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Jessie Simmons: How a schoolteacher became an unsung hero of the civil rights movement

Jessie Dean Gipson Simmons was full of optimism when she and her family moved from an apartment in a troubled area of Detroit to a new development in Inkster, Michigan in 1955.

  • Valerie Hill-Jackson
  • The Conversation

With three children in tow, Jessie and her husband settled into a home on Colgate Street in a neighborhood known as “Brick City” – an idyllic enclave of single, working-class families with a shared community garden.

The plan was simple.

Like many African Americans who left the South as part of the Great Migration, Jessie’s husband, Obadiah Sr., would find a stable factory job just outside of Detroit.

Then Jessie would put to use the bachelor’s degree she had earned in upper elementary education from Grambling State University in the…

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