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Detroit Journalism Cooperative

The Detroit Journalism Cooperative is an integrated community media network providing insight on the issues facing Detroit. It features two radio stations, an online magazine, five ethnic newspapers, and a public television station-- All working together to tell the story of Detroit.

The DJC includes Michigan Radio, Bridge Magazine, Detroit Public Television, WDET, and New Michigan Media. To see all the stories produced for the DJC, visit The Intersection website.

Scroll below to see DJC stories from Michigan Radio and other selected stories from our partners.

Is Detroit coming back? It depends on the neighborhood.

Oct 17, 2017
Bridge Magazine

Detroit is at an inflection point. Maurice Cox can see it. So can the Rev. Aaron McCarthy, Jr. And their visions reveal much about a city brimming with possibility and problems.

The director of Detroit’s Planning Department, Cox has one of the best views at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. His eighth-floor window overlooks a downtown so revitalized that it’s practically unrecognizable from a few years ago.

“A lot of people who have been following Detroit’s recovery for a very long time have convinced me there’s something different about this one,” Cox said.

“People are seeing forward momentum. The streetlights come on at night. The lots are better maintained. Blight is coming down in everyone’s neighborhood. Little shops are popping up. Our downtown is on the upswing.”

Owe taxes? That’s OK. Wayne County will still sell you foreclosed homes.

Oct 12, 2017
Sarah Alvarez / Bridge Magazine

Wayne County doesn’t always enforce a law that forbids tax delinquents from buying properties at its tax foreclosure auctions, contributing to a cycle of speculation that perpetuates blight, a Bridge Magazine investigation has found.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit might not be ready for the wave of baby boomers who are aging. The oldest baby boomers are now 71. The youngest are 53. Right now in Detroit, many seniors rely on informal networks of neighbors, family, or friends.

In Detroit, 41 percent of people over 60 live alone according to a report by Data Driven Detroit based on 2010 Census data.

That’s the case with Ida Brown, 87, who lives in a house in the MorningSide neighborhood of Detroit.

Although she has lived there three years, she really hasn’t gotten to know her neighbors.

Are there two Detroits? A new report says yes, but…

Sep 13, 2017
Detroit skyline
City of Detroit

Turns out, there could be something to perceptions about “two Detroits” after all.

The Urban Institute, a nonprofit Washington D.C. think tank, issued a report Tuesday that concludes tax subsidies in Detroit have disproportionately favored downtown and Midtown.

Those areas received 57 percent of state, federal, and local tax subsidy investments from 2013 to 2015, even though they only contain 46 percent of the city’s 245,000 jobs, the report found.

Inside Nikolai Vitti's early effort to transform Detroit's battered public school image

Sep 13, 2017
Erin Einhorn

Three months after taking on one of the most daunting tasks in American education, Nikolai Vitti was having a fit over pizza — $340,000 worth of pizza.

Vitti, Detroit’s new school superintendent, had just discovered that the district had set aside that eye-popping sum of money last year to pay Domino’s Pizza for what he assumed were hundreds of thousands of slices for parties in schools.

Michigan Radio added to its list of awards received in 2017 this weekend with recognition from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

Aubrey Pollard about a year before his death.
Courtesy Thelma Pollard Gardner / via Bridge Magazine

This Friday, the movie simply titled “Detroit” debuts nationwide.

It depicts the most notorious single incident of the 1967 Detroit rebellion — the brutal police killings of three black teens at the Algiers Motel.

The still-contested events of that night at the Algiers Motel have already been written about extensively. A surviving witness called it “a night of horror and murder” worse than anything he had experienced as a soldier in Vietnam.

But after multiple trials, none of the officers involved were ever convicted of any crime.


Students from Detroit's Neighborhood Educational Center Program in 1970.
American Library Association

In the wake of Detroit’s 1967 rebellion, and similar unrest nationwide, a group called the Kerner Commission dug into the underlying causes.

Their main finding was that America was heading toward two separate, unequal societies: one white, one black. One of the deepest inequalities was in education.

group of students facing away from camera
Courtesy of The James & Grace Lee Boggs School / Facebook

 


Fifty years after Detroit’s 1967 rebellion, conversations about what the events of that summer so long ago mean for our society today have been everywhere.

But kids, who generally prefer cartoons to the evening news, might not have many opportunities to engage with the history of what happened in the city 50 years ago. That is, unless, they to go the James & Grace Lee Boggs School

LBJ Presidential Library

News media around the world are talking about Detroit’s resurgence.

Politicians in the city and the state, such as Gov. Rick Snyder, hype its revitalization.

“New investments have helped fuel a rapid dramatic transformation of Detroit and today it’s America’s comeback city,” he said in a video.

But that’s only part of the story of Detroit.

In the city’s neighborhoods, many people are still struggling.

However, there was a plan released in the 1960s to help end racial discrimination in Detroit and the nation.

two young men in tshirts
Lyricist Society / YouTube

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.

gordon park sign
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It’s a Sunday afternoon, and there’s a party of sorts going on at 12th Street and Clairmount on Detroit's west side.

Exactly 50 years ago, the police raid that sparked the city's massive, deadly riots started right here. Now there’s a newly-refurbished park on that corner and a marker designating it a state historic site.

Walter P. Reuther Library: Wayne State University.

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.

buildings in downtown detroit
Flickr user ifmuth

The riots of July 1967 are not at the root of the problems that lead to Detroit’s decline. However, they do provide an exclamation point in the much larger story about the struggles the city has now faced for decades, including unemployment, poverty and decaying infrastructure.

For our series, "Summer of Rebellion," Morning Edition host Doug Tribou spoke with Wayne State University professor Robin Boyle about the legacy of that time period. Boyle has taught urban planning at Wayne State University for the past 25 years. He's also done extensive research on the Detroit and other Midwestern cities dealing with population declines. 

Courtesy of Sister Theresa Milne

The Detroit rebellion erupted in the early Sunday morning hours of July 23, 1967, just blocks away from the Catholic church and school of St. Agnes located on 12th Street. That street is now known as Rosa Parks Boulevard.

The parish had been a strong presence in the neighborhood for many years, with its church and a community high school staffed by nuns: the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHMs). The order is noted for its strong commitment to social justice and education.

Nick Gregory

Divisions, intolerance and a biased political process have influenced Detroit for several decades before and since the 1967 uprising. The idea for “Split” was born after meeting Detroiters who live behind the Wailing Wall, built in the 1940’s to separate white and black neighborhoods.

Cynthia Canty / Michigan Radio

Director Kathryn Bigelow's new film Detroit depicts 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.

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

Detroit in July of 1967
Walter P. Reuther Library / Wayne State University

The violence in Detroit in the summer of 1967 destroyed large swaths of the city, mostly in black neighborhoods. It also energized the political ambitions of the city's African-American citizens.

The Shrine of the Black Madonna, which opened a few months before the riots broke out, wanted to turn the black church into a political force in Detroit. Its founder Albert Cleage combined the church's history in civil rights activism with an emerging black nationalist movement.

As the nephew of the Shrine's first leader, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans has a unique take on how the summer of 1967 changed the course of religious and political life for black people in Detroit. He also had a front-row seat to the chaos that broke out less than two blocks from his home.

Black and white shot of destroyed buildings in Detroit in 1967.
The Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library

As part of our series, "Summer of Rebellion," Michigan Radio Senior News Analyst Jack Lessenberry shares his memories of the unrest in Detroit in July 1967 with Morning Edition host Doug Tribou. They also discuss the role that week's events played in Detroit's larger decline.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

One powerful way to bear witness to history is through theater.

AFTER/LIFE is a living history play based on oral histories of women and girls who lived through the Detroit ’67 rebellion.

The play was conceived by Dr. Lisa Biggs, an assistant professor in Theater and Performance Studies at Michigan State University. It features oral histories from women left out of news accounts, and teaches students about one of Detroit's pivotal moments.

Biggs, along with actor and poet Deborah Chenault Green, joined Stateside to talk about the performance, and Green’s personal account living through the ’67 rebellion.

Courtesy: Friends of the Alger Theater

Across Detroit, neighborhoods are trying to figure out what they can do to remake their community. One neighborhood is pinning hopes on something it still has that most of Detroit’s other neighborhoods lost years ago.

There used to be dozens of movie theaters scattered across Detroit’s neighborhoods. Nearly all of them have been closed and demolished. There are a handful left. One of them is the Alger Theater  in the MorningSide neighborhood on Detroit’s east side.

Paul Phillips is a board member of the MorningSide Community Organization. He says the Alger was once central to the area, a gathering place that helped keep the business district along East Warren Avenue buzzing.

Walter and Wallace Crawford experienced Detroit's 1967 rebellion first hand.
Stateside Staff

In July 1967, Walter and Wallace Crawford had just graduated from St. Vincent High School in Detroit.

The twin brothers were dedicated athletes, heading to college on track scholarships in the fall. On the morning of July 23, the Crawfords woke up and headed to their weekend job at a car wash.

The fires of the Detroit riot began blazing exactly fifty years ago today. Years later, in an odd case of serendipity, I got to know Ray Good, the first police lieutenant on the scene, in the course of profiling his wife Janet for Esquire Magazine.

That was in the 1990s, when she had her moment of fame as Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s partner in evaluating who he would help die.

The historic marker in Gordon Park at 12th St. and Clairmount.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Fifty years ago this week, Detroit exploded in violent unrest that still marks the city to this day.

Now, the place where it all began is also marked as an official state historic site.

Jim Atkin
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

More than 7,000 people were swept up in mass arrests during the 1967 Detroit uprising.

Jails and police stations were overflowing, so many people were held in makeshift detention centers, often in squalid conditions.

Jim Atkin was a member of the Michigan Air National Guard at that time. His unit was called up to try and contain the situation in Detroit, and his first assignment was guarding people taken into custody during the initial days of the chaos.

Bill Goodman: "People during the uprising in 1967 were arrested en masse, huge numbers of people, hundreds and hundreds, maybe thousands of people were arrested."
Reuther Library

The mistreatment of African-Americans and Detroit's mostly white police force fueled the violence of July 1967. But black Detroiters didn't fare much better in the courts.

Bill Goodman was a young lawyer in the city during the uprising, when thousands of people were being arrested and held in cramped, unsanitary conditions.

The events of 1967 Detroit uprising unfolded rapidly.  It was sparked by a glass bottle being thrown at a police officer early Sunday morning on July 23, 1967. By the end of that day, the Detroit Police, Michigan State Police, and National Guard had all been called in to try to control the situation. 

Fifty years later, starting late Saturday evening, Michigan Radio and Stateside will be tweeting the events of the 1967 Detroit uprising as they happened.

A National Guardsman patrols a Detroit street during the July 1967 rebellion.
Tony Spina / Walter P. Reuther Library/Wayne State University

To understand why African-American Detroiters hit a breaking point with the city's police force in July 1967, we must turn to the history of the Detroit Police Department, and how white officers treated black men, women and children.

Sarah Hulett

Ten Julys ago, I sat down with my grandfather at his kitchen table for a conversation that went on for a couple of hours. It would be the first and last time I would do this, just me and him. We talked about how he met my grandmother, their early life together, and many other things.

We also talked about his time as a cop in Detroit – particularly that summer 50 years ago in the 10th Precinct where he worked, when the neighborhood erupted in civil unrest.

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