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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.

Hear stories of Detroit's 1967 uprising from people that witnessed it

Walter P. Reuther Library: Wayne State University.
Citizens line up for food aid during the 1967 Detroit uprising.

The 1967 Detroit uprising was a time of confusion and upheaval. Countless rumors and false narratives spread through the country, and some facts remain unclear to this day.

Luckily, many Detroiters have come forward to tell their personal accounts of the rebellion.

Darryle Buchanan

Credit Darryle Buchanan
Darryle Buchanan as a child in 1960s Detroit.

Darryle Buchanan spent much of his childhood in Detroit's Virginia Park neighborhood. His house was less than a mile from 12th and Clairmount -- the epicenter of the rebellion.

Buchanan was just 12 years old when the violence broke out. Over the course of just five days, he saw his entire neighborhood turned upside down.

Listen below:

(The songs featured in this audio postcard are Octagon Pt. 1 and Maruken both by Polyrythmics. They are used under a Creative Commons license.)

Darryle Buchanan now works at theMichigan Community Service Commission, where he directs My Brother's Keeper, an initiative to improve outcomes for young men of color.

Ken Reeves

Ken Reeves today.

Ken Reeves was the mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1992 to 1995. He was the first openly gay African-American mayor in the country. 

But long before that, Reeves was a kid growing up on the west side of Detroit. He was 11 in the summer of 1967.

Listen below:

(The songs featured in this audio postcard are Itis by the Polyrythmics and Rise and Shine by Audiobinger. They are used under a Creative Commons license.)

Ken Reeves is now the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Scholar in the Department of Urban Studies & Planning at MIT.

Pat Watts

Pat Watts grew up in Virginia Park, just two blocks from the epicenter of the rebellion.

She was 16 when chaos broke out in her neighborhood.

Listen below:

(The song featured in this audio postcard is Solan by Podington Bear. It is used under a Creative Commons license.)

Dorothy Hall

Dorothy Hall is 87 years old and has lived in the same house in the Boston-Edison neighborhood for nearly 50 years.
But in the summer of 1967, Hall and her husband were living in an apartment building on the west side of Detroit near the heart of the disturbance.

Listen below:

Anthony Lee

When you're a kid, your neighborhood makes up pretty much your whole world. It's where you ride your bike, chase after ice cream trucks, and play with friends.

Anthony Lee was 11 when he saw his world - on the west side of Detroit - crumbling around him.  
Lee and his mother were walking home from church on Sunday, July 23 when they saw the first buildings start to burn.

Listen below:

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.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
April Van Buren is a producer for Stateside. She produces interviews for air as well as web and social media content for the show.
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