In this interview, Rosalind Nelson discusses her childhood memories and jobs from growing up in Midtown and the activities that they used to do within their neighborhood along with the downtown area. She also discusses the issues within the inner cities of Detroit and how they are affecting the surrounding communities and the city as a whole.
Detroit Historical Society
Detroit Historical Society
Rosalind Nelson was born on February 4th, 1957 in Detroit, Michigan and spent her childhood being raised in Midtown during the 60’s and 70’s. After starting a family, Nelson moves out of the city and becomes employed as a welder for Ford. After retiring, Nelson moved back into the inner city and now settles in the Brush Park neighborhood complex in Midtown across the street from Little Caesars Arena.
JA: Hello my name is John Alsaigh, and I am here with Rosalind Nelson discussing the neighborhoods of Detroit. RN: Yeah. JA: The first question is where and when were you born? RN: I was born here in Detroit, Michigan at Herman Kiefer Hospital on February 4th, 1957 in Detroit, Michigan sixty-two years ago. Sixty-one! My bad. JA: 61? [laughs] So what neighborhood did you grow up in? RN: Well mainly, I was born on 66 Vermont and that’s [pauses] oh wow I was born on that street. But mainly I was raised from the West Side to the Midtown from Leslie, 3281 Leslie Street that’s the west side of Detroit. JA: Yeah [In agreement] RN: And the Midtown, I forgot the address where I was raised with my sister. Half I would see my sister during the summer months and my mother and father during the half and half. JA: So you would spend time in Midtown during the summertime basically. RN: Yeah. JA: So that’s nice. What was it like in Midtown during the summertime? RN: Oh it was nice I had a very fun and exciting childhood. The neighbors it was like, and the community of Midtown. Every adult was like our parents, you know. One, if I’m doing something wrong and the neighbors see it, we just wouldn’t get a spanking from the neighbor. They would take us home and go tell our parents and they would spank us too or put on some punishment. It was just a family based area. JA: That is really nice. So everyone had a good idea who everyone was in the neighborhood right? RN: Everybody knew everybody in the neighborhood. JA: So was it all interconnected? That’s cool. Was it an integrated neighborhood? RN: Well, back in the 50s when we first moved over there it was [stutters] it was integrated for about 5 years if I can remember, the first 5 years, and then [pauses] the white they start moving out and then it became an all-black neighborhood. And that was like from…[stutters. Like I moved over there in ‘59 to ‘60, ‘61 to ‘62 it had became all black. JA: Was this the neighborhood where you lived with your mom and dad or was it your sisters neighborhood in Midtown? RN: Both of them. JA: Both of them were sort of in the same way? RN: Mhmm. JA: Why do you think that sort of is I guess? RN: Well, back then I didn’t know why. It wasn’t that we did anything wrong for them leaving the neighborhood, and then as I grew up that’s what people do. They tend to follow they’re kind. And I guess there were too many black people moving in so they started moving out. JA: I guess what did you do for fun as a kid? RN: Oh we had so much fun! Well, back then we had the swimmobile come on every block. It was a big mac truck. JA: It was a mac truck? RN: Yeah and they put water in it, it was like our swimming pool. JA: That’s cool! RN: Yeah it was like a swimming pool. They come from block per block everyday. It was a big mac truck and they made it into a swimming pool. JA: Ahh that’s cool! RN: Then we had the play mobile, and that’s when the play mobile would come on each block and have swings, they would put up the swings playing in the street and barbeque, a block club party. JA: That’s so nice! RN: Block club party, we have block club parties, and all the neighbors, everybody on the block. It would be one block that particular block party would be blocked off. And they had the play mobile. JA: Were the play mobile and the swim mobile ever together at the same place? RN: Yes JA: Ugh! So it’s just one giant party [laughs] RN: Block party, yup. They had sandboxes on the play mobile, swings. They even had a carousel. JA: Oh that’s cool! RN: Yup, a carousel. JA: It was a big party. RN: Yes for the kids, for the kids. And then they had, everyday in the summertime we had free lunch. And some churches would take us [stutters] some churches would send us to camp for 2 weeks in Michigan. I usually went to camp every year from the age of 8 until I was 12 years old. And I forgot the name of the church. It was father [thinks] it was a Catholic church. JA: It was a catholic church? RN: Yeah. It was saint [thinks]. It wasn’t Saint Gregory’s. I think it was Saint Mary’s! JA: Saint Mary’s? RN: Yes and they would [stutters] and the underprivileged kids they would send us to camp. JA: Oh that’s fun! RN: For 2 weeks. Well, I just had a real good [childhood]. And then, everybody knows the kids will have to be either on their porch or in the house about time the street lights come on. JA: Yeah because everybody had to go home. RN: Yeah so everybody knew when it was getting dark we all the kids start run home. We knew we had to be getting in the house or [stutters] on our porch by the time the street lights come on. It was everybody’s neighborhood. JA: Everybody’s neighbor.. RN: And they want no kids out after dark. No kids. We would play on our street but we couldn’t leave off our street after dark. JA: Mhmm. Well that’s cool though that there was a whole system you know that all the kids would play and after a certain time, they went home. RN: Mhmm. JA: IT’s sort of like, my mom has to get my little sister, saying “Come Home!” and my sister would be like “No”. RN: We knew what time it was! JA: [laughs] Alrighty, I mean I guess that is what you did for fun as a kid, but what did you do for fun I guess in your teenage years? RN: Oh, we used to have basement parties. JA: Basement parties? RN: Yeah for a quarter. JA: Yeah Sheila told me the same story about basement parties! You had to pay a quarter. RN: Yeah we used to have basement parties, we used to go skating. There was a skating rink, called Revis skating rink, we would catch the bus and go skating every Saturday. JA: Was there ever a movie theatre? RN: Yes we had movie theatres for a quarter in our neighborhood. It was called the Avalon Theatre, Olympia Theatre, it was a lot of community centers in the neighborhood. We would getting together on Saturday, mother and father would give us a quarter, and we would [our parents would give us] 50 cents, get a quarter to get into the theatre and a quarter to get candy and popcorn. JA: Oh that’s cool! RN: And we would go [changes thought] what else would we do on the weekend? Basement parties for a quarter at night, or umm [pauses] play cards. We would be over at one another's house at night playing picino for a penny. JA: [laughs] That’s fun RN: We would play picino and tunk, we would play tunk for a penny. You know that’s what we did when we were teenagers. JA: Did you play sports and stuff as a [teenager]? RN: The only time we would play sports is when we went to school. The sports we had was when we were kids in the alley. We played in the alley kickball, baseball, tag, hide-and-go seek. There were no coaches or nothin we would just play. JA: They would be the games that you would play. RN: And then, they started building up community centers for children. And then we started going to the community centers where we would go and play basketball. They would have basketball, baseball, you know they started having teams for the neighborhood, competing teams for each neighborhood that we played at the community center and they would give us free lunch and we would always have free lunch every summer. JA: Oh that’s nice. RN: There was a free baggage lunch they would pass out for [stutters] in the community at 12 o’ clock. As far as sports sports, we didn’t have that. You know like, JA: Like organized sports? RN: Yeah JA: You just played for fun? RN: Yeah we played for fun. When they started building the community centers, we started competing with other communities. And then we started competing with other little cities [pause] in basketball, in baseball... JA: That’s fun. RN: Soccer. We had a soccer team, baseball team, basketball team, and a swimming team because I was on the swim team. JA: Oh you were on the swimming team? How was that? RN: ohhh it was fun I was um when I became 14 and in high school I was a junior lifeguard. JA: Really? RN: Yeah I became a junior lifeguard at Central High School. And then we had summer jobs they would give us from 14 years old to 18 year old. JA: Were you a lifeguard? RN: Yes I was. The first job I had was a junior lifeguard at Northwest Activity Center. I was a junior lifeguard there. JA: Oh that’s cool. RN: Yup, 14 years old. Because I got a summer job, they would give kids every year that wanted summer jobs we would always have a summer job. JA: That’s cool. So it was available to everybody? RN: Mhmm. We used to go right down Woodward to what’s that place? It’s on Woodward and Clairmount to sign up for your summer job. And they would give us summer jobs, and at that time the summer jobs would pay like 37 dollars a week. JA: Oh that’s pretty good! RN: Yup 37.50 a week. Or it was two weeks it was every two weeks. Yeah it was 37.50 every two weeks. That helped us get our going back to school clothes for school. JA: Oh that’s cool. [Phone alarm goes off] I remember you said like your first job was a lifeguard. What other jobs did you have over the summer? RN: Oh I worked at the bowling alley. There was a bowling alley on the corner. JA: Ohhh!! RN: Worked at the bowling alley. I worked at a restaurant Esquire Restaurant waitressed there, I was a teenager. And I worked at the bowling alley shining the pins up and the bowling balls up. But normally we would make our own jobs. We would go to the grocery store and help people with their groceries if they needed help. We would be in the lot at the grocery store and if anyone needed some help, raking leaves, shoveling snow JA: Yes [agreeingly] RN: Shoveling neighbors snow and raking their leaves and stuff like that. Helping because we had back then around Christmas time we used to put up Christmas lights. JA: I used to put up Christmas lights. RN: The whole light, the whole block. And we would have contests for each neighborhood whoever had the nicest got the trophy. JA: Whoever had the nicest lights on their house. RN: And then in the summer, every community would have a parade and we would make our floats. JA: Oh that’s nice! RN: Oh yeah and we would go down Woodward, not Woodward 12th Street, and we would go down 12th street and whoever had the best float got the trophy. JA: Did your neighborhood ever win the trophy? RN: We won every year. JA: You won every year? RN: Every year. JA: Good stuff, Good stuff. That’s nice. Alright, well the next question is where did your parents work. RN: My father had 14 children, he worked at Chrysler. Chrysler plant JA: He worked at Chrysler? RN: Mhmm JA: That’s nice. Did he like working at Chrysler at the time? RN: Yeah, he loved working at Chrysler because Chrysler was a good paying job back then. It was enough to pay him enough to provide for us. JA: And that’s good. Alrighty, So the next question is where did you go shopping as a child? Do you remember any specific stores? RN: Oh yes, we went to Atlantis Spartans. My mom used to take us to Atlantis Spartans. It was a department store like Walmart.. JA: Like Walmart or KMart or something like that. RN: Like KMart, yup. We had a KMart back then. JA: You had KMart? RN: But then, Robert Hawes that’s where she took our brothers shopping. It was a boys store clothing store. And we used to come shop downtown, catch the bus downtown at the stores downtown and that’s mainly where we did our shopping, shopping [for emphasis]. My mother used to get us on the bus and we would all go shopping downtown. JA: Wasn’t there like a very tall building like the Hudson? RN: Yeah the Hudson’s. It was Hudson’s on one side and Crowley on the other side. JA: Oh yeah. Did you shop at both? RN: Oh yeah you see, my mother would take us [to Hudson’s]. Hudson’s had a basement store, that’s where all of the clearance is at. JA: Ahh okay. RN: And we would go to Hudson’s around Christmas time. JA: Yeah because then they would try to get rid of a lot of stuff. RN: Uhh, yeah. Uh huh. But that was everyday the Hudson’s basement store that was where all of the clearance stuff was at. And everytime we went shopping we would go to Hudson’s or Crowley’s, but as far as my sister and brother she would probably give us some money, and we let my older brother or sister bring us downtown, and she would let us shop on our own. JA: Oh well that’s cool. That’s nice RN: At Bakers Shoe store Butlers, Mary Anne’s Winkelmans store, and what we did when we finished shopping it was the Kresge’s. JA: Oh it was Kresge’s RN: Yup, Kresge’s . We used to go get hamburgers or hot dogs and something from Kresge’s. JA: Oh well that’s cool. RN: And then after we did that we went to the shows. There was the Adams, The Poms JA: Oh! RN: The Grand Circus Theatre, the Fox Theatre… JA: Well that’s fun. It was like a little adventure day. First shopping and then go to the show. That’s fun. So the next question is where did you go to school? RN: I went to Central High School. I went to McCullough Elementary School. I went to quite a few junior high schools. I went to Longfellow, I went to Beaubien Junior High, I went to Post Junior High, Hutchison Junior High, it was dumb because I kept getting kicked out of school. It was Beaubien[whispers] oh and Durphy! JA: Durphy? RN: Durphy Junior High. And then, I ended up pregnant. I got pregnant, and then I went to job corp. And when I went to job corp, I was pregnant going into job corp and I took up a trade. I took up all seven trades. I was the first one of the people at job corp did all seven trades they had and finished them. JA: What were the trades? RN: It was one was welding, bookkeeping, like nurses aid now, secretarial, what else, auto mechanics… JA: Auto mechanics? RN: Yeah auto mechanics JA: Well that’s cool RN: Masonry JA: What is masonry? RN: Laying bricks? JA: Oh like laying bricks I see. RN: Masonry and, [pauses] I think that was it. JA: So now you know how to do quite a few things. RN: Yup I had trades. I’m the only one that finished all trades. JA: Wow that’s some pretty prestigious stuff [laughs] RN: Mhmm. What trade I used was my weldings trade because I went to the plant and I became a welder. JA: Oh that’s cool. RN: An arc welder and I retired. JA: When did you retire RN: I retired in October of 2005. JA: So you worked as a welder for a long time. RN: Yes JA: How was your experience being a welder? RN: It was… [stutters] I hated it, but I didn’t have no choice because they paid money and it put food on my table for me and my kids. I didn’t like it at all. JA: Yeah RN: We gotta do what we gotta do. JA: Exactly that’s how life is. Especially, for everybody. RN: Right, right. You gotta do what you gotta do to keep food on your table. But it was a good, Ford, Ford gave me a good life. JA: That’s good. RN: Working for Ford JA: Did you work for Ford? RN: Mhmm. JA: That’s nice. Alrighty, so the next question is are there any stories from your childhood that you would like to share from your neighborhood growing up? Cool stories? RN: There’s so many stories [contemplates]. What kind of stories are you looking for? JA: I don’t know the question is just like… I guess what is a tradition that happened every year? How about that. RN: Oh a tradition that happened every year? That’s when everybody would get together [suddenly changes topic] Oh you know what I used to love when we do was when we barbeque. JA: Barbeque? RN: When my mom says she’s gonna barbeque that was like we were going out of town. We were gonna go to Belle Isle. JA: Yeah it was a good day. RN: And we pack all up, and we are having a day out at Belle Isle. So we would go swimming, barbequing, the Boblo, we used to go to Boblo on the Boblo Boat. JA: Mhmm RN: And go out to Boblo Island. I loved doing that as a kid. And mostly because there was so many of us, we didn’t need any friends because my mother she taught us we were all the friends we needed. JA: Yeah [agreeingly] RN: Because they were so many of y’all. So, I remember the times when my older brothers and sisters they used to take me places…hold on... [interruption in the interview due to visitor at door] [Interview resumes] RN: You ready? JA: Alrighty, we’re back into the interview. We had to take a little pause but the next question is, did you venture around the city growing up or did you tend to stay in your own neighborhood? RN: We tended to stay in the neighborhood. JA: You tended to stay in the neighborhood? RN: Yeah. I didn’t venture on the east side or the south side. None of that. I stayed on the west side born and raised. That’s where I ventured off at that area, but I didn’t go outside the west side. JA: Yeah. Did you feel comfortable in the city growing up? RN: Oh yeah. We didn’t have a care in the world. We didn’t have a care in the world. JA: Awesome. Okay, how was the decade that you grew up in Detroit I guess. RN: The decade we grew up in? JA: Yeah RN: Well, the decade we grew up in everybody helped one another that was in need. There was no killing, there was no guns, no violence in the neighborhoods. There was none of that. Everybody looked out for one another. Old or young, big or small we all looked out for one another and we just mainly stuck together for each other. JA: And that’s good. Has the Midtown neighborhood changed over the years or has it stayed the same? RN: No it changed. When the drugs came, that’s when the neighborhoods changed. JA: That’s when it changed? RN: Yeah. First is was the heroine, it came. And then people getting hooked on the heroine. And then stealing came, breaking into people’s houses. There still wasn’t no killing. You know very, very rare where you would find a drug addict and kill somebody for some dope. They would steal, breaking into people’s [houses]. But when the crack epidemic came, that’s one of the first time start seeing kids killing kids because they put the crack and the guns in the young folks hands. JA: Yeah RN: And when they did that and money, crack, and guns do not mix. JA: They do not. RN: So when they bundle them three together, that’s when everything went to hell in a handbasket. JA: Yeah RN: Because the dealers they were killing each other for territory. And the crackheads, they were killing each other to get more crack. And the higher echelon, they were killing the dealers pushing them out to make more money for them. And that’s how it went. And today it is still like that. There was no wave of it slows down, eases up, slows down, it’s just been on the same wave. JA: Same wave [in agreeance] RN: And it never got no better. It got worse, but it never ever to this day it has never gotten any better from that time on. And that was back in… JA: Like what time would you say that was? RN: That was back in ughh.. [pauses] and then the heroin epidemic came out in the 70’s. The late 60’s through the 70’s and the crack epidemic came out mid-80’s until now. It’s still on the streets now. Because the heroin addicts turned into crackheads. JA: Mhmm RN: And they never could recover they either died from the gun or they died from the use. JA: That’s a shame. Have you ever thought of moving away from the Midtown area? RN: Yes I did move away for a while. [stutters] When it was 1977, I was working at Ford and I started working at Fords in 1977 and when I was 18 I bought a house. My first house I bought was in 1982. JA: 1982? RN: Yeah and I moved on Telegraph and Plymouth. I bought a house over there. JA: That’s cool RN: And I moved over there and stayed in that house for 23 years. JA: That’s a long time. RN: And I never did [pauses] but my family was still over there down in the Midtown and the west side they were still over there. But I moved out for my children's sake, you know. So that’s what I did but if that hadn’t of came up I wouldn’t have moved because I love my community. But the drugs, that's why people really started moving out of Detroit period. JA: It was because of the drugs? RN: The drugs, and the killing. JA: Yeah. So would you say you moved out sort of like for the sake of like your children? RN: Uh-huh to protect. Not just my children but for me too. To protect me and my children and I just didn’t want to be working for nothing. What I was working for I was trying to keep it, keep what I was working for. And I knew if I was still living, and you couldn’t keep nothing. JA: Yeah. RN: They were breaking in your house, and then when the crack came, the young people their minds weren’t matured and they didn’t realize they weren’t able to handle the amount of money. Their minds, you know they were getting that money and they were fearful that someone was going to take their money so they got paranoid, they weren’t paranoid over the crack, they were paranoid because they thought somebody was going to take their territory or make more money than them and so they start killing one another. Just because of the money, you know. But it had gotten to far. I had thought about leaving Detroit at one time because it got so bad. Yeah it got too bad. And just like I said the crime it’s still the same. It ain’t got no better, it just got worse. And you know what, you can build up the buildings, and putting all of the buildings up. The building doesn’t mean nothing it’s the people. JA: Mhmm RN: It’s the people. They can build as much as they want. But the first thing you gotta do is go and help them people. That’s what they should’ve did before they even started trying to make a new downtown and a new Midtown. What about the people that’s lost? JA: Yeah. RN: They are lost. And you still got homeless rampant even here downtown but their still building. And you can only move so many out and it is only gonna be so many that’s not going go. JA: Exactly because they have nowhere else to go. RN: They don’t have nowhere else to go. So they should really the government, Michigan government, [stutters] you think their trying but they're not. They got enough money to build a billion dollar building, but you don’t have enough to spend 100,000 on a person recovering. JA: Yeah RN: Or in need. That is crazy. JA: That is crazy because it starts from the people too if you build all of these things around them [to build up the city] but it sort of diminishes the fact that there were people there before. RN: We were there before [pauses] the buildings, so why not help the people. It starts with the people first. JA: Exactly. RN: I don’t care how much money you bring in the city. If the foundation is shell rocky, the foundation is going to crumble right back down because the foundation is still shaky. You're still walking on shaky ground. JA: Exactly. RN: You know, that don’t make sense to me. JA: And that’s an interesting concept because I mean I go to college and the college tries to portray that we’re rising and [everything is getting better]. Like there are still issues RN: There are still homeless in the street. There is still crack out in the street. Still people have guns killing one another. JA: Yeah [repeatedly in agreeance]. RN: [stutters] If you could just nip it in the butt a little bit to see a difference, Detroit and everybody will come back. And you still, not just that the people that they’re building these things for that they’re not putting people on the same plane. You got the upper class, the middle class, and then there is the bottom. Not even the middle class. It is the haves and the have nots. That’s what it’s about now. And sooner or later, something is going to boil over. There’s going to be an explosion. Because the haves they’re going to get tired of the have nots stealing their stuff. JA: Exactly. RN: And the have nots are going to get tired of not having anything. So it’s a losing battle you know. There’s only a little while where you're going to enjoy. When I was growing up I thought I was going to enjoy that all my life. And I never thought things would go bad like this. And then to think about it, I believe to this day, when Coleman Young was mayor if they had to give that man some money to deal in Detroit, the people would have gotten so desperate, you know because building those new houses in Detroit in 50 or 60 years. JA: Wow RN: They haven’t built, we still don’t have a reperable grocery store to go to like a Kroger. JA: Yeah that’s so true. RN: We buy nothing. JA: That is very true. There is not like a big grocery store like [stutters] there’s not like a dollar store. RN: No there ain’t nothing. If you don’t try to keep up with what you have it is going to crumble. JA: I feel like there’s lots of things missing that typical people would want to go there. RN: Yeah what they want, right! JA: Yeah like they have Whole Foods, but Whole Foods is like [too expensive]. RN: People can’t afford Whole Foods and they too high. I don’t even go. JA: Yeah I don’t go to Whole Foods [laughs]. Well I mean they don’t have things for [typical prices] RN: But like okay in the suburbs, they have a variety of different grocery stores. JA: Yeah they have so many different things for people but here they just have… RN: We don’t even have a theatre for our children to go to. JA: There is no movie theatre! RN: They ain’t got no movie theatres. They just started building playgrounds in the last 6 years in Detroit for the children. JA: That’s crazy. RN: The kids ain't got nothing for activity. They took it out the school. They took the art out of the school. They took the music out of the school. Everything for the inner city for the kids you know instead of them doing work, work, work. When I went to school we had so much fun in school. We had art, we had gym, we had music, we had tap dance, we had gymnastics. They ain’t got none of that no more. And for kids to grow they got to have that. To grow their mind. So they can have other ways of [venting]. You you might have music as a small kid and you might wanna do something musical. We had band, so what are kids going to do? They’re limited. Don’t limit a child’s mind! JA: Exactly [chuckles] RN: And that’s what they’re doing they’re just limiting. Their minds are limited. These young black boys are only being limited in their minds to be a basketball star. The whole black race, whole young race can’t be a basketball star. So what are you going to do? JA: Exactly. RN: Go in these schools and try to get them advanced courses to [take with them to] college and other things, you know. JA: Yeah, to be more well-rounded people. RN: Yeah we ain’t got that. That’s why we are lost. And I don’t care how much your reach got, they losin too. JA: Exactly RN: Just as I’m riding along and they’re living a better life, but in a way they’re losing too. JA: Exactly. Alrighty, the next question is when somebody says the neighborhoods, what does that mean to you? That’s an odd question but what do the two words the neighborhoods mean to you? RN: Okay. When I was a kid the neighborhood meant to me: togetherness, unity, family, that’s when I was a kid. Now, when they say the neighborhoods [they think] slums, ghetto, poor [pauses]. It don’t mean when they say neighborhoods today it don’t mean nothing good about the neighborhoods. Now if you pick out a specific neighborhood I can tell you about a specific neighborhood like the suburbs, well. Got everything. They’re not struggling for nothing. But the neighborhoods is a struggle. JA: That’s true. That’s an interesting, different way of looking at it. How do you feel about the state of your neighborhood today? RN: Oh this neighborhood today? This is as fast as I’ve ever seen a neighborhood grow. I’ve been down here for 4 years, 4 or 5 years downtown. JA: I guess it’s just so crazy seeing everything. RN: Right. For the 4 or 5 years I’ve been down here, all you’ve been seeing is growth, growth, growth, growth. Growth here, growth there, growth here. Business here, business there, business, business, business. JA: Mhmm. RN: In this neighborhood. In the neighborhood where I come from at, no growth. Still ghetto. JA: Yeah [silence]. So what would you like to see happen within this neighborhood? That’s the next question. RN: I’d like to see not this neighborhood just be for the haves. It should be for everybody. I would like to see more people of color. I would like to see more people as color as far as jobs wise in this neighborhood. Have jobs. People of color going to the game more. You go to the games and you only see one color. If they give us jobs we maybe go to the game. JA: Exactly. RN: If we had some money to go. We are the people that made America's growth because we are the buyers. JA: Yeah. RN: They are the takers and the keepers and the savers but we are the ones to make it run because we study buying, buy, buy. [stutters] When a person isn’t used to anything, they will spend it and they will showboat. So we as black people we have to learn how to save and come together and become organizers, you know. JA: Yeah RN: They save! And they have generations, and generations, and generations but if you never had it you can never do it. We ain't never had the ability to do that. They don’t know what we can do if they give people of color a chance. But they still scared, I believe to give people of color a chance. Because they are so selfish, because we are going to take what they got is enough for everybody. And God gave enough food for the animals and every human being ain’t got to go out there and buy food. God put enough on this Earth for everyone, to be prosperous. And when the Lord say, I want these people to be fearful and multiply, he said I didn’t come here to destroy the world. I came to the world for you all to have abundance. So we got abundance but people ain’t sharing it. JA: Yeah. People just keep it for themselves. I see where you’re coming from. So I guess if there was a project done make the neighborhood more available to everybody. RN: Everybody because it’s going to be the same and it’s going to repeat itself. JA: Exactly. RN: The whites had the city of Detroit before, they come back in and it's a cycle that just keep [on repeating]. But if you give an even ground… JA: Then it will [be the melting pot]. RN: It will be the melting pot that you all claim America is. But it is not a melting pot when everybody is in this category, that category, and this one have and this one no have. Equability, every man should be equal. And then I think with the good government the ones that are rich. If I was in government, the ones that were rich I would make them give the people that is poor some. JA: Exactly. That is a good point. Alright, [interrupted] RN: Share your wealth! JA: [chuckles] Alright so the last question is what do you feel about the state of Detroit today? RN: Oh boy [chuckles]. I feel a change is coming on but it is happening so slow. It’s happening fast for others, but very very slow for the majority. [stammers] No we aren’t the minority, right. I would say for the majority, it is happening quickly. They think the turnaround is happening quickly. But for the... [pauses] JA: People that have been living here. RN: People that have been living here, we still at a standstill. We are going nowhere. But we’re here. We can’t go nowhere but be here. And since we put all of our sweat and tears to build Detroit and then for y’all to take it back, like we never existed. That’s wrong, so wrong. It’s so wrong. And we don’t have anybody on our side because of the money. If there wasn’t any money involved, everybody will get together and help. If nobody didn’t distribute the money to where it is going to go, everybody will help everybody coming into Detroit helping Detroit. Not helping this area or helping that area but that is where the money and all of the help is going to be. JA: Alrighty. RN: And it ain’t right. I think it’s coming along, but it’s not coming along further for the majority. But yeah majority because the minority… JA: They’re taking it. RN: They’re taking it like they always do. That’s just fact. And they are wondering why people are moving out of Detroit that is why. Why are you going to stay somewhere and get nowhere? JA: Mhmm yeah. RN: You’ve got to move. JA: That’s true. Alrighty, that’s the interview and I just wanted to say thank you again for interviewing!
“Rosalind Nelson,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed March 7, 2021, https://detroit1967.detroithistorical.org/items/show/717.