Recognizing Black History in Detroit

Join us as The Detroit History Podcast celebrates Black History Month: From the Underground Railroad, the famous route to Detroit from the South; to the birth of Detroit Techno, our most recent artistic gift to the world.


The Birth and Growth of Detroit Techno

Season 1 – Episode 09: The Birth And Growth Of Detroit Techno

If Detroit was a sound, what would that sound be? Although some would say Motown, others say that sound would be Techno music. In this episode of The Detroit History Podcast we explain the birth of Techno in the 1980s, why its popular around the world — particularly Berlin… and why it’s as relevant now...

John Lee Hooker And The Blues On Hastings Street

Season 2 – Episode 05: John Lee Hooker And The Blues on Hastings Street

Bluesman John Lee Hooker’s recording career spanned more than 40 years — from his hit record, Boogie Chillen’, which was recorded in Detroit in 1948, to his Grammy Award-winning LP The Healer. Hooker is a total product of Detroit’s Black Bottom, the city’s African-American neighborhood. We track his career, with help from John Lee Hooker’s...

Far From New Orleans, Long Before Motown, Jazz Became Detroit’s Pulse

Season 3 – Episode 05: Far from New Orleans, Long Before Motown, Jazz Became Detroit’s Pulse

The magnet of good-paying factory jobs and the nurturing influence of an excellent public school music program helped make Detroit a hotbed of jazz and the hometown of many internationally famous musicians. This edition of Detroit History Podcast takes a look at when and how and why Detroit’s music began to swing, and how generations...

The Scene: The Hippest Show In Detroit In Detroit In the 70s and 80s.

Season 4 – Episode 1: The Scene, The Hippest Show in Detroit in the 70s and 80s

Black Detroiters were invisible on local TV then . . . ‘The Scene’ changed it all    The low-budget, upstart and, to some, shocking dance show on a pioneering African-American-owned TV station put a screenful of Detroit teenagers on the air every day. If you were of an age in the 1970s and 1980s, you watched....

Lottie the Body: The Burlesque Queen of Detroit

Season 3 – Episode 09: Lottie The Body, The Burlesque Queen of Detroit

Burlesque legend Lottie Graves-Claiborne wowed ’em on several continents, sharing the stage with numerous worldwide stars. But throughout her celebrated 90 years, Lottie insisted on highlighting the art of the tease. This week’s Detroit History Podcast focuses on a long life well-lived, and how Lottie the Body’s discretion painted a fine line between exotic dancing and mere titillating...

Politics / Government

You Have Me Mixed Up With A Stool Pigeon, Sir

Season 1 – Episode 02: “You Have Me Mixed Up With a Stool Pigeon, Sir”

In this episode of The Detroit History Podcast, we hear a rare recording of a confrontation between Coleman A. Young and a congressional committee in 1952. Many people pleaded their Fifth Amendment rights when the House of Un-American Activities Committee came to town looking for Reds. But a young labor organizer, Coleman Young, gave better...

Milliken v. Bradley, The Case Of Cross-District Busing

Season 2 – Episode 07: Milliken v. Bradley, The Case Of Cross-District Busing

The topic of busing proved to be one of the most volatile issues in metro Detroit during the early 1970s. This came to a head in the case of Milliken v. Bradley. Two federal court orders mandated the forced busing of children to remedy segregation in metro Detroit. The reaction: The KKK dynamited buses in...

How the Spotlight Found Coleman Young

Season 3 – Episode 01: How the Spotlight Found Coleman Young

If anybody was taking bets in the early 1960s, Coleman A. Young would have been a true longshot for getting himself elected to just about anything. He held any number of jobs from the late 1940s to the early 1960s, and ran unsuccessfully for public office on three occasions. But his fortunes changed. His dogged...


Joe Louis: The Punch of Detroit

Season 5 – Episode 1: Joe Louis, The Punch of Detroit

Joe Louis may have been the most famous person to come out of Detroit. He arrived here in the mid-1920s as part of the Great Migration, that influx of African-Americans who came north to escape the Jim Crow South. When he took up boxing as a teenager, there was no stopping him. He became heavyweight...


From Midnight to Windsor: Detroit’s Underground Railroad

Season 3 – Episode 03: From Midnight to Windsor, Detroit’s Underground Railroad

From Dr. King’s march on Woodward to Cobo Hall where he delivered an early version of his “I Have a Dream” speech, to Coleman Young’s election in 1973, to Malcolm X’s days of activism in the city, to the protests of police brutality this past week, Detroit has always been a hotbed for civil rights....

Black Bottom: The Rise, the Fall, and the Rise of a Detroit Neighborhood

Season 4 – Episode 4: Black Bottom: The Rise, the Fall, and the Rise of a Detroit Neighborhood

For decades, segregation forced African-Americans migrating from the South to Detroit into one neighborhood: “Black “Bottom,” an area just east of downtown, which is now Lafayette Park. Urban renewal plowed the neighborhood under in the 1950s, destroying what had been a thriving place that gave the world Joe Louis and Coleman Young. But the memory...

1943: Detroit’s Forgotten Riot

Season 2 – Episode 04: 1943, Detroit’s Forgotten Riot

For two days in 1943, Detroit erupted into a flat-out race war. Thirty-four people died as whites and African-Americans battled each other in the streets. People were ripped from street cars and beaten senseless. Of the 25 deceased African-Americans, 17 were killed by police.  It ended only as the U.S. Army came in with rifles...