YA Novel The Colour of Pride & 50th Anniversary of 1967 Detroit Race Riot

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It’s been 50 years since I stood atop the six-story Wyeth Brothers Drug company roof, on the Windsor Ontario side of the Detroit River, and watched in alarm as the fires of racial hatred consumed the Motor City I knew and loved for five long days. It was the most disturbing experience of my life at that time. It was as if the Vietnam War, the first “television war” brought into our living rooms each evening, had come home to the United States, Canada and the watching world.

I was just twenty-one and working the nightshift as a summer janitor at Wyeth Brothers while attending the University of Windsor. Can you imagine the technicolour horror of the spreading flames; the too-young national guardsmen, uncertain and white with dread; the armoured personnel carriers invading neighbourhood streets; the serial pounding echoes of .50 calibre machine guns that could take down a brick building; the smells, sights and sounds from Huey helicopter gunships stirring the smoke into towering black whirlwinds as they hunted rooftop snipers targeting white police, firefighters and emergency workers?

Well, now you can, sort’ve.

The Detroit Free Press has funded and promoted a 50-year documentary entitled, “12th and Clairmont”. This was the neighbourhood where the riot broke out when white Detroit police raided an an illegal ‘blind pig’, where friends and family were drinking and celebrating the safe return of two Black veterans from the Vietnam War. Almost two hundred Blacks were arrested. A beer bottle was thrown through the back window of a police cruiser and racial chaos erupted into five long days and nights of arson, looting, shooting and violence.

I had been immersed in Motown culture for all of my early life: concerts by Diana Ross and The Supremes; blues clubs featuring B. B. King; hockey games starring Red Wings legend, Gordie Howe; major league baseball at Tiger Stadium with my idol, Al Kaline.

The riot changed Detroit forever, with the burned-out neighbourhoods, the so-called “white flight” to the suburbs, the widespread unemployment, the deterioration of the education and social systems and, most telling, the drop in population from 1.4 million in the mid-sixties to 700,000 today.

I didn’t deal with it well. Attending the most integrated Windsor high school of the time, and at last, writing and publishing my coming-of-age novel, The Colour of Pride, helped me immensely. How sadly ironic that the racism and rise again of white supremacy, re-invigorated under the incompetence and divisiveness of the Trump administration, is dangerously reminiscent of the those times and values.

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David Floody - Implosion Press
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David Floody is a Canadian, Young Adult novelist living and writing in Tofino, British Columbia on the far west coast of Vancouver Island, in breathtaking Clayoquot Sound. His Young Adult novel, THE COLOUR OF PRIDE, is set in 1968, a year after the David witnessed the fires of hatred consume Detroit in a five-day race riot. White fourteen-year-old ballplayer, Frank Phelan, defends and befriends Black teenaged ballplayer, Ellie Fitzgerald, from a brutal racist bully during a crucial game of the 1968 World Series. Frank suffers the worst beating of his life. But his baseball hero, Detroit Tigers player Al Kaline, comes to his and Ellie's rescue. The worst day of his life, becomes the best day of his life, and Kaline gives Frank his own baseball cap with the word "Pride" written on the bill, along with all the Tigers team signatures. David's latest Young Adult novel, INSECT YOUTH, is a coming-of-age sequel to The Colour of Pride, set two years later. Frank Phelan, now sixteen, discovers first love with the mysteriously beautiful Starr Summers. But when he and Starr aree exploring a deep railway, they have a violent encounter with his enemy, Dixie, and Frank is knocked unconscious. Frank later suspects Starr has been sexually assaulted when she becomes silent and withdrawn, but she will not talk about it. When the law fails him and Starr runs away. Frank is the only one who can deliver justice to the older punk. In that same valley, in the middle of a BB gun war, Frank puts his finger on the trigger of his powerful Perazzi pellet gun with its telescopic sight. Frank has Dixie's face in his crosshairs. If Frank pulls the trigger, he steps across a thousand lines and can never again step back. He whispers Starr's name. "In moment he fires, Frank sees himself reflected in the lens of Dixie's eye."

94 Responses

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    • David Floody - Implosion Press
      David Floody

      Ths. Chana. Usually related to current novel-in-progress or shorter pieces. Try to avoid posting on political issues and such, though do feel strongly re current crises facing us and our future generations. Best, D.

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    I do not know if it’s just me or if everyone else experiencing issues with your website.
    It looks like some of the written text within your content are running off
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    and let me know if this is happening to them too?
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    • David Floody - Implosion Press
      David Floody

      Hi again, Tangela. Just had a half-dozen more recent contacts regarding site and they were positive re posts, design and content. Let me know if you are still having trouble navigating it. I’ve just updated themes and plugins. Best, David.

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    David Floody

    Hi Justin: Felicity used Twenty Twenty 1.3 and Virtue 3.4.1 and it’s not stealing, it’s just a theme you’re welcome to use, esp. if site is slow. D.

    • David Floody - Implosion Press
      David Floody

      You’re very welcome. Sad to see a repeat of very similar protests to the Detroit riot and looting in the States right now, over the murder of an innocent black man, George Floyd. If these world-wide protests don’t cause a significant change, then believe nothing will. See that even some Republicans have now had enough of Trump’s criminal actions as president. But will see. Be well, David.

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    • David Floody - Implosion Press
      David Floody

      Ths. Leanna. The issue was extremely affecting at the time, and still find contemporary events in States and around the world resonate with me in the same way. Be well, David.

  5. Samuel

    What a information of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable knowledge regarding unpredicted feelings.

    • David Floody - Implosion Press
      David Floody

      Thanks, Samuel. In these times of Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump’s lying and interference with U.S. Postal Service to disrupt November’s crucial election, it’s important to remember this crucial history. As a Canadian, I strongly support Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as true champions of Democracy for all Americans, no matter race, religion or politics. Got my fingers and toes crossed. Be well and stay safe, David.

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    • David Floody - Implosion Press
      David Floody

      Thanks, Bailey. The race riot was one of the most disturbing experiences of my early life. Writing the novel helped me deal with it. Best, David.

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      David Floody

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