“We have deep problems that we can fight and change,” Sugrue said.

The Detroit 67 project and the Van Dusen Urban Leadership Forum came together with Wayne State to develop new ideas as a community and generate knowledgeable information for our future leaders.  

Dr. Thomas Sugrue, a native of Detroit, author of “The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit” and current professor at New York University spoke on July 24 about the 1967 rebellions and rebuilding Detroit. Surgue was joined with other experts who spoke about the revamping of the city before and after the summer of 1967. 

“The riots were a manifestation of immorality,” said Sugrue said.

In 1967, African-Americans faced challenges that segregated the city because of race and the wrongful behavior by police officers.

“Pre-67 was shaped by profound mistakes that occurred together,” said Sugrue.  

Taking a deeper look into the city of Detroit, Sugrue explained the persistent discrimination dealt with by African-Americans and how the events of 1967 were only “touch zones” of unlawful events happening in our country.

These issues joined by discrimination in the work force, capital fights and segregation among housing prompted the Civil Rights Movement and the mass resistance of African-Americans in the city.

This year, Detroit is celebrating its 50thanniversary since the 1967 rebellions.

“We have to look at the priority of the state and have leadership that benefits all people,” said Melba Joyce Boyd, a professor in African American studies at WSU and a panelist at the conference. “We have to reorient ourselves; these are fundamental issues we have to address and not expect them to fix themselves.”      

Panelist Caroline Rolland-Diamond, the author of “Black America,” expressed the importance of understanding what the root of these issues may be. Implementing the voices of residents and understanding their ideas may help regard current situations, she said.

“The message I try to put forward, [is] we need to get over the trauma of race issues and use the American experience to recognize that our society is not colorblind,” Rolland-Diamond said.

Rolland-Diamond compared the riot that occurred in France in 2005 to the race war of inequality in Detroit.

“I try to bridge the gap and find new ways to go beyond what we’re usually used to in a national context,” she said.

And bridging the gap is just what the Detroit Historical Society, along with the partnership of Surge, came together to do. The multigenerational commitment to Detroit attempts to bring diverse voices and faces to the community.

“We have deep problems that we can fight and change,” Sugrue said.  “Listen hard to the painful truth that we would rather whistle away like we don’t care.”

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