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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 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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Yolanda F. Herbert on 08-27-17
Great book about the past and present of Black Detroit
This book was the story about self-determination between blacks and the history of their existence here in Detroit. It also detailed the contributions african-Americans made. It gave great hope for the city in an outlined some of things we must do in order to continue to bring things full-circle and forward.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By Michael Simanga on 05-21-18
Great writing and storytelling by Herb Boyd
This is an important book about the history of African Americans in Detroit and the US. Herb Boyd is a masterful storyteller who not only captures the times but the mood, the texture and dynamics of each moment and each subject.
The performance quality is poor but doesn't diminish the writing. It does distract and disappoint because it is so full of mispronunciations and lacks the energy and nuance that is needed for such a powerful rendering of History.