Sharon Defever, January 31st, 2017
WW: Today is January 31, 2017. My name is William Winkel. This interview is for the Detroit Historical Society's Detroit 67 Oral History Project, and I am in Monroe, Michigan. And I'm sitting down with -
SD: Sister Sharon Defever.
WW: Thank you so much for sitting down with me today.
SD: Oh, I'm glad to be here.
WW: Would you like to share your story?
SD: I remember the day of the 27 of July -
SD: 23, excuse me. It was my first summer at Marygrove in the graduate program. And they had a new program going where they took a two-hour course in two weeks, another one next two weeks, and the third session was about to begin on Monday. And I can remember Sunday afternoon there was a lot going on. Was hearing guns, and as it got dark and getting ready for bed, a lot of gunshots, and I know I was very frightened.
The next morning we were to begin a class, a history class, and at that time no student could come in from outside of Detroit. In fact, I think they probably had everybody off the streets. But we went to class that morning, and I wasn't much interested in my history class. I was very aware of the danger around us. Marygrove is at Six Mile and Wyoming not very far from Livernois.
And at that time, I had a cousin who was working and taking a class also, at U of D [University of Detroit]. And she tells the story of the snipers being up in the towers where she was in the college buildings. She also was in the dorms there. But you know, it was a very frightening summer. Something that I still remember today, of the anxiety and the fear that I had. I didn't know if I was going to be alive. Just very, very frightened.
And today, 50 years later, I travel to my brother's home on the east side, going up East Jefferson, and just to look at the streets, and the destruction that has taken place in the 50 years.
WW: Did '67 change the way you looked at the city?
SD: It did. I did not stay in the city. After that I went to Ann Arbor for a year, and then I was in Alabama for many, many years, teaching. But I was afraid to come back in the city. And even when I go to see my brother today, and I drive down Jefferson, I'm very cautious and I try to stay in the middle of the street, rather than go too far to the - you know, to the side of the street, to the right side. Just for fear.
WW: So did you stay, just hunkered down, that entire week?
SD: I did. Didn't leave the grounds. And I know there was a lot going on outside, of course. We could watch TV, but - didn't actually see anything right on the grounds. I didn't.
WW: Thank you so much for your stories.
SD: You're welcome.