Featured photo provided by the Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs

The 1963 Detroit Walk to Freedom was a major milestone in the civil rights movement. Organized by prominent religious and civil rights leaders Rev. C.L. Franklin and Rev. Albert Cleage, Jr., and featuring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the march brought together more than 125,000 people on Woodward Avenue to peacefully advocate for racial equality and justice in what was the largest civil rights demonstration at the time. 

As the city commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Detroit Walk to Freedom, American Black Journal’s “Black Church in Detroit” series examines the role of the city’s religious community in the historic march and rally that featured Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Host Stephen Henderson and guest, Bishop Mbiyu Chui of the Shrine of the Black Madonna #1, delve into the often-forgotten connection between the city’s Black churches and the massive march for civil rights. Bishop Chui relates the backstory about how racism and violence against Blacks in the South led to the organization of the walk by the Shrine’s founder, Rev. Albert Cleage, Jr. and Rev. C.L. Franklin of New Bethel Baptist Church.  

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Plus, they talk about the many voices represented in the Detroit civil rights demonstration, the Black Church’s role as a moral compass for America, and the challenges that remain today  60 years after the Walk to Freedom. 

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Watch American Black Journal on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.