People beg for jobs at Ford, are met with bullets
David Moore, who was 19 then, was one of those desperate people.
The 91-year-old Detroiter describes the march as a bloody massacre that resulted in the deaths of five people and injuries to more than 50 others.
Many Detroiters at the time, in the depths of the Great Depression, did not have money to provide food or shelter for their families - when a loaf of bread cost about a nickel.
The March 7, 1932, protest march was organized by Detroit-area Unemployed Councils, which chose Ford as the target because the majority of the automaker's production was in one location, unlike that of General Motors and Chrysler Corp., Moore says.
Although the group had communists among its leadership, Moore says accounts that label it as strictly a communist protest are wrong.
"When they try to label this as a communist takeover, that's the biggest lie they could put forward," Moore says. Many of the organizers were not communists but were members of various religious organizations, he says.
The marchers from the Detroit council began walking on the bitter cold morning of March 7. They started walking in Detroit and continued to Dearborn, joined by marchers from other councils. The marchers totaled about 5,000 people by the time they got to Dearborn. The march started about a mile from the Rouge plant at the Dearborn-Detroit border.
In Detroit they were given a police motorcycle escort by Mayor Frank Murphy. But when marchers entered Dearborn, trouble started. Dearborn police and Ford security demanded that they stop.
The marchers refused and proceeded with their plan of marching to Gate 4 of the Rouge plant.
But as they reached Gate 3, Dearborn police and Ford security forces attacked them with tear gas, fire hoses and bullets.
"All hell broke loose on Miller Road after the shots were fired," Moore says.
He says the marchers were unarmed and had been instructed not to be violent.
Ford's security chief, Harry Bennett, was knocked unconscious after being hit with a stone.
Four men were shot to death at the Rouge plant that day, and one died later.
Ford did not rush to create new jobs.
Remembering the march
"All hell broke loose on Miller Road after the shots were fired," says marcher David Moore.
Said Williams: "The invaders (marchers) were armed with rocks and clubs. They presented a formidable appearance as they surged at the first overhead gate going north at Miller Road. Ford police turned a steam hose on them. Bricks began to fly. I saw scores knocked to the ground. The police opened fire with their guns. I decided to go back to the car and beat it."
Maurice Sugar, in his book, The Ford Hunger March, cites examples of inaccurate reporting on the event by the Detroit newspapers. The Detroit Times reported, for example, that policemen were shot, Sugar said. That was untrue, he said.
News of the march quickly spread beyond Detroit. In New York, the city's Herald Tribune reported: "The Dearborn police are to be condemned for using guns against an unarmed crowd, for viciously bad judgment and for the killing of four men. Such action must arouse resentment among the unemployed everywhere."
Five days after the attack, the funeral was held. Detroit's hungry masses sympathized with the marchers. The funeral for those killed drew a crowd of 8,000 to 15,000 people, according to the Detroit newspapers.
Moore was a pallbearer at the funeral, in which mourners walked from downtown Detroit about five miles to Woodmere Cemetery, on the border of Dearborn and Detroit near Ford Motor Co.
"The blood of the people who died will always be on the hands of the Ford Motor Co.," Moore says. "They can't wipe it off."