By Mike Kruzman /

A local author is sharing the story of a lesser-known community of Black residents in the Brighton area stretching back more than 100 years.

In 1919, Birney Walker Smith, Sr., had a vision for creating what he called a “Promised Land” for Black professionals who wanted a full or part-time getaway from Detroit. In his search, he found 80 acres in what is now the Old US-23 and Spencer Road area. Having a good working relationship with the county, he was able to create the Brighton Gardens Lake Colony, which served as this “paradise” for Black doctors, lawyers, dentists and other professionals.

Marion Cornett is the author of the book Mr. Smith’s Forgotten Community, which relates the history of the Colony. She said very few people in the area are aware of its existence, as she and her husband, themselves, lived in the county for 25 years before ever hearing about it.

Cornett will be at the Brighton District Library on Monday, December 6th, from 7 to 8pm for a special event, expanding on her book. Attendees can learn more about the history of the Colony, hear stories of people who lived through the experience and see storyboard drawings of the site.

Purchase the book at, or at the event. To register for the event, visit To hear more from Cornett and her discoveries about the forgotten community, tune in to WHMI’s Viewpoint, this Sunday at 8:30am.