History Repeats It’s Self


Students gather outside the Courthouse, listing to Lawerence Kestenbaum talk about Ann Arbors old city layout.

The annual Ann Arbor History walk at Community High School was in full swing on May ninth. The beautiful weather made it a perfect day to walk around the city. In the afternoon students met on the back lawn ready to learn about a special part of Ann Arbor’s history.

John Kotarski an incurable storyteller lead group two on a tour about the history of social justice in Ann Arbor. Kotarski loves inquiring minds and learning from young people. “I learn more from hearing questions and hearing the responses than I could possibly teach, Kotarski said. I’m an educator at heart, so it’s the perfect thing for me to do.”

Kotarski started off by comparing historical “friendships” and “bullying” with aspects of high school. He explained how just like seniors and freshman don’t get along very well, other historical groups didn’t hit it off right away too. Shared humanity is what brings everyone in a better understanding of one and other.

The group of nine took off towards the courthouse while confused bystanders in Kerrytown glanced over at them. Kotarski pointed out historical buildings throughout the walk, stopping at informative art structures. The group visited locations of past buildings from the 1800’s.
He talked about the settlement of Ann Arbor in 1824 and all of the injustice toward people of color, women, and minorities to come.

Around one, clerk register, Lawrence Kestenbaum met up with the group at the Ann Arbor Courthouse to talk about the Washtenaw County Courthouse in 1968. Students jotted down notes while Kestenbaum explained the city’s streetscape and how the courthouse square was the center of attention in Ann Arbor.

John Kotarski lectures the group about injustice in Ann Arbor.

The tour finished with Kotarski quizzing everyone about the history of Ann Arbor. It was Kotarski’s third year hosting a walking tour and he loves how different they are each year. He finds more pleasure in a place if he knows more about it. The students learned a lot about the colonization of Ann Arbor and how inequity moved its way through the town into the present day. “History repeats itself without fail,” reminds Kotarski.