Detroit has long been a destination for immigrant communities, dating to before Henry Ford began the first automotive assembly line factory. But life within these diverse communities can be isolating, and in response to that, the Concert of Colors came into being.
This event began because of a need for communication between different communities in Detroit in the wake of the 1967 uprisings, and it has evolved into so much more. The festival now includes multiple events across multiple venues with dozens of artists performing every year, and it’s all happening now through July 24.
Journalist Martina Guzmán recently wrote a feature for Detroit Metro Times about the deep roots of the Concert of Colors as it celebrates its 30th anniversary.
“I was blown away, surprised at the conscious effort by community leaders to take communities of color and bring them together,” Guzmán shares about her research process.
She says the first inspiration for the festival began in the 1960s with the founding of a racial justice organization called New Detroit, which is still active today. The group’s organizers invited community leaders from different ethnic groups in the city to meet monthly, discuss social and economic issues and break bread together.
“They would share and build relationships and get to know one another in a way that didn’t exist before.”
She says that while these practices may not seem out of the ordinary now, that kind of intentional inclusion was radical for the 60s and 70s. These community efforts eventually lead to the development of Concert of Colors as we know it today.
Listen: Martina Guzmán talks Concert of Colors history, impact