Two of the nation’s deadliest riots exploded 50 years ago–in July 1967, within two weeks of each other. July 11th 1967, The Newark Riots blew up on an early Sunday morning, after a cab driver was brutally beaten by Newark police. After four days of rioting, looting, and destruction, 26 were dead and hundreds injured. On July 23rd, 1967, Detroit erupted in a riot triggered by a police raid of an unlicensed after-hours bar, where 82 African Americans were celebrating the return of two local GIs from the Vietnam War.
My dad and my two brothers, ages nineteen and thirteen, started shoveling out our car that had been mired for two days in snow after the city's greatest twenty-four hour snowfall had brought Chicago to a standstill. They were down near thirty-third and Wentworth, close to IIT (Illinois Institute of Technology) where my older brother, Paul attended, but commuted from our home on Keeler near Montrose. As they dug in their shovels around each of the tires, tossing snow over their shoulders, a group of twelve African American men moved toward them with determined strides.