Exhibit Announcement: Tony Spina Photographs from the 1967 Civil Unrest

(35794) Riots, Rebellions, National Guard, Media, Detroit, 1967

Visit the Reuther Library's Woodcock Wing gallery now through winter 2017 for an exhibition of previously unpublished photographs of Detroit's 1967 Civil Unrest by preeminent photojournalist, Tony Spina.

On the morning of July 23, 1967, Tony Spina, the Chief Photographer for the Detroit Free Press, was awoken by a call from work. City Editor, Neil Shine, revealed to him that “the city was on fire” and implored him to hurry down to the paper. Over the next five days Spina would shoot over 30 rolls of film--taken from the ground, the air, military vehicles, and the middle of firefights--capturing some of the most intense, iconic moments from one of the worst moments of Civil Unrest in America’s history.

During the Unrest, Spina and other members of the Detroit Free Press photo department, including Ira Rosenberg, Bert Emanuele, Dick Tripp, and Rod Rieser, were embedded within police, fire, and National Guard units to present firsthand visual testimony of events as they occurred. The moments captured on film reveal the confusion, chaos, and aftermath of the event as well as candid reactions of both residents and law enforcement--anger, amusement, fear, suspicion, and loss--as they were confronted with an impossible situation. The collective work of the Free Press staff was lauded internationally, and was honored with the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for Local General and Spot News Reporting.

The images on display are part of the Tony Spina Photographs, a collection of over 80 linear feet of photo prints, negatives, and color transparencies, that encompass the career of one of America’s finest photojournalists. Original negatives, part of a recent donation by the Spina family, were used to make the prints. These represent a small selection of the nearly 1000 images that Spina shot during the Unrest. For a deeper look into Tony Spina’s body of work, please make an appointment with an audiovisual archivist at reutherav@wayne.edu or visit our web galleries for a selection of digitized material.