Philip Elkus


Philip Elkus


Philip Elkus recalls fear for his livelihood as a store owner in July, 1967.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






Written Story


Twelfth Street (Rosa Parks), Detroit, Michigan


On Sunday, July 23, 9167, we were up north, visiting our sons at Camp Maplehurst, located near Traverse City. I became aware of some disturbance in Detroit around noon and, remembering the Race Riots of 1943, decided to return as quickly as possible. We had three Todd’s Menswear stores in Detroit: Downtown, Livernois & Seven Mile Road and Gratiot & Seven Mile Road, and I was deeply concerned.

As we drove back, listening to the radio, it became very apparent that this was a Race Riot centering on 12th Street. Twelfth Street was a major business street, at one time the heart of the Jewish neighborhood, but now basically a Black neighborhood with many small retail stores, pawn shops, bars and restaurants lining the street from Grand Boulevard to just north of Clairmount.

We kept our Detroit stores closed for about a week. The riot lasted about 5 days. It overwhelmed the Detroit Police Force and later the National Guard was called in, and finally, the US Army. Fortunately, none of our stores were affected, but my friends who owned stores on 12th Street were wiped out. The entire street was a wreck of burned out, looted buildings. It was so completely destroyed that they later renamed the street Rosa Parks Blvd.

We suffered no real losses, other than the business we might have had. However, 4 or 5 of our people, who were members of the National Guard, were called into service and they spent the better part of 2-3 weeks in service as the city calmed down. On the other hand, the city was morally at a standstill. People were nervous and on edge for weeks and months later. There was a huge movement of whites out of Detroit into the suburbs. Looking back today, the Race Riots of 1967 really sparked the exodus of Whites from the City, which is only starting to recover now.

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Submitter's Name

Philip Elkus



Search Terms

Twelfth Street, Michigan National Guard, looting




“Philip Elkus,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed April 13, 2021,

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