local history

Murphy Darden stands in his house surrounded by African American artifacts he's collected and his historical art works
Rebecca Thiele/WMUK

Murphy Darden loves cowboys. He and his twin brother are now 87. But when they were kids, they used to pay ten cents at the movie theater to see stars like Roy Rogers and Buck Jones rope cattle.

Robbie Feinberg

In the peak of summer, South Haven’s 37-foot ruby-red lighthouse looks downright stoic, overlooking Lake Michigan from its perch at the end of the city's pier. It's a visage that's become a symbol of the town, leading to an ambitious crowd-funding campaign to save it.

A stained glass image of the official Battle Creek city seal can be seen on the main interior staircase of city hall between the second and third floors
Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

For about as long as Battle Creek has been a city, newcomers have wondered how it got its name. But even if you know about the historical skirmish between surveying settlers and Native Americans, you might still be surprised by what you find on the stairs in Battle Creek’s city hall. 

Merze Tate in Greece
courtesy of Sonya Bernard Hollins


Sonya Bernard Hollins says she couldn’t shake the name Merze Tate, and has been following it ever since. 

Merze Tate receiving her doctorate from Western Michigan University
courtesy of Sonya Bernard Hollins

While many African Americans in the 1920s and 30s were fighting for basic rights, Western Michigan University alum Merze Tate was traveling the world and attending colleges like Oxford University.