, the first black teacher in the Ann Arbor Public Schools and a member of the city's Human Rights Commission, died Friday.He
had turned 76 Wednesday.Mial
was considered a pioneer in the effort to hire black administrators in the Ann Arbor schools, after he
protested the lack of their presence.He
also was extensively involved in community life in Ann Arbor.Harry Mial
was for years just a great community resource, said Fred McDonald, a longtime friend.
In the late 1950s, Mial
served as a youth director and Sunday school superintendent at Bethel.In the mid-1960s, he
directed eight Project Headstart Centers in Washtenaw County.
After retiring from the schools in 1986, he
counseled first-time shoplifters at the Washtenaw County Juvenile Detention Center.Mial
served the Ann Arbor school district for 32 years, beginning as a teacher in 1954 at Jones Elementary School (now Community High School).He
later spent 15 years as principal of Northside Elementary School.He
retired from his
job as the district's acting director of research and evaluation after suffering two heart attacks and a stroke then undergoing two bypass operations.
To reach the administrative ranks, Mial
educational career in the mid-1960s when he
challenged then-Ann Arbor superintendent Jack Elzay's statement that the district had no qualified black staff to serve as administrators.Mial
filed a complaint with the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, to demonstrate the fact that racism, rather than lack of qualifications, was the issue, he
said later.Two years after the complaint was filed, the commission agreed with his
argument, and Mial
became a principal.
Mial's interest in minimizing divisive racial barriers went beyond the personal.He
was a member of the Ann Arbor's Human Rights Commission since the mid-1990s.His
current term would have expired next year.In the early 1960s, he
served on the city's Human Relations Commission.Mial
, in 1995, said his
strategy was to recognize the parameters that separate human beings, then work to remove those parameters.
In recent years, Mial
served as worshipful master of St. Mary's Masonic Lodge, and was a finance commission member and steward at Bethel A.M.E. He
wife, Joetta, a principal at Huron High School for eight years, also sang together in the church choir.He
was a longtime member of Bethel A.M.E. Church.This was his
church and he
served it diligently for many years, said Alfred E. Johnson, church pastor.Mial
held a bachelor's degree from Michigan Normal College, now Eastern Michigan University, and a master's degree from the University of Michigan.He
completed requirements for a doctorate except a dissertation.Mial
is survived by his
wife, Joetta ; three sons, Harry Jr. of Dexter and Ricki and Scott of Ann Arbor ; five siblings ; and three grandchildren.
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