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Storytelling through art that combines music, historical imagery, rare photographs and original footage is the essence of “Summer ’67.” Three TV documentaries will feature survivors of Detroiters lost in the so-called “’67 riot,” along with former and current law enforcement, government officials, and scholars. Directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Bruce Harper, the series gets to the heart of one of the most troubling events in Michigan’s history. “Finding the Lost" examines forty-three lives cut short that tragic week in July, while "The Day Before" and "Seeds of '67" explore Detroit in the hours that led to the explosion and in five decades that followed. The project uses an artistic lens to inspire reflection and understanding in current and future Detroit generations.

“Summer ’67” will complement a major exhibition held by the Detroit Historical Museum during a fiftieth anniversary year recognized by thousands of long-time Detroiters and suburban residents impacted by the tragedy. An inspirational photo “coffee table” book will be developed from high-quality images captured by Detroit photojournalist Paul Engstrom throughout production of the series. Images of film subjects, youth, and other participants from the community and partnering institutions will be published in a vivid re-telling of the experience, edited by author and journalist Eddie B. Allen Jr.

“Summer ’67” community and corporate partners, including PBS TV, Detroit Historical Museum, University of Michigan, have pledged support in creating a robust exchange of dialogue. Benefiting from facilitation by the University of Michigan, which has agreed to host a documentary screening and campus discussion, the partnerships are designed to promote participation in engagement events at churches, community centers, and schools throughout Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne Counties, to be documented in photographs. By featuring the perspectives of metro Detroit residents in the documentary series, along with narration by accomplished local journalists, the project will connect with TV viewing audiences at a time of heightened public interest surrounding anniversary events.

Student workshops, coordinated by the project’s academic and social advocacy partners, will be presented in cooperation with participating Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland County schools to stimulate cultural awareness among youth who lack interaction with peers of different economic and racial backgrounds. Candid interactions will be among highlights of the "coffee table" book and an accompanying photo exhibition.

“Summer ’67” seeks to capture lasting images that dispel myths and stereotypes about the rebellion’s victims and survivors, and to challenge lasting legacies. The year 2017 presents a singular opportunity for combined efforts to enlighten audiences about one of Michigan’s most troubling episodes, and inspire Detroiters toward a future of inclusion and prosperity.

Summer ’67 is an inspiring look at legacies that survived a real-life American nightmare.
Eddie B. Allen, Jr.
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