Detroit's Sojourner Truth Housing Riot of 1942: Prelude to the Race Riot of 1943 (American Heritage)

October 31, 2020
Detroit's Sojourner Truth Housing Riot of 1942: Prelude to the Race Riot of 1943 (American Heritage)

During World War II, no American city suffered a worse housingshortage than Detroit, and no one suffered that shortage more thanthe city's African American citizens. In 1941, the federalgovernment began constructing the Sojourner Truth Housing Projectin northeast Detroit to house 200 black war production workers andtheir families. Almost immediately, whites in the neighborhoodvehemently protested. On February 28, 1942, a confrontation betweenblack tenants and white protesters erupted in a riot that sent atleast 40 to the hospital and more than 220 to jail. Thisconfrontation was the precursor to the bloodiest race riot of thewar just sixteen months later. Gerald Van Dusen, author ofDetroit's Birwood Wall, unfolds the background and events of thisoverlooked moment in Motor City history.