By Margaret Freelon, NDG Special Contributor
The back drop for the movie Detroit is a hot summer night in a northern city where many blacks family have fled to escape the discrimination and segregation of the Deep South. Meanwhile, the great northern migration of blacks from the rural south as they seek to find work and a better way of life in the thriving auto industry in the Motor City, Mo-town – Detroit. A southern exodus fueled by relatives and friends returning to the south sharing the good news about how great they have in up north. Now what is not being shared with their southern relatives is the truth that job discrimination, residential segregation and heavy-handed law enforcement is still part of their world in the north.
Back to the movie, in the summer of 1967, rioting and civil unrest start to tear apart the city of Detroit after decades of discrimination and segregation. In the movie Detroit we see America under the leadership of President Lyndon B. Johnson begun to wage war on the black citizens of Detroit. Two days later, a report of gunshots prompts the Detroit Police Department, the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Army National Guard to search and seize an annex of the nearby Algiers Motel. Several policemen start to flout procedure by forcefully and viciously interrogating guests to get a confession. By the end of the night, three unarmed men were gunned down while several others are brutally beaten. This is a story about that night and that night alone.
The movie does a great job with transporting you back to 1967 visually. It also does a great job with getting you to feel every infuriating action from how a commanding police officer let a suspected murderer back on the streets, how the Michigan Army National Guards just looked the other way when they knew something was happening that should not be happening, how the police roped an innocent black security guard into what happened that night at the Algiers Motel and finally the acquittal of the guilty police officers.
The movie, directed by Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow and starring John Boyega best known for his breakout role as Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens does not deal with why the Detroit 1967 riots happen or offer a path to social redemption. The sad reality of Detroit is the realization of how very little has actually changed in 50 years.
Musical dreams deferred
With their dreams on the line, local singing sensation The Dramatics gear up for their debut at the Fox Theatre. Then everything changes. See what happens in the new extended clip from DETROIT.