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Summer of Rage

An Oral History of the 1967 Newark and Detroit Riots

Max Arthur Herman

Drawing on oral history interviews and archival materials, Summer of Rage examines the causes and consequences of urban unrest that occurred in Newark and Detroit during the summer of 1967. It seeks to give voice to those who experienced these events firsthand and places personal narratives in a broader theoretical framework involving issues of collective memory, trauma, race relations, and urban development. Further, the volume explores the multiple truths present in these contentious events and thereby sheds light on the past, present, and future of these cities.
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Chapter Five-Community Torn Apart



Community Torn Apart

The effects of the events of July 1967 on the citizens of Newark and Detroit have been long lasting. One can readily see the scars left on the physical landscape, the empty lots, burnt out buildings, abandoned homes. Beyond the physical destruction wrought by the “riots” is the emotional trauma inflicted on the survivors, both personally and collectively. Over forty years later, the events that took place in July 1967 continue to leave their mark on the people who witnessed these events firsthand. Those who lost loved ones still struggle to make sense of the seemingly senseless violence that took the lives of their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and children. Merchants mourn the loss of their businesses and lament the passing of the vibrant downtown neighborhoods where they worked. Some residents still live in fear of the police, black militants, and/or white vigilantes who jockeyed for control of the post-“riot” city. Others describe a profound loss of community spirit and the breakdown of trust among neighbors. Those who were children at the time continue to relive memories filled with the sounds and sights of tanks, gunfire, helicopters, breaking glass, and the thick smoke of fires. Some of these children, growing up in a city stripped of economic opportunity and mistrustful of authority found themselves drawn toward a life of crime and violence. Few people who lived in these cities at the time were not touched in some way by the...

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