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He eventually became involved in organizing black political power by training volunteers for local campaigns.His second-floor suite of rooms on 12th Street was officially known as the United Community League for Civic Action.The influx would boost Detroit’s black population seven-fold within a decade as the auto industry transformed the city into an industrial metropolis starving for workers.When Bill Scott, his sister Wilma and their siblings – Tyrone, Reginald and Charlotte — were young, their father made a good living at Dodge Main and other factories.Nor would it end with his subsequent downward spiral, marked by drug addiction, mental illness and homelessness. And that son would have his own dramatic journey — from a privileged upbringing that led him to the Ivy League, to his own racial awakening, when he realized that no matter how carefully his life was constructed, his skin color would always set him apart from the white world he had so confidently navigated.The saga of Bill Scott must be told without Scott himself.A police raid on this illegal bar and gambling joint sparked the 1967 Detroit uprisings.“Hell, no! Scott walked into an alley and grabbed a bottle, seeking “the pleasure of hitting one in the head, maybe killing him,” he remembers thinking.Making his way into the middle of the crowd for cover, he threw the bottle at a sergeant standing in front of the door. A phalanx of police moved toward the crowd, then backed off.
William Scott lost his factory job, and subsequently the family lost its house.►Related: Witnesses to history tell stories of Detroit riot►Review: 'Detroit '67' is must-see local theater Unable to find work, William Scott II turned to “the numbers,” the illegal, lottery-like gambling game ubiquitous in black neighborhoods, even as his political activism grew.Most important, we were right in what we did to the law.”The rebellion was underway. But Scott, a bright but troubled product of the 12th Street neighborhood, left a multi-layered legacy more enduring than broken glass.Bill Scott’s thrown bottle was a catalyst for one the most destructive civil disorders in U. history — five days of looting, arson and violence in Detroit that killed 43 people and resulted in thousands of injuries and arrests in a summer jolted by violence across dozens of U. It’s a legacy that still resonates today, as the 50th anniversary of 1967 draws near and Detroit reevaluates whether the despair and tensions of that summer continue.“I think later he probably would not have been able to produce the book or anything like that that required persistent attention.”The origins of the Scott family’s story is a familiar one in Detroit.William Walter Scott II, the owner of the blind pig and Bill Scott’s father, was born in Georgia and came to Detroit as child, just as the “Great Migration” of African Americans from the South to a fresh start in northern cities began before World War I.
His father, William Walter Scott II, was the principal owner of the club, an illegal after-hours drinking and gambling joint. The night was hot and sticky, and the crowd’s initial teasing of the arrestees devolved into raucous goading of police as they became more aggressive, pushing and twisting the arms of the women.“You don’t have to treat them that way,” Bill Scott yelled. Let them walk, you white sons of bitches.”By the time the wagons were full, the crowd had swelled, the taunts had grown more hostile and, though police manpower was thin early Sunday, several scout cars responded to the scene.