(5) Brown Chapel – Palm Leaf Club

Palm Leaf Club c. 1956

Palm Leaf Club c. 1956
Left to Right
1st row: Jean Palmer, Evelyn Beatty, Betty Adkins, Edna Kersey, Vida Vest, Geraldine Kersey
2nd Row: Margaret Russell, Ethel King Neely, Florence Harris, Bessie Starks, Bessie Newton, Yvonne Williams, Glenna Starks
3rd Row: Gertrude Francois, Doris Smith, Hazel Reed, Grace Aray, Anna Van Slyke, Estelle Low, Mazerline Moore, Gladys Benon, Martha Jackson

The Palm Leaf Club was founded in 1904 by the female parishioners of the Brown African Episcopal Methodist Church at the corner of Buffalo and South Adams Streets to pay off debts associated with the building’s construction. After the debts were paid, the Club continued as an independent charitable and social organization, often focusing on the needs of the community’s young through day care and tutoring programs. As host to an annual tea, the Palm Leaf Club became the leading women’s societal organization of Ypsilanti’s African American community. Beginning in 1940 the Palm Leaf Club has organized an annual scholarship for local youths.  In 2004 the Palm Leaf Club celebrated its 100th anniversary. The Palm Leaf Club organized the purchase of the home at 319 S Washington as a meeting place for the Ypsilanti Association of Black Women’s Clubs.

Palm Leaf Club c. 1954

Palm Leaf Club c. 1954
Left to Right
Front Row: Margaret Russell, Ethel King Neely, Florence Harris, Bessie Starks, Edna Kersey
Back Row: Doris Smith, Hazel Reed, Grace Aray, Viola Carter, Betty Stevens, Estelle Lowe, Gladys Benon, Lucille Richardson, Bessie Newton, Yvonne Williams, Vida Vest, Louise Bass, Mazerline Moore, Martha Jackson, Anna Van Slyke, Thelma Goodman

Bibliography
Gibson, Carol. Another Ann Arbor.  Charleston, SC : Arcadia Publishing, 2006.

Marshall, Albert Prince. Unconquered souls : the history of the African American in Ypsilanti. Ypsilanti. Marlan Publishers, 1993.

Marshall, Albert Prince. Brown Chapel : African Methodist Episcopal Church of Ypsilanti, Michigan, a brief history. Ypsilanti, 1979.

Vertical Files, Black History Collection, Ypsilanti Historical Society.

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