Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-viii

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Foreword

Thomas J. Sugrue

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pp. ix-xii

No day figures more prominently in the history of modern Detroit than July 23, 1967. Early that morning, the Detroit Police Department decided to bust a “blind pig,” an illegal after-hours bar on 12th Street, then one of black Detroit’s most prominent business districts. Rather than making a handful...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

Detroit ’67: Looking Back to Move Forward may be the most significant project ever undertaken by the Detroit Historical Society. This book is an important part of that effort.
The Board of Trustees, staff, and supporters of the Society recognized the opportunity that 2017—the fifty-year commemoration...

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Introduction

Joel Stone

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pp. 1-10

On Sunday, January 1, 1967, the New Year’s Day edition of the Detroit Free Press carried an auspicious theme, branded through each section with a special logo: “1967—Pivotal Year.” Nationally, it would be a “year of decision” regarding the war in Vietnam and for President Lyndon Johnson’s...

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Part I: A Checkered History

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pp. 11-12

This part covers 244 years, from early European habitation to the end of World War II in 1945. During this period, Detroit transformed from a frontier village built on trade with American Indians into one of the premier manufacturing cities in the world.
Like all cities in the United States, Detroit...

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Detroit’s Forgotten History of Slavery

Bill McGraw

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pp. 13-22

Sitting in storage in the Detroit Public Library’s Burton Historical Collection is a powerful relic of Detroit’s long history: a ledger book that is more than two hundred years old. Its cover is cracked, and its pages are yellowed and brittle. The book holds the will and inventory of the estate of William...

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The Underground Railroad and Early Racial Violence

Roy E. Finkenbine

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pp. 23-30

The half century between the end of the War of 1812 and the close of the Civil War proved to be an important formative period for race relations in Detroit. Hundreds of southern slaves, as well as free blacks from the upper South and the Northeast, made their way to the city, settling into a...

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Freedom’s Railway: Reminiscences of the Brave Old Days of the Famous Underground Line

William Lambert

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pp. 31-32

“I was expecting a train from the south and we were waiting for it at the lodge on Jefferson Avenue [between Bates and Randolph Streets]. This was our custom. The fugitives were brought in from the country from Wayne and Ann Arbor so as to arrive at night. They would be brought to the vicinity...

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Race Relations in Detroit, 1860–1915

De Witt S. Dykes Jr.

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pp. 33-39

African Americans in Detroit after 1860 experienced a mixture of opportunities and restrictions. First they inherited a legacy of strong antislavery activity and assistance to fugitive slaves throughout the state. Also Michigan enacted Personal Liberty laws to make it harder for authorities to return...

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The Rages of Whiteness: Racism, Segregation, and the Making of Modern Detroit

Kevin Boyle

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pp. 40-47

McClellan Dixon was breaking the law when the two cops came in. It wasn’t much of a crime, though, drinking with his buddies in a blind pig at half past two in the morning. And when the officers told everyone to clear out, he joined the line going down the stairs; having spent a lifetime following...

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The Arsenal of Democracy-for-Some

Charles K. Hyde

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pp. 48-53

The coming of World War II and the explosive growth of defense production by the Detroit automobile industry brought enormous changes to Detroit’s African American community as well as to its relationship with majority-white institutions. The massive growth of defense-industry jobs...

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Detroit 1943: “A Real Race Riot”

Gregory Sumner

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pp. 54-59

When Detroit residents talk about the sudden, widespread eruption of looting and violence that so changed the direction of their city—often with very different narratives, depending on the race of the speaker—they are usually referring to the events of July 1967. The historian who is asked about...

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A Streetcar Named Disaster

Tommie M. Johnson

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pp. 60-62

I came to Detroit from Gary, Indiana, as an infant in December 1925. I can’t remember too much about the late 1920s. The early 1930, I remember I went to Garfield School on Frederick Street, between Rivard and Russell. It was right across the street from our house. Our mother could watch us cross...

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Part II: A Deteriorating Situation

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pp. 63-64

Following World War II, Americans were ready to revel in their victory and settle into the normal domestic routines that they remembered. It was not long, however, before those routines were upset by postwar realities.
Nearly one in five war workers had been drawn to urban centers across...

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The Deindustrialization of Detroit

Thomas A. Klug

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pp. 65-75

In a chapter titled “The Future of Cities,” the 1968 report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (also known as the Kerner Commission) declared, “We are well on the way to . . . a divided nation. . . . One predominantly white and located in the suburbs, in smaller cities...

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Joe’s Record Shop

Marsha Music

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pp. 76-81

My father, Joe Von Battle, opened a record store on Hastings Street in Detroit in 1945. He gathered up the records from his home, where he lived with his wife and four children, and opened shop. He sold records from opera to Elvis, Frank Sinatra to Nat King Cole—but Joe’s Record Shop was...

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Benefit of the Redoubt

Jeffrey Horner

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pp. 82-93

On the evening of July 23, 1967, the greatest Detroit Tiger ever went two-for-three in a winning effort in the second game of a home doubleheader and, after having learned of a major disturbance near his old east-side neighborhood, left the stadium while still in uniform in a quixotic attempt...

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Defending the Divide: Homeowners’ Associations and the Struggle for Integration in Detroit, 1940–1965

William Winkel

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pp. 94-105

In 1940, Detroit was one of the fastest growing cities in the world. As the United States fought World War II, many thousands of people were attracted to the city’s strong manufacturing sector, lured by the high wages that factory jobs offered. Southerners, both white and black, made the journey...

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Liberals and “Get-Tough” Policing in Postwar Detroit

Alex Elkins

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pp. 106-116

On August 12, 1964, the Wall Street Journal declared Detroit a model city in preventing rioting and racial conflict. Since mid-July, thousands of African Americans had rioted against the police in New York—Harlem, Brooklyn, Rochester—a Chicago suburb, and three New Jersey cities. At the end of...

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Part III: A Riot by Any Other Name

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pp. 117-118

Black Day in July. The Canadian songwriter Gordon Lightfoot used the Detroit scenario as a metaphor for the racial eruptions across the United States—over 160 total, at least 24 considered severe. Detroit’s story is one of uneasy relationships gone sour, in the neighborhoods and across the city...

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Chronology of Events

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pp. 119-136

This timeline was developed from a number of primary sources, including activity logs created by the mayor’s office, police reports, and a chronology published by the assistant secretary of defense Cyrus R. Vance, with additional input from numerous secondary sources. Naturally, not all the...

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Steel Meets Flint: How to Start a Riot

Joel Stone

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pp. 137-148

The flashpoint of the uprising in Detroit was a police raid on an unlicensed, after-hours drinking club. In contemporary parlance, it was a “joint” or a “blind pig.” While the people arrested were being taken away, an irritable crowd was provoked to action when someone threw a bottle at a cop. The...

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In the Center of the Storm

Hubert G. Locke

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pp. 149-157

I grew up in what is known by black Detroiters as the old west side—the geographic area roughly served by Northwestern High School. It was one of three segregated areas in the city of Detroit in which black families could buy homes and bounded by Epworth on the west, West Grand Boulevard...

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Rebellion, Revolution, or Riot: The Debate Continues

Ken Coleman

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pp. 158-164

Lanky and brown-skinned, he looked like a member of the Detroit Pistons, who played home games in this building. But you immediately got the sense that he was not Dave Bing, the star point guard from Syracuse University, whom the team drafted seventy-nine days before. He took to...

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The Problem Was the Police

Melba Joyce Boyd

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pp. 165-172

The police. It’s always the police. If you were black and living in pre–Coleman Young Detroit, you never called the police for help because they only made matters worse. Besides, the neighborhoods where I grew up had the lowest crime rates in the city. We left our doors unlocked, and in the...

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Murder at the Algiers Motel

Danielle L. McGuire

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pp. 173-183

Even the sweltering humidity was normal for late July. Roll call began at noon Monday in the Thirteenth Precinct, and the Detroit police officers split into two groups. The sergeant ordered one group to stay in the Thirteenth and sent the other to the “Bloody” Tenth, home to 12th Street, a bustling...

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The Storytellers: Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Timothy Kiska

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pp. 184-195

In July 1967, Detroit’s broadcast and print newsrooms were even less racially integrated than the 139 square miles of America’s fifth-most-populous city. Five days of widespread violence were about to transform both the city— reduced by 2015 to our eighteenth most populous—and its journalistic...

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The Mayor’s Shadow

Berl Falbaum

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pp. 196-198

I was born in Berlin in 1938. We escaped Nazi Germany in 1939 for Shanghai, China, where I spent the first ten years of my life. Following the war, we were allowed to come to the United States—first San Francisco and then Detroit.
We moved into what is now called Rosa Parks Boulevard—it was 12th...

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The Taxi Driver

Kathleen Kurta

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pp. 199-201

In July 1967, I had a summer job. I was seventeen, and that was the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. The job was behind the counter at Greenfield’s Restaurant on Woodward near downtown Detroit. So that’s where I was on that Sunday in July. And somehow the managers...

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Oral History Excerpts

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pp. 202-210

The oral history excerpts that accompany these photographs were generated by the Detroit Historical Society’s Detroit ’67 oral history project team. They have been edited for brevity. Full transcripts are part of the Detroit Historical Society Collection...

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Part IV: Out of the Ashes

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pp. 211-212

In the immediate aftermath of rioting, local churches stepped up to provide food and water in affected neighborhoods. Supporters of black self-determination formed Operation Get-Down and Inner-City Sub-Center to provide long-term supplemental education, food, housing, recreation, and...

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What the Children Said

Steven Balkin

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pp. 213-217

“I thought the riot was very uncalled for. The black man said that the white man wasn’t doing him right. But to me, white man and black man is the same. The only difference is the skin. If a black man going with a white woman and a white man see him, he will want to kill him. But God make all...

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And the Beat Goes On: Continued Confrontation

Joel Stone

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pp. 218-229

Nearly every analysis of the July uprising cites the tense relationship between the Detroit Police Department and the black community as the major cause of the conflict. The issue was exacerbated in subsequent months as law enforcement found itself at odds with elements within city government...

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First Time I’ve Ever Seen Justice

Rev. Daniel W. Aldridge Jr.

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pp. 230-234

I was born in Harlem, New York, in 1942, and we moved to Queens when I was young. Growing up, I was very much aware of the civil rights movement because my aunt Dorothy Hite was president of the National Council of Negro Women. She was a ghostwriter for Marcus Garvey and the assistant...

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A Call to Action: The Changing Face of Inner-City Activism

Joel Stone

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pp. 235-249

As described in earlier chapters, social activism has been a part in Detroit’s African American community for a long time. As the city’s black population increased in the twentieth century, the form and substance of that activism was refined and amplified. The crisis in July 1967 caused a significant...

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Black Power, Black Rebellion

Betty DeRamus

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pp. 250-254

“Slick” Campbell is an actor at Detroit’s Concept-East Theater, a bushy-haired barrel of a black man who likes to strut on stage and trumpet a poem he composed entitled, “Let Freedom Ring.” “Ka-ping, ka-ping,” he mocks a rifle at its conclusion. Then, after a pause, comes the cruel irony: “Damn fool, don’t...

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It Was a Good Time for Organizing

Mike Hamlin

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pp. 255-259

I returned from Korea in March of 1960 and got a job at the Detroit News. I had U of M credits and I had military, so they hired me. I started off as a jumper, which was assisting the distribution drivers. We’d take papers to stations and unload them, where the newsboys were, or we were the guy...

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In the Uprising’s Wake: Reaction in the White Community

William Winkel

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pp. 260-270

To stay or to go? The uprising left an indelible mark on the white community. Even before the embers cooled, the white community was faced with a litany of questions without easy answers. For many, the most pressing question was whether to stand and fight or to run and hide. For whites, both in...

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Part V: The More Things Change . . .

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pp. 271-272

In the half century following 1967, the city has had eight mayors. Jerome Cavanagh handed off the baton to Roman Gribbs for four years. Coleman Young, a political firebrand, became the first African American mayor of Detroit in 1974, holding the post for five four-year terms. Dennis Archer...

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Detroit 1967 and Today: Spatial Racism and Ongoing Cycles of Oppression

Peter J. Hammer

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pp. 273-282

More than any other city, Detroit exemplifies the ongoing legacy of northern racism. Anyone who understands this country’s history of structural racism knows that some form of civil unrest in the late 1960s was inevitable in Detroit. Sadly, these same racialized forces of oppression have operated...

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Hindsight: The Shift in Media Framing

Casandra E. Ulbrich

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pp. 283-289

Ask any native Detroiters old enough to remember about their reflections on the “Detroit riot” and you are likely to hear vivid memories of burning buildings, tanks in the streets, or neighbors protecting one another’s homes. They will tell you about the smell of the smoke, the crackling of...

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It Can Happen Here: Model City Once Again?

Desiree Cooper

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pp. 290-296

Most Detroiters would be hard-pressed to recognize—much less describe—the official flag of their beloved city. Yet woven into the prophetic images of fire and resurrection, despair, and hope shines their story. To be a true Detroiter, you have to know how to walk through fire.
On the morning of...

Bibliography

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pp. 297-308

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Contributors

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pp. 309-314

Rev. Daniel W. Aldridge Jr. has been one of Detroit’s most respected activists since his arrival in the city in 1965. Drawn to the call for self-reliance in the black community, he was involved in Black Nationalist organizations both locally and nationally, including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating...

Index

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pp. 315-328