Pamela D. Jones


Pamela D. Jones


Pamela D. Jones shares her memories as a 10 year old living on the east side of Detroit, Michigan in July, 1967.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






Written Story


Cadillac Boulevard, near Canfield


I was 10 years-old when the riot started, way too young to know what was going on.
I lived on the east side of Detroit with my parents and three siblings, on Cadillac Blvd. near Canfield. Cadillac Blvd. was mainly a residential neighborhood; however, Krolik elementary school was on one corner, Mary’s Cleaners on the opposite corner and a small neighbor grocery store and barber shop on the other corner. All of these businesses were black owned and operated. I’m not sure if the store was named Kings, or we called it that because Mr. King was the owner and generally worked in the store along side his wife.

Life as a 10 year-old was going pretty well from my perspective. Although there was an elementary school within walking distance, those of us who lived on Cadillac and Pennsylvania were bused to Burbank Elementary, somewhere on the West Side of Detroit. I believe it was because Krolik only went up to a certain grade; whatever the reason was, we had fun on the bus, school was yet another story. Burbank was an all white school until we arrived, but after 2 years of integration the program was cancelled and we had to make that long walk to the closest school near us. That was my first exposure to prejudice, but that’s another story.

I wasn’t raised in a house where prejudice was taught, so my 10 year-old self didn’t understand at the time the importance or significance of black owned business. My parents didn’t make an issue of whom or where, so we never knew much about race differences until the riot. As I look back, I don’t know if not telling us was a good or bad thing.

My first memory of knowing something was wrong on that historical July date was when I overheard my parents concerns for my mother’s nephew, Robert and his live-in girl friend Jackie. They not only rented an apartment nearby where the riot started, but I later learned they were in the after-hour joint the night it all started. The only person alive now can’t remember the full details of what happen to Jackie that night, I just know my cousin moved back to his home state shortly afterwards and I never saw Jackie again.

Being the oldest of my three siblings I think I was more afraid of what could happen as I listened on while my parents would watch images of building burning, folks looting, and the National Guard patrolling the neighborhoods. My fear was of our house catching on fire. It seemed like people were burning down homes and business all around the city. As young as I was, I had enough sense to know if we had to get out of the house in a hurry, I was going to need some clothes. So I put a few items in a bag and hid the bag under my bed….just in case (smile). I don’t know if any, what precautions my parents made.

Watching the National Guard march down the street with their weapons in position wasn’t as fearful to me as it would be now. I guest I would say it had something to do with being naive. I had never witness anything like it before, real soldiers, real tanks, just like in the movies.

Back in the day we didn’t have air conditioning, so we were allowed to sit on the porch on those hot nights to stay cool, that’s how we got to see the troopers.
Although we were a distance from where the riot started I recall sitting on the porch and watching folks running up and down the street with their arms full of cloths; Mary’s Cleaners had been vandalized, and I’m guessing by someone in the neighborhood. I don’t recall if Mr. King’s store or the barbershop was victimized.

I believe the riot played a major part in changing Detroit. Most black-owned businesses weren’t in the position to rebuild because they either didn’t have insurance coverage or it wasn’t sufficient coverage for them to rebuild. Sadly so, the cost of being in business is still a major problem today for most blacks. They often have to charge more then their competition because their cost of doing business is higher. This was the beginning of the end for black ownership in the city of Detroit, and we are still struggling to gain what we once had. Oh course there are a lot of reasons not related to the riot for lack of black business owners, hopefully one day we can overcome them.

What I struggle with today is why? Why did we burn down, loot, and seek to destroy in our own communities? I’m not condoning the burning or destruction of any property any where, but once our homes and business were destroyed, there was nothing left in our neighborhoods, which is why we shop outside of them.

The 1967 riot should serve as a painful reminder that we are the ones who suffer when we chose to destroy and hurt each other.

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Pamela D. Jones

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black business, Krolik Elementary School, Cadillac Boulevard, Michigan National Guard, looting


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“Pamela D. Jones,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed December 8, 2023,

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