Below is an OLLI Reads offering and a FREE two session panel to complement Alice Randall's book to further explore Detroit's "Black Bottom" neighborhood. 
OLLI’s Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and OLLI Reads are Co-hosting two panels related to Alice Randall’s appearance for OLLI Reads on February 8, 2021 featuring her book Black Bottom Saints


OLLI members can register in the online catalog at under DEI offerings, or contact the OLLI office to be added:

Panel #1: Detroit's Black Bottom and Paradise Valley Neighborhoods: The Settings for Alice Randall's Black Bottom Saints
Monday, February 1 10-11:30 am online
Or Telephone:
Dial 1 312 626 6799 
Webinar ID: 987 7493 7129

Moderator: Craig Ramsay
Jamon Jordan, educator, historian and founder of Black Scroll Network & Tours in Detroit. See more at 
Lars Bjorn, retired Professor of Sociology, U of M Dearborn; co-author of Before Motown: The History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-1960, which includes detailed coverage of many of the clubs and other venues, including The Flame Show Bar where Alice Randall's narrator, Ziggy Johnson, was master of ceremonies in the heyday of these neighborhoods; many of which are mentioned in Randall's book. Lars is also President of the Southeastern Michigan Jazz Association.
Jim Gallert, co-author of Before Motown: The History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-1960, produced and hosted jazz programs on WEMU-FM and WDET-FM for over twenty-five years. See more at the website,, where Jim and Lars Bjorn present a blog where articles are posted, along with other information about Detroit's jazz history. His vast collection of photographs on Detroit jazz and blues music appeared in Before Motown. Jim has also written biographies of several Detroit jazz musicians.
Panel #2:  The Demolition and Redevelopment of Detroit's Black Bottom and Paradise Valley Neighborhoods and Its Impact on the City
Monday, February 15  10-11:30 am online
Or Telephone:
Dial 1 312 626 6799 
Webinar ID: 987 7493 7129

Moderator: Craig Ramsay
June Manning Thomas, Professor Emerita of Urban Planning, Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan. Author of articles and books on city planning efforts, including the redevelopment of parts of Detroit after WWII, including Black Bottom. See her book, Redevelopment and Race: Planning A Finer City in Postwar Detroit, and her contributions as co-editor of the volume, Mapping Detroit: Land, Community and Shaping a City.
Marsha Battle Philpot (aka Marsha Music), self-described primordial Detroiter and Detroitist; author of The Detroitist: An Anthology About Detroit, activist and daughter of Joe Von Battle, owner of Joe's Record Shop on Hastings Street in Black Bottom and on 12th Street after urban renewal forced him to move. Marsha also has lived in Lafayette Park, designed by famous architect, Mies van der Rohe, and the centerpiece of the residential redevelopment of Black Bottom in the 1950s. See more at her website:

OLLI Reads Presents: Black Bottom Saints | by Alice Randall
February 8, 2021, 10:00am - 12:00pm

Join Alice Randall for a discussion of her magical novel "Black Bottom Saints” which brings to life Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood, one of the most influential, artful Black communities in America.

Alice Randall’s magical "Black Bottom Saints" brings to life Detroit’s legendary neighborhood, one of the most influential, artful Black communities in America. The novel, reminiscent of E.L. Doctorov’s Ragtime, comes alive through the voice of Joseph “Zig-gy” Johnson (1913-1968) who was a real-life nightclub impresario, dance studio instructor, and entertainment columnist for the Michigan Chronicle.

It takes its shape from the Catholic Saints Day Books with Ziggy choosing his own “52 Saints.” Randall balances the stories of these larger-than-life “Saints” (Dina Washington, Joe Louis, and Sammy Davis, Jr.) with local heroes (Charles Diggs, UAW negotiator Marc Stepp, and Maxine Powell), and creates enthralling characters whose unstoppable ambition, love of style, and faith in community made this black Midwestern neighborhood the rival of New York City’s Harlem.

Alice Randall was born in Detroit and raised in Washington DC. She is a Harvard-educated author of novels, including The Wind Done Gone, Pushkin and the Queen of Spades, Rebel Yell, and Ada’s Rules. She is also the first African American woman to write a #1 Country and Western song (XXX’s and OOO’s which celebrates Aretha Franklin). With her daughter, Caroline Randall Williams, she co-authored the acclaimed cookbook Soul Food Love which won the NAACP Image award and the young adult novel The Diary of B. B. Bright, Possible Princess, which received the Phillis Wheatley Award. 

Alice Randall is a Professor and Writer-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University
© Copyright 2020 Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Michigan.
All Rights Reserved.

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