By DAN LOYD, Staff Writer

University of Michigan-Dearborn students had the opportunity to explore the history of discrimination in Detroit housing with a one day traveling exhibit that appeared in Kochoff Hall last week. The exhibit, sponsored by the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, is titled We Don’t Want Them: Race and housing in metropolitan Detroit, 1900-1968.

The display consisted of free standing banners, video, music, and an interactive computer station that walked university students through the early justification for racial segregation that was written into federal law – all the way through the 1968 riots that devastated African-American communities in Detroit.

Rozenia Johnson, exhibit curator, explained in a statement that the goal of the project is to give historical context to the problems that face Detroiters today.

“A community has never been simply an area in which we live. Whether we realize it or not, it has a history, and how we came to be a part of our community tells the often unknown story of why it exists at all. Investigating this information helps us to better understand our current circumstances, and gives us clarity into how we got there,” she said.

Hawraa Lshimry, a freshman originally from Iraq, said her American history professor offered extra credit for visiting the exhibit.

“This is my first history class [at U of M] learning about blacks and what they suffered then,” she said.

The exhibit draws attention to the early policies of the Federal Housing Administration that effectively denied many minorities the ability to receive home loans.

Jassmine Parks, a junior from Detroit, said learning about the federal policy was surprising.

“I knew that it was racially segregated, but I didn’t know it was written into the law,” said Parks.

Although much of the exhibit focuses on notable African-Americans of the time, such as Ossian Sweet who famously defended his home against an angry mob in a white neighborhood, the content also brought to light the struggles of the many diverse minority groups present in the city.

One such struggle highlighted in the exhibit is the case of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American who was brutally assaulted and murdered in an apparent hate crime during the 1980s.

Parks added that the exhibit provides an important historical perspective that is sometimes overlooked in modern society.

“I think it’s important not to forget. Not to forget the injustice, not to forget the inequalities and to compare certain things to what’s going on in the present to the past…also to see it could be worse, but also it could be better,” said Parks.