5 Spots in Detroit Significant To African-American History (Video Series)

Monday, Feb. 24, 2014

By Terry Parris Jr.

We spent a Saturday afternoon with Detroit-based author Ken Coleman. He took us to spots around Detroit that are significant to African-American history. We went from the Old West Site to the Lower East Side, from Larned Street to East Nevada, from the Underground Railroad to the launch of the Trade Union Leadership Council in 1957. Here are five stories about these five sites:

Detroit's Lower East Side in 1925

Dr. Ossian Sweet's home on the Lower East Side of Detroit was the site of one of the most racially explosive incidences in the history of Detroit and, maybe, all of America. In 1925 Dr. Sweet moved into an all white neighborhood at the corner of Garland and Charlevoix. The response was hostile and it culminated in the killing of a white man after he invaded the Sweet home. Here's the story:

Detroit's Lower East Side in the 1800s

William Lambert was a main player in the Underground Railroad and getting slaves from the south, up to Detroit and into Canada. We went to his homesite at Larned and St. Aubin. Here's part of that story:

Northeast Detroit in the 1940s

In the 1940s the federal government built a housing project at 4801 E. Nevada St. It was first only for African-Americans, and then only for whites, and then for African-Americans again. After the flip-flop, in February of 1942, African-Americans ended up moving into the Sojourner Truth Homes but were faced with protest:

The Old West Side in 1923

The Detroit Athletic Club wouldn't allow African-Americans to join. So they opened up The Nacirema Club in Detroit's Old West Side. Here's the story behind that:

Grand River in 1957

In 1957 the Trade Union Leadership Council opened its doors. As more and more African-Americans moved from the south up to Detroit to work in the car factories, and then became members of groups like the United Auto Workers and other unions, there became a need for an organization like the TULC, which looked after the interests of the African-American worker.

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, Craig Fahle and Coleman discussed the video project. Dig a little deeper on these sites and why they were chosen by listening to the conversation here:
Historically Significant Sites in Detroit - The Craig Fahle Show by The Craig Fahle Show

Not sure exactly where each of these sites are? Here's a map:

Thanks to:
Ken Coleman for his time and knowledge
Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University
Joshua Jouppi for WDET motion graphic