Why They’re Reviving This Nearly-Forgotten Black Resort Town

photo of community tabernacle center
Briona Lamback
December 22, 2021

Maria Lawton Adams, a Detroit teacher, had just finished transforming a recreation center on Detroit’s westside into a safe place for children and seniors – when this brilliant idea hit her.

She would help restore Idlewild! The legendary northwest Michigan resort was a haven for Black folks in the early nineteenth century. Nicknamed ‘Black Eden,’ Idlewild was a place where our people could exist peacefully without the stressors of racism and segregation. 

Following integration, Idlewild was abandoned and remained depleted – until she stepped in!

“I started looking at the devastation,” Adams told WXYZ-TV Detroit. “As I was riding, I was just silent cause I was like, ‘Oh my God! I said all the good things that you heard about and the rich history, and it looks nothing like it.”

In the summer of 2021, Lawton Adams created a youth program that brought her students to Idlewild to learn skills and the importance of building strong Black communities. They started by fixing the home of Rambo, a long-term resident of Idlewild, who has been living without heat or electricity for years.

Even though many beloved Black places were destroyed by integration, they deserve to be cherished. Like Adams and her students, we must ensure essential pieces of Black history aren’t erased – so future generations can benefit from the richness of Black legacies.

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