Dr. Saleef Kafajouffe, PhD (Jethro Harris Jr.) - Was born April 29, 1948 in Port Huron to Jethro Harris Sr and Alma Harris. He became interested in art as a young child. Saleef attended Port Huron Schools and it was his 8th grade Science teacher that gave him the encouragement that a career in art was possible. While attending Port Huron Junior College he discovered watercolors and fell in love with it. After leaving Port Huron Saleef went on to attend Lansing Community College and Michigan State University, earning a PhD. Dr. K, as he often called himself, went on to become the Dean of Olivet College, Assistant District Director of Oakland County and HR director Michigan DNR, and Chief officer Sankofa Shule Academy. Dr. K was an accomplished player of the djembe, a West African drum, and a passionate study of African cultures. Saleef Kafajouffe passed away on April 10, 2015.
James P. Stanley - (1/26/1927 - 7/17/1980) - James P. Stanley, Sr. was born on January 26, 1927 in Lumber City, Georgia to Jessie Mae Beavers. He grew up with his Uncle and Aunt Sanford and Buelah Stanley. He grew up in McRae, Georgia and moved to Egg Harbor City, New Jersey in his teen years.
He joined the United State Army during WWII and served in Germany. After receiving an honorable discharge, he returned to New Jersey and started working for a clothing manufacturer.
He came to Port Huron in October 1948. In August 1950 he married Marguerite Anderson. Together they had 8 children. Karon Thomas, Janice P. Amin, Janice L. Johnson, James P Stanley Jr, Charles Stanley, Cynthia Boggan, Denise Crochrell, Beverly Stanley.
Early in his life in Port Huron James suffered a car accident that left him with one kidney and a metal plate in his head. He did not let this slow him down and continued to be a hard worker. His first job in Port Huron was as a delivery man at MacTaggart’s. He later worked at the New Haven Foundry and later St. Clair Inn as a waiter, bus boy, second cook and finally as the manager of the services department. In 1965 he started working at Prestolite Wire and Cable Company as a machine operator.
Mr. Stanley was a class leader in the St. Paul AME Church. He was a founding member of Interfaith Community Church and served as chairman of the Steward board for many years.
He was a life member of the NAACP, Port Huron branch; a cofounder of The Beacon Club, a club that in the 60’s and 70’s encouraged and assisted young people to continue their education beyond the high school level and to reach worthwhile goals. He was a cofounder of the Black Golfers Association and a member at the Marysville Golf Course. The previously held annual golf tournament under the sponsorship of The Port Huron Men’s Club was named in his honor, The Stanley Memorial Golf Tournament. He was a member of the Committee of Black Organizations (COBO) and of the Port Huron High Big Reds Band Boosters.
He was on the Board of Directors of The South Park Community Center (Guadalupe) and a member of the Port Huron Township Economic Development Corporation. He also served as constable of the township.
James P. Stanley, Sr died July 17, 1980 in Port Huron.
Eleger Givens Harvey - (10/14/1904 - 2/2/1995) - Eleger Givens Harvey was born October 14, 1904 to Lillian and Wallace Harvey in Soperton, Georgia. He was baptized in the McCendon Grove Christian Church and attended Georgia State College and Lincoln University. He married Lillian Miller in 1940.
He came to Port Huron in 1932 to open the Red Shingle Tavern with a partner, Lillian Miller, who later became his wife. He spent the rest of his life here, running his business and participating fully and enthusiastically in the religious, cultural, political, and social life of the community.
He was a charter member of Interfaith Community Church and served as an officer in various capacities until stopped by ill health. He was interested in sports and sponsored local teams and activities.
He led the Black community in participation in the political process throughout his years here and was instrumental in the election of the first Black elected official in St. Clair County---his nephew Spurgeon Harvey, Jr. to the St. Clair County Board of Commissioners.
Interest in poor housing in the South Park area led him to become director of the Interfaith Housing Commission. He was instrumental in forming the Port Huron Housing Commission, was appointed to the first commission in 1962 and served continuously for 29 years.
He was elected president of the Port Huron Branch of the NAACP in 1977. He continued to serve that organization throughout his life. He was a founding member of the Cosmopolitan Club, the Toppers Sportsman’s Club and the Port Huron Men’s Club.
In 1939 he became a member of Prince Hall Masons. He served as PostMaster of Central Star Lodge #23, F.& AM. He was a trustee of the Grand High Lodge, Grand Trustee Emeritus, Post General Grand High Priest of the Royal Arch Masons presiding over the U.S., the Bahamas and Canada and past potentate of the Marracci Temple #13.
Port Huron is richer because Eleger Harvey lived here for 63 years. That the city of Port Huron recognized his contribution and is grateful is attested to by the building which bears his name: The Eleger Harvey Reinvestment Center.
Mr. Harvey died February 2, 1995 in Port Huron at the age of 91.
Clarence “Bear” Davis Sr- (3/18/1909 - 6/26/1984) - Clarence “Bear” Davis Sr. was born March 18, 1909 in Montgomery, Alabama. He moved to Port Huron in 1919. Clarence was the oldest child in his family and assisted in caring for his family after losing his mother at the age of 11. He attended Port Huron Schools where he met Janita Bagley. On August 5, 1930 they married and remained married for more than 53 years. Together they had 2 sons: Clarence Davis Jr. and Alfred Davis.
Clarence was a member and former trustee of St. Paul AME Church and a member of the Central Star Lodge No. 23, F&AM. He worked as a custodian for the Port Huron Area School District.
Clarence was a baseball standout who played semi-pro around the Great Lakes area. He began playing amateur baseball in 1928 and in 1930 helped organize a team in Port Huron. He was offered contracts that he refused, from teams that would have taken him too far from home. Clarence was a second baseman with major league potential. Clarence was mentored by Port Huron High baseball coach Ralph “Sod” French. French saw Clarence’s potential after watching him run track meets in intermediate school, Washington Intermediate school. He unfortunately had to quit school to help support his family, but that was the start of his baseball career. He played for the Port Huron Henderson Giants and then the Great Lake Giants, a Black team. He also played for the Portsmouth Giants, an Ohio team. Clarence was captain on just about every team he played for and was highly respected by his teammates for his knowledge of the game. In the 1950s Clarence managed a lack softball team called the Port Huron Drifters. In 1979 Clarence “Bear’ Davis was Inducted into the Port Huron Hall of Fame in 1979. Clarence Davis died June 26, 1988 in Port Huron.
Pearl Abraham - (7/1/1877 - 2/25/1950) - Pearl (Fields) Abraham was born on July 1, 1877 in Columbus, Mississippi. She moved to Port Huron alone in 1914. Peal was married to Charles Abraham and had a son, Eugene S. Fields and daughter, Geraldine Fields. She was served by her son and sister, Susie Reddit.
In the 1920 she started the Israel Rescue home, a room & board house, a restaurant, and a grocery store. She tried to teach Black people “domestic science”, literacy and employment skills. Her classes were taught at Cleveland School. She also operated a store on Moak Street and was known for her clothing and food donations and for providing people jobs. Pearl’s store on Moak street was the location of the infamous 1934 shootout between the local law enforcement and Herbert Youngblood, who escaped an Indiana jail with John Dillinger. During the Great Depression she is quoted as saying in 1931, “While it appears that conditions are returning to normal and some organizations are not doing as much charity work, many children and adults are suffering from want of food and clothing.”
Pearl started a cleanup campaign for South Park to encourage an improvement and beautification of the neighborhood. It was a contest of sorts that included a City Engineer inspecting dozens of homes. This became an annual event carrying on for over 20 years.
She also was president of the St. Clair County Republican Club’s division for Black women.
She was active in church work and was associated with the Church of God in Christ in Port Huron until about 1947. At that times she established Abraham Temple at 3310 Thirtieth street in affiliation with Israelite church of Detroit.
She headed the church here until she became ill 4 weeks before her death. No successor had been named at the time of her passing. Pearl Abraham “was the most religious person ever born in the world,” her niece, Willa Mae Richarson says. In the mid-1920s, she and her sister Susie Redditt, established a church on the corner of 20th and Nern Street. It was there that Mrs. Abraham held Sunday services.
Later, in the mid-1940s, she built a second church on the corner of Moak Street and 30th streets. It was known as Abraham’s Temple, and still contributes to the community. Today it is known as the Life of Fellowship and Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Mrs. Abraham also believed that religion didn’t end with Sunday service. She spent much of her spare time teaching Bible classes at the Cleveland Elementary School.
“She was a great Bible teacher,” Mrs. Richardson said. “She would teach anyone who could read. People came all the way from Detroit to learn the Bible from her.”
Pearl Abraham died February 25, 1950 but her contributions will not be forgotten by the people of the South Park Community. “She would help anyone,” Mrs. Richardson said. “She was just a wonderful and caring person.”
Pearl died February 25, 1950 in Port Huron
Rev. John Lawrence Portis - (10/25/1931 - 7/19/2008) - Rev. John Lawrence Portis was born on October 25, 1931 to the late Jonah and Ruth Portis in Stonewall, Mississippi. He moved to Michigan in 1943 and later married Marion Woodley on February 17, 1951.
Reverend Portis was ordained as a minister on July 11, 1954 by the late Rev. George Stewart of the St. John Baptist Church in Port Huron, Michigan. He served for four years as assistant to Reverend Steward. In 1958, Reverend Portis was called to pastor Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in Port Huron where he served for 9 years.
Reverend Portis was called on October 29, 1967 to the pastorate of the Historic Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Port Huron. He served in this ministry for over 40 years.
He was a willing worker who volunteered his time freely. Even after his retirement from the Cawood Auto Co. after 41 years, he continued his willing involvement in service to the community.
Reverend Portis served on numerous boards and committees. He was a member of the Community Relations Board for the City of Port Huron, a charter member of the South Park Ministerial Alliance (which he founded in 1980 and served as its President for over 20 years).
He served on the Board of Directors of Operation Transformation, was a member of the Executive Board of the NAACP, the Southside Coalition and Citizens Against Crime. He was a faithful member of the State and National Progressive National Baptist Convention. Over the years he received countless awards and honors from local, state, and national affiliations for his service to humanity.
He was the recipient of the NAACP Community Service Award, the Brotherhood Award from the City of Port Huron, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Operation Transformation.
Reverend John L. Portis died July 19, 2008 in Port Huron.
Helen Elizabeth Floyd - (3/18/1923 - 3/2/2007) - Helen was born March 18, 1923 in Wales Township, Michigan to Murphy and Grace (Malachi) Johnson. Helen attended Port Huron Schools starting her formal education at Cleveland Elementary School. She also attended Roosevelt Grade School and Washington Intermediate School. Helen graduated from Port Huron High in 1941. She attended Port Huron Junior College from 1941 to 1943 then received a Bachelor’s degree from Central State College of Education in Ohio in 1945. She earned a Master’s degree from University of Michigan, and took postgraduate courses at Eastern Michigan University, Michigan State University and Central Michigan University.
She married Coleman Floyd on August 17, 1952 in Port Huron. Together they had one child, a son, Malcolm (Robeta) Floyd. She enjoyed spending time with her family. Helen and Colman traveled to all 50 states, except for Alaska, most of the Canadian provinces and much of Europe. Helen was a lifelong advocate for education, civil rights, and her community.
Helen began her teaching career at Central High School in Hayti, Missouri. She returned to Port Huron in 1948 to begin teaching at Cleveland Elementary School. She taught fifth graders for 18 years before making history in Port Huron when she was named principal of Cleveland Elementary School becoming the first Black principal in the school district. She retired in 1987 after 38 years in the Port Huron School District. She was honored for her long devotion to the education of Port Huron children with the dedication of the Helen E. Floyd Instructional Center at Cleveland school on October 13, 2000.
In addition to her commitment to education, Helen was a driving force in community civic affairs. She served 3 terms as president of the Port Huron branch of the NAACP and was a past chairman of the Board of the St. Clair County Department of Social Services. Her memberships included the Advisory Board of the James R. Leonard Center, the League of Women Voters, Girl Scout Leader, Delta Kappa Gamma sorority and the St. Clair County Council on Aging. She and her late husband, Colman, were founding members of the Port Huron Beacon Club, which provided scholarship assistance to students in Port Huron’s South Park neighborhood and of Interfaith Community Church (now Faith Christian Community Church).
Helen received countless honors and awards during her lifetime, including being named Woman of the Year by the Port Huron Business and Professional Women’s Club in 1968 and the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Spirit Award from the Historic Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in 1998.
Helen Floyd died March 7, 2007.
K.C. Norman - Born in 1920 KC grew up in the segregated south. He moved to Port Huron in 1943. Around this time KC enlisted in the Army and served in Europe during World War II, served in the Korean War Conflict and the Vietnam War. During his military service Port Huron remained his home to come back to. KC retired from the Air Force but started working different jobs before settling on radio in 1979. He later became the Public Affairs Coordinator for WHLS-AM and WSAQ-FM radio station. KC worked in radio for decades before retiring.
In the community KC was an active member of Zion Tabernacle Church, Port Huron Men’s Club, NAACP past president, and worked with the St. Clair County Veterans Council.
KC Norman was the driving force behind the James R. Leonard Center Memorial Wall. He really championed the project. “This is something for our young people - especially the elementary students. Black history is often talked about, but as far as specific it has been neglected.”
~Port Huron Times Herald
Corporal John W. Ashford - Corporal Ashford moved to Port Huron in 1923. He was a World War I. He died in 1928 because of wounds suffered during a gas attack in France. In 1945 a VFW chapter was recommended by Charles Schoor post No. 796 VFW establishing Port Hurons first Black VFW chapter, John W. Ashford Post No 5450. Corporal Ashford’s son Andrew John W. Ashford is a Navy World War II veteran, and his son Mandel D. Ashford was a pharmacist in the Navy.
Zac Mims - was born in North Carolina, where he and his mother lived as slaves under a slave master. After, being freed from slavery, he married, and they had was born two children. After the death of his wife, he moved to South Carolina and from there relocated to the state of Michigan, there living with his daughter, Rosa Mims Thomason. Prior to his death, he applied for social security and became the first black man in the state to receive benefits payments of $10 a month. Passing away at the ripe old age of (?), but Gramma says he was 105 years old.