For many Detroiters, Interstate 375, or I-375, has long been just another stretch of urban highway, a concrete artery connecting different parts of the city. To some, it’s a mere convenience; to others, it’s an unremarkable part of their daily commute. However, there’s a deeper, far more troubling story beneath the surface of this seemingly ordinary freeway—a story of pain, displacement, and the lasting impact on Black Detroiters.
The tale begins in what is now Lafayette Park, once known as Black Bottom—a neighborhood rooted in African-American culture and history. Named after its dark, fertile soil, Black Bottom flourished during the mid-1900s, nurturing the dreams and aspirations of prominent Detroiters like Coleman Young, Joe Louis, and numerous other Detroit legends. But in the name of urban renewal in the 1950s, this vibrant neighborhood was systematically dismantled, erased from the map, and replaced by a lifeless stretch of asphalt.
While the residential areas bore the brunt of this demolition, the heart of Black Bottom, its thriving business center, remained largely untouched. Restaurants, theaters, clubs, and bars—the very places that brought Detroit’s Black community together—were concentrated around Hastings Street, the epicenter of African-American culture in the city.
Then, in a cruel twist of...