*The Michigan Chronicle is discussing the Detroit Rebellion 1967 and its 54th anniversary in the City of Detroit in this three-part summer series. In this first installment, we delve into the foundation of how the rebellion was formed highlighting a community activist and local historian.
For five days during the summer of 1967 Detroit burned.
People died as civil unrest brewing that July bubbled over into a violent, chaotic outpour that resulted in racial tensions at an all-time high that impacted Black residents, and still do to this day.
The five-day rebellion resulted in the death of 43 people – 33 African Americans and 10 whites.
Jamon Jordan, local historian and founder of the Black Scroll Network, History & Tours, said that as an educator lecturer on African American history (Detroit-based especially) he has heard stories about the rebellion and researched the tragic events that took place that hit close to home.
“My parents were alive during the 1967 rebellion; my grandmother lived in that neighborhood,” Jordan said. “My mother would have been 13 years old and my grandmother lived about two blocks away from 12th and Clairmont.”
The rebellion began nearby at 9125 12th Street at a blind pig (a place illegally selling alcohol) on the city’s near Westside.
Police were staking the area out, Jordan said, adding that the blind pig operated above board during the day as a United Community League for Civic Action.
“The club was raided about 3 in the morning July 23, 1967,” Jordan said of the old print shop-turned political, community organization. “(It was) trying to really promote Black people in the neighborhood to register to vote … and people to run for political offices.”
But after hours, the business was home to less-established characters with “running the numbers” — illegal gambling and other illegal activities involving prostitutes.
Jordan said that when the club was raided by more than likely plainclothes officers who found their way inside and tell people the party is over. Arrests are being made and back-and-forth trips to the primarily white Police Department to book more Black partygoers is not going over well for the increasingly curious crowd that is gathering on the scene.
Jordan said that a Black woman is pushed, or tripped while being arrested and it sets off a deadly chain reaction.
The mostly white Michigan State Police Department also came on board to patrol the streets for the five days of the uprising, along with the National Guard.
Jordan said the added layer of obvious background tension between the African American community and local political leadership didn’t help the volatile situation either.
“This can’t happen in a vacuum,” Jordan said, adding that if the blind pig-raid was the “first thing to happen to Black people” the rebellion wouldn’t have occurred – but the built-up tensions were too much. “If there weren’t other grievances against police and Detroit, there wouldn’t have been an uprising.”
The Michigan Chronicle will continue in the near future in more coverage of the rebellion, how people were particularly impacted, and how the city was changed forever. Also, with ongoing reparation discussions happening in the City of Detroit, what is next for Black residents locally when it comes to fixing what is systemically broken in a primarily Black city.