Detroit, 1967: Riot or Rebellion?
Bill Kubota, Detroit Public Television’s One Detroit and Detroit Journalism Cooperative
Two weeks before the fiftieth anniversary of the July 23, 1967 police raid that set off a week of looting, fires, shootings and killings across the city, Detroit public radio host Stephen Henderson talked about what we should call that historic event.
Wayne State University professor of African American Studies Melba Boyd and former Detroit Police Chief and Assistant Mayor Ike McKinnon joined Henderson in the WDET-FM studio.
Riot or rebellion? Uprising? Revolution?
As the decades pass, the questions can reframe the history Detroiters and the rest of the nation believe to be true.
The Detroit Historical Museum examines all this with their Detroit ’67: Perspectives Exhibition, even asking the question on a banner outside.
Museum curator Joel Stone said the exhibition does settle on any single term, “We used nearly every description.”
The terms melee and uprising also make an appearance in the museum.
Amongst those on the more radical side, it was called a revolution from the time in happened.
Stone says the term rebellion arose a couple decades later, attributed in no small part to the academics who were studying it at the time.
Bridge Magazine reporter Bill McGraw looked into that question for the Detroit Journalism Cooperative last year. Look at that story here.