a “corridor” which included a school, church and Michigan’s first African-American Masonic lodge. To discover, analyze and disseminate this history so that it can be applied to the present, three products were produced: a digital resource database, a local history exhibit and a walking tour. A celebratory program will be held a year from the program’s start.