Text Analysis – Detroit 1943

The racial language that appears among the most frequent words are white, colored, negro, and negroes. The most distinctive word out of all the documents is the word colored. This is the language I expected based on the lectures due to the time period.

Table of Five Most Frequent Words and Five Distinctive Words Excluding Racial Language

Frequent Words Governor’s Committee Final Report Distinctive Words Detroit Free Press Distinctive Words Detroit Tribune Distinctive Words
Police June Military Beaten
June 1943 Fear Monday
Rioting Boys Auxillary Avenue
Riot Forest Apparently Martial
Belle Lyons Used Jobs

The most frequent words that aren’t racial language are what I expected since this event occurred in June and there was rioting that started from the events that happened on Belle Isle. There are no OCR errors among the results.

The word I chose from the list of frequent words was riot and the word I chose from the selection of distinctive words is forest. The word riot is so frequent because the report often references the event as a riot or mentions the politics of riot commissions. The word does have the same meaning everywhere it is used. The word forest from the list of distinctive words from each of the three documents is so frequent because it refers to a place and a street name. The word does not have the same meaning everywhere it is used. The word forest refers to the Forest Club, one of the largest recreational centers in the Negro section of Detroit, which is also known as Paradise Valley. It also refers to a street name, Forest Avenue.

The word colored is used more often in the white newspaper (74 times) than the black newspaper (28 times). The word riot is used most often in the white newspapers and the Governor’s Committee report then the Detroit Tribune, the black newspaper. The word forest is used entirely within the Governor’s Committee report. This comparison suggests the perspective of each source is biased in nature due to the number of times a word has been used in a report or article describing the events happening. Specifically, the word colored is used twice as many times in the white newspaper than the black one.

The Governor’s Committee Report tends to use racial language more often, practically twice as much as the black newspapers. It was interesting to find that the white newspaper, The Detroit Free Press did not use the word colored at all, only the report used it. The Detroit Free Press rarely used the frequent and distinctive words, whereas, in the report and black newspaper, you were more likely to find racial language and/or the words rioting and forest.

The text analysis does fit with what I identified as the key feature of the riot and the label applied to it in the first assignment. I described the event as a race riot and that’s the terminology used in the Governor’s Committee Report and the newspapers. I believe knowing the details of the language used in the accounts of the riot does change what I think is the key feature and label because there are details that classify as a disorder rather than a race riot. I choose to label this riot as a disorder over race riot since the violence lasted over two days and there was the use of federal forces as well as local ones. I still believe there are parts of the event that can be classified as a race riot since there was a public outbreak of violence between two racial groups.

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