Detroit receives $500K federal grant to expand historic district in civil rights movement

Posted: 4:39 PM, Aug 13, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-13 20:39:17Z

The city of Detroit has been awarded a $500,000 National Park Service grant that will help expand a historic site that was key in the civil rights movement.

The grant will help expand the district that includes the Dr. Ossian Sweet home and preserves two more adjacent homes on the site.

In 1925, Sweet, an African American physician, bought the house at 2905 Garland Ave. on the city's east side. It was a segregated White neighborhood.

On Sept. 9, 1925, a violent mob gathered to drive the Sweet family out of the home, throwing rocks. Sweet stood his ground and fired shots in defense and one man in the mob died.

Sweet and others were arrested and charged with murder, and the case brought international attention to housing discrimination in the United States. He was acquitted of the charge.

The $500,000 grant, the maximum from the African American Civil Rights program of the Historic Preservation Fund, was one of 51 winning projects in 24 states that will preserve sites and highlight stories relating to the civil rights movement.

It will pay for the cost of preserving and interpreting a space in the home that will be open for public visits and rehabbing two properties across Garland St. where the mob gathered and shooting occurred. Currently, the Sweet home is privately owned.

“As Detroit continues to move forward, we cannot forget where we’ve been,” Mayor Mike Duggan said. “Preserving the Dr. Sweet home and expanding the historic district will give us a chance to reflect on the struggles many African American families have faced and celebrate champions like Dr. Sweet and others, who stood up for what is right.”