Tonight’s performance will run approximately 2 hours, including a 15-minute intermission.
The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited.
By Dominique Morriseau
Produced by Detroit Public Theatre
Directed by Brian Marable
Tonight’s performance will run approximately 2 hours, including a 15-minute intermission.
The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited.
I'm honored to be directing Dominique Morisseau’s phenomenal play, Detroit ’67, for my Detroit Public Theatre directorial debut. This play is also the first Dominique Morisseau piece that I performed in. In 2016, I made my DPT and Baltimore Center Stage acting debuts in Detroit ‘67, and that production brought my career to new heights and new places. To be directing it now for Detroit Public Theatre is a wonderful full circle moment. I will forever be grateful to DPT and Dominique Morisseau for trusting me with this huge responsibility, now and also back in 2016, when we first brought this incredible play to Detroit.
This play holds a SPECIAL place in my career, my life, and my heart. I'm a native Detroiter, and my 80-year-old father often explains to me what it was really like in July of 1967. Race relations in this country, specifically between white and Black America, were flammable—just as they had been since the beginning. The avenues for business and property ownership were lopsided in Detroit and throughout the country. These inequities and issues form the backdrop for this play. And, much like today, these issues combined with a spark, the #1 Beef—the abuse of power and authority coming from those sworn to protect and serve—to ignite Detroit’s historic 1967 summer uprising.
I know you will feel nostalgic when you experience this play, in the costumes, the music, and the characters! I know you will feel how DETROIT this play is, because it is all that and a bag of Better Mades. But I also hope this play will make you stop and think and ask, “Is it 1967, or is it 2022?” Because, outside of the nostalgia, it’s really hard to tell.
DANI COCHRANE (Caroline) [she/her] is a Detroit-based stage and screen actor, as well as an experienced voiceover artist and director. She holds an MFA in acting from the Hilberry Repertory Company at Wayne State University, has studied abroad at the Moscow Art Theatre School, and is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association. DPT credits include: Detroit '67 at the Charles H. Wright Museum, the world premiere of Birthday Candles, and Cry It Out. Other select credits: Birthday Club and Blithe Spirit at Meadow Brook Theatre, A Very Williamston Christmas at Williamston Theatre, and Anatomy of a Hug at Tipping Point Theatre, for which she won a Members' Choice Award for Best Actress. DaniCochrane.com.
AJA DIER (Bunny) [she/her] is a multi-disciplinary artist working in theatre, film, television, music, and performance. She is an ensemble member at A Host of People and has collaborated and performed in AHOP's original works: Cleopatra Boy; Neither There, Nor Here; and Re-Release Party: The Golden Record, performing locally and touring nationally. She is a 2020 Kresge Artist Fellow and a 2018 Gilda Award winner in live arts awarded by the Kresge Foundation. She holds a BFA in acting from the State University of New York at Purchase College and is a proud alumnus of Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit. She creates and performs music as Salakastar. Connect with Aja on Instagram: @salakastar.
MALIK/MALEEK REED (Lank) [they/them] is a multi-hyphenate artist born and raised in Detroit and currently based in New York City. Recent work includes: Theatre: Mud Row (Premiere Stages); TV: Law & Order: Organized Crime (NBC), Random Acts of Flyness (HBO), The Best Man: The Final Chapters (Peacock), East New York (CBS); Commercial: Buffalo Wild Wings. All praise is due to God. Gye Nyame. Eternal thanks to Marilyn G McCormick, who has served as a master refiner in my life. Lastly, thank you to my mother Joyce Gilbert, who fuels my ambition with her magic; your endless support and love are what give me the courage to create art. WORK HARD AND PRAY HARDER. www.malikreed.com
BRIAN SULLIVAN TAYLOR (Sly) is a native metro Detroiter with experience in theatre, film, commercial, print, and voiceover. As a young actor, Brian was trained in theatrical performance at the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit. Once he discovered his passion for acting, he never stopped chasing his dream. In 2015, he decided to turn his passion into a career and join the professional acting ranks. Brian made his professional theatre debut in 2017, in Detroit Public Theatre's award- nominated production of Dominique Morisseau's Skeleton Crew. He played the role of Dez, a young working-class man, with big dreams for his future. Brian is a SAG-AFTRA actor, along with many other endeavors. He serves as adjunct faculty at the College for Creative Studies, casting director for local production company Area 56 Ent, and acting coach at his own studio, the Detroit Drama Studio, where he is certified to train actors in the Ivana Chubbuck technique, The Power of the Actor. He currently trains with Ivana as a student in her master class as well. He believes that actors should always be training their instrument. Brian is very excited to make his return to Detroit Public Theatre in their touring production of Detroit 67 in the role of Sly.
YOLANDA DAVIS (Chelle) Detroit native Yolanda Davis is proud to make her Detroit Public Theatre debut with Detroit '67. An alum of Mosaic Youth Theater of Detroit and Interlochen Center for the Arts, Yolanda is an actor, writer, vocalist and producer who studied music composition and writing at Columbia College Chicago. In Chicago she began commercial acting work and appeared in Spoon River Anthology (Joseph Jefferson Award for Supporting Actress in a musical, 2006) and Raisin at Chicago's Court Theatre. Other credits include Passages with Plowshares Theatre and various independent films. In 2022 she released her first single, Meditation, with a full album releasing later this year, and is currently writing projects for TV and film. Yolanda thanks her family and friends for their support and belief in her work.
DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU (Playwright & DPT Executive Artistic Producer) [she/her] is the author of The Detroit Project (A 3-Play Cycle): Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company), Paradise Blue (Signature Theatre), and Detroit '67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT). Additional plays include: Confederates (Signature Theatre), Pipeline (Lincoln Center Theatre), Sunset Baby (LAByrinth Theatre), Blood at the Root (National Black Theatre), and Follow Me To Nellie's (Premiere Stages). Her Broadway production of Skeleton Crew (Manhattan Theatre Club) is Tony® nominated for best play and she is also the Tony® nominated book writer on the Broadway musical Ain't Too Proud -- The Life and Times of The Temptations (Imperial Theatre). TV/Film projects: She has served as co-producer on the Showtime series Shameless. She's currently developing projects with Netflix and HBO, and wrote the film adaptation of the documentary STEP for Fox Searchlight. Awards include: Spirit of Detroit Award, PoNY Fellowship, Sky-Cooper Prize, TEER Trailblazer Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Audelco Awards, NBFT August Wilson Playwriting Award, Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, OBIE Award (2), and the Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, named one of Variety's Women of Impact for 2017-18, and a recipient of the 2018 MacArthur Fellowship [aka "genius grant"].
BRIAN MARABLE (Director) [he/him] is a native Detroiter. He is a graduate of Cass Tech Performing Arts Department and attended the Wayne State University Theatre program. He is a father, a son, and a brother. Theater credits include: Detroit '67 (Baltimore Center Stage/Detroit Public Theatre,) Skeleton Crew (Old Globe/People's Light/Detroit Public Theatre/Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati,) Pipeline, Paradise Blue (Detroit Public Theatre), and, most recently, Thurgood (Chautauqua Theater Co./Detroit Public Theatre). He is honored and thrilled to be making his directorial debut with this show and this dream team.
SARAH ACKERMAN (Production Stage Manager/ Makeup Artist/Wig Maintenance) [she/they] is a freelance stage manager from Warren, MI. She is thrilled to be working on this piece again, as she was PSM for the 2022 production at the Charles H. Wright Museum. Sarah has a BFA in stage management from Michigan State University. She travels the country stage managing musicals, operas, concerts, and events, with her most recent credits being Stuck Elevator (Nashville Opera) and Nunsense (ArtisTree Music Theatre Festival). Her event stage management credits vary, with clients such as Mastercard, Ford, WeWork, and The Detroit Jazz Festival. She acts as director of technical theatre for the Stoney Creek Theatre Company, teaching high school students stage management, prop design, electrics, sound, wig/makeup design and scenic art. Sarah also freelances as a scenic painter, makeup/wig designer, theatre educator, and vocalist. Proud member of Actors' Equity. Many thanks to Mom, Dad, Charlie, and the DPT staff. sarahmackerman.com.
MONIKA ESSEN (Scenic & Props Designer) [she/her] is an award-winning, nationally recognized artist and designer. The recipient of the prestigious Lawrence DeVine Award for Outstanding Contribution to Theatre, she studied Interior Architecture and Environmental Design at Parsons School of Design NYC and received her MFA in scenography from the renowned Hilberry Repertory Co. Ms. Essen has designed over 250 productions in theatre, opera, and film, and is currently resident designer at the Michigan Opera Theatre, where she recently designed their highly acclaimed productions of Frida and Bliss. Her designs have also been seen onstage at the Atlanta Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera. Some favorite local productions include The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Impossibility of Now, and A Christmas Carol at Tipping Point Theatre; and Murder Ballad, American Hero, Paradise Blue, and Detroit '67 at Detroit Public Theatre. Additionally, she creates art, furniture, museum exhibits, interiors, and full sensory, multimedia environments for residential and commercial clients, including the Detroit Zoo. All her design work can be viewed at www.studioepoque.com.
REYANNA PATTERSON (Costume Coordinator) [she/her] comes to Detroit '67 after serving as an assistant costume designer for Mud Row and the 2022 production of Detroit '67 with Detroit Public Theatre. She previously served as wardrobe and props supervisor for Ghostlight's 2022 Obsidian Theatre Festival. She is a recent '22 graduate with a BA in film, television, and media and a theatre design and production minor from the University of Michigan.
JARRETT THOMAS (Lighting Designer) [he/him] is thrilled to be returning to DPT after five years away from Detroit. Lighting design: Everybody's Talkin (Mosaic Youth Theatre), Concert of Colors (Charles H. Wright), Much Ado About Nothing (Park Players), The Crucible (Mosaic Youth Theatre), Urinetown (Park Players). After having a show halted by the pandemic, he is excited to be again surrounded by the magic of live theatre.
LUMUMBA REYNOLDS II (Sound Designer & Audio Technician) [he/him] is native of Detroit, born in 1967 a few weeks after the uprising. His family house is off 12th Street, just 1.7 miles from the epicenter of this story. He considers it a close, very personal honor and responsibility to help tell this story. Lumumba was educated in the Detroit Public Schools. During the summers, he studied stagecraft and public speaking under renowned entertainer and Motown artist Kim Weston's Festival For The Performing Arts. After graduating from Cooley High School, he went on to earn a degree from Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts. Lumumba has a passion for mentoring youth and is very entrenched in the Detroit community. He is a master teacher of sound, videography, photography, stage management, and production. Hundreds of young students have benefited from his instruction at Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, Fellowship Chapel, UCC, and Detroit School of the Arts.
BADRIYYAH WAZEERUD-DIN (Assistant Stage Manager) is delighted to be a part of the DPT family, in their beautiful new home. She has worked on DPT productions Mud Row and Noura (build, load crew, light board operator). She has been a stage manager for the African World Festival. As a resident of Detroit, DPT's creative space in the community resonates deeply with her, where diverse and powerful stories come to life. She loves the performing arts; she has appeared in musical theatre productions and has performed as an instrumentalist. Badriyyah is a captivating singer-songwriter and recording artist who enjoys performing and telling stories through music. She has performed and recorded with many artists including Painted Pictures, Malik Alston, The Linwood Ensemble, Sean Blackman, and Veronique. Spending time with family and friends brings her the greatest blessings and joy.
Detroit Public Theatre produces nationally recognized plays and programs with world-class writers, directors, actors, and designers in the heart of Detroit’s cultural district. We create bold, relevant work that illuminates the thrills, joys, and challenges of our shared humanity. Learn more at detroitpublictheatre.org.
DPT Leadership & Staff
Courtney Burkett // Founder & Producing Artistic Director
Sarah Clare Corporandy // Founder & Producing Artistic Director
Dominique Morisseau // Executive Artistic Producer
Sarah Winkler // Founder & Producing Artistic Director
Patrick Hanley // Production & General Manager
Frannie Shepherd-Bates // Director of Shakespeare in Prison
Naytarsha Carrero-Berry // Administrative & Audience Services Manager
Lorraine Dunn and Ny'Ea Reynolds // House Managers
Eugene Starks, Desiree Leslie, and Lesa Talley-Moore // Security
Kyle Fisher-Grant // Associate Director of Shakespeare in Prison
Melissa Johnson // Business Manager
Ronita Kipp // Facilities & Events Manager
Madelyn Porter // Connectivity and Engagement Manager
Kyle Stefek // Grants & Individual Giving Manager
Carl Bentley & Michael Kennedy // Atwater Bar Management, LLC. // Bar Operations
Board of Directors
Detroit ’67 is produced by special arrangement with Concord Theatricals.
Detroit ’67 was developed with the assistance of the Public Theater, Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director and Patrick Willingham, Executive Director and received its World Premiere there on March 12, 2013.
The World Premiere was co-produced by The Classical Theater of Harlem, Ty Jones, Producing Artistic Director.
Developed at The Lark Play Development Center, New York City.
Actor Dani Cochrane & stage manager Sarah Ackerman are members of the Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.
Scenic & Properties Designer Monika Essen is a member of United Scenic Artists Local USA 829
Actors' Equity Association (“Equity"), founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity fosters the art of live theatre as an essential component of society and advances the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans. Actors' Equity is a member of the AFL-CIO and is affiliated with FIA, an international organization of performing arts unions. #EquityWorks
Evamelo Oleita—a second-year interdisciplinary studies and African & African American studies major from Detroit. Eva is a member of the Social Science Scholars program and serves as the public relations chair for the W.E.B Du Bois Society. She is the co-founder of Black Lives Matter In All Capacities (BLMIAC).
Bailey Griffi—a second-year undergraduate student from Milwaukee, WI, majoring in African American and African studies doubling in Interdisciplinary Social Science with a concentration in Black feminisms.
Jairahel Price—a second-year Social Science Scholar studying Political Science Pre-Law and Psychology, with minors in Environment and Health, and Law, Justice, and Public Policy. She currently works as a Student Rights Advocate with the Associated Students of Michigan State University and an undergraduate Policy Fellow with the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research.
With thanks to John Waller, Director of the Social Science Scholars Program, for his assistance in the preparation of this brief history. We are also grateful to Wharton Center for giving us the opportunity to tell the story of Detroit and the events of 1967.
Dominque Morisseau’s play ‘Detroit ‘67’ vividly captures six days of violence during which Michigan’s governor deployed the National Guard, President Lyndon Johnson sent in paratroopers, forty-three people were killed, and 5,000 were left without homes. Within a short period, similar uprisings took place in Los Angeles, Cincinnati, New York, Chicago, and elsewhere. These expressions of righteous anger on the part of Black America are no mere footnotes or sidebars to the course of our nation’s history. For they were all consequences of both America’s original sin, the brutal enslavement of African peoples on which this country’s economy was built, and the subsequent decades of racist exploitation and legalized discrimination. The tragedy that unfolds in Morisseau’s play is not the story of Detroit or even of Black America. It is America’s history.
Before the uprising
To understand what happened in Detroit in 1967, we need to go back to the ‘Great Migration,’ which stretched from 1900 into the 1960s. Impoverished and oppressed in the South, over 6 million African Americans relocated to northern cities. Many headed to Detroit, where firms such as Ford and General Motors had revolutionized car production. But the North offered them no paradise. Northern whites enforced a strict color line such that Black people were given the dirtiest, most dangerous, and worst-paid jobs. Even when Black people had superior skills, whites did all they could to keep them from decent jobs. In 1953, over 80% of Detroit jobs ads in manufacturing, sales, and clerical work specified that ‘Only Whites Need Apply.’
Fig 1. White residents express their opposition to the prospect of Black families moving into their neighborhood in the early 1940s.
Discrimination in the housing market was just as devastating. After World War Two, waves of Detroit’s whites moved to brand new suburbs and proceeded to do all they could to prevent Black people from doing the same Many Black individuals could now afford to buy suburban homes, but whites used a variety of strategies to keep their suburbs’ lily white’. Covenants embedded in property deeds prohibited African American people from buying in the suburbs. More crudely, whites terrorized those Black people who did somehow secure a suburban house. White homeowners also benefited when federal policy in the mid-1930s gave rise to the practice of ‘redlining.’
Fig. 2. A graph showing the population of Detroit and the size of the city in relation to other US cities. Note how the city’s population decline, caused by ‘White Flight’, preceded the events of 1967 by 20 years.
Redlining began when FDR’s government, wishing to make it easier for Americans to buy houses, committed federal dollars to the underwriting of mortgages sold by banks. To avoid taking on lots of bad risks, federal agencies and private lenders then produced color-coded maps of US cities by which people living in ‘hazardous’ red areas were denied mortgage protection. Crucially, the presence of a significant Black population ensured that a neighborhood would be shaded red, even if its residents were middle class. This was the purest racism. Lenders applied the same logic to the granting of insurance and house improvement loans. As a result, whites feared their house prices tumbling if Black families moved into their neighborhoods. Inevitably, as whites left for the suburbs, most Black Detroiters were forced to live in the city’s increasingly cramped and deteriorating housing.
Fig. 3. A color-coded map of Detroit from 1940. The red areas, where many African Americans lived, were denied mortgages and loans. The new white suburbs, shaded green, were deemed the most desirable for lending. Blue and yellow tracts, also white neighborhoods, fell in between.
To make matters worse, automakers began to build new factories in the suburbs where land was cheaper, taxes lower, and unions weaker. Suburban white workers could reach them via the federally-funded highway system. Black people seldom could. So, by 1960, nearly 16% of African Americans in Detroit were jobless, and ten million square feet of factory space lay empty and idle.
The decline in jobs and White Flight had devastating effects on life in Detroit. Refusing to share their tax incomes with the inner-city, suburban whites ensured that the quality of inner-city schools, public services, and infrastructure plummeted. Police indifference and brutality added to the sapping burdens of discrimination and disadvantage. Just months before 1967’s explosion of rage, a Black Vietnam veteran, Danny Thomas, was killed by white thugs after picnicking in Rouge Park on Detroit’s West side. His pregnant wife was beaten so badly that she lost her baby. It’s no surprise that Detroit’s uprising was triggered by a police raid on a Black drinking establishment.
Fig. 4. Detroit’s Northern High School where, in 1966, Black students launched a protest against segregation in schooling, inadequate teaching, and the racism of white teachers. Due to the tax decline caused by White Flight, by 1966 only $193 was spent on students in the City of Detroit compared to $255 on those in the suburbs.
After the uprising
Over the following decades, conditions went on deteriorating in Detroit. The median income of Black households in the city of Detroit fell by about 32% between 1967 and 2016. Similarly, the proportion of Black people in the Detroit area who own their own homes dropped by 13% between 1970 and 2016; today, whites in the city and its suburbs live in houses worth, on average, $97,000 more than those of Black residents. Now, a lot of people like to blame this decline on bad mayoral decision making and the corruption of Black mayors. But the truth is that Detroit’s government and people were left to manage an impossible situation caused by relentless discrimination.
After 1967, the situation was exacerbated by continued White Flight, fresh job losses, and the hardships induced by mass incarceration. With White Flight draining the central city of tax revenues, too few residents of the city could receive a quality education. Until 1993, all of Michigan’s public schools had to cover their costs with local property taxes. Given the declining value of Detroit homes, Black people had a much-reduced chance of graduating high school, gaining college admission, and competing for desirable jobs. Meanwhile, tax revenues and household incomes were further eroded by the continued departure of manufacturing. By 2012, with global competition surging, blue-collar industrial jobs had fallen by nearly 70%. The intensification of policing and the rise of mass incarceration compounded this dire situation. Rather than investing in neighborhood renewal or job growth, governments from the late 1960s spent vast sums on militarizing police forces and building prisons. Michigan locked up 7,800 people in 1970, but 58,735 by 2105, over half of whom were African American. Hundreds of thousands of fathers and mothers have been separated from their spouses and children, prevented from securing stable employment on release, and denied the ability to build up intergenerational wealth.
It’s important that we not exaggerate Detroit’s decline. After all, this city has been the cradle of modern America’s most creative and original music and continues to be a center for innovation in the vehicle industry. There are also abundant signs of investment and redevelopment, while the scale of segregation has fallen dramatically since the 1990s.
But it would not be right to end on a positive note. Nothing better sums up our nation’s cruel legacies than the tragic fact that the residents of Detroit’s poorest census tracts die, on average, 20 years younger than those of the wealthiest suburban areas. This is a severe indictment of our past and present. And it’s why artistic creations like Dominque Morisseau’s play ‘Detroit’ 67’ are so important, for they bring to wider audiences an understanding of the legitimate grievances which took violent form in 1967 when all alternative avenues had been closed down. As Martin Luther King Jr. observed in 1967, ‘A riot is the language of the unheard.’
Martin Luther King Jr., 'The Other America', Speech delivered at Stanford University in 1967.
Sugrue, Thomas Joseph. The origins of the urban crisis: race, industrial decline, and housing in Detroit, 1940-1960. Harvard University, 1992.
Darden, Joe, Richard Hill, June Thomas, and Richard Thomas, Detroit: Race and uneven development. Vol. 8. Temple University Press, 1990, p. 68.
Rothstein, Richard. The color of law: A forgotten history of how our government segregated America. Liveright Publishing, 2017.
Sugrue, The origins of the urban crisis, p. 149.
Farley, Reynolds. "Detroit Fifty Years After the Kerner Report: What Has Changed, What Has Not, and Why?." RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 4.6 (2018): 206-241.
Farley, "Detroit Fifty Years After the Kerner Report", p. 221.
Incarceration Trends in Michigan', Vera Institute of Justice December 2019.
Data from the The City Health Dashboard in partnership with the National Resource Network, the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health and the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.