The Leadership of Reverend Robert L. Bradby and the Black Community in East Industrial Detroit

  • Julia Robinson Harmon


Richard Thomas’s Life for Us Is What We Make It presents a conceptual framework that explains the dynamics of early twentieth-century Detroit, Michigan and the evolution of its black community. His understanding of what he terms the “community building process” speaks to the totality of historical “efforts of black individuals, institutions, and organizations to survive and progress as a people and to create and sustain a genuine and creative communal presence.” At the core of this process is the drive by the black community to fulfill its vision of freedom and equality. It is a continual massive movement toward freedom, a better quality of freedom than that experienced in the past. Thomas argues that the black Detroit community building process must be seen in “the sum total of the historical efforts of blacks in industrial Detroit to survive and progress.”1 These historical efforts must be addressed in a variety of contexts with emphasis on the relationships between “proletarianization, institutional life, politics, race relations, and particularly ghetto formation.”2


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Richard W. Thomas, Life for Us Is What We Make It: Building Black Community in Detroit, 1915–1945 (Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press, 1992) xi–xii.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Milton C. Sernett, Bound for the Promised Land: African American Religion and the Great Migration (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997), 148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 10.
    Victoria W. Wolcott, Remaking Respectability: African American Women In Interwar Detroit Chapel Hill, NC: North Carolina University Press, 2001, 8.Google Scholar
  4. 25.
    lizabeth Ann Martin, Detroit and the Great Migration 1916–1929 (Dearborn, MI: Bentley Historical Library, 1993) 21.Google Scholar
  5. 26.
    Oliver Zunz, The Changing Face of Inequality: Urbanization, Industrial Development, and Immigrants in Detroit, 1880–1920 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1982) 396.Google Scholar
  6. 28.
    Allan Nevins and Frank Ernest Hill, Ford: Expansion and Challenge 1915–1933 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1957) 540.Google Scholar
  7. 31.
    Nathaniel Leach, Second Baptist Connection, Revised Edition Eyewitness History, (Detroit, MI: Second Baptist Church, 1988), 69.Google Scholar
  8. 35.
    Charles Denby (Matthew Ward), Indignant Heart A Black Worker’s Journal (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University, 1989) 36Google Scholar
  9. 69.
    Elaine Latzman Moon, Untold Tales, Unsung Heroes: An Oral History of Detroit’s African American Community 1918–1967, (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994), 97.Google Scholar
  10. 73.
    Thomas, Life For Us Is What We Make It, 293; August Meier and Elliot Rudwick, Black Detroit and the Rise of the UAW (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979) 85.Google Scholar
  11. 77.
    Richard Thomas, The State of Black Detroit: Building From Strength, Black Self-Help Tradition in Detroit (Detroit, MI: The Detroit Urban League, Inc., 1987), 11.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Gayle T. Tate and Lewis A. Randolph 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Robinson Harmon

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations