Alys Currier, February 7th, 2017
WW: Hello. Today is February 7, 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. I'm sitting down with -
AC: Sister Alys Currier.
WW: Thank you so much for sitting down with me. Would you like to share your story?
AC: I was not in Detroit at the time of the riots, but was living in Marian in - it's in Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham - and commuting in to the University of Detroit in order to - where I was in class when we got word of the riots. And so they ask us if we would bring down food for the people that were working to - in the churches downtown, and helping out, feeding whomever needed to be fed, and so on.
So we went out in the kitchen and we made an assembly line, and we made - I don't know how many sandwiches, but we made a lot of them. And then Sister Rose Ange and myself was asked to take them downtown. So we got in the car and we took other things down that they needed, like clothes and things that people might need, and we drove downtown, and as we pulled into the alley in back of the Baptist church where we were going to deliver all of our goods, all of a sudden I looked up and the car was surrounded by all soldiers and their guns were pointed at us.
And we just looked at them with surprise, and they came running out of the Baptist church. Said, "Oh no, no no no no, they're just delivering things." The soldiers thought we were looting. And so the helpers unloaded our car and the soldiers stepped back but they didn't go right away. They just stepped back and then we left. Went back to Marian. And that's about the substance of the story.
WW: Do you remember what it felt like for you driving into the city?
AC: No different, I mean - I didn't think a lot about it because I was not in - you know, we just heard about it in Marion, so I didn't think a lot about it.
WW: Did you see any smoke or anything on your way into the city?
AC: No, I don't remember - I have to go back - did I see? - I probably saw the soldiers and things as we were driving down the streets, but that's -
WW: Do you remember what Baptist church it was?
AC: No, I have no idea. We went into an alley in the back of the church and we didn't even get out of the car. I mean, they took everything into the church. We didn't even go in to the building.
WW: Did that experience - being surrounded by soldiers and such - did it change the way you looked at the city?
AC: No. I didn't - No, it really didn't change the way I thought about the city. I was missioned in the city later - a couple of years later - and I saw the changes, and that was different. I saw the changes, because I lived right down where much of that happened, and I think I experienced it more a couple or three years - I don't know how many years later - when I actually taught in the city. But not during the riots itself, what it did to the streets and the - it was in Twelfth Street. I think Twelfth Street was kind of hit hard, well, that's where I lived. Right down near Twelfth Street for a couple of years. And that's where I saw. But that wasn't during the riots itself. It was after the riots, so that's - you know.
WW: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
WW: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
AC: No. Except that Rose Ange said to me, "I'm glad I brought you, you're calm." [laughter] You know, I didn't react. Which is a good thing.
WW: Do you remember what kind of sandwiches they were? [laughter]
AC: No, I really don't! [laughter] I just know we made a lot of them, and we didn't go to school that day. But we - I think we went to school the next day. I went back to U of D the next day. I'm not sure, but I don't remember - the thing I remember mostly, is the driving in that alley, stopping, then all a sudden look up and see all these soldiers with your guns pointed at you. That's - it kind of, you know, I kind of think I reflected on it a little bit after I left and thought, you know, that was - not for myself, but for the people in the city. Because it didn't really bother me that much. I didn't think about - myself, that much about it. But I did think about the city after that. But before that, it was - it was kind of removed, because I wasn't living there.
WW: Thank you so much for sitting down with me today. I greatly appreciate it.
AC: Mm hm.
,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed August 12, 2020, https://detroit1967.detroithistorical.org/items/show/520.