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Jolly Old Timers

The Jolly Old Timers (JOT) was officially organized as a social club on August 3, 1959, in the Holiday Room of the Gotham Hotel.  At that time, 49 men laid the foundation for the club.  JOT is a non-profit organization, non-political organization that seeks "to promote improved conditions and public relations wherever possible." There overall goal was to help the community, and offered a place where class and color does not exist.

Initially, women were not allowed to join the club until 1993 when it welcomed its first four women.

The club's motto is J - Justice to all, O - Obedience to God, T - Truth and Loyalty to All Mankind.

JOT's clubhouse is located at 641 W. Forest Ave.

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Jolly Old Timers - 5th Annual Charity Ball - November 15, 1963

Jolly Old Timers - 23rd Anniversary Charity Ball - November 28, 1981

William Lambert

William Lambert was born free sometime in 1817 in Trenton, New Jersey.  It has been reported that his father was a slave, and his mother was free at the time of his birth.  Lambert as a child worked and learned under Abner Hunt Francis, a Quaker schoolmaster.  At the age of 13, Lambert became a cabin boy on a Great Lakes vessel that came to Detroit.  By the age of 15, he was a junior conductor of the Underground Railroad, helping fugitive slaves escape north to freedom.

By the age of 18, he had permanently settled in Detroit and continued his activities as an abolitionist.  When not helping runaway slaves, Lambert was a tailor, and he would eventually own a tailoring and dry-cleaning business.  His tailor shop was located on E. Jefferson on land where the Detroit Plaza is now located.

By the time he was 25, he was recognized as leader in Detroit's black community.  He organized the Convention of the Colored Citizens of Michigan in 1843 and wrote the keynote address.  In his address, he spoke of equality for blacks and spoke against racism. 


He called upon Michigan's white citizens to grant blacks the right to vote and political equality.  He argued blacks were deserving of these basic rights based on what the Founding Fathers promised, on the service blacks had given in supporting America's freedom from the British, and simply because Africa was the cradle of human civilization.  He specifically said,


           "Therefore we feel that our sufferings caused by our being deprived of our Political Rights,              should call forth the sympathies of the whole human race, but more especially those of                  yourselves, among who we dwell and who are the authors of our calamities.  For you                    have trampled our liberties in the dust, and thus standing with the iron heel of                              Oppression on our heads, you bid us rise to a level with yourselves; and because we do              not rise, you point the finger of scorn and contempt at us, and say, that we are an                        inferior race by natured."

William Lambert for years continued to assist the citizens of Detroit.  He began to mentally deteriorate in 1890.  On April 28, 1890, he committed suicide by hanging himself.

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Descendants of William Lambert.  Seated is his great-granddaughter Verlie Simons Morton in 1980.


Detroit Free Press - Proud Legacy to Pass On. December 9, 1980 - page 1C

Detroit Free Press - Took His Life. April 29, 1890. page 5

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