Royal Oak children, activists create Black History Month display in City Hall

Royal Oak City Hall displays ‘Black History is American History’

When you walk through the doors of Royal Oak City Hall you’ll see “Black History is American History”. The photo display features the smiles of more than 10 Royal Oak kids and teens as historic figures like Jackie Robinson, Ruby Bridges, Muhammed Ali, Althea Gibson, Serena and Venus Williams and more.

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – When you walk through the doors of Royal Oak City Hall, you’ll see, “Black History is American History.” The photo display features the smiles of more than 10 Royal Oak kids and teens as historic figures, such as Jackie Robinson, Ruby Bridges, Muhammed Ali, Althea Gibson, Serena and Venus Williams, and more.

Lakeesha Morrison, an activist and the descendent of Royal Oak’s first Black pioneers, said the city approached her about doing something special for Black history. Morrison partnered with Summer March, another activist and an educator, and together they came up with “Black History is American History.”

Morrison took the pictures.

“Being Black and being in Royal Oak is something that is a privilege for myself and because my family set me up for this so it’s a great opportunity to teach our children that they’re important,” Morrison said.

March said the experience takes teaching one step further. It allows each child to see themselves as a history maker.

“Even as young as four, we have two four-year-olds that were part of this project, how important that history is, how important is to know it and how important it is to continue the legacy dressing up like them, representing them, speaking about them, learning about them and teaching it to their friends,” March said.

The project took about four days to pull off but will leave lifelong impressions for the children participating.

Melissa Golpe’s son, Jacobi, is 5 years old and, as an aspiring musician, portrayed Louis Armstrong.

“This is going to be such a stepping stone for him as he grows up and he can look back and go, ‘Wow, I was part of this,’” Golpe said.

Lailah Hunter, a Royal Oak 10-year-old, chose to be Katherine Johnson -- a NASA mathematician and scientist.

“We both have curly hair and we’re both very determined about what we want,” she said.

Even at a young age, she recognized the significance of the project.

“Some people don’t really know what Black history is, so then people who come here can now learn about it,” Lailah said.

Each child is now a part of Royal Oak history. Earlier this month, the city made a proclamation to celebrate Black History Month, and it featured the names of all the children and organizers of the project.

“Black History is American History” will be on display in the lobby of Royal Oak City Hall until the end of the month.


About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.