Last week there were a few thousand activists in town for a big conference on social justice and there were a few dozen protest marches crisscrossing the city. I don't really get into protests (that is, unless the issue is really close to my heart, like protecting dwarfs from angry mobs), but I'll admit it was pretty cool to see lots of young people in the usually-empty streets of Detroit. I am sure some of them caught on to the cool things happening here and hopefully some of them will come live here after their stint at Oberlin or Reed or wherever. This city, of course, has a long history of picketing and protests as the historical hotbed of worker's rights and unionism. Kids like those in the pictures above picketed right alongside their parents during strikes.

I'm not sure if this history influenced the kids in the following photos (or if kids did this sort of thing everywhere), but I love these photos of kids picketing various transgressions in their Detroit neighborhoods. The children in this photo from the 1930s are picketing the house of "Miss Uiyys" (sp?) who keeps baseballs that end up in her yard and refuses to give them back:

A few years later, a Detroit News photographer captured a similar scene; it's unclear who's been unfair to them, but judging by the mitt on the second-to-last kid in line it was likely a similar act of cruelty. I love the bemused parents watching from the porch:

These grubby little hippies are protesting high prices and encouraging some kind of boycott:

Of course, kids protesting aren't always this adorable. In addition to being a hotbed of unionism and worker protest, the dark side has been the extreme racial hostility that helped create the city we see today. That ugly side showed its face during protests over busing to desegregate Detroit's schools:

Of course, it also gave a chance for people to show a welcoming spirit and a hope for racial harmony that never panned out here. It was much easier for most people just to move to the suburbs.

All the above images were found in the Virtual Motor City Archive hosted by Wayne State University.

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