Black Day In July

Black Day In July - Detroit July 22, 1967
Black Day In July – Detroit July 22, 1967

July 23, 2017 marks the 50 anniversary of the Detroit Riots of 1967.  The riots lasted 5 days and marked one of the worst riots in US history.  Detroit is the home of the iconic Motown music company.  Iconic because their labels put out musical greats like Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Temptations, and the Four Tops.  Motown is currently recording phenomenal talents  like Erykah Badu and Lil Yachty. But for those five days in July, Motown shut down.


Much has been written and recorded about the riots.  For me, I was only seven and living in Toronto, so understanding the significance of the riots did not sink in until listening to Gordon Lightfoot’s Black Day In July as a teenager.  I wasn’t even aware until today that Lightfoot’s song got him banned from every major radio station in the US because it was too controversial for public consumption.


The lyrics are as relevant today as they were in 1968 when they were written.


Black day in July
Black day in July
The streets of Motor City now are quiet and serene
But the shapes of gutted buildings
Strike terror to the heart
And you say how did it happen
And you say how did it start
Why can’t we all be brothers
Why can’t we live in peace
But the hands of the have-nots
Keep falling out of reach


So listen and reflect –