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In July 1967, five days of chaos erupted in Detroit. Citizens, police, and troops clashed in a violent conflict that left 43 people dead, thousands of buildings destroyed, and a lingering scar on the once-vibrant city. It was a pivotal moment for Detroit, and for the country.Today, many believe Detroit is having a renaissance. And there have been plenty of visible improvements in recent years.But for many Detroiters, little has changed for the better in the past half-century. Poverty is even more entrenched. There are few good jobs and even fewer good schools. Blight and foreclosure have erased entire neighborhoods.If we want to understand today’s Detroit, we have to consider the city’s turbulent past. That’s why Michigan Radio is revisiting the events of that hot summer in 1967.From July 17-28, Stateside and Morning Edition will hear from people who were there; explore the issues that led to the deadliest riot of the 1960s; and examine why it still resonates in the city today.

Cast of "Detroit" hopes new film sparks conversations about race relations

Director Kathryn Bigelow's new film Detroitdepicts one of the most horrific events of the 1967 rebellion: a night of terror at the Algiers Motel, a night that left three young black men dead at the hands of white police officers.

Credit Cynthia Canty / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
The Fox Theatre's marquee at the "Detroit" premiere Tuesday night.

Detroit had its world premiere this week at the Fox Theatre, just blocks away from where buildings burned, bullets flew, and 43 people died.

The gravity of what happened 50 years ago this week was very much on the minds of Detroit's cast and crew, along with hopes for the kinds of conversations and thoughts the film might inspire.

“I’ve been doing this for probably close to 30 years, and this was the most emotional experience I’ve ever had cutting a film," said Oscar-winning editor William Goldenberg. "I mean the story is so tragic. And you feel so much for the characters.”

He hopes the film will spark conversations about "police violence and criminality, and treating police criminality the same as any form of criminality."

Listen above to hear from actors Chris Chalk, Laz Alonso, Algee Smith, Hannah Murray, Will Poulter, and Ben O’Toole. 

Detroit opens in Detroit on Friday. The movie opens nationwide on Aug. 4.

From July 17-28, Michigan Radio is looking back at Detroit in 1967, the Summer of Rebellion. We’ll explore the issues that led to one of the deadliest civil disturbances in American history, and examine why it still resonates in the city today.

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Cynthia Canty was the host of Stateside since the weekday show began in 2012. She retired in December 2019.