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  1. #1
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    Impact of 1967 Detroit Uprising/Riots on The Supremes

    I was in Detroit last weekend and visited the Detroit Historical Society museum. Well worth a visit and there's even a little exhibit devoted to Mary Wilson!

    However the most interesting exhibit for me was the one on the 1967 Detroit Uprising/Riots. And it's got me to wonder what impact this event had on Diana, Mary and Florence? Were there families impacted? Florence in particular as she was out of the group by end of August 1967 so likely would have been in the city when the event occurred.

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    Ooops..meant this for the Supremes forum. My fault. But can I extend the question to impact of the event on Motown as a company and its artists and employees?

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Spreadinglove21 View Post
    Ooops..meant this for the Supremes forum. My fault. But can I extend the question to impact of the event on Motown as a company and its artists and employees?
    It's a great question either way; the subject was discussed indirectly here not all that long ago. Someone was questioning why Motown didn't cancel a big sales convention in Detroit as it took place not long after the riots. It was a really good discussion, but I don't think it would have answered your question in particular. But after that thread was brought up, I started watching a LOT of of the televised coverages of the '67 riots on YouTube.

    It's really interesting to note that years later, some of the residents looked back with an almost Zen-like mindset: it happened, it affected us but we just dealt with it and kept on moving. You'll see reporters interviewing residents of the riot area as the uprising was happening, and again, it's very impressive that people -the ones NOT involved in the looting or whatnot- were very pragmatic about it all. Yes, it was horrifying, but at the same time, nobody was in a panic. One woman interviewed was just calmly using a garden hose to keep the fires from neighboring houses from spreading to her home. She was almost matter-of-fact about it, just calmly talking to the reporter as her neighborhood was literally burning down to the left, right and across the street from her.

    I say all of this to give some kind of context to how the Supremes and their families [as well as the Motown family] probably reacted in similar ways- no doubt it was terrifying but then again, most people simply deal with whatever is put in front of them. I always found it interesting though that absolutely nobody touched Motown. How that happened is on par with a miracle. Some have chalked it up to Motown being a Black-owned company, but that wasn't it. Practically every black-owned business in Detroit went up in flames. I honestly keep wondering just what unseen forces were hovering around, guiding and seemingly protecting Berry Gordy's record company?
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 05-19-2023 at 10:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    I always found it interesting though that absolutely nobody touched Motown. How that happened is on par with a miracle. Some have chalked it up to Motown being a Black-owned company, but that wasn't it. Practically every black-owned business in Detroit went up in flames. I honestly keep wondering just what unseen forces were hovering around, guiding and seemingly protecting Berry Gordy's record company?
    It's very interesting indeed that Motown Records wasn't touched during the riots in Detroit in 1967. I've always chalked it up to the fact that Motown meant so much to the Black Community of Detroit thanks to their long list of hit records they had at that time [and all the major recording stars that the company created].

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    Mike McLean told me our security people showed up the following morning with rifles from when they'd served in the army.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by bob_olhsson View Post
    Mike McLean told me our security people showed up the following morning with rifles from when they'd served in the army.
    It's so fascinating when we get to hear from you and others who were actually there. "The Big, Happy, Beating Heart of Motown." I think there was a TIME Magazine article with that title and it always stuck with me. To me, that's exactly what Motown always represented to me as teenager- and even now. So that image makes for such a startling contrast when you consider that yes, Motown had to deal with real-world events like the '67 Riots. Adam White's West Grand Blog article about Motown's decision to continue with their sales convention after the riots was especially eye-opening.

  7. #7
    Thanks for the reference, WaitingWatching. Here’s a link to the piece:

    https://www.adampwhite.com/westgrand...t-kind-of-tour

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob_olhsson View Post
    Mike McLean told me our security people showed up the following morning with rifles from when they'd served in the army.
    Wow, I've never knew that before! So that truly explains how Motown Records remained untouched during the Detroit Riots of '67. Good to hear from someone who was there; thanks for your post.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Clifton Miller View Post
    Thanks for the reference, WaitingWatching. Here’s a link to the piece:

    https://www.adampwhite.com/westgrand...t-kind-of-tour
    This is the one! Thanks for posting the link. Adam does some fantastic writing here.

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    Thanks, Clifton Miller for the link to the article.Barney Ales was very powerful in the music business with his connections to the distributors.

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    Weren't Motown acts [[Martha & Vandellas +, ??) appearing at a big venue in the city when the riots broke out. They had to rush back to a safe place as the chaos unfolded around them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jsmith View Post
    Weren't Motown acts [[Martha & Vandellas +, ??) appearing at a big venue in the city when the riots broke out. They had to rush back to a safe place as the chaos unfolded around them.
    Seems I remember that too, maybe at the Fox Theater & Martha & group were rushed to the airport to go to their next gig.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsmith View Post
    Weren't Motown acts [[Martha & Vandellas +, ??) appearing at a big venue in the city when the riots broke out. They had to rush back to a safe place as the chaos unfolded around them.
    Martha and the Vandellas were headlining a ten-day engagement at the Fox when the riots broke out. They packed up and went to Newark, NJ. When riots broke out there, they headed down South.

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