Detroit Now & Then: Unrest

Few things have shaped and molded the collective consciousness of the people of Detroit, as have race and racism.

Detroit was, and still is, one of the most segregated cities in America. Though blacks have lived in Detroit almost from its founding over 300 years ago, it wasn't until the First World War that large numbers of black immigrants began to arrive in the city from the south, along with southern whites who sought jobs in the defense industry. What had been a fairly integrated city became stratified along racial lines, with the racial prejudices of many newly arrived southern whites and some Detroit residents dictating a social policy that saw the creation of separate neighborhoods, schools, hotels, and public services for black Detroiters.

Above, doctors and medical students pose in front of Dunbar Hospital, a converted house that was the first hospital in Detroit for its black residents. At a time when blacks could be denied healthcare at hospitals on account of their race, minority-owned and operated hospitals like Dunbar filled a critical need in the city. Dunbar Hospital would later move to a larger location in 1928, with the original building reverting back to a home and later becoming a museum.

Current photo: July, 2012.