Historian to conduct Black history tour of Detroit
By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen
Landmarks of Detroit’s past greatness are hidden throughout the city. Some were paved over during eras of redevelopment; others were demolished after years of abandonment, and still more have been transformed to serve a new generation.
Stewart McMillin, a man with over three decades of teaching experience, aims to educate the public on the richness of Detroit’s Black history.
On July 10, McMillin will be conducting a day-long tour of Detroit’s most famous, and often most hidden, locations where Black history was made. Tickets for the charter bus tour, which leaves at 9:30 a.m. and returns at 5:30 p.m., are $40 and include a lunch stop at Steve’s Soul Food.
“In history, you don’t know where you’re going, unless you know where you’re from,” says McMillin, a former social studies teacher at East Detroit High School. “That’s one reason why I do these tours, to let people know, for Black folks for their self-esteem, to know some of these fantastic things that they did.”
McMillin, self-described as a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) who lived in Grosse Pointe from 1954-1996, grew up acutely conscious of the unfair racial discrimination that persisted throughout the city during his life. He has been living in Indian Village ever since. His curriculum has long reflected the need for tolerance in a world with heated racial divisions.
“I saw the difference, even then, between the city and suburbs, Black and white, was not good,” he says. “I saw the division as not being a healthy thing.”
McMillin has crafted his tour to be a dynamic look at the impact of Black Americans in the modern history of the city, from the Underground Railroad to Black Bottom to the Civil Rights Movement to today.
Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery, Greystone Ballroom, Kronk Gym and The Carleton Hotel are some of the locations the tour will visit, and historical figures like George DeBaptiste, Frederick Douglass and Joe Louis will be discussed. October 23-27 is the next tour of the Underground Railroad with a trip that will end at Niagara Falls and in Toronto.
For more information, call Stewart McMillin at 313.922.1990, or visit www.mcmillintours.com.