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Dominique Morisseau’s play Detroit ’67 takes place during an intense time in our national and even world history. There was the Vietnam War, nuclear threats, the assassination of President Kennedy, the fight for the Voting Rights Act, and the onward push of the civil rights movement with young leaders at the helm.
Juxtaposed to these signs of the times were the chart-topping Motown hits; songs that fell upon the ears and hearts of youth and gave voice to their dreams and passions. What was it like to be young in the 60’s?
“Empowered, Emboldened, and Revolutionary” are words one Ensemble Theatre patron uses to describe his experience as a youth in Detroit during the riots.
While the play takes place specifically during the Detroit 1967 riots, it focuses on Lank and Michelle “Chelle,” a brother and sister trying to run a business together amidst the heated eruption of violence in their city; young entrepreneurs running an after-hours club in the basement of their deceased parent’s home. Fears for their future are being spurred by all the turmoil, and intersecting with their desire to be young and carefree.
Parallels between the 1960s and present time can be seen with the mounting tension and frustration between civilians and authority figures; and youth led activism such as the Black Lives Matter movement. A new generation emerges and asserts themselves against inequalities and begins their endeavors to affect change.
Today’s technology allows youth to mobilize quickly with the use of social media. They can develop and run a campaign or movement from computers and mobile devices as seen in recent political and fundraising campaigns, and movements for social change on a global scale.
“Most of the movements of our day were led by youth,” says the Detroit native. “In many instances the parents were supporting them because in their day they knew they likely wouldn’t have had the numbers to make the impact we were making.”
The lives of youth in any generation appear to be ever layered with the complexity of seeking justice and social changes towards issues of the day, with the simplicities of good music, romance, and deciding what dreams to follow first.
We’re about to dim the lights and get ready for this psychedelic basement party in Detroit ’67. To Get Down on a Righteous Pair of Tickets Click Here!