Interview with John Conyers

Can you tell me about what Detroit was like as a Black resident in the early '60s?


The segregation was profound. The, ah, stores, as one time in New York City, in the Black communities the stores were all owned by Whites. Frequently there were Jewish merchants, which lent a, a sort of, ah, particular, vent of, ill-will between these merchants and shop owners who always closed up every night, and clearly went somewhere else. There was a very little, ah, ah, interaction among, ah, Black political leadership because there wasn't any. We, let's see, I was in law school when the first Black ran and won for the city council. It, it was a very unusual kind of situation, ah, well I'm, excuse me, it was a situation very different from now, but it was really the norm. And it was this, ah, straining at the bonds, ah, th- the there was no city government responsive. Ah, there was no national leadership, there was no Congressional Black Caucus. And the, the civil--