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Old Cassette Tapes Will Keep African-American History In Ypsilanti Alive

Credit Laura Bien
A.P. Marshall and some of his cassette tapes that feature interviews from the 1980's.

The Ypsilanti District Library has launched a new African-American Oral History Archive.  The audio is being taken from old cassette tapes.

Former Eastern Michigan University professor A.P. Marshall recorded about fifty interviews with prominent members of the Ypsilanti black community during the 1980's.  An interview with Eugene Beatty is the first to be featured in the archive.

Gillian Ream Gainsley, spokesperson for the library, explains what the interview is about.

"His life, his period that he spent at Eastern Michigan University as a track star. His near qualifications for the 1932 U.S. Olympic team and his experience. Most of his career was spent in the Ypsilanti Public Schools. He was a school principal."

Out of the fifty cassette tapes, thirty have been recovered and will be digitized during the year to be added to the archive.  Additional interviews featuring current local prominent community leaders will also be conducted. 

The goal is to highlight the rich African-American history in Ypsilanti through the online archive that you can find by clicking here.

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— Jorge Avellan is a reporter for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him

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