Book examines history of rural African Americans in Michigan

Jun 28, 2013

Bill Allen was an African American who ran a hog farm in Cass County in the late 1860s.
Credit Courtesy of Benjamin Calvin Wilson

Throughout Michigan's history, the state's African American population is often portrayed as an urban population. But that depiction overlooks a part of Michigan’s history.

Many African Americans settled in rural areas, before and after the Civil War. In 1860, Cass County was home to more than 1,500 blacks, surprisingly that was just under the number of African Americans found in Wayne County at the time.

Dr. Benjamin Wilson is a professor  emeritus of history at Western Michigan University. He's  co-author of the book  “Black Eden: The Idlewild Community” and "The Rural Black Heritage Between Chicago and Detroit, 1850-1929."  Dr. Wilson sits down with Current State’s Emanuele Berry, and explains why a native Floridian took interest in Michigan's rural African American heritage.