Southfield (CW50) – Have you ever heard of the neighborhood Black Bottom? It doesn’t exist today, but you might be surprised at how significant of an impact Black Bottom had on Detroit’s Black community, and still does to this day.

Black Bottom was a predominantly black neighborhood where a rich Black business, cultural, and musical hub existed. The neighborhood’s residents were mainly manufacturers, automotive factory workers, and business owners. The community creating a hub of filled with Black-owned businesses, schools, churches, and community centers was important, especially during the 40s to the early 60s when Black Bottom was still standing.

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Black Bottom played a significant role in the displacement process that the Black community went through in the 50s. Prior to this time, Detroit’s government was trying to get funding to tear down “old structures.” The demolition of Black Bottom was made more extreme in 1956 when President Eisenhower passed the National Highway Act, which funded the construction of I-375. The construction of the highway would leave Black Bottom destroyed and relatively lost in history. After the destruction of their community, wealthier black residents paid more to move to “white areas” of the city, while others were left displaced into neighborhoods on the west side of the city.

In order to restore the history of Black Bottom, members of Detroit’s community created the Black Bottom Archives: a media-platform dedicated to centering and amplifying the voices, experiences, and perspectives of Black Bottom’s residents. The digital archives are filled with photos, art, stories, and interviews from Black Bottom. One of the main focuses of the archive is to help Detroiters see a connection between what Black residents went through at the time and how it relates to what is happening in Detroit today.

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Community Connect Host Lisa Germani, with PG Watkins, Director of Black Bottom Archives

PG Watkins, Director of Black Bottom Archives, joins Lisa Germani on Community Connect to discuss the importance of Black Bottom while it existed and how it has impacted Detroit’s Black community throughout history.

View the digital archives at BlackBottomArchives.com

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