Historical Society marks riot of 1967
BY ALEXUS BOMAR
OU News Bureau
The Detroit Historical Society will recognize the 50-year-old Twelfth Street riot by its newest project “Detroit67: Looking Back to Move Forward.”
The five-day riot in Detroit, which led to the deaths of 43 people, was one of the deadliest and costliest in the history of the U.S. It began after a police raid at an unlicensed bar on Twelfth and Clairmount streets on the west side of Detroit.
The riot’s causes included social, economic and racial issues. Its aftermath was a turning point for the city — more white flight, increased activism and more community engagement, according to the Detroit Historical Society. Coleman A. Young, Detroit’s first black mayor, took office in 1974.
The “Detroit 67:Looking Back to Move Forward” project was created to use lessons learned from the 1967 events to spark social change, according to Kalisha Davis, the society’s director of community engagement and outreach.
Davis said she believes this project is important to the city because the situations that led to July 1967 are similar to what is currently happening on a local and national level.
“We’re seeing problems related to equitable housing, education, health, and police harassment and brutality manifest entirely too often in cities across the country,” she said. “This project allows us to unpack these challenges through the lens of community engagement by utilizing the best that every organization and individual has to offer to build our collective community’s ability to spark change.”
The society created an oral and written history online archive as a way to tell the story of Detroit.
The archive features stories from those who had positions of authority during 1967, those who have lived here and either stayed or moved away, and those who wanted to voice their opinion.
“This project provides us with an opportunity to really look at what has happened in the past and understand it from different perspectives,” said Rebecca Salminen Witt, chief development and communications officer.
Along with the online archive, the documentary “12th and Clairmount” will be the opening film March 30 for the Freep Film Festival. The documentary examines the causes and outcome of the riot through the eyes of home movies from Detroiters.
Beginning in mid-June, the exhibition “Detroit 67 Perspectives” will provide an interactive experience for visitors and allow them to understand the history before, during and after the riot.
The exhibition is expected to cover 100 years of history from 1917 to 2017 and beyond to help shape and create a better future for Detroit.
“We want visitors after leaving the exhibition to be moved and motivated to create change in the community,” Salminen Witt said.
Visit the Detroit67 website to learn more about the project.
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