Deborah Chenault Green is 62, a writer. But 50 years ago she was a preteen, sleeping on the porch to escape the oppressive heat, awakening to see a sky that glowed unnaturally.
Azerine Jones is a retired baker. But in 1967 she was the 12-year-old daughter of a barber who watched his business go up in smoke.
Gerard Townsend is 66 now, living in a seniors building near the Detroit waterfront. But a half century ago, he was just a kid on a city bus.
The bus stopped near 12th and Clairmount streets. Townsend stepped off — and into the very start of the Detroit riot.
“I saw all these guys with masks and shields,” he said — city police officers, most of them white, far outnumbered by a seething black crowd.
In the days that followed, he would witness — and take part in — an epic eruption of violence that still reverberates in his life and the life of this city.
Five days of violence would leave 33 blacks and 10...