Robin West Smith


Robin West Smith


Robin West Smith was 9 years old the summer of 1967 and due to the outbreak of the unrest was unable to have stitches removed from his hand. He also remembers seeing looters break into his neighborhood corner store.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






Written Story


I was 9 years old when the 1967 riot happened in July 1967. It was one of the hottest July's we had. I had been playing with my neighborhood friends when I fell and broke a bottle and had to have stiches in my left had about a week before the riot.

On the day I was due to get the stiches out, the riot broke out just hours before that. I ended up having to keep the stiches in my hand an extra ten days which left a permanent scar that is still visible today, 50 years later!

I remember seeing army tanks driving down our neighborhood street and laying on the floor in our apartment with all of the lights off in our unit. I remember the young men of our neighborhood going to the corner store (owned by a wonderful Jewish family) and kicking the door in and taking everything out of the store. I call the owners of the store wonderful because they were always kind and helped the residents in the community. They actually believed in giving residents credit on their groceries. I could understand why the residents turned on them so badly.

It was one of my most painful childhood memories. I couldn't understand what made everyone so angry. Our neighborhood was never the same after the riot. No one trusted anyone any more and the Jewish family closed the store and moved away. I really did missed them and our neighborhood store.

Original Format


Submitter's Name

Robin West Smith

Submission Date





“Robin West Smith,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed April 13, 2021,

Output Formats