This is a special hour of StoryCorps pieces recorded right here in Detroit and produced by WDET.
Click on the audio player above to hear the full show.
The StoryCorps pieces in this special include:
Ken Gray remembers the first time he saw Lori Taylor. He was at a performance of “Yellowman” at the Detroit Repertory Theatre.
“She kept looking down each row until she got to me,” he recalls. “And I thought, ‘Oh, don’t let her sit next to me.’”
Spoiler Alert: She sat next to him. Hear how they ended up holding hands before they even exchanged words.
“Much better than everything people said you were.”
Jennifer Smith is the founder of Closing the Gap, a nonprofit that uses personalized mentorship to help Detroit students enter and make their way through college. At a college fair Smith met high school senior Ruletta Street.
Street entered into foster care as a teenager, was transferred from school to school, and didn’t have the best grades… but the day they met she told Smith that she wanted to graduate and go to college.
Smith took Street under her wing and became her mentor. Now Street is about to enter her senior year at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Hear her reflect on how far she’s come.
1967 Was Decades Before They Were Born
This past year, students at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School on the city’s eastside spent a whole unit studying 1967. They spent several weeks researching, and they took a field trip to several sites including the intersection of 12th Street and Clairmount Avenue where the disturbance began. Students also presented what they learned to community members.
WDET visited the school to find out what some of these young people think about the turmoil that shook Detroit decades before they were born.
“It seems like fewer of us make it now.”
In 1967, Bill Williams was a teenager living with his extended family not far from the intersection of 12th Street and Clairmount Avenue. Here Williams tells his friend Cindy Muñoz about the destruction he witnessed living so close to “the riot.” He remembers neighbors guarding firefighters with rifles, bullet holes that went through brick, and the anxiety of the soldiers his grandmother made him bring pop to.
At one point Muñoz asks Williams about the legacy of 1967, and in his response he says, “It seems fewer of us make it now.”
“You get back on this porch.”
Clarice Rodger, 82, sat down with her son, Curtis Rodgers, Jr. She asked him what he was up to as a 14-year-old when the violence erupted in the city on July 23rd near their old neighborhood. Curtis Rodgers remembers the day in detail, right down to the outfit he was wearing.
A Father Tries to Protect His Record Store
Marsha Music’s father was a record producer with a store on 12th Street. In this story, she recalls what happened there in 1967.
“I remember the stench of smoke and the evidence of complete mayhem and the hellishness of 12th Street on that day when we returned, the hellishness of those burned buildings and those destroyed buildings and glass everywhere.”
Lauren Hood recalls the early 1990s rave culture in Detroit and Windsor that Adriel Thornton introduced her to when the longtime friends first started hanging out. Thornton says the scene was “the living breathing example of Dr. King’s dream.”
“The Bar Was Our CNN.”
Damon “Magic” Percy and and Curtis Lipscomb are not biologically related, but they’re father and son in the LGBT community. In this piece, the two talk about the house music venues where they danced the night away in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as the relationship between the HIV/AIDS epidemic and those spaces.
“The city is like one big house.”
One day while renovating her recently purchased home, 55-year-old Tate Osten heard a knock on the door. When she answered it, she found a woman she’d never met: 90-something-year-old Myldret “Bernice” Leatherwood.
“The average person wouldn’t have had that much nerve. What caused me to do that?” asks Leatherwood, about three years later. “It was something that caused me to stop and meet you, Tate.”
Poetry and Parenting
Reknowned Detroit-based poet jessica Care moore [who spells her name with only one capital letter] sat down for an interview with her son, King Thomas Moore. The 10-year-old, a poet in his own right, has already opened up for Dave Chappelle and performed in Shanghai. He’s also received a Knight Art Challenge award to host a series of Super Cool Poetry open mic events for kids 12 and under.
This interview is an intimate look at their relationship. They discuss hardship, love, growing up, and they also talk a little bit about poetry.