Sweet Trials (1925 & 1926)

If I thought any of you had any opinion about the guilt of my clients, I wouldn't worry, because that might be changed. What I'm worried about is prejudice. They are harder to change. They come with your mother's milk and stick like the color of the skin. I know that if these defendants had been a white group defending themselves from a colored mob, they never would have been arrested or tried. My clients are charged with murder, but they are really charged with being black. --Clarence Darrow, 11/24/25.

The automobile and manufacturing boom that began in Detroit about 1915 made the city a magnet for African-Americans fleeing the economic stagnation of the South. In the decade from 1915 to 1925, Detroit's black population grew more than tenfold, from 7,000 to 82,000. A severe housing shortage developed, as the city's compact black district could not accommodate all the new arrivals.

African-Americans brave enough to purchase or rent homes in previously all-white neighborhoods faced intimidation and violence. The spring and summer of 1925 saw several ugly housing-related incidents. In April, 5,000 people crowded in front of a home on Northfield Avenue, throwing rocks and threatening to burn the house down. "The house is being rented by blacks," someone in the crowd explained to police arriving at the scene. Two months later, Dr. Alexander Turner, a black physician, purchased an expensive brick home on Spokane Avenue. Minutes after the Turner's moving van arrived at his new home, an angry crowd gathered. Windows shattered as brick, potatoes and other missiles were hurled at the home. Within hours, two white men--from an organization called the Tireman Avenue Improvement Association--entered Turner's home and asked, "Will you sell the property back to us?" Fearing for his life,..."Continued