Baby Boomer (born 1943 to 1963)
Sharri L. Rolland Phillips was born on the 4th of July in Flint, Michigan. Her father, Burns L. Rolland Sr., a retired dairy farmer, was born in Flint, Michigan. Her mother, Doris J. Floyd Rolland, a retired Director of Special Education for the Lapeer County Intermediate School District, was born in Detroit, Michigan.
Sharri grew up on a dairy farm in Lapeer, Michigan, where she attended Lapeer County public schools. Her first elementary school was a one room schoolhouse with grades K through 4, about forty students, and one teacher. She was a typical farm kid with farm and home chores, a garden, and livestock. She lived in a large farm house built in 1846 with three generations on her paternal side. At age sixteen, Sharri was selected as a soprano soloist with the Southern Michigan Youth Chorale and sang on a three-week concert tour in Europe during the summer of 1972. At age seventeen, she was crowned "Miss Lapeer County 1974." As part of the "Miss America" franchise, after a year of development, the local pageant sponsored Sharri to compete in Muskegon, Michigan, for the title of "Miss Michigan 1974.” She made the top ten out of approximately fifty queens from all over the State of Michigan. After the Miss Michigan pageant concluded, the local pageant officials sponsored Sharri to compete in the Queen of Queens Contest where she was crowned "Miss Michigan State Fair 1974" at the State Fairgrounds in Detroit, Michigan. Her family, community, and McDonald's Dairy (who purchased her father's milk product) were very proud of this accomplishment.
Sharri earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Oakland University and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the Detroit College of Law (Michigan State University School of Law).
Employed by General Motors (GM) Corporation, Sharri served in various positions of responsibility, primarily in Human Resources and Labor Relations. She was initially employed at the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. Then, she transferred to the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources where she served as a GM Senior Staff Assistant and Management Negotiator in National Collective Bargaining with the UAW (International Union, United Auto Workers). Sharri was later assigned to the Arbitration & Wage Administration Staff at GM Global Headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, where she retired from GM in 2009 with thirty years of service.
In 2010, Sharri founded her private law practice and hung out her shingle. Her law practice focuses in the areas of Child Welfare, Delinquency, and Probate Law.
Sharri enjoys physical fitness, genealogy, reading, cooking, travel and music. She was also a past member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.-Flint Chapter; a past member of the Junior League of Flint, Michigan; and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. As President and on behalf of the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association in Troy, Michigan, Sharri received the National Bar Association, Region VI (MI, OH, KY, & TN) 1999-2000 Outstanding Affiliate Chapter Award.
Sharri is the eldest of three siblings and is married to Stephen M. Phillips, a UAW-Represented General Motors Skilled Trades Journeyman.
Oral History Summary
Farmer’s Daughter. Fueling Lincoln’s Assassin, Christiana Riot.
Sharri talks about her family’s effect on Abraham Lincoln’s assassin during an intertwined story concerning the Fugitive Slave Act, negotiated by her maternal relative U.S. Senator Henry Clay, inciting the Christiana Riot in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where her paternal ancestors were protecting fugitive slaves; Frederick Douglass assisting her ancestors to reach the Elgin Settlement in Canada on the Underground Railroad; growing up on a dairy farm in Lapeer, Michigan, living in an 1846 farmhouse; being the only black student in her one room schoolhouse; relative Phyllis Marshall, a black Canadian TV personality and jazz singer; traveling in Europe as a soprano with the Southern Michigan Youth Chorale; competing in the Miss America franchise; earning a bachelor's in economics from Oakland University; her thirty year career at General Motors; going back to complete her law degree at Michigan State; attending a two week immersion class in Germany in her fifties to achieve her dream of becoming fluent in a second language; founding a law practice in the areas of Child Welfare, Juvenile Delinquency, and Probate Law at the age of 55; being instructed by her grandmother as a child to not talk about her ancestry because no one would believe it; her Revolutionary War patriot Green Clay who was the largest landholder and largest slaveholder in Kentucky; the impact of the free labor of slaves in creating the wealth of America; presenting "My Journey to DAR" at the Elgin settlement for former and self-emancipated slaves, in Ontario, Canada, annual "Homecoming" event; the 1851 Christiana Riot battle at the home of her paternal great-great-grandparents William and Eliza Parker, self-emancipated slaves from Maryland and abolitionists, resulting in the demise of slave master Edward Gorsuch who attempted to reclaim slaves under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 which was negotiated by her maternal relative U.S. Senator Henry Clay; the killing of Gorsuch fueling John Wilkes Booth to assassinate president Abraham Lincoln; ancestor Christopher "Kit" Clay’s relationship with servant of African descent Matilda Tillman and their daughter Loutisha Clay’s relationship with a white man whose fear of financial ruin prevented their legal marriage; Cassius Clay inspired to be an abolitionist by Green Clay's African descent servant Mary, condemned to hang for murdering her overseer who was plotting to kill her; Cassius suggesting Mary is Green Clay's daughter; joining the DAR to preserve lineage with a long lasting institution and to provide enrichment about the formation of the U.S.; questioning about lineage during application process triggering trauma from suffering due to experiencing ancestors' lives while researching genealogy; objecting to people trying to eject citizens from America, “I'm putting my stakes in the ground.”
Sharri Phillip's oral history was recorded on October 12, 2020
Membership State: Michigan
DAR Patriot Ancestor(s)
Clay, Greene: Virginia
European Descent Male