NAACP 2017 Image Award Finalist
2018 Michigan Notable Books honoree
The author of Baldwin’s Harlem looks at the evolving culture, politics, economics, and spiritual life of Detroit—a blend of memoir, love letter, history, and clear-eyed reportage that explores the city’s past, present, and future and its significance to the African American legacy and the nation’s fabric.
Herb Boyd moved to Detroit in 1943, as race riots were engulfing the city. Though he did not grasp their full significance at the time, this critical moment would be one of many he witnessed that would mold his political activism and exposed a city restless for change. In Black Detroit, he reflects on his life and this landmark place, in search of understanding why Detroit is a special place for black people.
Boyd reveals how Black Detroiters were prominent in the city’s historic, groundbreaking union movement and—when given an opportunity—were among the tireless workers who made the automobile industry the center of American industry. Well paying jobs on assembly lines allowed working class Black Detroiters to ascend to the middle class and achieve financial stability, an accomplishment not often attainable in other industries.
Boyd makes clear that while many of these middle-class jobs have disappeared, decimating the population and hitting blacks hardest, Detroit survives thanks to the emergence of companies such as Shinola—which represent the strength of the Motor City and and its continued importance to the country. He also brings into focus the major figures who have defined and shaped Detroit, including William Lambert, the great abolitionist, Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, Coleman Young, the city’s first black mayor, diva songstress Aretha Franklin, Malcolm X, and Ralphe Bunche, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
With a stunning eye for detail and passion for Detroit, Boyd celebrates the music, manufacturing, politics, and culture that make it an American original.
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Herb Boyd is a journalist, activist, teacher, and author or editor of twenty-three books, including his latest, The Diary of Malcolm X, edited with Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, Malcolm X’s daughter. His articles have been published in the Black Scholar, Final Call, the Amsterdam News, Cineaste, Downbeat, the Network Journal, and the Daily Beast. A scholar for more than forty years, he teaches African American history and culture at the City College of New York in Harlem, where he lives.
Table of Contents
Foreword Rev. Dr. JoAnn Watson ix
1 Cadillac, "The Black Prince" 15
2 The Blackburn Affair 27
3 Black Abolitionists 35
4 Faulkner and Flames 43
5 Early Years of the Black Church 49
6 Black Arts in the Gilded Age 57
7 The Pelhams and the Black Elite 71
8 Detroit and World War I 91
9 Dr. Sweet and Mr. Ford 105
10 White Ball and the Brown Bomber 121
11 The Turbulent Thirties 127
12 Boom Town 139
13 Breakthroughs 159
14 From Motown to Showdown 175
15 A Brand-New Beat 179
16 Bing and Bang 185
17 March to Militancy 193
18 The Motor City Is Burning 201
19 Our Thing Is DRUM! 217
20 Under Duress from STRESS 225
21 Muses and Music 235
22 Coleman and Cockrel 245
23 Postindustrial Blues 253
24 A Mayor and Malice 271
25 Emergency, Resurgency 293
26 Kwame Time! 303
27 A Spark of Redevelopment 311
28 Dhaka in Detroit 321
29 A Looming Chimera 333
Afterword Ron Lockett, Executive Director of the Northwest Activities Center 341
Author's Afterword 345
Author's Note: A San Remembers 349