Black Detroit: A People's History of Self-Determination

By Herb Boyd
Read by James Shippy

10.39 Hours 06/06/2017 unabridged
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Herb Boyd moved to Detroit in 1939, as race riots were engulfing the city. Though he did not grasp their full significance at the time, this critical moment would be one of many he witnessed that would mold his political activism and exposed a city restless for change. In Black Detroit, he reflects on his life and this landmark place, in search of understand why Detroit is a special place for black people. Boyd reveals how Black Detroiters were prominent in the city’s historic, groundbreaking union movement and—when given an opportunity—were among the tireless workers who made the automobile industry the center of American industry. Well paying jobs on assembly lines allowed working class Black Detroiters to ascend to the middle class and achieve financial stability, an accomplishment not often attainable in other industries. Boyd makes clear that while many of these middle-class jobs have disappeared, decimating the population and hitting blacks hardest, Detroit survives thanks to the emergence of companies such as Shinola—which represent the strength of the Motor City and and its continued importance to the country. He also brings into focus the major figures who have defined and shaped Detroit, including William Lambert, the great abolitionist, Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, Coleman Young, the city’s first black mayor, diva songstress Aretha Franklin, Malcolm X, and Ralphe Bunche, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. With a stunning eye for detail and passion for Detroit, Boyd celebrates the music, manufacturing, politics, and culture that make it an American original.

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Summary

Summary

Herb Boyd moved to Detroit in 1939, as race riots were engulfing the city. Though he did not grasp their full significance at the time, this critical moment would be one of many he witnessed that would mold his political activism and exposed a city restless for change. In Black Detroit, he reflects on his life and this landmark place, in search of understand why Detroit is a special place for black people.

Boyd reveals how Black Detroiters were prominent in the city’s historic, groundbreaking union movement and—when given an opportunity—were among the tireless workers who made the automobile industry the center of American industry. Well paying jobs on assembly lines allowed working class Black Detroiters to ascend to the middle class and achieve financial stability, an accomplishment not often attainable in other industries.

Boyd makes clear that while many of these middle-class jobs have disappeared, decimating the population and hitting blacks hardest, Detroit survives thanks to the emergence of companies such as Shinola—which represent the strength of the Motor City and and its continued importance to the country. He also brings into focus the major figures who have defined and shaped Detroit, including William Lambert, the great abolitionist, Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, Coleman Young, the city’s first black mayor, diva songstress Aretha Franklin, Malcolm X, and Ralphe Bunche, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

With a stunning eye for detail and passion for Detroit, Boyd celebrates the music, manufacturing, politics, and culture that make it an American original.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

Herb Boyd does a captivating job of writing, compression, and interpretation. The personal spine of his narrative makes it special. Readers will appreciate Boyd’s comprehensive grasp of one of America’s most important cities. It is a superb read with vital lessons on a people’s struggle for self-determination.” Dr. David Levering Lewis, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for biography
“Boyd’s riveting new history gives us, Black Detroit, and turns an oft caricatured community into a world of actual, struggling human beings.” Ta-Nehisi Coates, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Boyd breathes new life into the history of Detroit through stories of the city’s black residents from its earliest days to its bittersweet present…He leaves no stone unturned, making his work an invaluable repository of all that is black Detroit.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An inspiring, illuminating book that will interest students of urban history and the black experience.” Kirkus Reviews

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Herb Boyd

Herb Boyd is a journalist, activist, teacher, and author or editor of twenty-three books, including his latest, The Diary of Malcolm X, edited with Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, Malcolm X’s daughter. His articles have been published in the Black Scholar, Final Call, the Amsterdam News, Cineaste, Downbeat, the Network Journal, and the Daily Beast. A scholar for more than forty years, he teaches African American history and culture at the City College of New York in Harlem, where he lives.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/History
Runtime: 10.39
Audience: Adult
Language: English