Full Transcript: Reverend Darla Swint on Urban Renewal
Darla: It was strictly to move out— because that was almost a solid black community. You had whites in there, they got along. You know, racial tension no. You know even in what was it, 67 when Detroit went up in flames they guarded Hamtramck on all four corners and we had not to my knowledge, not one racial outbreak in our community. You know, we weren’t allowed out past six o’clock, if you worked the National Guards knew, so that area was truly concentrated with black working families. By that time you had a lot of welfare. And there was a lot of welfare over there, crime was going up in that area, but as far as racial issues within the community, to my knowledge, there weren’t any. Because we went to school with them, you know. And I really think it was to dislocate black families. Over where 75 is, because it’s right there, there were black stores, black barber shops, you name it, self sufficient. Owned and operated by black families. What’s there now? For years it was just land, weeds, and houses that needed to be torn down until Ms. [Yvonne] Myric, Reverend Jordan, Amanda Dumes, fought to get those homes built in Hamtramck. And now we have them, but how many years was it? To the point that people that are in these houses in the community, they’re not the original people who were dislocated. Because they died. So they had to— Ms. Myrick can verify this and make it right because you want accurate information— I think they had to go back three generations. So you have people in these homes that have no idea, and don’t really care, about the struggle of the original family that was suddenly displaced. Blacks have— because I’m like that— we were raised to believe you had to own your own property. Your value, your worth, was on what you were able to accomplish. Well today we know that’s not true, it’s all about the soul and spirit. But coming from the South where they had nothing and coming North and being able to own a home and see their children all in a bedroom everybody was safe, that became their mind set. Most of those homes were owned by black families. So now they’re gone. They’re not even here to tell what they went through. And I forget, Ms. Myrick will be able to tell you to— how much they were offered for their homes. In fact, they didn’t know how to have the homes assessed for the actual value, to tell the government, oh no my home is worth 25 thousand you’re offering me 10. They took whatever and ran. And left the city. That’s how you get blacks in Southfield and all these other little communities. That’s how it was dislocated, it was a political move, I really do believe that.