Kwame Kilpatrick

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is well-known for his corrupt actions during his elected period. It includes rumors his wife assaulted a stripper when she came home to find the notorious “Manoogian Mansion Party”, the murder and cover-up of that stripper 9 months after the initial incident, theft of tax-payers’ money to spend on himself, and the conspiracy to fire officers who attempted to investigate his crimes. In addition to serving time for his first 12 felonies, another scandal with the Detroit Water Company has made his total charge of felonies now at 38. He is currently on trial for these crimes. For more information, this is the latest article to date on the trial:

http://blogs.detroitnews.com/kwamekilpatrick/2012/11/27/day-29-feds-call-key-detroit-official-wrap-up-extortion-victim/

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Motown Records

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In 1960, Berry Gordy would find one of Detroit’s most iconic and important music foundations: Motown Records. Motown, taking name after Detroit’s reputation as a motor or automobile centered city, would characterize the city for more than half a century later.

The label’s sound was different than others before; it had a pop sound, but was smooth and signed R&B and soul artists such as Marvin Gaye. The sound the Gordy created was one that was said to bring together both black and white interests.

However, Motown Records was nowhere near perfect or resolving to black and white tensions. It had many problems, including Gordy’s relationship with Diana Ross of The Supremes, a group he had signed. Furthermore, Berry’s relationship with other artists was very rocky. He was known for giving little to no publishing rights to his artists, would fraudulently sell first quality records as cut-outs to prevent his artists from receiving royalties, treating his artists like children. Marvin Gaye even got into a physical fight with Gordy over his pay. Lastly, Gordy’s management was poor. When he left the Detroit branch to live and operate in LA, he put Ewart Abner in charge, an African-American male with militant black views. This polarized whites and blacks within the company, and many even called Abner a racist against whites.

Below are some songs by Motown’s most famous, signed artists, ranging from the Jackson 5 to The Supremes to Smokey Robinson:

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Detroit Gang Violence: The Young Boys Inc.

Before there was the Black Mafia Family, gang violence over drug trade began with The Young Boys Incorporated. The Young Boys were one of the largest traffickers of heroine in the city and were known for notorious violence within the community. Butch Jones was the leader of the Young Boys. From this time period in the 1970s, violence in Detroit began to grow steadily. This can be seen in the FBI crime statistics sheet below. Gangs such as BMF would carry on the violence and encourage the growth of new gangs. Violence in Detroit decreased between 1976 to 1978, but then grew again once YBI and other games came into play and grew in power.

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Henry Ford and the Assembly Line

Henry Ford revolutionized the automobile industry when he innovated the assembly line. Previously cars were assembled piece by piece, by moving workers along lines of parts. Ford had the vision to move the parts past the workers instead. Ford had developed the idea after witnessing the Meat Packing industry of Chicago. After seeing a meat factory that moved meat past its workers, Ford had the idea to do the same. He effectively diminished both the time it took to produce one car and the cost of each unit. Because of this, Ford was able to give workers 5$ days! This was revolutionary at the time, and workers flocked to Detroit to have the opportunity to make five dollars a day. Ford effectivley reduced the time it took to build one car from 12 hours to around 1.5 hours. The assembly line moved and worked so efficiently, paint became a bottleneck. At the time paint took many hours to cool and dry, but black paint dried relatively quickly. As a result, Ford chose to use only black on his initial Ford Model T’s in order to speed up the process. Although the character of Henry Ford was constantly called into questions (SEE HERE), his legacy as an American innovator and father of industry will forever live on.

Aside:
Poem published in a Ford Company Magazine in 1940

We have sworn to you once,
But now we make our allegiance permanent.
Like currents in a torrent lost,
We all flow into you.
Even when we cannot understand you,
We will go with you.
One day we may comprehend,
How you can see our future.
Hearts like bronze shields,
We have placed around you,
And it seems to us, that only
You can reveal God’s world to us.

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1932 Ford Hunger March

The Ford Hunger March that occurred on Feb. 4th, 1932 was a fight for workers rights after the spike in unemployment following the 1929 market crash. Millions participated in the march while around 100,000 stayed in the Metro City to demonstrate. Both parties were met with heavy resistance from law enforcement. The march began in Detroit and ended at Ford’s largest plant in Dearborn, MI. When the crowd approached the outskirts of Dearborn, officers shot tear gas and bullets into the crowd. Over 50 were wounded and four young leaders:  Joe DiBlasio, Coleman Leny, Joe York, and Joe Bussell were killed as a result.

Here’s some footage from the1932 protest:

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Prohibition and the City of Detroit

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When Prohibition was enacted by the 18th amendment, Detroit citizens had already seen prohibition laws in the city for a few years. Prohibition was the banning of alcohol for sale and consumption, but Detroit’s neighbor Canada did not have similar laws. Prohibition made Detroit a perfect city for a bootlegger, with the navigable Detroit river to the north leading to a immense amount of Canadian Whiskey. Gang violence ensued once prohibition started in the city, and alcohol was used as a form of control. Although the Volstead act gave the government power to enforce the 18th amendment, gangs in Detroit operated easily by paying off law enforcement officials and prosecutors. One of the most infamous gangs was the Detroit Purple Gang, a jewish group of delinquents who would steal liquor from other gangs crossing the Detroit River. Illegaly selling of alcohol was extremely profitable, constituting “the second biggest business in Detroit at $215 million a year in 1929.” Detroit had many blind pigs and speak easies that gangs and liquor drinkers frequented. These underground bars were extremely populous in an around the city of Detroit. Not only was Detroit a source of liquor for surrounding areas, but it even had 75% of the illegal liquor supply to the country during the time of prohibition.

Read more from my source here..
Nolan, Jenny. “DetNews.com.” DetNews.com. (1999): n. page. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://apps.detnews.com/apps/history/index.php?id=181&gt;.

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Eminem and the City of Detroit

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Eminem is a quintessential figure to the city of Detroit. His struggle to rise to fame represents the hardships many face when trying to make it out of the city, but his struggle is unique. Eminem, or Marshal Mathers, grew up in the city of Detroit that was dominated by African Americans and minorites. He struggled against reverse racism because of the color of his skin and his proclivity for a new art form; rap. He used well crafted sentence structure and language to bolster his battle rap ability. He was constantly humuliated for the color of his skin, but used it as a talking point for many of his raps. He even beleived that rap could help erase the tendencies of racism by breaking down barriers and restrictions on the art form. He is quoted as saying “Sometimes i feel like rap music is almost the key to stopping racism.” Eminem was a white Detroit citizen who became one of the bet rappers to ever live, in an art form that was previously dominated by minorities and African Americans. 

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