1960 - Detroit Population: Total: 1,670,144
Black: 482,229 (28.9% of the total)
1960 Damon J. Keith becomes Commissioner of the State Bar of
1961 The Michigan state legislature passes a bill that prohibits
racial discrimination by private cemeteries in Michigan.
April - Demonstrators surround the Kresge Headquarters at Cass
Park in Detroit to pressure Kresge to integrate its lunch counters in
1961 Wade H. McCree, Jr. accepts appointment to the federal district court from President John F. Kennedy. He and James B. Parsons of Chicago, Illinois, together, are the first African Americans so appointed.
Otis M. Smith accepts appointment to the Michigan Supreme Court from Governor John B. Swainson. He is the first African American on any state high court since Reconstruction.
April 11 - The Michigan Senate votes on two bills to outlaw
discrimination in Michigan cemeteries. Sponsored by Senator Basil W.
Brown of Detroit and Highland Park, they are considered by most political
observers to be the major civil rights bills of the 1961 session.
November - Jerome P. Cavanagh is elected Mayor of Detroit. African
Americans vote for him as a block when African Americans were a key
voting block and, thus his election is arguably the most significant
demonstration of African-American political power in Detroit since the
Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh. Photo courtesy of the Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University
1962 January - As his first order of business, Detroit
Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh signs an executive order prohibiting racial
discrimination in city hiring and promotion practices.
Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh appoints Alfred M. Pelham city controller. Pelham is the son of Benjamin Pelham, who, in 1909, became the Wayne County Accountant and later chief fiscal officer, and of Robert Pelham, publisher of the 19th-Century African-American newspaper, the Detroit Plaindealer.
Robert L. Millender, Sr. leaves the Michigan Department of Workmen's
Compensation to join the Detroit law firm of Crockett, Goodman, Eden & Robb as a partner. No longer a public employee, he is free to
manage the political campaigns of nearly every Detroit-based African
American to gain public office in the years to come, including Coleman
Richard Henry and others establish the Group of Advanced Leadership
(GOAL) to pursue equal opportunity in jobs, housing and education for
1963 June 23 - Reverend C. L. Franklin organizes the
"Walk to Freedom," the country's largest civil rights event
to date. Featured guest speaker Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., visits
Detroit and leads the march along Woodward Avenue with prominent Detroiters,
labor leader Walter P. Reuther and Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh. At the
downtown rally, King gives his "I Have a Dream..." speech
before delivering it two months later in Washington, D.C.
July 27 - The Detroit Branch of the NAACP leads a crowd of 200
people in a peaceful demonstration to protest housing discrimination in
Oak Park, MI. The featured guests are Rosa Parks and Merle Evers, whose
husband Medgar, NAACP Mississippi field secretary, was assassinated on
June 12 in Jackson, MS while in the middle of a voter registration drive.
October 22 - Malcolm X speaks at Wayne State University in State
Hall, delivering the speech "A Message from the Grass Roots."
1964 Professor Kenneth R. Callahan of Texas Southern University
comes to Wayne State University Law School as a lecturer to replace
Charles Quick who is on leave. Quick returns early and thus, two of
the four African Americans teaching full-time at white law schools in
the United States are at Wayne State University.
Hobart Taylor, Jr., a 1943 graduate of the University of Michigan Law
School, is appointed associate counsel to President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Damon J. Keith becomes chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.
1965 January - Viola Liuzzo, a Detroit housewife and
civil rights activist, is assassinated in an ambush from a car near
Selma, Alabama, following the Selma-to-Montgomery, Alabama Civil Rights
March, led by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. Charles Wright, Ob/Gyn, opens the International Afro-American Museum
in part of his office on West Grand Boulevard.
1966 The Michigan Supreme Court declares that the restrictive
clauses on contracts for burial plots are void. J. Merrill Spencer has
the right to bury his mother in a Flint, Michigan cemetery.
Judge Wade H. McCree accepts an appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Sixth Circuit from President Lyndon B. Johnson.
African-American Detroiters Myron Wahls and Nathan Conyers travel to
the South to represent African Americans who are arrested after sit-ins,
marches and other civil rights demonstrations.
April 7, 8 - Detroit Northern High School students, led by Judy
Walder, Michael Batchelor, and 12th grade honor student Charles Coding,
organize a demonstration and walk-out after the censorship of Coding's
editorial in the student press, which criticized what he considered
to be the inferior education offered at Northern.
April 20 - Northern Students resume their walkout when the School
Board returns Principal Carty to duty. They open a "Freedom School" at St. Joseph's Episcopal Church with the support of Rector David Gracie
and staffed by Wayne State University professors.
April 22 - Eastern High School students join Northern students
in a sympathy walkout.
April 26 - Northern High School students vote to return to class,
one day before a citywide student boycott is to take place. The students
have successfully raised awareness on education issues in the city.
November - Geraldine Bledsoe Ford is elected to Detroit Recorder's
Court and is the first African-American woman judge in Michigan.
1967 July 23 - Detroit police raid a "blind pig"
(an after-hours club), located on 12th Street (Later, Rosa Parks Blvd.)
and Clairmount. Civil unrest ensues, described by some as a riot and by others as an uprising or rebellion. In the course of the next three days, 44 people are killed,
7,331 are arrested, mostly for curfew violations, and $50 million dollars
of property is damaged.
August - New Detroit Incorporated is formed in the aftermath
and in response to the events of late July 1967. It is billed as "the
nation's first urban coalition" - a cooperative of business, government,
labor and community leaders, which is intended to heal the social problems
that caused the recent civil unrest.
August 18 - The Michigan State Police, established in 1914,
swear in the first African-American trooper in the state.
Reverend Albert Cleage, Jr. forms the Black Christian Nationalist (BCN)
Church movement. Based in Detroit, the BCN church movement is a Christian
civil rights and cultural organization with a militant agenda.
December 31 - The Detroit "open housing" ordinance,
introduced by Councilman Nicholas Hood, is blocked by over one-hundred
thousand petition signatures to force a ballot measure. (Subsequently,
U.S. District Court Judge Talbot Smith strikes the measure as out of
step with federal law.)
1968 April 5 - Several civil disturbances erupt in Detroit
in the wake of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther
King, Jr. African-American students at Detroit Cooley High School walk
out in protest and later they are joined by students from twenty other
Detroit schools and by African-American workers at the Chrysler Jefferson
May 2 Young radical African-American workers at Dodge Main stage a
wildcat strike and form DRUM (Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement) to
protest continuing racism in the plant. DRUM spawns Revolutionary Union
Movements at other East Side Detroit factories.
Tom Turner, president of the Detroit Chapter of the NAACP, is elected
the first African-American president of the local AFL-CIO.
Willie Stamps, a Detroit Edison janitor, wins a division chairmanship
in Local 223 of Utility Workers of America and is its first African-American
1969 March 29 - Members of the Republic of New Africa,
a radical organization advocating African-American autonomy, including
a separate state for African Americans, engage in a shoot-out with Detroit
police officers, killing one officer during a meeting at the New Bethel
Baptist Church. Police arrest 143 men, women and children.
March 30 - Detroit Recorders Court Judge George W. Crockett, Jr., as presiding judge of the day, orders the release of the prisoners in the New Bethel Baptist Church incident of the day before.
The Revolutionary Union Movement forms a coalition called the League
of Revolutionary Black Workers to continue speading the revolutionary
union movement in Detroit and beyond.
November - Wayne County sheriff, Roman S. Gribbs narrowly defeats
Wayne County auditor, Richard Austin, in a close mayoral election. Austin
is the first African American to seriously challenge a white candidate
for mayor of Detroit.