Blackness in Present
Broadside Press, Motown
Records, and Detroit Techno
Wendy S. Walters
Writing about Detroit is not just writing about the past. It is also writing about the future because
the issues have not yet been resolved.
—GRACE LEE BOGGS
Political ideology uses nostalgia in much the same way as architecture, ironically enough. It
builds the unremembered.
Cities or places that don't have so much tend to create opportunities. People tend to use their
imaginations to compensate.
In early June 1967, at Detroit's Second Annual Black Arts Convention (dedicated to the memory of Malcolm X), H. Rap Brown spoke what turned out to be prophetic words, "Motown… we are going to burn you down," in response to a climate of mistreatment of blacks by the predominantly white Detroit Police Department.1 Just a few weeks later, on July 23, 1967, an undercover police raid on the Blind Pig on Twelfth Street incited a massive rebellion. At least 7,231 people were arrested, 700 injured, and forty-three killed (thirty-three blacks and ten whites) over the next three days of fires, looting, and violence. Property damage in the city was estimated at over $50 million.2 Joe Von Battle, a longtime supporter of local black music production, was dismayed to find his record store completely looted in the ensuing uprising. Edward Vaughn's Afrocentric Forum 66 bookstore was firebombed and vandalized by several Detroit Police officers.3 The Chit Chat Club, an after-hours retreat for many of Motown's musicians, was scorched beyond repair, but the first home of Motown Records only a few