Damon Keith 01

September 9, 2003


Damon Keith recalls Max Fisher's wisdom in negotiations with African-American leaders in Detroit and his commitment to the city.
Credit: Mort Crim Communications

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And to Max’s brilliance, when we got into some of the meetings, some of the corporate leaders said, “This wouldn’t have been happening”—as the city was burning—“if we’d been talking to the right Negroes.” And I said, along with Dr. Arthur Johnson, “You have been talking to the right Negroes, but you haven’t been listening to us. We’ve told you about police brutality. We’ve told you about unemployment. We’ve told you about education. We’ve told you about housing. And we’ve been telling you about these things and you have not listened to us. Had you listened to these problems maybe this would have not happened, the explosion! But don’t say you’ve been talking to the wrong Negroes.” Well Max Fisher immediately supported Doctor Johnson and me. He said, “Damon and Art Johnson are absolutely right. They brought these problems to us before and we’ve done nothing about them. We’ve swept them under the rug.” But that was his sensitivity and how he was able to sense the problems all along. And he’s just totally committed to the city of Detroit.