The History of the “Riot” Report

Detroit, July 25, 1967. Thousands of U.S. troops were deployed to the city.

“On February 14, 1965, back from a trip to Los Angeles, and a week before he was killed in New York, Malcolm X gave a speech in Detroit. ‘Brothers and sisters, let me tell you, I spend my time out there in the street with people, all kind of people, listening to what they have to say,’ he said. ‘And they’re dissatisfied, they’re disillusioned, they’re fed up, they’re getting to the point of frustration where they are beginning to feel: What do they have to lose?’ That summer, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. In a ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda attended by Martin Luther King, Jr., Johnson invoked the arrival of enslaved Africans in Jamestown, in 1619: ‘They came in darkness and they came in chains. And today we strike away the last major shackles of those fierce and ancient bonds.’ Five days later, Watts was swept by violence and flames, following a protest against police brutality. The authorities eventually arrested nearly four thousand people; thirty-four people died. ‘How is it possible, after all we’ve accomplished?’ Johnson asked. ‘How could it be? Is the world topsy-turvy?’ Two years later, after thousands of police officers and National Guard troops blocked off fourteen square miles of Newark and nearly five thousand troops from the 82nd and the 101st Airborne were deployed to Detroit, where seven thousand people were arrested, Johnson convened a National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, chaired by Illinois’s governor, Otto Kerner, Jr., and charged it with answering three questions: ‘What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done to prevent it from happening again and again?’ Johnson wanted to know why black people were still protesting, after Congress had finally passed landmark legislation, not only the Voting Rights Act but also the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and a raft of anti-poverty programs. Or maybe he really didn’t want to know why. When the Kerner Commission submitted its report, the President refused to acknowledge it. There’s a limit to the relevance of the so-called race riots of the nineteen-sixties to the protests of the moment. …”
New Yorker (Audio – 2020)

A police officer stands guard in a Detroit street on July 25, 1967, as buildings are burning during riots that erupted in Detroit following a police operation.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in CIA, Civil Rights Mov., Harlem, Lyn. Johnson, Malcolm X, MLKJr., Race Riots and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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