“12th and Clairmount” upcoming documentary on the 1967 Detroit riots.

Back in 2007 I wrote a blog entry about the 40th anniversary of the Detroit riots. Now we’re coming up on the 50th anniversary and there’s a new documentary being produced in remembrance of those events:

Trailer for new Detroit ’67 riot film ’12th and Clairmount’

Drawing from more than 400 reels of donated home movies from the era, the documentary is being produced by the Free Press in collaboration with Bridge Magazine and WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) and a group of metro Detroit cultural institutions, led by the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The film combines archival and new interviews with witnesses to the events with footage from the home movies. Those five days in July were among the most pivotal — and divisive — in the city’s history, with the turmoil leaving 43 dead. While the 50th anniversary of the summer of ’67 was the impetus for the film, the home movie footage in “12th and Clairmount” captures a wide spectrum of Detroit life, from proud streetscapes to dance parties to neighborhood sporting events.

As I wrote back in 2007, this topic is a fascinating one for me because I was born in late August at Brent General Hospital just blocks from where the riot started while Detroit was still dealing with the aftermath. Right now it appears viewings are limited to the upcoming  Freep Film Festival in March and then at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) in July. The DIA is continuing to collect home movies of the riot for those interested in contributing:

The film is part of a larger project led by the Detroit Institute of Arts. The DIA, with funding from the Knight Foundation, is collecting amateur films from the era since the fall as part of an ambitious effort by several organizations — including the Free Press, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Detroit Historical Society, the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University, Bridge Magazine and the Detroit Journalism Cooperative — to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that pivotal year.

The DIA is continuing to collect footage and is regularly screening them in their raw form. Its effort will culminate with a marathon screening on July 29. “12th and Clairmount” and the DIA screenings will be among a broad swath of cultural events happening in Detroit throughout the year that will reflect on the 50th anniversary of the riot, its cause and lasting impact.

Unfortunately, the trailer isn’t embeddable (or at least the link to do so isn’t working) so if you’re interested click through to the news article to check it out and for information on how to contribute footage.

1 thought on ““12th and Clairmount” upcoming documentary on the 1967 Detroit riots.

  1. I am looking forward to seeing this documentary which is playing as part of the documentary film festival held every year in NYC. I moved from Detroit in October 1965. In 1963 or 64 I took the civil service exam for position of Junior Clerk for City of Detroit. About a week after I took the exam I received a call and was asked to come down to the City County Building. I went at the appointed time and was ushered into the office of a young man who was barely older than my 23 years at the time. He told me he called me down because he wanted to meet me and shake my hand because I had achieved the highest score in the history of the exam. Then he added that he could not hire me and if I walked around the room outside his office I would know why. I walked out the door and around the room. I remember there were about 8 young people working at tables. I walked back into the office and said I did not understand. The young man said that I was white and all my co-workers would be black and he just couldn’t hire me. He paused and looked as if he were thinking over the situation then said that no he couldn’t hire me because I wouldn’t have anyone to eat lunch with. I was so shocked I was in a daze. A few years earlier I had graduated from a high school that was a mix of whites, blacks and Mexicans. I thanked the young man and left. To this day I still am shocked when I think of this. That I could score the highest in the history of an exam and still not get the job because someone in power had an agenda. Of course, he thought he was saving me from a fate worse than death. I think this incident describes the state of race relations in the city at the time. Sad.

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