Letter from Archbishop Vigneron Remembering the 1967 Civil Disturbance in the City of Detroit

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5: 9

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This week marks 50 years since an early-morning raid on a “blind pig” after-hours bar at 12th Street and Clairmount sparked one of the largest civil disturbances in U.S. history, resulting in 43 deaths, nearly 1,200 injuries and millions of dollars in property damage. Although seeds of unrest were sown long before 1967, and solutions have proven elusive even 50 years on, we have made much progress in building up our community to be respectful of the rights of all its members. We can put our faith in Christ and remember His message to love one another.

As we recall these tragic events, let us lift our city, our region and one another in prayer. It is only by the grace of the Prince of Peace that we will find peace. Let us also pray for those touched by the violence of 1967, especially those who lost their lives and loved ones. Let us ask for the intercession of our patroness, Saint Anne as we mark this anniversary, and pray that the grace of healing, reconciliation and brotherhood take deeper root in every heart across our archdiocese.

Finally, as a visible sign of solidarity and brotherhood, I wish to draw attention to an opportunity to volunteer alongside men, women and youth from all faiths for a six-day Life Remodeled blight removal and beautification project taking place in the neighborhoods hardest hit by the 1967 civil disturbance. Visit www.aod.org/liferemodeled for more information or to register. As Detroit’s pioneer priest Fr. Gabriel Richard said following the great fire of 1805 that devastated the city: “We hope for better things; it will rise from the ashes.” As we recollect 1967, as we work toward healing, and as we move forward together in faith to unleash the Gospel in southeast Michigan, there can be no bystanders. As described in my pastoral letter, all of us in the archdiocese are to commit ourselves to building inter-cultural competency and breaking down barriers that still divide us. In reading the signs of the times in southeast Michigan, it is clear that we are a community that is ready for renewal. Let us make our remembering of 1967 a guidepost on that path to spiritual renewal.

As disciples of Christ, let us work together side-by-side to build a better City and region so that when people see our work, they will know us as His followers.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Archbishop Allen Vigneron
Archdiocese of Detroit

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