Black History Month: Remembering Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood

Today, the area once known as Black Bottom is unrecognizable from the social, economic and cultural hub it was in the first half of the 1900s.

DETROIT – If you drive along I-375 or head to Comerica Park, you don’t think about what was in the area before.

A new exhibit is shedding light on what happened to hundreds of Detroiters who once lived in the neighborhood known as Black Bottom.

“We have not been taught the full breadth of our history,” said PG Watkins, the director of the Black Bottom Archive. “We’re told a very specific narrative crafted by very specific people and there’s not a lot of opportunities for our communities to shape our own narratives.”

The exhibit is a collection of photos depicting the neighborhood as it once was. From the 1940s to the 1960s, thousands of black families were forced to move from the area for a federal urban renewal project.

“It was a high-density black neighborhood not considered worthwhile for the city to invest in," Watkins said.

The neighborhood was demolished to make way for I-375. The exhibit highlights the once thriving community.

“It’s important because all of these stories matter,” Watkins said. “When we talk about Black History Month, we think about all of the contributions of black folks. These folks contributed a lot to the culture of black Detroit.”

The exhibit runs at the DSO until April.

More: Black History Month

About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.