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1967 Was Decades Before They Were Born

With the 50th anniversary of the civil disturbance in Detroit happening this year, we’ve been hearing a lot of oral histories from people who witnessed the violence with their own eyes. Those stories are essential to understanding what the city has been through.

But are they being passed down to the next generation in Detroit? What do kids today think about what happened in the city in 1967? Do they even know about it?

This past year, students at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School on the city’s eastside spent a whole unit studying 1967. The school is a public charter with strong roots in social justice philosophy. The kids there 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’s Laura Herberg visited the school to find out what some of these young people think about the turmoil that shook Detroit decades before they were born. Click on the player above to hear an audio collage of the students explaining what happened. Below you’ll find more reflections.

Click on the blue quotes to hear the students’ voices.

WDET/Laura Herberg

Trevelle Crosby, 13 years old:

I think that it impacts my life because I’m a black kid myself and I feel hurt for what happened.”

WDET/Laura Herberg

 

Sharon Johnson, 12 years old:

I know the whites still kind of don’t like the blacks still. I like all colors though. I’m not racist.”

 

Ajani DeFreece, 12 years old:

 

WDET/Laura Herberg

Taleah Brown, 12 years old:

We had a uprising. A very good one, too. It’s no more segregation. It’s still racism and sexism but not as much. And it’s still police brutality but it’s not as much as 1967.”

 

WDET/Laura Herberg

Lily Smentkowski, 10 years old:

I’m not happy that so many people got arrested, killed and hurt but I am kind of glad people stood up for what they believed in.”

 

Oscar Campbell, 10 years old:

 

WDET/Laura Herberg

Karrielle Crosby, 11 years old:

They keep saying nothing’s barely changed from 50 years ago because everybody’s still getting killed. Everybody don’t even care about what happened 50 years ago. They don’t want to make the place better, they just want to keep going at it.”

Juli’jah Watson, 12 years old:

 

WDET/Laura Herberg

Kamari Ray, 13 years old:

It was one of the points in history of Detroit that kind of made us where we are today…”

 

WDET/Laura Herberg

Paris Kaled, 11 years old:

The first thing I thought was maybe it’s not a good idea to keep the peace with tanks.”

Image credit: WDET/Laura Herberg

This post is a part of Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

The DJC is a partnership of six media outlets focused on telling critical stories of Detroit and creating engagement opportunities on-air, online and in the community. View the partners work at detroitjournalism.org.

Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.

  

 

This post is a part of Detroit '67: A Reflection.

WDET is reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 riots with stories and photos from people in the community who lived through this historic event.

About the Author

Laura Herberg

Community Reporter

Covers stories about the people inhabiting the metro Detroit region, the issues that affect them, as well as classic public radio “fluff.”

Follow @DetroitLaura

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