1967 Year in Review

Riots Sweep the Nation

Published: 1967
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI

Announcer: Michigan State police has just asked some of the men to quit firing because they are firing right over our head. As we are now all pinned down on the South side of the drive.

Announcer: Riot shattered American cities in 1967. United Press International looks back at the story of the year, The Summer of Unrest, next on 1967 In Review.

Floyd McKissick: "This summer is going to be a most difficult summer. I don’t think that there’s any city of any size in the United States that can really say that I am going to be free of violence."

Announcer: Unfortunately, the prediction made by CORE Director, Floyd McKissick, became reality. Dissatisfaction of Negroes with their way of life was cited as one of the prime causes of the riots. In some cases, outside agitators were suspected, but no matter, the summer of 1967 was violent in Newark, Detroit, Milwaukee, and many other cities.

The largest city in New Jersey with over half the population Negro exploded on the night of July 12th.

Newsman: "A fire fight between national guardsmen and a number of people in the --"

Announcer: It also happened in Detroit on July 23rd, the city was ablaze in the white area with trembling fingers of flame lighting the black sky.

Unknown Speaker: "The crack of snipers rifles continue as morning comes to Detroit. About 30 bright orange balls of flame, along with bulging black smoke herald, continued activity of arsenals, looters burning their stores behind them.

"Paratroopers ordered to the nation’s fifth largest city by President Johnson are in armored vans rumbling through riot torn sections of Detroit. I took my tape recorder to a number of gun battles in the city last night, and this is how it sounded."

Unknown Speaker 1: "...calling radio."

Unknown Speaker 2: "Put your lights out, put your lights out."

Unknown Speaker 3: "Utter chaos is one way to describe the devastation in Detroit’s inner city area."

Announcer: So it continued seven days later in Milwaukee. Well, the cities where riots occurred, the total loss in dollars is estimated at over $600 million, but a bigger loss, 84 dead. After the week of rioting in Detroit, President Johnson addressed the nation.

President Lyndon Johnson: "I am tonight appointing a special Advisory Commission on civil disorders. The Commission will investigate the origins of the recent disorders in our cities. It will make recommendations to me, to the Congress, to the State Governors and to the Mayors, for measures to prevent or contain such disasters in the future."

Announcer: Thoughtless looting, rioting, and killing made an ugly stain on the 1967 calendar of news. Many Negroes believe the cause is right in the ghetto where dirt and slums breed rats in hate.

Unknown Speaker: "They give us the projects, they give us nice homes, but they put the price up so high. They charged us $100 a month to live in a house. Not only do we live in there, but here we got rats walking, open up your front door. And if you look wrong at them, if you look wrong at the rats, they are going to jump right on you. They eat up your babies, they bite your babies, if I am lying -- you think I am lying, I will take you right over my house right now, and I have no rats over there, but you see the lady next door and you see her baby. And that’s wrong, that is not right."

Announcer: And to some Negroes, like militant H. Rap Brown, there was only one solution, he said it in Washington on July 27th.

H. Rap Brown: "You have got to arm yourself because the man is ready, and he is going to turn black policeman against you. You can no longer sit back. You have got to get yourself some gun, because if you don’t get guns, then your daughters will have to get guns, if they are still here."

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