June 18, 2003

Benton Harbor, MI

Benton Harbor is a mostly black American city located in Michigan. It's not an especially large city, possessing a population of 11,182. Situated very near is St. Joseph, a predominantly white (and affluent) community of 22,984. Race issues have raged between the two for longer than I have been alive.

My father was born and raised in Benton Harbor. My grandfather worked his career for Whirlpool, which maintained headquarters there. My grandmother spent her days at Bendix. My mother relocated to Benton Harbor in the late 60's to teach at Hull School, an educational facility already sporting metal detectors in attempts to curb violent school-based acts committed with metal objects.

So, when I read this post on CNN, (how does Benton Harbor grab CNN's news attention in 2003?) I had to stop and sigh and get more of the story.

Here is Benton Harbor's Herald-Palladium with its take on the events.

The riots. We are a violent nation. Sometimes the microcosm - this community as a good example - serves as a good reminder of unchecked, uncivilized human nature. Though race appears to not be at the forefront of these riots, you can rest assured it resides sure and true somewhere as a supporting cast. In 30 plus years, this event in this area serves as a throwback, at least I hope, to the ailments of bigotry and lawlessness. Obviously, I'm not talking about Los Angeles. How does a community of 11,000 people chronicle such a storied history of violence and hate?

I leave you with these documented acts of violence and woe for the community of Benton Harbor.

1. A book, The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death, and America's Dilemma, written by Alex Kotlowitz in 1999.

2. "The war I didn't worry about" - an account by William Newmiller.

3. A look at Benton Harbor and St. Joseph (and their disparities).


Posted by hln at June 18, 2003 08:53 PM | Blogspot Blog