There is a lot of discussion (comparatively) around the racial tension and events in the 1960s in Detroit. After all, the 50th anniversary of the 1967 riots is almost upon us. But the city has a long history around these issues that stretches far before then.

With that in mind, a program series called The 1940s: Through the War and Beyond, will be running March through the first week of May at the Lorenzo Cultural Center explore changing race relations during the 1940s.

Here are the programs and their dates:

  • The Horror that No One Wanted to Remember: Detroit’s Race Riot of 1943March 5, 1 p.m.: Jack Lessenberry, commentator on WUOM–FM, columnist for the Metro Times and head of the journalism faculty at Wayne State University, takes a look back at Detroit’s vicious 1943 race riot, which was eventually stopped only through the intervention of the U. S. Army.
  • Dr. Ralph J. Bunche: Early Civil Rights and Peace PioneerMarch 9, 11 a.m.:  Barbara Jones of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Wayne State University profiles the life of Detroit native Ralph Bunche, the first African-American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Bunche was a scientist, academic and diplomat who spent his life aiding oppressed people in the United States and abroad.
  • Jackie Robinson: Making it Around the BasesApril 2, 1 p.m.: Michael V. Placco, professor of history at Macomb Community College, talks about the life and times of Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson, who broke major-league baseball’s “color barrier” when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and is remembered as an American sports hero and civil rights pioneer.
  • The Detroit Tigers during World War II and Subsequent Integration of BaseballApril 27, 11 a.m.:  After the U.S. entered World War II, many of baseball’s best players left to join the armed forces and teams adapted. Baseball historian William M. Anderson discusses this fascinating period in the sport’s history, as well as the later integration of the major leagues, which began when Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
  • Making Jobs Just: The FEPC Reshaping the American Workplace in World War IIApril 29, 11 a.m.:  Elizabeth Faue, chair of the history department at Wayne State University, explores the origins, establishment and impact of the Fair Employment Practice Committee. The committee, created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was charged to investigate complaints and take action against employment discrimination in the defense industry.

The 1940s opens March 2 and continues through May 7, offering nearly 40 presentations, performances and films, as well as exhibits, exploring this decade of radical transformation.  The exhibits in the cultural center’s 8,500-square-foot Discovery Hall are also free to view and don’t require pre-registration to visit.

Exhibits include 1943 Detroit Race Riot, from the Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society, which uses artifacts, photos and text to examine some of the underlying causes of the rioting that broke out in Detroit during the summer of 1943.

The Lorenzo Cultural Center is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m.WednesdayFriday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Thursdays. School and group tours are available.  The center is located on Macomb Community College’s Center Campus, 44575 Garfield Road (at Hall Road), in Clinton Township.

For more about The 1940s, visit

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