Women’s Way Murals: Harriet Woods Hill’s Ribbon Cutting

On September 1st, GGRWHC along with the Downtown Grand Rapics Inc., The City of Grand Rapids, Lions & Rabbits and numerous community partners, came together to host the ribbon cutting for the Harriet Woods Hill mural, located at at the Grand Rapids Police Department’s alley at 1 Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Harriet Woods Hill in 1955 became the first African American female officer in the Grand Rapids Police Department. Her career began in the Juvenile Division, and she later trained new recruits about the challenges faced by children. Hill, in 1977, was named the first female detective in the department’s 106-year history. “I came there to do a job, and I wasn’t going to allow [anyone] to force me to quit working because [of their] prejudices,” she said. “Once the door was opened, I never allowed it to become closed.”

“Harriet Woods-Hill was resilient and humble. Symbolism flows through this piece as waves pay ode to Harriet’s hometown leading to the old-time Grand Rapids cityscape. Lotus flowers symbolize her growth out of muddy waters, all the while soaring above.” – Statement by Mural Artist Jasmine Bruce.

(The above description of Harriet Woods Hill and statement by the artist were taken from https://www.womenswaygr.org/)

Along with the ribbon cutting there was a welcome speech from DGRI and GGRWHC’s Sophia Brewer, a performance by local artist DJ Venus Flyytrap, a video on Harriet Hill Woods, and speeches from James Hill (Harriet Woods Hill’s son), Jasmine Bruce (the artist of the mural), GRPD’s Chief Payne, and Lions and Rabbits. There were snacks and refreshments provided by Mosby’s! Scroll on to see photos from the event!

If you were not able to join us at the Harriet Woods Hill’s ribbon cutting – don’t worry there will be four more events to join in on the fun! Every Wednesday in September the community members listed above will be holding a ribbon cutting to feature each completed Women’s Way Mural in downtown Grand Rapids. Along with the ribbon cutting these events will also include local artist performances, a video on the background of the women of the murals, and time to mingle with food and drinks! For more information on the upcoming events please see our events calendar.

Three work colleagues of Harriet Woods Hill’s.

Crowd gathered at the ribbon cutting.

James Hill (Harriet Woods Hill’s son) on the left with the scissors, ready to cut the ribbon!

The crowd seated beneath the mural for the presentation.

Sophia Brewer speaking for GGRWHC.

Jasmine Bruce (the mural’s artist) giving her speech.

March Community Cup with Outside Coffee Co!

We are excited to announce that for the month of March the Outside Coffee Co is partnering with the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council as a part of their Community Cup Program!

The March Community Cup is the hazelnut Latte and 100% of its profits will be donated by the Outside Coffee Co to GGRWHC.

If you are interested in trying the March Community Cup latte you can find the Outside Coffee Co at the following address:

Outside Coffee Co
734 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 7am – 7pm

Join us in celebrating Women’s History Month with great coffee!

History Detectives 2019: All History! All Day!

Join us on Saturday, January 19 from 9:30am – 4:00pm for History Detectives!

GGRWHC is proud to sponsor Sophia Ward Brewer’s presentation:

Undercurrent: African American Women in Turn-of-the-20th-Century Grand Rapids

Still an undercurrent in accounts of reform movements coming out of the nineteenth century, the cultural and political contributions of African American women have received little attention. Sophia Brewer will bringing this story home by recounting how a small community of African American women in Grand Rapids made their mark on local history. Introducing these local movers and shakers, she will uncover who they were, reveal where they came from, and describe how they impacted their period’s fight for civil and women’s rights. Just beneath the surface, these African American Grand Rapidians made local waves that swelled into national consequence.
Come for Sophia’s presentation at 10:30am, or stay for the whole day of local history programming featuring:

9:30am – Lawrence C. Earle Is Grand Rapids’ First Artist
Don Bryant – Sponsored by the Western Michigan Genealogical Society
For over five decades Grand Rapids’ first artist dedicated his fascinating life to art and to motivating others.

10:30am – Undercurrent: African American Women in Turn-of-the-20th-Century Grand Rapids
Sophia Ward Brewer – Sponsored by the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council
How a small community of African American women in Grand Rapids made waves in history, waves that swelled into national consequence.

11:30am – What Did They Know and When Did They Know It? Grand Rapidians and the Holocaust
Rob Franciosi – Sponsored by Kutsche Office of Local History at Grand Valley State University & Grand
Rapids Public Library
Contrary to popular myth, average Americans including Grand Rapidians read a lot of Holocaust history reported in their daily papers as it was happening.

1:00pm – Hot Spots in a Cool City: Evening Entertainment in Grand Rapids, 1940-1970
M. Christine Byron – Sponsored by the Grand Rapids Historical Commission
In the mid-twentieth century Grand Rapids already offered a “cool” range of evening entertainment at cocktail lounges, music venues, dining-and-dancing spots, and movie theaters.

2:00pm – Fresh Air, Thrift, Exercise and Innocent Delight: School Gardening Programs in Progressive Era Grand Rapids
Jayson Otto – Sponsored by the Grand Rapids City Archives
In the early 20th century, Grand Rapids became a model for school gardening programs when every grade school had its own.

3:00pm – WWII: When Patriotism Was the Norm
Sandra Warren – Sponsored by the Grand Rapids Historical Society and the Grand Rapids Public Museum
How Grand Rapids South High students bought a B-17 Bomber to aid the war effort during World War II.

For more information about the day, including reserving a boxed lunch, visit https://www.grpl.org/historydetectives/