Judy Holmes, July 20th, 2017


Judy Holmes, July 20th, 2017


In this interview, Judy Holmes discusses her work with the Archdiocese of Detroit and her impressions of Cardinal Dearden.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






Oral History

Narrator/Interviewee's Name

Judy Holmes

Brief Biography

Judy Holmes grew up in Warren, Michigan, and studied at Wayne State University’s Monteith College. In 1967 she worked for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Interviewer's Name

Edras Rodriguez-Torres

Interview Place

Detroit, MI



Interview Length



Julie Vandenboom

Transcription Date



ERT: Hello. Today is July 20, 2017. My name is Edras Rodriguez Torres, and I am at the Detroit Historical Society in Detroit, Michigan conducting an interview for the Detroit '67 Oral History Project and I am sitting down with -

JH: Judy Holmes.

ERT: Thank you for coming in today.

JH: You're welcome.

ERT: Let's begin with when and where you were born.

JH: Okay. October 14, 1945, in Royal Oak, Michigan.

ERT: In Royal Oak? Did you grow up in Royal Oak?

JH: No. No, that was just where the hospital was. I grew up in Warren, for the most part, until about '69, '70. Moved to Hamtramck when I was working for the Archdiocese of Detroit and then after that moved back to Warren, then moved to Oakland County for a while then moved back to Macomb County. So, you know - just basically lived in all three counties.

ERT: And what recollections do you have of growing up? In Warren.

JH: A very simple, quiet, peaceful, you know, childhood, because in those days you didn't have to lock your doors. You could leave your bikes outside. When we would come home from school the doors would be open. So it was that - you know, a simple time, I would say.

ERT: What was the makeup of Warren at that time?

JH: Working class people, for the most part, blue collar.

ERT: Was it integrated at that time?

JH: No, I don't think so. Many different ethnic groups - but not very many racial groups that I was aware of. But a lot of different ethnic groups.

ERT: And that's where you had the majority of your schooling?

JH: Mm hm. Yeah. Went to Centerline High School - Centerline Schools - even though I lived in Warren, Centerline was a small community within Warren. Kind of like Hamtramck is within Detroit.

ERT: And what was that schooling like?

JH: Excellent. I had great teachers, you know, good espirt d'corps among our classmates, and I was a class officer, and active in band. It was - different activities, so, it was very nice. We did not have a big drug problem that I was aware of, so just - down to earth people. Not affluent. You know, very middle class. Low to middle class.

ERT: And did you have any siblings?

JH: Mm hm. One older sister and one older brother, and we all went to the same schools.

ERT: And what did your parents do for a living?

JH: My mother was a waitress in a restaurant in Detroit - Clayton's Grill - and my dad was a bulldozer operator. So he traveled quite a bit.

ERT: And so did your family venture into the city at all growing up?

JH: You know, we went to Belle Isle - but I'm trying to think - and my mother worked in Detroit, so we went there, you know, regularly.

ERT: Where was her workplace at?

JH: Puritan and Livernois, right near U of D [University of Detroit].

ERT: Okay.

JH: But you know, as far as the family, most of our family members then lived either in Oakland County or in Warren. So we did a lot of family things. My mother was one of ten, so had a lot of get-togethers and so on, with all those people, so - and my mother's still alive at age 98.

ERT: Wow.

JH: Mm hm. But yeah, but there was never any sense of "don't go to the city," because when I was 10, my sister was 13 and our cousin was 13, we would meet up at my grandmother's house at Eight Mile and John R. We would catch the Woodward bus and go down to the Fox Theatre to see all the rock and roll shows.

ERT: Oh, okay.

JH: On our own.

ERT: So, you guys did come into the city.

JH: Oh yeah. But I mean this is three girls on the bus. You know, probably fifty cents, twenty cents, I don't know what it was, but yeah. We had a lot of activities that way. But you know, my grandmother lived in Detroit. There just wasn't that sense, you know, of I'm going to say danger, like some people still think today, so yeah. A lot of, you know, good memories, I would say. Taking advantage of the great opportunities the city had. Yeah.

ERT: Do you have any other memories or impressions of the city at that time, or downtown area?

JH: Well, in high school, you mean?

ERT: Growing up, yeah. Up to high school.

JH: Well, I think we had marched in the parade, you know the Christmas parade. But for the most part no, I would just say going to Belle Isle and the Fox Theatre. Going to the family restaurant where my mother worked, rather, was just the limit of it. Because when you're in school, you know, you don't drive, so - but my sister had gone to school at Detroit Business Institute, DBI, and so she would take the Van Dyke bus to school every day. And she worked in Detroit, too, at the Detroit Industrial Clinic over on Hancock and Woodward, for five years.

ERT: And once you graduated from high school, did you go to college?

JH: Yep. Came to Wayne State University from '63 to '67, and I was - I had enrolled in Monteith College, which was an excellent education, and I went straight through for four years. And because that was a small school within a large university, we had that sense of, you know, community, I would say. Got to know the instructors very well, you could call them by their first names, and for - I graduated with 27 people, basically, in my class, in '67. And I graduated with a PhB - B as in boy - which is a Bachelor of Philosophy. Not a Bachelor of Science or Arts or anything. So, we had like a philosophical approach to all the studies - the humanities, social studies, natural science. So, it was perfect for me. And the one outstanding memory that I had being a student here was Malcolm X had come to the campus, and I wanted to hear what he had to say.

ERT: Oh wow.

JH: And so it was a State Hall - packed -

ERT: Do you remember what year that was, right about?

JH: You know, I don't. I'm trying to think whether it was like - well, when did he die? Was it '64 or '65? I'm thinking '64. You know, but I'm not real sure. But it was spirited - and you know, he was a fiery speaker so in a way, it was frightening to me, you know, but I was there to listen. So I think I was fortunate to hear - you know, to hear him, because he was a voice that was - you know, gaining influence, and shared observations that he felt strongly about.

ERT: What other - speaking about Malcolm X and the Civil Rights movement, what other memories do you have of that period? Being at Wayne State?

JH: Well, we had lively discussions about the Palestinian/Arab conflict at that time, because the Seven Year War, and I went to one rally where - it was - people pitted against one another. Some pro-Israel, some pro-Arab. I happened to be dating an Arab at the time, so you know, he explained that, you know, he had a scar like here, across his chest, from being in Ramallah at the time when there was an invasion by Israeli soldiers. And I got a sense of, you know, the struggle for human rights is a universal struggle, and it's not simplistic. Not black and white. There's all kinds of shades in between. So that was an eye opener. That's what I loved about Wayne. There was a diversity of people.

ERT: Yeah, that was one of my questions.

JH: To me that was excellent. Oh yeah.

ERT: How was the campus? Was it fairly integrated at that time?

JH: Yes! Oh, definitely. And - and I just think that was so - so strong for everybody, you know, to be sitting in the same classroom, exploring ideas, discussing - and then - Monteith was excellent for that though, because we had large lectures but small discussion groups after every large lecture, so that was excellent. And that fostered that kind of, you know, say, exploration.

ERT: So were you involved in any other groups, rallies, or protests at that time?

JH: No, not really. Because I was working part-time, I was real active in my church. I worked at Monteith College in one of the offices. You know, so there's just no time to do that. And I commuted every day from Warren at the time. And because my sister worked right here, I got a ride with her every day to campus, and then from campus.

ERT: You were mentioning your activities in the church?

JH: Mm hm.

ERT: Can you speak a little bit about what those were at that time?

JH: Yeah. I started teaching catechism, is what we called it in those days, religious education, probably just like in high school and then after high school I was involved with a Sodality group - group of a 120-some young gals and we had monthly meetings, and we were just connected with the church, and so we got to know people that way, and we raised money for the parish. I was on the Parish Council and so, you look at the issues facing the parish and try to come up with solutions. But I'm just trying to think - oh, I know - one question that I raised at the Parish Council was how are we preparing for integration? And the pastor didn't see the need for the conversation.

One other time, another pastor had written in the parish bulletin, you know, kind of be on the lookout for what he called "darkies," you know, and if you see anything, call. So, I wrote him a letter of protest and just said this is wrong - morally wrong - how could you say this? So, we had a little conversation after that. But I was told later that - from an associate pastor - that because I challenged him, he respected me more. But did it do any good? I don't know. But it was offensive to me, so see that in writing, you know. So he was - I didn't think he was fostering understanding, but rather fomenting fear.

ERT: So how did you personally deal with your faith and challenging, sort of, the injustices in society? And advocating for justice - how did you balance that?

JH: Well, I think my faith is really quite clear and strong about equality of people - the dignity of all people. I'm one quarter Native American, one quarter Norwegian, so of course I look like the Norwegian grandfather, you know, not the Native American grandfather - but because of that background, I know what it is to be oppressed, as a people, to suffer injustices, to be kicked out of your homeland, let's say. So, I think that was also something that I think made me more sensitive or more aware, and upset by indignities and inequalities. I loved Martin Luther King's speeches, and to me it seemed so evident, you know, how right it was to talk about equality, and fairness of opportunity and that kind of thing. So you know, I think hearing his speeches and seeing the footage on TV was shocking at the time. So -

ERT: Footage of what, specifically?

JH: Well, you know, the protests down South. And hearing his speeches. Now I did not participate in the '63 march down Woodward when King was here.

ERT: Right.

JH: But I know people who were. But I think because I felt - I feel - that I am an oppressed people because of the Native American background - I think I - you know, I empathize with people who are struggling for their rightful place in society.

ERT: So, during these times, were you aware of any racial tensions in the city, or perhaps injustices in the city? Did you see any of those?

JH: In high school, probably not. Because I'm trying to think - in our classes, did we ever discuss it? You know, not that I recall. We were discussing, kind of like, equal rights - and this is between sports people and non-sports people, because the sports - all the sports - the athletes got all the money and the rest of the classes didn't get anything but - we had a little protest that way. But no, not really, we didn't discuss it. But it wasn't - I don't know. Maybe it wasn't on anybody's radar, in a sense, because it was Centerline, you know. But we had excellent teachers - but it just never came up.

ERT: What about during your time here at Wayne, studying in Detroit? Did you get a sense of any of those issues?

JH: Well, I would say yes. Mostly because of what hit the newspapers and what we were seeing on TV. Discussion of legislation that was necessary. I think it was just that general awareness. And right now, I can't recall any specific class that would address that, or any kind of conference. I don't recall that at all. But it was - I think - the Daily Collegian was the paper in those days, and so issues would be raised in the Daily Collegian, so, you'd pick up the paper, you'd be more aware of that. But I think it was more a general awareness of what was happening, more nationally, than anything in Detroit.

ERT: And so thinking about '67 - the summer of '67 - it was right around your graduation.

JH: Right. Just after. I graduated in June.

ERT: So, when did you first hear about the events of '67?

JH: Well, it was that Sunday afternoon immediately after, you know, the raid on that blind pig. And I was at Stony Creek with my friend Michael Lada, and we heard about it on the news. And because he lived in Highland Park, you know, he decided he better get home. So, then we left right away and I thought maybe he could stay with, you know, my dad and me, but he decided to go back home. When they called him that night, though, you could hear the gunfire in the background, so he was at Hazelwood and Woodward. So it was very close to some of the action. But he was not harmed. And he worked downtown at an architectural firm, so he did not go to work that following week, I think it was.

And then in Warren - I lived in Warren at the time - there was a curfew that was levied. So you could not go out like after six o'clock or so. So that was strange to see deserted streets in your community. My mother worked, as I said, at Clayton's Grill at Puritan and Livernois - she did not hear about - she was living in a separate place from me - but she did not hear anything on the news so she went right down Eight Mile, ready to go to work, and was stopped by a National Guardsman who said, "Well, ma'am, where are you going?" She said, "I'm going to work." He said "Well no, you know, you're not able to. You'll have to go back home."

But at the time, I was working for the archdiocese and we had scheduled adult training programs that week. And because there was a diocesan-wide program involving eight counties - all the parishes, so it was like 325 parishes - and our job, initially, was to set up these training classes. Well, because they were scheduled that week, we were at home and we were asked by our bosses - we were given a list of parishes to call, and phone numbers, and we had to call everyone to say it's being rescheduled because of the disturbance.

And at the time, I had mentioned Cardinal Dearden, had an immediate response, he was the Archbishop of Detroit, which was 1.25 million Catholics. He was on vacation at the time and returned, and you know, wanted to be here, to offer that moral voice, number one, and to try to help Catholics understand what was going on. So, there was an immediate statement, news release, and then a letter sent to all the parishes that was to be published in their bulletins, about the importance of this issue and what we need to do to respond to it in a moral way. And to help people understand, you know, why did this happen.

So, he was - I brought this article from the Michigan Catholic that shows Archbishop Dearden addressing the National Guard at St. Rose of Lima Parish on the east side. It's no longer around, but the article is excellent. It gives a Catholic perspective of what was happening at the time. But Cardinal Dearden, I think, rose to the challenge and tried to sensitize and educate Catholics to the moral principles - the moral dilemma - you know, the moral response. So he did a very good job, I think, of standing tall. And the next year, he allocated one million dollars to programs for education, for opportunity, for - let's say community organizations, and that was from an archdiocesan development fund. Well there was a lot of pushback from that, from many white Catholics, thinking "That's ridiculous. Why is he giving away our money?"

But as - you know, I've got some resources here. As he said, sometimes - "when we choose to do things for reasons profoundly moral and religious, we cannot always be expected to be understood." So, he took the high road, trying to say, this is the right thing to do. You may not understand why, the need for it, but it is necessary. So, he - the rebellion, the riot of '67, I think really raised the consciousness of many people. You know, as to the seriousness of the issues - the racial divide - racial inequality. So, from that point on, though, he had offices to help with justice - peace and justice - community affairs, he established a secretariat for black Catholics and for Latin America - Latino, I think it was - Hispanic - Hispanic Secretariat. So he tried to institute - not just words - processes, you know, and programs. But underlying it would be the challenge to be morally converted, I think, to the needs of people.

So - and it still continues, you know. There's a lot of good programs in the archdiocese. There's one-on-one, parish-to-parish, it's called Interparish Sharing, so that continues. Focus: HOPE, as you know, started in '68.

ERT: It did.

JH: Started by three people. Not just two people, I want to make that note. Father Jerry Frazier was also a co-founder, with Bill Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis. So - you know, all these things were going on simultaneously, because, you know, the need was great, and there was urgency, you know, to - quote - "do something" - but it wasn't just throwing money at the problem. It was trying to help people understand the - you know, the personal affront that people had suffered, you know, through discrimination and lack of opportunity. Lack of open housing.

ERT: Sure. I'm getting back a little bit to the events of that particular week, in '67. Outside of your mother, you mentioned, and yourself, with the curfew, was there anyone else in your home, or even in your extended family, that was impacted by the events of that week?

JH: Not that I know of at all. I wouldn't know. My sister probably did not go to work, because it was right here on Woodward and Hancock.

ERT: Were you working in the city at that time?

JH: Yes, right, at the archdiocese, downtown. 305 Michigan Avenue.

ERT: You had no issues commuting back and forth downtown at that time?

JH: No. No. When you know a place, and you're familiar with it, you know, it's an extension of your life. So no. I worked for the most part, 30 years in the city in different religious organizations, Sacred Heart Seminary, the Capuchins, the Archdiocese of Detroit. So, you know, that's kind of where - it's where - you know, I like being involved with a nonprofit group that makes a difference, so, you know, it's been wonderful, and - the other thing that resulted, though, from my parish level, though, is we had - now this is in '68, though, the year following. The archbishop encouraged every parish to have small group discussions, in their homes, with their neighbors, about race. And so I hosted a session. There were like three or four people there, but, you know. It was just good to talk about it.

So, you know, I think, you know, the archbishop especially should be given, you know, great respect for all that he tried to do, and throughout his ministry as leader of the Archdiocese of Detroit, which was from '58 to 1980, when he retired. So he was quite, you know, quite a great leader, you know, with great courage.

ERT: And do you remember what the particular feelings were at the archdiocese that week? In response to the events that were happening that particular week?

JH: Well, we were not there, for number one, we were not working downtown, because, you know, the restrictions of travel, but, you know, I think it was shock, you know, shock that there could be such explosive turn of events, you know, shock that there would be so much anger, and destruction of property, but, you know, I think it's - trying to think, did we ever have any discussion about it, per se - I don't know, but because we were involved with adult education, we had a lot of classes and lectures and so on, on - what would you call it? - just, you know, it's a human dignity, civil rights, racial harmony, and so on, so.

ERT: So, when people refer to the events of '67, oftentimes they may call it a riot, a rebellion, an uprising - what would you - what words would you use to describe the events of '67, and why?

JH: I call it a riot, because you saw people destroying property, setting fires, and looting, you know. I don't - I don't know - I don't know the subtle differences of rebellion or riot, but to me it had - because of, you know, I would say, you know, the destruction of property, you know, that - to me it was a riot. And I don't know, does it make a difference? I think, if you know the facts, I don't know that it's that critical, but maybe other people disagree with me.

ERT: Do you feel that the events of '67 have had a long-lasting effect on the city?

JH: Yes, I do, and a negative effect, because the areas where the events happened, you know, it was, you know, thriving businesses, and now there's so little there, and I think it increased misunderstanding and hostility between the races, and I think it's unfortunate, because I'm more of the Martin Luther King, Gandhi approach - non-violence. Non-violence is a better solution to moral problems, than those kind of physical, violent protests. So, you know, I think you win over hearts and minds through means that are not violent or destructive.

ERT: And what do you think about the city today?

JH: Well, I'm very happy to see the resurgence. But I - as I said - I've always been like a Detroit supporter, though. Having worked in the city and seeing all that it offered, in terms of diversity and unique attractions, and cuisine and so on, so I - I'm happy to see that businesses have worked together with the city, you know, to try to continue to make progress and opportunity. So, I hope it continues. And I think, you know, Gilbert has played a tremendous role, but so did Karmanos. To bring people to the city for specific reasons is helpful, you know, and - and if you work downtown, then I think you have more of that, you know, feeling that, you know, there's a vitality now. And there was in '67, you know. I was here when we had the '68 World Series parade, with the Tigers.

ERT: Really.

JH: You know. So, our office was facing Michigan Avenue, so when we're all listening to the radio and they won, everybody's throwing, you know, confetti and paper out the windows, honking their horns, people hugging. It was fabulous. And we needed something, you know, in the city to, you know, boost our spirits, I would say, because I think the events of '67 were so serious, and people still talk about it and I think they're - it's unfortunate that it happened, but it happened, so where do we go from here, but, you know, I just - I think it's too bad that violence erupted.

ERT: Do you feel that the Tiger’s season in '68 and the World Series in '68, do you feel that they had a - a positive impact on the city at that time?

JH: Absolutely! Absolutely! No, I mean, there was a sense of - we have something to celebrate. And it was all races of people so happy. It was beautiful to behold. Just beautiful to behold that. And I think, you know, baseball is something that, you know, it kind of appeals to a lot of different people, a lot of different ages as well, different genders. So it's not just white men enjoying it, so. But I think it was, you know, it was wonderful, and what we see now in Detroit, I think, all contributes to that.

A friend of mine lives in Cleveland and she had talked about the partnership between government and the community, and then - maybe culture. She said it's really made a difference in there community, so I'd like to see that here.

ERT: So, are you optimistic about where the city's headed?

JH: Absolutely, yeah. I think there's a lot of reason to be happy. The school situation needs to be addressed, though, because families cannot be raising their children in an area where you don't have schools, and I have worked for the Catholic School Alliance, this was for three years, from 2001 to 2004, and I did marketing for seven Catholic schools, and they were all in the city, and they all provided fabulous education. You know, if you had the tuition to pay for it. But it's been sad for me to see the lack of support by the Archdiocese to these Catholic schools, teachers, and the principals who did such an exceptional level of education, and I worked there, as I say, for three years, and all seven schools, not once did I hear anybody swearing, no fights. Great respect between teachers and the students and the parents. It was beautiful. So it hurts me to the core to know that of those seven schools, only two now exist, and that's a short amount of time, you know, thirteen years.

So education needs to be addressed, and - you know, there's only three, I think three elementary schools in the city now. Holy Trinity, Christ the King, and Jesu. And it's too bad that there's the perception that, okay, separation of church and state prohibits any kind of cooperation, but I think we should be able to figure out something so that quality is recognized and affirmed and supported.

ERT: Sure.

JH: So, you know, but I don't know where that's going to go. But that's a real significant part of what the city faces, and the residents face, and you know, the school board faces, and the new superintendent, New Detroit, I mean, there's so many good organizations that are seeking to improve, you know, the quality of life, and the equality of life.

ERT: Well, before we wrap up, is there anything else you'd like to talk about?

JH: Yes. Let me see. One other thing I wanted to mention about Cardinal Dearden. He was elected president of the National Catholic Council of Bishops, and he was the first elected president, because he was a man of great stature and wisdom. Not conceit. I'm just saying a great intellect and was highly recognized for that. But when he - when he had taken over at the national level, in 1971, or was it '70, let me see, no, 1970, so just a few years after all the riots around the country, he was instrumental in initiating what they call the Campaign for Human Development. And that was to raise funds within each diocese across the country to actually fund grassroots organizations that maybe did not have funding from larger groups, but they needed money to get started. So, it was a way of directly impacting organizations that were trying to assist people who were poor, in whatever way, whether it's education, food, you know, services. That started in 1970, and their initial goal was to raise $50 million. And one quarter of those monies would stay within each diocese. So, it was a win-win situation.

But it was not meant just to raise money, and as he said, so he said, our goal must not be just for raising of money, but the changing of hearts. And this was in a letter sent to all of the parishes in Detroit. So he had that visibility and that real ongoing effort to help people understand what's at stake here, and he was not afraid to, you know, stand up and say this is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, our current archbishop has not continued this program, as of a few years ago. Part of it, it's perception - some of these groups fund abortion. Well, it's a phony excuse. You know sometimes they just don't want to, you know, support groups that you might not have direct control over. But still, it's things like On the Rise Bakery, are you familiar with that, with the Capuchins?

ERT: I am, a little bit.

JH: Yes.

ERT: I've heard of them.

JH: They received money from the Campaign for Human Development. So now they're not going to get it. The monies are going to be gotten through Catholic charities. But it's just - it's not the same - so I - it's an unfortunate turn of events, but many dioceses across the country still do it. So I think you know, hats off to him, because they're trying to address the causes of poverty, which has a lot to do with, you know, inequality, and you know, problems with trying to make it in our society, so I just wanted to mention that that was, you know, a wonderful program to initiate, and they say it still continues. So Dearden is one of my heroes, and I'm writing a book about him, because his legacy has not been ever recorded. So having worked at the diocese and worked with him, I want to record that legacy. Because it's important. Because he was humble, he didn't get - didn't make a lot of, you know, splashes, so a lot of people, you know, nationally, don't know of him. So, I want to correct that.

ERT: It's wonderful.

JH: So that's what I'm doing in my spare time. But really, he was right there in the forefront, from the very beginning. As the diocese was. And Bishop Tom Gumbleton, I know you know of him, was appointed to be auxiliary bishop by Cardinal Dearden, and he has - he helped funnel a lot of monies through, I think it was Johnson, you know, a lot of money - the poverty program - the funds came here to Detroit and Gumbleton was instrumental in helping to allocate those, so, he'd be a good interview. Tom Gumbleton? I might have his number. But I think he'd be so good. And you know, he has - he's a prophet. He has a great compassion for the poor, and those without, and he serves all people. Just a minute. Because he would be excellent. This is his - well, I'll just, I'll read it to you, his -

ERT: Well, we can't, on the - on the record.

JH: Okay, all right, it says "cell" right there.

ERT: Thank you so much.

JH: Can you see the 313?

ERT: Yes. Well thank you so much for stopping in today, and speaking with us about your memories of '67. We really appreciate it.

JH: Oh, definitely. You're welcome. Yeah, I mean, it's a great - it's a great program. Glad to be a part of it.

ERT: Thank you.

JH: Yes, you're welcome.

Original Format



38min 48 sec


Edras Rodriguez-Torres


Judy Holmes


Detroit, MI




“Judy Holmes, July 20th, 2017,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed July 14, 2024, http://oralhistory.detroithistorical.org/items/show/646.

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