1925 : Dr. Ossian Sweet Defends Family, Leading to Changes in Housing Laws

September 9, 2018 all-day

Dr. Ossian Sweet photo courtesy of Walter Reuther Library, Wayne State University, and Seeking Michigan

When a white mob threatened Dr. Ossian Sweet’s family, who had just moved into an all-white Detroit neighborhood, a shot was fired from the house that killed an onlooker. Famed lawyer Clarence Darrow successfully defended the Sweets, arguing they had the right to defend themselves when their lives were threatened.

Background : Dr. Ossian Sweet and his wife bought a house in a white Detroit neighborhood in 1925 — breaking the residential color line — only to end up being accused of murder. The ACLU stepped in and hired Clarence Darrow to defend the black couple. Source: Joseph Turrini, Michigan History Magazine, July/August 1999.

Source : Michigan Historical Calendar, courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.

For more information, see Arc of justice : a saga of race, civil rights, and murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle.

Great Michigan Read: The Sweet Trials and Detroit in the 1920s via YouTube.

The Sweet Trial courtesy of Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.

One man’s castle : Clarence Darrow in defense of the American dream by Phyllis Vine.

A man’s home, a man’s castle [by] Kenneth G. Weinberg. Introd. by Haywood Burns.

The Sweet Trials, 1925-1926

Mark Harvey, “The Ossian Sweet Story”, Seeking Michigan, February 22, 2011.

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