where in Flint?
February 23, 2007 1:06 PM   Subscribe

In 1969, elements of the Weathermen held a"War Council" in Flint, Mich., whose purpose was to launch a military front inside the United States with the purpose of helping Third World revolutionaries conquer and destroy it. Where in Flint?

I have narrowed it down to a "ballroom" in Flint. anyone have any idea the exact location?
posted by clavdivs to Society & Culture (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Via Google Books, check Peter C. Cavenaugh's book "Local DJ: A Rock 'N Roll History", page 135, which specifies it was the "Giant Ballroom".

And from Thai Jones "A Radical Line: From the Labor Movement to the Weather Underground" -- The Giant Ballroom was a big dance hall in Flint's black neighborhood.

Further descriptions of the event in both places and elsewhere. Lots of acid. Lots of dancing. Great start to the revolution.

Later, it became Weather Underground, because Weathermen was, of course, sexist.
posted by beagle at 1:28 PM on February 23, 2007

The report of the Senate Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws looks like it might have details; unfortunately, it's one of those books where GoogleBooks only doles out tiny snippets ("A Weatherman 'National War Council' was held in Flint, Michigan December 27-30..."), but maybe you can get your library to find a copy for you?

This (Jeremy Varon's Bringing the War Home) says "a black-owned ballroom in a poor neighborhood"—maybe that's one you've already seen.

Just remembered I have Kirkpatrick Sale's SDS, but dammit, he just says "the 'Giant Ballroom' in a black ghetto of Flint." Why is everyone so coy about where exactly it was?

Hmm, but apparently "Giant Ballroom" was the actual name of the place. This page from Peter C. Cavanaugh's Local Dj: A Rock 'N Roll History says they "gathered at the Giant Ballroom in Flint." But you may have to trawl Flint city directories to find out exactly where the damn thing was. I did my best, compadre; good hunting!
posted by languagehat at 1:32 PM on February 23, 2007

Well, beagle beat me to the cite but I provided an actual link.
posted by languagehat at 1:33 PM on February 23, 2007

nevermind the fpp, write a goddam movie about this
posted by matteo at 1:38 PM on February 23, 2007

Any Flinties on MeFi? Somebody must remember this place. I assume it's gone, the only hits that come up anywhere are those related to the gathering of the Weatherpeople.
posted by beagle at 1:45 PM on February 23, 2007

matteo: like this one?
posted by CKmtl at 1:46 PM on February 23, 2007

Maybe you could ask Michael Moore if he knows someone who could tell you.
posted by acoutu at 1:47 PM on February 23, 2007

This is a PDF about the Weathermen that has some info.
posted by OmieWise at 1:52 PM on February 23, 2007

The PDF is actually to a whole book that seems to be a pretty comprehensive history of the movement. Obviously I have no idea of biases, etc.
posted by OmieWise at 1:52 PM on February 23, 2007

A friend of mine is (or was when we all graduated, anyway) dating a guy who made the movie: The Weather Underground. If you folks don't find an answer easily, I can pass the question along..
posted by Alterscape at 2:57 PM on February 23, 2007

Why not contact directly some of the people who were there? A few Weathermen might still be in prison or are dead, but most are living openly, have written books, and even have websites. Quite a few are in quite public professions like academia, journalism, and public policy, and have been willing to speak openly about their experiences in documentaries, autobiographies, and interviews.
posted by Forktine at 3:01 PM on February 23, 2007

Assuming you're in Flint, you might be able to visit this collection at the UM-Flint Library. Box 11 contains documents related to the "Giant Ballroom Incident, 1969."
posted by Partial Law at 3:18 PM on February 23, 2007

Yeah, if you can't find out, I'm going to have to second what Forktine suggested-- they are now living very publicly. In fact, I went to a screening of the above-mentioned film in at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago and they were all there to do a Q&A afterwards, so it's definitely not a "sore subject" or anything for them.

If you want to hit them up, try Bernadine Dorhn's page at Northwestern or Bill Ayers' Blogspot.
posted by atomly at 3:22 PM on February 23, 2007

This person has an abiding interest in southeast Michigan's history of rock and punk and may be able to narrow it down for you.

A local friend guesses it might have been renamed to the State Theater and later demolished, but he doesn't have any hard info to back that up. If you're still looking, email me via my profile and I can contact some local people who can help.

Since you have a name for the location, it should be a relatively simple (tho' not quick) matter of looking up old business listings.
posted by ardgedee at 3:43 PM on February 23, 2007

Apropos: A list of old, mostly closed, theaters in Flint. The Giant Ballroom isn't listed, but it's possible it went through a few different names before it folded.
posted by ardgedee at 3:45 PM on February 23, 2007

From OmieWise's pdf:
The Weathermachine began to gather on Saturday morning, December 27. The first few people to arrive were greeted with a grisly scene—the night before, a shooting had taken place at the ballroom; a bullet had passed through several of the paper-thin walls and killed a customer inside. His blood still covered a corner of the ballroom floor. A lot of cops were around.
Shootings may have been pretty commonplace in Flint back in the day, but that still might be a useful datum for the search.
posted by languagehat at 5:41 PM on February 23, 2007

I'm from Flint, I can ask around if you'd like. Just e-mail me. I have lots of history buff nerd Flint friends.
posted by yodelingisfun at 8:02 PM on February 23, 2007

Response by poster: you folks are good sleuths. I thought of the archives at um-F. but one needs to be an alum or registered or pay a fee. I have an idea, but that ballroom was closed. thanky-thanky.
posted by clavdivs at 1:35 PM on February 24, 2007

Shootings were not common in Flint's black community in 1969 (for some value of 'common'). Shootings were probably more common, at that time, amongst the rednecks on the east side.
posted by Goofyy at 6:35 AM on February 25, 2007

(I'm a Flintoid baby, yea)
posted by Goofyy at 6:35 AM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Giant Ballroom was what used to be a Hamady's grocery store on the southeast corner of N. Saginaw St. at Hamilton Ave. This would be a couple of blocks east of where the old Buick plant was. I doubt if the building still exists. I get back to Flint occasionally, but it's not safe to go in that part of town, even during daylight nowadays. To look up the location on Mapquest, etc, try 2000 N. Saginaw, zip 48505. I see a building there which is right up against Saginaw St, where the old parking lot would have been, so I'm sure the old building must be gone.
posted by palangi at 12:49 PM on May 11, 2007

Best answer: Oops, Correction.... It would be a couple blocks WEST of the old Buick plant. Sorry for the error.
posted by palangi at 12:54 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

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