On This Day: 20 unforgettable images from Detroit’s 1967 riots

On this day 47 years ago, Detroit police raided a blind pig, precipitating a riot that spread across the city and killed 43 people, mostly black. More than 2,500 stores were looted or burned down, accelerating white flight to the suburbs.

It was considered the most destructive riot of the 1960s, and its impact still resonates today.

Many black residents characterize the conflict as an uprising against a brutal police force and racist housing and employment practices.

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  • Anna Kuntz

    We lived above my parents business, Chuck’ Bar, on Gladys and Livernois. I remember the national guardsmen rolling down Livernois in a tank the first night of the riots and yelling at my dad to get inside the building or be shot. I can still see the smoke rising above in the sky behind the Kelsey Hayse Foundry across the street from us.

  • Penny Aniol

    I lived on Linwood and Taylor. Only a few blocks from where it all started. I was 7 years old and lived with my dad and grandmother. We lived above a bar and a beauty shop. There was a men’s shop downstairs too. Around noon, when I got home from church, the guys who owned the men’s shop yelled up to my dad to pack his stuff and get out. That’s what it looked like they were doing. It was one of the longest days of my life. Some kind of explosive was thrown into the bar below and then the smoke was everywhere. I had no idea why my dad was running to all the apartments and telling them to get out. He called my uncle in highland park and asked if we could stay with him. The next thing I remember is grabbing my doll and running while holding his hand. My grandmother had just had major surgery and couldn’t go fast. My dad was in a back brace as he had just fallen off a scaffolding 2 floors while washing windows. We couldn’t take much. But all the things that were my life at that time were gone. We lost everything. I will always remember my dad and grandmother crying, the smell of burning meat from the new supermarket next door and running. For years I refused to remember much of that day. I am just now, at 54, remembering more. Many things are still vague but the fear is still there.

    • Treez4ever

      Thanks for sharing your story of the trauma of that time. Sorry for your losses.

      • Penny Aniol

        Thank you. It’s not something that I really talk about. It happened, it’s over and we must rebuild. Some of the areas were never brought back to life. The sad thing is that most of our neighbors were black. The anger and frustration at the time was taken out mostly on their own people. We can only hope that a learning process took place to those that were effected.

  • LiamAniac

    these were class riots. plain and simple. the blacks of this era in Detroit where just the lowest ‘class’. And I thin k we all know that when tensions build, it is the young male populous that strikes out. this leaves little room or time for planning, forethought, or the realization that their are most certainly better plans of action. that said, these sad days give us much knowledge and opportunities for growth.

  • Fagazi

    Its crazy people moved away.

  • Dez

    To fight against the “powers that be” by damaging your own community gives me pause.

    • poofyeradrink

      The black residents of Detroit felt they had no say in how “their” communities would be patrolled, serviced, mentored, schooled, etc. Most all the properties were owned by others, and blacks were only allowed to live in certain areas of the city. No one wanted to loan them money, insure or invest in “their” communities. They were tired of being jammed into the more ignored corners of the city, and harassed by white cops. They increasingly felt like they had nothing to lose. You’d want to burn it, too.

      • Dez

        I dig your point, frustration level were far beyond anything I’ve ever encountered however, having to continue to live in the now smoldering, damaged areas certainly wouldn’t have increased the quality of life.

  • ryanguard

    The 1967 insurrection…