Black Day in July

Gordon Lightfoot:  Black Day in July

Quiz by Sharon Michiko Yoneda

The 1967 Detroit Riot, also known as the 12th Street Riot or Detroit Rebellion, was the bloodiest of the urban riots in the United States during the "Long, hot summer of 1967".

"Through the smoke and cinders, you can hear it far and wide"

The crimes reported to police included looting, arson, and sniping, and took place in many different areas of Detroit. Many of the protesters were the black youth of Detroit. 

 "Of the sons of the fathers who were carried to this land (black youth)."

Police snipers shot at the protesters from the rooftops.

"There's gunfire from the rooftops."

Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, Michigan Governor George Romney and President Lyndon B. Johnson declared that the situation was "critical" but not yet "out of control.   At 7:45 p.m. that first (Sunday) night, Cavanagh enacted a citywide 9:00 p.m. – 5:30 a.m. curfew

"In the mansion of the Governor (Governor George Romney and President Lyndon B. Johnson)  there's nothing that is known for sure."

Shortly before midnight on Monday, July 24, President Johnson sent in the military with their tanks.  Some 8,000 Michigan Army National Guardsmen were deployed to quell the disorder. Later, their number would be augmented with 4,700 paratroopers from both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, and 360 Michigan State Police officers

"In the Office of the President the deed is done the troops are sent."

The anarchy of the riot was gradually brought under control.

"It looks to us like anarchy."

artist:  Gordon Lightfoot

songwriter:  Gordon Lightfoot

date released:  1968 by Gordon Lightfoot

Born in Orillia, Ontario, in 1938, Gordon Lightfoot is regarded as a national treasure in the genre of ballads in Canadian music. As a youth, singing in a choir encouraged emotion and confidence in his young voice.  As a teenager, he learned to play the piano and later taught himself to play drums and other percussive instruments. Playing the guitar was soon added to his many natural talents. Later, he moved to California, where he studied jazz and orchestration for two years and jammed with many American luminaries in the folk and jazz genres.

Lightfoot returned to Canada in 1960 and began his professional singing career with various groups, developing a talent for songwriting.  His first big hits as a songwriter came for the group, Peter, Paul and Mary in 'In the Early Morning Rain' and 'For Lovin' Me'. He went on to write hit songs for other well-known artists.

Between 1965 and 1969, Lightfoot recorded his own songs, which consistently placed in Canada's Top 40.  

Gordon Lightfoot's awards and honours are numerous:  sixteen Juno Awards; ASCAP awards for songwriting; five nominations for Grammy Awards; and induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1986 as well as the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.  In 2003, he was made Companion of the Order of Canada, citizenry's highest honour.  In addition, Lightfoot is also a member of the Order of Ontario, the province's highest honour.


The bloodiest conflict of the “long, hot summer of 1967” started on July 23 when Detroit Police raided a “blind pig,” an unlicensed, after-hours bar, where a group of people were welcoming home two local GIs from the Vietnam War. This inciting incident kicked off six days of uprisings from the Black community fed up with police brutality and racial discrimination. Mass looting and destruction of property ensued while state and local police made mass arrests. Military occupation from the National Guard followed after receiving orders from Michigan’s Governor George Romney.   Dozens were killed and hundreds were wounded.

“Black Day in July” was banned from radio play in 30 states after its release in 1968.