by: Kristen Chinery, Reference Archivist
In 1941 the federal government and the Detroit Housing Commission approved construction of the 200-unit Sojourner Truth Housing Project to house Black defense workers during World War II. After white residents living near the project’s location at Nevada and Fenelon Streets protested in order to change the occupancy to white only, federal authorities capitulated and planned to build housing for Black workers elsewhere. Failure to secure an alternative site prompted these Black workers to fight for the right to move into Sojourner Truth, but not without incident. Continued demonstrations, violent clashes, and hundreds of arrests prompted Mayor Edward Jeffries to mobilize the Michigan National Guard to move the first Black families into the Sojourner Truth Housing Project.
Map caption: A map shows the racial makeup of neighborhoods adjacent to the Sojourner Truth Housing Project. No date. Courtesy of Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University.