Layered Violence: The Detroit Rioters of 1943

Layered Violence: The Detroit Rioters of 1943

Layered Violence: The Detroit Rioters of 1943

Layered Violence: The Detroit Rioters of 1943

Excerpt

Simply stated, this study contends that the Detroit rioters of 1943 came from diverse backgrounds, exploded for various reasons, and--in rapid succession--piled distinct layers of violence atop one another; their cumulative weight and progressive intensity wrought the most devastating racial upheaval of all previous eras. It challenges the contemporary view of rioters as black "hoodlums" and white "hillbillies," and enables us to understand better the participants of earlier and especially later disturbances. It reveals that the racially proud, politically informed New Ghetto Man of the 1960s emerged, as did that entire generation's struggle for racial equality, during World War II. It identifies the additional roles of rioters as protestor, celebrity, hoodlum, unthinking participant, and--much less apparent in previous studies--victim. It verifies the Detroit rioters of 1943 as the transitional figures of racial violence in the twentieth-century: ordinary citizens whose activities represent the last gasp of white fury so prevalent before the Great Depression and the escalating onslaught of blacks first expressed in Harlem of the 1930s.

By focusing on the Detroit rioters of 1943 rather than the upheaval itself, this account approaches racial violence from a perspective overlooked inmost previous riot histories. It benefits from those works, in which scholars have noted that violence clustered . . .

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