Mar. 20, 1960: Civil rights icon Dr. Ossian Sweet dies of apparent suicide

200px-Ossian_SweetOn this day in 1960, Dr. Ossian Sweet, a prominent medical doctor, joins the ancestors dying from a gunshot wound, an apparent suicide.

He was 64.

Sweet was best known for being a victim of a racially-charged ambush in September 1925. He had purchased a home in a white neighborhood on the city’s lower east side. An angry mob of whites attempted to force him out of the 2905 Garland Street dwelling and a white man was killed in the altercation. Sweet, several family members and friends were charged in connection with the shooting but ultimately were acquitted of murder charges by an all-white jury.

In later years, Sweet suffered severe financial challenges, ill health, and the lost of his wife, at age of 27, and his brother.

Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman, the author of On this Day: African-American Life in Detroit, is a native Detroiter and former news reporter. He served on the Detroit Charter Revision Commission. He lives in Detroit with his wife, Kim Trent, and their son, Jackson Coleman.

  • Lady

    Thank you, I had no idea he committed suicide! his spirit was truly broken .