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On June 9th the Dossin Great Lakes Museum at Belle Isle hosted a panel discussing the climate in Detroit from 1950 to 1967 and historical events impacting those years. The event was taped by C-SPAN. Naturally the 1967 riot was discussed extensively. Kimberly Simmons, chair of the Black Historic Sites Committee and executive director of the Detroit River Project, moderated the discussion.
One panelist Loretta Holmes witnessed the riots. Loretta was 16 and at a blind pig which was raided by police. Loretta was just hanging out with friends as many young folks as prone to do. Nothing major was going on. Imagine her shock when a sledgehammer came through the stairway. Police also nailed doors shut so no one could leave. She emphasized how safe her experience in Detroit was prior to this.
Another panelist Darren Nichols, who has been a reporter at The Detroit News since 1993, discussed police brutality, the aftermath of the 1967 riot, and historic events that lead up to the riot. For instance from 1953 to 1960 seven auto plants were closed and 71,137 jobs were lost. The Brown vs. The Board of Education court case, the Rosa Parks Montgomery Bus Boycott, and African American musicians, authors, and actors were important in shaping the racial tension abundant in this time period.
The Black Historic Sites Committee currently has twenty five members and holds a meeting the second thursday monthly at the Detroit Historical Museum at 6 pm. It is free to attend and the committee is always looking for new members. On July 27th The Dossin Great Lakes Museum is hosting a 41st anniversary gala for The Black Historic Sites Committee. To purchase tickets please visit www.detroithistorical.org.