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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 Six-The Renaissance City



The Renaissance City

While the traumatic events of the summer of 1967 inflicted both physical and psychic damage on individuals and tore at the fabric of communities, with time some of these wounds have begun to heal, or at least some of the bitter memories have begun to fade. The people of Newark and Detroit who have remained after the riots/rebellions of 1967 are survivors. They have been toughened by decades of disappointment, by promises of a renaissance that never came. While the love they feel for their city has been transformed, as is true of any relationship that has persisted through good times and bad, these long term residents and activists remain connected in heart and mind to their respective cities. As oral historian Gerald Mast stated about Detroit:

       “Detroiters are never passive about their city. There’s a deeply felt love that has many roots and complex interconnections. It’s not the kind of love that might with some turn of events, turn into hate, as in a marriage. Detroit residents and boosters don’t hate their city. They may fear the danger in the streets or grieve for the suffering of the unemployed, but this is different from hate. The love of Detroit is the kind that overlaps with sympathy and sadness, as in a parent’s love for a sick child. Those whose emotions have turned to hate have long since left the city”1 (Mast 1994:127)

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