Historian Thomas Sugrue reflects on 1967 unrest and lessons learned

Posted at 6:39 PM, Jul 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-24 22:40:17-04

Fifty years after America’s worst civil unrest back in 1967, the Detroit Historical Museum was the perfect place to get a perspective of this event from noted New York University historian and native Detroiter Thomas Sugrue. The expert on urban affairs wrote the forward for the newly published book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies.

I sat down with Sugrue for a lengthy interview to get his thoughts on what triggered the turmoil and its relevance to today. He explained why he is more comfortable with the term “rebellion” than riot because of the systematic racial discrimination and often brutal treatment by Detroit policemen towards African Americans in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s in particular.

Sugrue also analyzed current economic and political policies that create a hostile environment for some Americans seemingly trapped in poverty and hopelessness. He warned that if all of the development in downtown and Midtown only trickle downs to a few select neighborhoods, 1967 could happen again.

Professor Sugrue will share his scholarly findings and opinions with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan while he is visiting the Motor City.

Sugrue led a panel discussion at Wayne State University as part of the #Detroit1967: Looking Back to Move Forward project from the Detroit Historical Society.

You can see that panel discussion below: