In 1941, a real estate developer in northwest Detroit faced a dilemma. He needed federal financing for white clients purchasing lots in a new subdivision abutting a community of mostly African Americans. When the banks deemed the development too risky because of potential racial tension, the developer proposed a novel solution. He built a six-foot-tall, one-foot-thick concrete barrier extending from Eight Mile Road south for three city blocks -- the infamous Birwood Wall. It changed life in West Eight Mile forever. Gathering personal interviews, family histories, land records and other archival sources, author Gerald Van Dusen tells the story of this isolated black enclave that persevered through all manner of racial barriers and transformed a symbol of discrimination into an expression of hope and perseverance.
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