The Detroit uprising: 50 years later

Detroit Riots

 

July 22, 1967 - It's been 50 years since the uprising

Even as smoke drifted over thousands of charred homes and buildings after days of deadly insurrection and looting in Detroit, President Lyndon B. Johnson called upon experts to determine the root cause of racial disorders that swept scores of U.S. cities in the summer of 1967.

Those experts, sitting on what came to be known as the Kerner Commission, reached this haunting conclusion: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate but unequal.”

A police raid at 12th Street and Clairmount on Detroit’s west side had ignited a firestorm of long-suppressed rage. Rage at a nearly all-white police force notorious for brutalizing and humiliating people of color; at a political structure that marginalized the voices of African-American residents; at schools and neighborhoods that kept integration at bay, and at a future with little prospect for black advancement. So it was that a confrontation at one Detroit intersection led the city to another: decades of economic policies, political campaigns, crime initiatives and social movements, mixed with no shortage of heartache, all meant to reverse the tide of history.

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Bridge Staff

Bridge’s mission is to inform Michigan citizens about their state, amplify their views and explore the challenges of our civic life.

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Roberta Wray
Tue, 05/30/2017 - 2:59pm

Thank you for reminding me of what was going on fifty years ago. I had a small part in covering a fringe riot in Flint during the summer of '67. I had forgotten much of the underpinnings, though I will never forget covering the Algiers Motel conspiracy trial in federal court in Flint the following year. Tumultuous times, to say the least, and lessons incompletely learned.