After spending the summer with FOCUS:Hope in Massachusetts, Jariegel and her family returned home to Detroit where they "strengthened their resolve to work harder for some understanding."


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






Written Story


That summer of 1967 was my husband's summer to work with an elementary science project in Newton, MA. We left home with our three small children and spent the summer in a rented apartment in Cambridge MA. Life there was easy and fun for all of us. We had joined Focus Hope early that year, and while in Massachusetts, we had a chance to forget all of the stress and troubles of racism in Detroit. Our kids played in Harvard yard's park with children of all races and nationalities. We visited museums every day and believed that our lives were so wonderful.

I called my parents who lived in Monroe every week for an update to the happenings in far away Michigan. The day before we left, Dad called me and said, "Don't come home. Things are very bad here." He knew that getting home for us meant crossing the Ambassador Bridge and traveling west of Detroit. We really couldn't stay any longer in our apartment, and we couldn't afford a long trip home. The first night out, we stayed in a motel with a television, something we had not seen for the whole summer. The news was horrid. We saw tanks and shootings, fire and smoke that looked like things we had only seem in movies. The horror of that kind of thing happening so near to our home was unimaginable. The fact that Focus Hope seemed to be ineffective was depressing. We had just been in an international community that was peaceful and caring.

We did continue with our traveling home while paying attention to radio and T. V. news. We could always go around the lake and come into Michigan in Toledo. When we crossed the bridge, the world was deathly silent. No one was moving. Tanks were sitting in the street. Buildings had broken windows and looked as if they had been bombed. It was incredibly scary and felt as if we had come into another country. Certainly this couldn't be our town with it's promise of hope and real community. Our Unitarian fellowship had worked so hard to dispel the hate that we knew was out there. It was like all of that work was for nothing.

We did get home without incident, and I suppose it only strengthened our resolve to work harder for some understanding. Focus Hope became more active, and we were busy looking forward to a time when all people could live together with respect.

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“Jariegel,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed May 18, 2021, https://detroit1967.detroithistorical.org/items/show/381.

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