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Fall 2020 with General Baker Institute: Policing Black Power - From Watts to Detroit (Virtual)

General Public: RSVP HERE
UM Students: Register here

"Policing Black Power - From Watts to Detroit" is a Detroit community-based course that welcomes participation by the general public, including college students from both U-M and Wayne State University. The class is hosted and developed by a partnership that includes: the General Baker Institute (a non-profit community-based organization located in NW Detroit) faculty in the U-M Semester in Detroit Program, and faculty from the Wayne State University Department of African-American Studies

If you are a member of the general public, or you are student who is not enrolled in the course, please register here to attend one or all of the sessions listed below! 

The minicourse will explore several examples of how state institutions have used “law and order” in efforts to curb and to control Black power from the 1965 Watts Rebellion in California, to the Flint water crisis, to contemporary movement struggles in Detroit. Each week, we will be joined by Detroit activist-scholars - young and old - who will share both the personal and the political to help everyone more deeply understand what is happening today in Detroit and in our country more broadly. 

In addition to the class content described above, U-M students who register for the 1-credit mini-course will also have the opportunity to meet and to learn from some of the veteran Detroit activists who are building the General Baker Institute (GBI). The organization recently opened its new community center in NW Detroit to honor the legacy of General Gordon Baker Jr., one of the most important labor and community activists in modern Detroit history. 

For more information about this public series, please contact Craig Regester, Semester in Detroit Associate Director, at 313-505-5185 or email: Speakers will be announced closer to session dates.

October 28th - Watts 1965: Black Power and State Repression

The first class will frame the trajectory of our four-week course before moving on to address the impact of the Watts rebellion on state violence. It situates the Watts rebellion as a key turning point that led to increasingly militant Black activism as well as the militarization of police, expanded surveillance, and the promulgation of “copaganda” that built off of growing calls for “law and order” and reinforced and expanded hyper-policing and the criminalization Black urban communities, residents, and politics in the 60s, including in Detroit.


  • Facilitator: David Goldberg (Associate Professor of African American Studies at Wayne State University. His work deals with the intersection of Black labor, urban and social movement history, with a particular focus on Detroit (where he is from). He is currently writing a biography of General Baker and is on the board of the General Baker Institute.)
  • Max Felkner-Kantor
  • Baba Charles Simmons
  • Will McClendon


November 4th - Organizing Against Police Repression

This class addresses grassroots efforts to organize against police crimes and abuses during the 1970s. In particular, we will examine Detroit’s anti-STRESS movement, the rise of “community policing” during the Young and Bradley administrations in Detroit and L.A., and the relationship between the violence of deindustrialization, austerity, and globalization, community policing, and the rise of the carceral state.


  • Facilitator: David Goldberg
  • Melba Boyd
  • Greg Hicks
  • Michael Stauch


November 11th - “Gang Shit” and The War on Drugs

This session discusses the War on Drugs, federally funded gang initiatives, and the expansion of the prison-industrial complex. We will explore the cost of the War on Drugs, grassroots efforts against violence in Black communities, and the relationship between police escalation, anti-Blackness, and drug criminalization and the Los Angeles rebellion and the DPD’s murder of Malice Green in 1993.


  • Facilitator: David Goldberg (see bio above)
  • Yusef Shakur
  • Baba Jamon Jordan
  • Diane Bukowski
  • Kenneth Reed


November 18th - Emergency Management and Policing the Poor

The last session will recap the previous three courses before expanding our definition of state violence and violence beyond formal “policing.” Using local examples, our speakers will address how the elite elide democracy as a means to profit off of Black people while punitively blaming them for conditions externally imposed upon them. These containment and policing schemes endanger Black lives and futures, and force the poorest urban residents to subsidize the cost of welfare capitalism and gentrification.


  • Facilitator: David Goldberg (see bio above)
  • Claire M. 
  • Josh Akers 
  • Maureen Taylor 
  • Jerry Goldberg