DETROIT — As we approach the 50th anniversary of the summer of 1967, Detroit finds itself in a reflective mood. In late July of that year, the city was embroiled in a dramatic conflict, known alternately as the Rebellion or the Riots, depending on one’s vantage point on the crisis. Ostensibly, a police raid on an unauthorized drinking establishment touched off a citywide violent uprising, which culminated in the dispatching of federal troops by President Lyndon B. Johnson. In reality, this was not a singular event, but a tipping point on decades of institutionalized discrimination, including eminent domain land grabs by the city to make way for highways through some of Detroit’s strongest black communities; white flight leading to the devaluation and dissolution of neighborhoods; and predatory economics that made the cost of living increasingly unviable for city residents.
But the summer of ’67 was not all high drama, and a film series at the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) offers some perspective on this matter. 1967 Detroit Home Movies is a year-long project that seeks to present home movies from around 1967, depicting everyday life in Detroit, and cannily builds a crowd-sourced archive of quotidian moments that paint a fascinating and nostalgic portrait of the city.