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In ‘67 rebellion rap, Detroit students ask: “How much can we take ‘til we break?”

Jul 28, 2017

It's been 50 years since 1967, the summer of one of the deadliest civil disturbances in American history. Teacher Quan Neloms knew now was as good a time as any to teach his students about what happened that year in Detroit.

"The problems that we had back then, we're still fighting today. So nothing's changed."

Neloms teaches ninth-grade social studies at the Frederick Douglass Academy for Young Men, located right down the street from the famous intersection where the rebellion began. He also heads the school's Lyricist Society, an after-school program that promotes cultural awareness, achievement and literacy through hip-hop and digital media.

After learning about what happened in Detroit fifty years ago, some of his students wrote a song they called "D67."

We talked to the song's creators – students Arkyym Taylor and Mario Collins, and alum Michael Siebert. They said one thing that came out of learning about 1967 was a conversation about what to call the events of that summer. Writing the song also helped them reflect on their own lives, and think about how the rebellion still resonates today. 

Listen above to hear Taylor, Collins,  and Siebert talk about the experience of making music about the summer of 1967. You can watch the music video for "D67" 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.

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