The Detroit Riots of 1943
Since the time of slavery, racial tension has existed between whites and blacks. This tension has only increased with the passing of time. This conflict culminated in the 1940s in the form of mob violence. While there have been previous riots because of race relations, none of them were of the magnitude of the 1943 Detroit riot. Much like any other event involving racism in the 1940s, the Detroit riot has little coverage, most of which is skewed, in articles in the nation?s leading news sources such as ?Deep Trouble? in Time, ?Riotous Race Hate? in Newsweek, and ?The Truth About the Detroit Riot? in Harper?s. Thus, one must compare articles from these sources to ascertain accurate information. Even when comparing these accounts, the reader finds discrepancies in the causation and destruction of the Detroit riot. By analyzing these descriptions, one can also notice the similarities between the Detroit riot and other mob violence during that time period. For example, James Baldwin?s retelling of the Harlem riot in ?Notes of a Native Son? bears great similarities in causation and destruction with the Detroit riot.
Tensions in Detroit finally broke during a beautiful summer day on the 20 of June 1943. At the Belle Isle Park, at least one fistfight broke out between a black man and a white man. Discrepancies arise when inquiring into why this fistfight broke out. Time attributes the cause to be tensions between races in the park. Newsweek describes the source of the tension as white resentment for the blacks in the park in addition to the increase in the number of jobs held by blacks in Detroit. In this account, blacks had feverishly taken over the park, hardly leaving room for the white people to enjoy such a fine day. Newsweek also describes there being a series of fist fights in the park throughout the day which led to the riot that night, instead of just one lone fight as stated in the other two articles. Harper?s elaborates on the cause of the racial tension stating that it results because of competition in the Detroit automotive factories for employment. All three articles describe the fight spreading at around midnight across the bridge to Belle Isle into the city. After the fight starts, both blacks and whites take sides based on color, which augments the dispute. Newsweek and Time describe gangs joining in the fighting as reinforcements and Time also adds that in all of the looting, pawn shops were being raided by the rioters to acquire guns.
According to Harper?s? sources, white sailors begin to join in on the brawl thus further escalating it, while a black man runs to a nearby club and announced that a group of white men had raped and killed a black woman and her daughter. As this rumor spreads, a white group began spreading their own rumors by incorrectly informing others that a white woman had been assaulted. Thus, the destruction that ensues from this riot is simply the product of...