1932 : Diego Rivera Begins Painting Frescoes at Detroit Institute of Arts
Jul 25 all-day

Diego Rivera

On July 25, 1932, artist Diego Rivera began the actual painting of his frescoes in the Garden Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Rivera had begun his research and preparation in April. The 27-panel work was entitled “Detroit Industry” was completed on March 13, 1933 and first seen by the public a couple weeks later.

Source : Detroit Historical Society Facebook page

1966 : Michigan Appoints Its First State Ombudsman
Jul 25 all-day

On July 25, 1966, Secretary of State James Hare appointed 26-year-old Gordon Alexander as Michigan’s first and the nation’s second state ombudsman who took on the task of handling complaints about their government.

Source: Mich-again’s Day

1974 : Miliken v. Bradley Decision by Supreme Court Enables White Flight to Suburbs
Jul 25 all-day

On July 25, 1974—only 38 years ago—the Supreme Court in Milliken v. Bradley restricted its earlier decision about school busing, now holding that outlying districts were exempt from aiding the desegregation of inner-city school systems.

Three years earlier, the Supreme Court in Swann v. Mecklenburg Board of Education had upheld busing programs designed to speed racial integration. By that time, it had been 17 years since the milestone Brown v. Board of Education had outlawed racial segregation in public education; the case set an important precedent for schools across the country as each went through its own desegregation process.

However, in 1974, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments surrounding the desegregation of the public schools in Detroit, Michigan. Its decision would have profound effects.

The NAACP sued Michigan Governor William Milliken, charging that the public school system was racially segregated as a result of a policy he had put into effect. The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a district court decision that the system was indeed segregated, and ordered the state to adopt a desegregation plan which encompassed 54 outlying school districts.

The Supreme Court, however, decided 5-to-4 in favor of Milliken, holding the lower court’s order as impermissible and stating that “desegregation, in the sense of dismantling a dual school system, does not require any particular racial balance.”

Stating that there was no evidence that the outlying districts had deliberately engaged in segregation, the Court emphasized the importance of local control over the operation of schools. The decision read, in part:

The inter-district remedy could extensively disrupt and alter the structure of public education in Michigan, since that remedy would require, in effect, consolidation of 54 independent school districts historically administered as separate governmental units into a vast new super school district, and, since—entirely apart from the logistical problems attending large-scale transportation of students—the consolidation would generate other problems in the administration, financing, and operation of this new school system.

It was a controversial and complex decision. The five justices in the majority placed high importance on maintaining local control over schools; however, as the four justices in the minority feared, exempting suburban districts from the desegregation process made possible the continued “white flight” from cities to the suburbs.

Busing remained controversial throughout the country—and in fact continues to be a topic of discussion today, as school systems debate the important balance between shortening students’ commutes and maintaining racial, ethnic, and economic diversity.

To listen to the oral argument and opinion announcement, check out this page from The Oyez Project.

To read the full text of the Supreme Court opinion, check out this page from the Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute.

To learn more, check out Joyce Baugh’s The Detroit School Busing Case: Milliken v. Bradley and the Controversy over Desegregation (University Press of Kansas, 2011).

To learn more about Governor Milliken, check out Dave Dempsey’s William G. Milliken: Michigan’s Passionate Moderate (University of Michigan Press, 2006).

To learn more about how student busing played out in another large city, check out Ronald Formisiano’s Boston Against Busing: Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s (UNC Press 2004).

For discussions about racial integration and educational policy, check out Integrating Schools in a Changing Society: New Politics and Legal Options for a Multiracial Generation (UNC Press 2011, edited by Erica Frankenberg and Elizabeth DeBray).

Source : Alison Shay, this Day in Civil Rights History, July 25, 2012.

2010 : Kalamazoo River Oil Spill Worst Michigan Environmental Disaster to Date
Jul 25 all-day

On Sunday, July 25th 2010 an estimated 1.1 million gallons of raw tar sands crude oil burst from a pipeline into a creek that feeds the Kalamazoo River.

The oil spread quickly in the flooded river, coating wildlife, saturating marshlands, backyards, businesses and farm land. The flow of the oil was contained before reaching Lake Michigan.

The raw tar sands oil disaster was caused by a break in a pipeline owned by Canadian tar sands giant, Enbridge, which knew of safety problems with the pipeline for years before the disaster.

For more information, see Enbridge Oil Spill in Michigan, National Wildlife Federation website.

2015 : Baphomet, the goat-headed wraith, unveiled in Detroit
Jul 25 all-day

a colossal bronze statue of Baphomet unveiled in Detroit

A little before midnight on Saturday, a crowd of around 700 gathered in an old industrial warehouse a few blocks from the Detroit River for what they’d been told was the “largest public satanic ceremony in history.” Most of them professed to be adherents of Satanism, that loosely organized squad of the occult that defines itself as a religious group. Others came simply because they were curious. After all, Satanists exist in the popular psyche as those who casually sacrifice goats and impregnate Mia Farrow with Lucifer’s child; if this ceremony was indeed unprecedentedly big, who knew what could be in store?

The reality of the event — and of the contemporary Satanic movement at large — was tamer, and, if the Facebook pictures speak the truth, harmlessly festive: a cross between an underground rave and a meticulously planned Halloween party. They were there to publicly unveil a colossal bronze statue of Baphomet, the goat-headed wraith who, after centuries of various appropriations, is now the totem of contemporary Satanism. The pentagram, that familiar logo of both orthodox Satanists and disaffected teens, originated as a rough outline of Baphomet’s head.

For the full article, see Nash Jenkins, “Hundreds Gather for Unveiling of Satanic Statue in Detroit”, Time, July 27, 2015.

1701 : Construction Begins on St. Anne’s Church in Detroit
Jul 26 all-day

On July 26, 1701, just two days after Cadillac’s arrival, construction began on St. Anne’s church in Detroit, and the first Mass was celebrated. Now located near the Ambassador Bridge, St. Anne’s is the longest continuously operating church in Michigan.

St. Anne’s Church wikipedia entry

1883 : Nation’s Largest Logjam Threatens Grand Rapids
Jul 26 all-day

During June and July of 1863, heavy rains caused the Grand River to rise nearly twenty inches. Lumbermen took advantage of the high water to bring their logs down river where they were held by booms located above the rapids. But the logs broke loose and 150 million board feet of timber went tumbling down the river toward Lake Michigan. This event created one of the biggest jams in US logging history. Logs piled up and created a jam thirty-feet deep and seven-miles long.

Flood Waters from West Bridge St.
Flood Waters from West Bridge St., July 26, 1883

For four days and nights, brave loggers worked tirelessly under treacherous conditions. One wrong step and the worst could be anticipated. The unstable mass of logs constantly creaked and heaved under the immense pressure, at times causing single logs to suddenly break loose and shoot straight up into the air.  John Walsh, a one-armed marine engineer, led an emergency crew driving piles in the main river to channel to block the logs from proceeding haphazardly down the river to sink in Lake Michigan and also creating a new thirty-five foot channel so the logs could progress orderly to lumber mills for processing. This allowed workers to untangle and guide the timber to its downriver destination, but not before two railroad bridges above Fulton Street and Wealthy Street were completely destroyed by the pressure of the jam.

Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee RR Bridge Looking West Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee RR Bridge Looking West, July 26, 1883.

His employers gave Captain Walsh a gold watch for his bravery and his ability to work fast and well enough to build the dam in time. By saving the timbers, he saved the company many thousands of dollars. John Walsh was a long-term employee of the White & Friant Lumber Company.

Sources :

Grand Rapids Historical Commission Podcast #5, Logjam.

Grand Rapids Historical Commission, Grand River: Friend and Foe, February 28, 2007.

Stewart Edwar White, “The Great Log Jam”, Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly, Vol LII, no. 3, July 1901.

Crisis on the Grand : the log jam of 1883 / by Ronald E. Kuiper. Spring Lake, Mich. : River Road Publications, Inc., 1983.

Colleen Burcar, It Happened in Michigan (Guilford, CT : Globe Pequot Press, c2010).



1905: Copper Country Shaken
Jul 26 all-day

On July 26, 1905 the Keewenaw Peninsula was shaken by an earthquake.  It was determined to be a VIII on the Mercalli Scale, which translates on the Richter Scale as being between 5.0-5.9.  Chimneys were toppled and plate glass windows were broken in Calumet, and the shocks from the earthquake were sensed as far north as Copper Harbor (50 kilometers) and as far east as Marquette (105 kilometers).  (Hobbs, 1911).  No wonder that the copper mines refused to descend into the mines for the night shift!

No automatic alt text available.

Source: D. Michael Bricker,  Seismic Disturbances in Michigan, Circular 14, 1977.

From 1902 to 1909, more than 20 earthquakes rattled the UP.  Discover more fascinating accounts and events in the book “Forgotten Tales of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula” by Lisa Thiel, available via interlibrary loan from the Library of Michigan.

No automatic alt text available.

1967 : Algiers Hotel Murders During Detroit Race Riot
Jul 26 all-day

The Algiers Motel as seen from Woodward Avenue with the three story annex in the background.

Three unarmed black teens were murdered/found dead on the floor inside a transient motel annex north of downtown Detroit on July 26, 1967, several days after racial rioting had overwhelmed the city.

The incident would later featured in a best selling book by John Hersey, “The Algiers Motel Incident,” published in 1968  and later dramatized in the  movie Detroit in 2017.

When the riot started a number of individuals, desperate to get off the street and thus out of harms way, took up residence in the annex of the Algiers. All total there were nine people, seven black males and two white females. As the riotous night of July 25 turned into the morning of the 26th, 17-year old Carl Cooper was out on the back porch with friends firing a starters pistol loaded with blanks into the air, a foolish thing to do at the height of a riot but boys will be boys and subsequently they thought nothing of it.

Unbeknown to the boys, their merrymaking had caught the attention of the National Guardsmen who had secured a large building 200 ft away. Upon hearing the shots, the Guardsmen believed they were the target of a sniper from the direction of Virginia Park. The Guardsmen commander, Warrant Officer Theodore Thomas, telephoned the Detroit police dispatcher who may have over emphasized the situation, “Army under heavy fire at Woodward and Euclid,” echoed through Detroit police cruisers. Thomas was amazed to see Detroit police show up immediately, with additional Guardsmen and state police in tow.

One of the suspects, Roderick Davis, was pulled off the line and brought into the room directly behind the line up. The door closed behind them. The officer instructed Davis to spread eagle on the floor and remain quiet and then shot into the floor. Back out in the hallway the remaining suspects believed a shooting had occurred. It was actually a death game, an attempt to extract a confession regarding who the sniper was by instilling additional fear. Unfortunately either no one still in the line-up had any knowledge of Carl Cooper firing off the starter pistol earlier or were too scared to mention it, thus no confessions were forthcoming and so the game continued.

Another suspect, Michael Clark, was brought into another room, spread eagle on the floor and another errant shot fired into the floor. Still no confessions. This time it would be Aubrey Pollard’s turn. Pollard was brought into the back room where the dead or dying Fred Temple still lay. The possibility exists that this officer may himself have been unaware that this was only a game to extract a confession. Pollard was shot shortly after he entered the room. According to the officer, the terrified Pollard reached for his shot gun twice believing he was going to be shot, presumably like the others, and only then did the officer fire.

It was now apparent that the death game that had started simply as a scare tactic to extract confessions had now gotten completely out of hand. The Guardsmen, following the lead of the state police who had left earlier after sensing the gravity of the situation, quickly left the building, telling the police that this was “strictly their business.” They were followed in short order by the remaining Detroit police who left to address reports of more shootings nearby, leaving the terrified civilians behind.

A week after the riot it was clear that Detroit police were complicit in the killings. Three officers and a private guard were arraigned on a variety of charges. Owing to the publicity generated by the best selling book by John Hersey, “The Algiers Motel Incident,” published in 1968, the defense asked for the trials to be moved out of Detroit. Their petitions were granted. Trials were held in Lansing, Ann Arbor and Mason. In the end all were acquitted and the rage in black Detroit ratcheted up even further.

The police, it appeared, had initially hoped the killings would be lost in the fog of war or be viewed as the work of a rogue and elusive sniper. But the witnesses and evidence they left behind indicated otherwise. All the autopsies indicated the youths were killed inside the house at close range by a shotgun using double “O” buckshot, the same kind used by the Detroit police department for riot control.

The riot’s four-day lifespan reaped a death count of 43 people, in addition to more than 1,100 injuries and 7,000 arrests.

Anarchy at the Algiers website.

Sharon D. Lewis, “Algiers Motel deaths stirred racial tension of ’67“, Detroit News, July 24, 2017.

Detroit Police killed their sons at the Algiers Motel. No one ever said sorry.”, Bridge, July 25, 2017.

Detroit (Movie) wikipedia entry.  Note:  Available in the MSU Main Library Digital and Multimedia Center.

2015 : Lansing’s John Smoltz Becomes Member of Baseball Hall of Fame
Jul 26 all-day

On July 26, 2015, John Smoltz of Lansing was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was voted in on the first ballot by the Baseball Writers Association of America on January 6, 2015.

Chris Solari, “John Smoltz: From Lansing to Cooperstown : Lessons from St. Gerard, Lansing Catholic, Waverly guided pitcher to baseball immortality”, Lansing State Journal, July 19, 2015.