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The Legacy Projects

Elizabeth Alexander (April 24, 2009).JPG

The Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Sisters, who founded Marygrove College, placed special emphasis on addressing the needs of poor and underserved populations, especially in Detroit. In no other large American city do African Americans make up a higher percentage (77.6%) of the total population than Detroit. As a result, systemic forces have produced distinctive economic and social challenges for this city and its people. Therefore, the College’s curriculum emphasized analysis of the racial, economic, cultural, and artistic forces affecting the city’s residents.  

National Book Award, to be the first guest author. Since then, CAALS has hosted over 30 prominent African-American authors. These authors’ works span the Black experience. From Naylor’s poignant treatment of race, class, and gender in The Women of Brewster Place to Whitehead’s riveting narrative of escape from slavery in The Underground Railroad, these works remain the subjects of intense scholarly inquiry. 


On the heels of the CAALS success, the college decided to establish The Institute for Detroit Studies (IDS). IDS and its Defining Detroit Series are committed to providing Detroit community members with compelling historical, scholarly, and artistic views of the city they live in and to make our rich history available to all.


To round out the educational trio, the Institute for Arts Infused Education (AIE) was established in 2006 to improve educational achievement, create innovative models for teaching and learning, and promote systemic integration of the arts into the K-12 core curriculum. AIE provided direct service for in-school and after-school applications and teacher-training programs and research for educational organizations. All three programs are consistent with the cornerstones of the IHM philosophy: competence, compassion, commitment.

In 1988, Marygrove College trustee Frederick P. Currier proposed a series that would introduce the works of major African American writers to students and the Detroit community. The series was established as the Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series (CAALS) and invited Gloria Naylor, whose 1982 novel. The Women of Brewster Place had received the

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