The Highland Park Historic District Commission has begun an effort to collect oral histories from residents. A group of facilitators were trained by the Detroit Historical Society on April 25. The commission hopes to begin collecting interviews from volunteer participants this summer.
“As the community ages, so do those individuals, and our capacity to learn, to discover what they know decreases as each person passes away and takes their stories and their histories, their personal — but also, in the aggregate, their collective — narratives of the city with them,” says Malika Pryor, the Vice Chair of the Highland Park Historic District Commission.
Pryor points out that Highland Park’s history is often conflated with Detroit’s. But she says the small city within Detroit’s borders has its own unique and remarkable past.
“The first African American mayor elected in the entire state of Michigan was elected here in Highland Park,” says Pryor. “The Ford plant wasn’t in Detroit, it was in fact in Highland Park. And that’s something that isn’t always necessarily understood.”
Pryor says the oral histories collected will likely focus on the lives of residents in Highland Park when the city had a thriving commercial district, library, community college and more. The memories will be recorded in the Detroit Historical Society’s Oral History Archive.
If residents or former residents want to volunteer to be interviewed or have questions about the project they should contact Highland Park Historic District Commission Chair Anne Zobel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top image is of the Highland Park Ford Plant, courtesy of the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University.