The Reverend Garther Roberson, Jr.
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Garther Roberson Jr.


Mount Olive Baptist Church


The Reverend Garther Roberson, Jr.

Rev. Garther Roberson Jr. was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan on August 1, 1927. He is the second youngest of the six children of Rev. Garther Roberson Sr. and Estella Roberson.

Rev. Roberson Jr. graduated from Ypsilanti High School in 1948. He went to work for United Stove Company for a year and then began working for Ford Motor Company in 1950. He was drafted into the Army shortly thereafter and spent two years serving overseas in the Korean War. After his discharge from the Army, Rev. Roberson Jr. returned to Ypsilanti and semi-skilled trade work at Ford Motor Company.

He also immersed himself in the work of his father's church, Second Baptist, and eventually became a deacon. In 1977, Rev. Roberson Jr. announced to the church that he would go into the ministry.

By this time, he had also earned an associate's degree in engineering from Washtenaw Community College and had been working a number of years as a salaried engineer for Ford Motor Company in Saline, Michigan.

Rev. Roberson Jr. became the pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Ypsilanti in 1979. Rev. Roberson Jr. is president of the Huron Valley Missionary Baptist District Congress of Christian Education and president of the Washtenaw County Ministerial Alliance.

His community work has involved him with the faculty and programs of several of the local higher education institutions, particularly with regard to prevention work in health care. He is currently involved with the volunteer work of the Hope Clinic sites in Ypsilanti.

Tape recorded interview;
Detroit, MI
27 August  1998

Talks about the support system in place to help family members who migrated from the South to Ypsilanti

I: Would you to talk a little bit about the family meetings that were held to help people who came from the South?

R: Well, this was not unusual. This was an important part of family. As families migrated, they always had to have some source, some area where they would be able to find refuge, were able to find a place to stay. And so, families that were moving up from the South for the same conditions as my father had would automatically write to the families that were existing, say, like we here in Ypsilanti, and let them know when they were leaving, when they were going to arrive. The family that was already here would plan this occasion and it was always a great occasion when a family would come up from the South.

And I can remember very well as when they would arrive, all the families in the community or the surrounding area would come together, and we would meet at one home. Food was prepared, large amounts of food, and this to us was the greatest time because we knew that there was going to be a lot of food. Then again, all of our cousins and everything would come together. And we, as children, would just be having the greatest time. We were introduced to our new cousins that we didn't know, and we would bring them in, and we all would be out playing and just having a good time.

But while we were, as children, enjoying this great occasion, the family would be back in the kitchen, and they would be very seriously talking to those who had just come, and relating to them the situation. They would find out if there were families that maybe had four, five, and some six, seven children. The question would be where would they be able to live until accommodations were found for them. And the family would make a decision. The children would be given to the aunts and uncles. Everyone would take a part of this. And the adults would be given to another family that they would be able to. And so they would more or less surround and take care of the total family until they were able to get work and then find a place to stay.

This was one of the things that made it very difficult to take census from Afro-American families, because that was the way they carried out their own problems. They solved their own problems. They worked out their own problems. And sometimes a household may have been adequate for three or four children, but there might be seven, eight, nine, or ten because of families. Many times aunts raised the children completely through the years. They just, they kept the children. Even though the parent was here, there were just too many children for them. Any time there was, where a young girl made a mistake, and had a child out of wedlock, the family would automatically come around and work with that young girl. And many times, they would take her in. If there was death in the family, and the father passed, and there were three or four or five children, the family would take the children so that the children wouldn't be at a loss. This was a normal thing at that time.


William G. Anderson
Reginald P. Ayala
Arthur W Boddie
Wilma Brakefield-Caldwell
Henry C. Bryant Jr.
Alice Burton
Waldo L. Cain
James W. Collins
Claude and Vivienne Cooper
Gladys B. Dillard
George Gaines Jr.
Leon Gant
Herman J. Glass Sr.
Della Goodwin
Joseph B. Harris
Frank P. Iacobell
Horace L. Jefferson
Sidney B. Jenkins
Arthur Johnson
Rachel B. Keith
William E. Lawson
Josephine Love
Hayward Maben Jr.
Berna C. Mason
Suesetta T. McCree
Dorothy Mottley
David C. Northcross Jr.
Ophelia B. Northcross
Marjorie Peebles-Meyers
Frank P. Raiford III
Garther Roberson Jr.
S. L. Roberson
Elsie Smith
Fannie L. Starks
Lionel F. Swan
Natalia M. Tanner
Oretta Mae Todd
I. Clara Webb
Charles F. Whitten
Charles H. Wright
Watson Young


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Copyright , Kellogg African American Health Care Project, 2000.
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