Mary Jo David


Mary Jo David


Mary Jo David shares her memory of the start of the unrest as a 9 year old enjoying a summer day reading at the Edison Branch Library on Joy Road in July 1967.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






Written Story


Joy road, west of the Southfield Freeway


In 1967 I was nine years old. I was a voracious reader and spent many summer days at the Edison Branch Library on Joy Road, west of the Southfield Freeway. One day—and I’m not sure which day it was—I was at the library, and I remember the librarian quietly walking around and speaking to each of the patrons. She came over to where I was on the children’s side of the library. (I remember the librarians were very strict about making sure children weren’t looking at adult books back then!) The librarian quietly asked me how I had gotten to the library. I explained that I’d ridden my bike. She very calmly told me that I needed to leave the library because of “the riots” and ride my bike straight home, and that I wasn’t to stop anywhere—just go straight home. I did as I was told and rode home like lightning thinking “the riots” must be very nearby. In retrospect, I realize that the rioting was still a distance away, but that day I remember being very frightened even though I didn’t exactly know what “the riots” were yet.

Although I recall that being a very tense summer, life went on. I continued walking almost a mile to school at St. Suzanne, accompanied by a few other neighborhood kids. You didn’t get away with a lot back then because along the route to school were plenty of other families who were bound to know yours. Just try to do something nefarious, like pick a fight or light up a clandestine cigarette, and word would travel back to your parents in no time!

My family moved from Detroit about ten years after the ’67 Riot in a wave of “white flight,” but my memories of growing up in Detroit are, for the most part, all fond ones.

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Submitter's Name

Mary Jo David

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Search Terms

Edison Branch Library, Joy Road, white flight




“Mary Jo David,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed September 24, 2023,

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