The Detroit Historical Museum recently held a community event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the events of the 1967 Detroit riot. The multi-year project, Detroit 67: Looking Back to Move Forward, encourages members of the community and organizations to work together to inspire Detroit.
The program, the DHS said, “is a multi-year project intended to pay tribute to the events and climate leading up to July 1967. The project intends to collect the stories of the past 100 years to commemorate the July 1967 civil unrest, to develop a comprehensive, balanced and experiential museum exhibition, to take the lead to connect the story and its relevance outside the museum and to create a ‘model’ that makes history relevant to a community’s present and future.”
One of the main elements of the project, said Bob Bury, CEO of the Detroit Historical Society, is the opportunity for people to share what they experienced and how the events of July 1967 affected them. People attending the event were given the opportunity to share their own stories for Detroit Public Television.
“The Detroit 67 Project is arguably the most important and complex project ever undertaken by our organization. We realize that our area of expertise fulfills only one aspect of our goal, telling what really happened. What we’re asking of our partner organizations is that they connect the community to opportunities to help move Detroit forward,” Bury said.
The Detroit Historical Society and the Detroit Historical Museum have partnered with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Michigan Science Center and other organizations to host events to “to engage the community in thoughtful discussion,” said the DHS.
“The most important part of Detroit 67 is community,” said Project Director Marlowe Stoudamire. “In order to create the type of sustainable change needed, we are partnering with the most dynamic organizations in the area to help us.”
Leaders from some of the project’s partners spoke on a panel discussion at the event. They discussed the project’s objective, upcoming activities and their views on the racial climate in this country today.
Dr. Tonya Matthews, president and CEO of the Michigan Science Center, said the national mood is eerily similar to the mood just before the 1967 rebellion in Detroit.
“I am afraid for my father who is a police officer and an African American man. That keeps me up at night,” Matthews said.
Coming up with solutions, Stoudamire said, includes tackling “the project’s critical imperatives, which are areas of focus dedicated to drive progress in the region as it relates to youth engagement and leadership, race relations, economic inclusion and opportunity, and neighborhood advancement.”
For more information on the Detroit 67 project, visit Detroit1967.org.