Benton Harbor is the poorest city in Michigan. Poverty and racial unrest led to two nights of rioting here in 2003, and vacant lots and boarded up buildings litter the downtown of this former industrial city.
But there is some beauty in Benton Harbor. On the west side of town, out by the Whirlpool National Headquarters, is an undeveloped half mile of Lake Michigan beachfront surrounded by high dunes.
In the summer of 1967 chaos broke out in the streets of Detroit. After five days of violence 43 were dead, thousands were injured and over 4000 people had been arrested.
This summer – forty years later – Michigan Radio takes an in-depth look at the deadliest riot of the 1960's. Why did the riots begin? What fueled them? And, have we ever really recovered?
Our documentary, "Ashes to Hope: Overcoming the Detroit Riots" explores how the riots affected people, neighborhoods and even music. It explores questions such as: Whether it was truly a riot? Or, a rebellion? Is the "white-flight" that we see today in Detroit a consequence of the riots? Did the riots cripple the relationship between the state of Michigan and Detroit?
We also hear from Michigan Radio reporters as well as first-hand accounts of what it was like to be in Detroit during the riot.