In two days the movie “Detroit” hits theaters around the country.
It tells the story of the summer of 1967 and unrest in that city -- a moment in history replayed almost endlessly across cities throughout the 60’s and early 70’s… including the Hough Neighborhood of Cleveland.
Mansfield Frazier, who calls the Hough riots and others like it during this period following the civil rights movement, uprisings.
Frazier challenges the labeling of these events and in so doing, implicitly paints them as part of one greater narrative: the Black-American struggle for socio-economic justice in the 60’s and 70’s.
“We’re changing perceptions…a riot pretends just mindless violence … an uprising means throwing off shackles,” Frazier said.
In this instance, Frazier is of course talking about metaphorical shackles that persisted after the struggle for civil rights did not produce the outcomes black communities were seeking.
“We were going through the civil rights era and there was a promise that things would get better and they didn’t… so people go frustrated,” Frazier told WKYC’s Hilary Golston.
Frazier sees the unrest as a necessary part of the struggle to see the aims of the civil rights movement come to fruition.
July 18, 1966 at Hough Avenue and East 79th Street, a racially charged dispute at the Seventy Niners Café is believed to be the match that sparked the riots that would last for six nights.
Several accounts claim an black- American man walked into the bar and asked for a glass of water on that very hot July day.
The white owner refused and then reportedly taped a sign on the bar door, stating no water would be served to blacks, but the sign included a racial epithet, also known as the N word.
A similar moment of tension between blacks and whites helped to ignite the 1967 riots on the west-side of Detroit. Police allegedly raided an unlicensed after hours bar. Inside, a group of black-Americans were celebrating the return of two black service men from the Vietnam War. The clash resulted in five days of unrest and would lead to one of the highest death tolls of any riot in American history.
Today from the view of Chateau Hough Vineyards, the production of wine grapes on seven year vines provides a wholly different image, one that was torn down 50 years ago.