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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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The origins of this project reach back to my days in graduate school and earlier, to my formative years as a child growing up in Brooklyn N.Y. during the 1970s. At an early age, I became acutely aware of issues involving race. To hear some of my relatives and neighbors talk at that time, it appeared as if our neighborhood was under siege. In their minds, the decline of the city was inextricably linked to the increased presence of racial minorities. Danger always appeared near, especially after my father was mugged at knifepoint on the subway by a group of black teenagers. Like many other families, for whom the city had come to represent crime and disorder (code words for racial transition), we moved out of the city. I spent the next several years, including high school, in a predominantly white, rural community located approximately one hundred mile north of New York City. Nonetheless, the city and its attendant issues of race were never far behind. During visits to relatives who continued to live in Brooklyn and Queens, I wondered what life would have been like had we remained in Brooklyn.

During my first year of graduate school at Yale University, I became acutely aware of the profound sense of racial polarization in the New Haven community. Beyond the gates of the university lurked a sense of danger and despair. Mutual mistrust and hostility existed between town and gown, between privileged students, and those who served...

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