Cynthia Garner


Cynthia Garner


Cynthia Garner recalls her memories living with her family in 67 one block from Northwestern High School.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






Written story


West side, one block from Northwestern High School


My dear friend and I were in for a sudden, astounding awakening. Due to the dawn to dusk curfew imposed on the citizens of Detroit during the 1967 Riot--we were unable to enjoy a night on-the-town or be entertained by dates. My social life and employment schedules had to be halted. I was unable to enjoy my boyfriend’s military leave; all social activities were cancelled or got suspended. Interesting, popular venues and other places were closed, burned, looted or totally inaccessible.
My boyfriend and I both knew all restaurants, businesses, and theaters were closed. A grim picture was painted on my transistor radio and T.V. while daytime looters paths crisscrossed my street, running to unknown destinations. I noticed one Black young man breathlessly running, loaded with boxes of shoes. Just As he attempted to hail a cab, he stumbled and fell. He shouted out to the yellow cab driver: “Can you take me to..." and before the request was completely asked. The cab driver replied with a, "H--No"!! Then quickly sped off. Then the young man noticed that in all the boxes tumbled-- the shoes in each box were all for the left foot only. A look of alarm or astonishment appeared on his face and his eyes got big as saucers. (I imagine he was thinking how he almost got caught for a worthless attempt.)
Because my social and employment schedule both were temporarily suspended: I was unable to enjoy my friend's military leave. He had just completed basic training for the military service in the United States army. We were both anticipating having a memorable time, prior to his assignment of being shipped to Vietnam. I remember his comment that the rat-a-tat-tat from guns at night sounded like combat.

In the alley behind my west side home the street lights got shot out. I lived one block from Northwestern High School- total darkness permeated the closed housed neighborhood. An unusual fear pervaded my consciousness: why was this happening? Who was being pursued or perhaps fleeing under the cover of a bleak moonless night? How was I going to get food? Or was it even safe in my own home? Some People dared to disobey the curfew orders. All Detroit residents’ lives were affected and the suspense worried me... Would I learn what happened the next day? Because my place of employment was momentarily closed as well, we just sat and chatted about the future, current news, and Detroit's Riot while wondering about our safety.

My sister, Margaret Robinson, was employed near the location where the Blind Pig had been raided. All her family members were concerned about her. Frantically, my Mother tried to reach her by calling several times- but apparently the telephone connections had gone awry. Later that week my maternal grandmother, who lived in Virginia was attempting to call her daughter to see if all the family was still alive. The television news broadcast around the Nation had shown many businesses ablaze. Our grandmother's telephone connection could not be made either- I remember her sobbing uncontrollably. This was her only daughter and she could not reach her due to the riot, she was scared.
Stores, businesses were set on fire. The anger had reached a boiling point. People began looting stores-- furniture stores that were cleared out of expensive or colorful items. The grocery stores were looted too and after all this happened-- a dawn to dusk curfew was immediately put into effect. Anyone caught roaming about would be cited for violating this order and immediately taken to jail. When most of the jail cells filled- looters and other violators were taken to Belle Isle and crowded into the elephant house, which had been empty for a while.
During the day people were forced to go elsewhere to find groceries. The National Guard was located nearby our home on Northwestern High School, tanks or armored trucks were anchored there and in many other fields. The National Guard poised to force a peace upon an unruly situation. Near my job in southwest Detroit, the National Guard was stationed at Patton Park field.

Original Format

email message

Submitter's Name

Cynthia Garner

Submission Date





“Cynthia Garner,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed July 17, 2024,

Output Formats