Housing segregation by the mob was the issue in the Sweet trial in Detroit in 1926.
The Negro population of the city had jumped from about 6,000 in 1910 to about 70,000 at the time of the Sweet case sixteen years later. Most of the increase came during the war when Detroit was in the midst of an unprecedented boom in the automobile industry.
The manufacturers brought Negro laborers from the South into the city. However, neither the manufacturers nor the city made any provisions for housing, and the newcomers were jammed into an already overcrowded area.
The Negro workmen could stay in the automobile factories in the daytime, but they had no place to stay at night, so they expanded the Negro section and some of them moved out to what was called the white district.
This set the stage for the Sweet case.
Dr. Ossian H. Sweet was a successful gynecologist. He had received his M.D. degree from Howard University. He had worked under Madame Curie and was interested in the effects of radium, particularly on cancer. Later he was to study in Vienna.
Returning from Europe, the Sweets first stayed with the parents of Dr. Sweet's wife until they purchased a home. This new home was located at Garland and Charlevoix, a lower-middle-class white neighborhood. In September of 1925, Dr. Sweet, his wife and their two-year-old baby girl moved into this home.
But Dr. Sweet anticipated trouble. Other Negroes moving into homes in white neighborhoods had been intimidated by so-called Improvement Asso