Migration, Moguls and Motown: A Tour of Detroit’s Black Community History 1919-2019

Explore the rich history of Black Detroiters of the last 100 years through the lens of award-winning author and journalist Ken Coleman.

Special event!  Limited tickets available.

Adults: $56.99
Seniors: $52.99
Group discount of $3/per person for groups of 10+ or more!

Click the “Book Now” button to see availability.



Get a fascinating look into the epic journey of Blacks in Detroit during The Great Migration years of the early 1900s through to today. Little known stories of race discrimination and triumph over tragedy are featured during the three-hour black history tour through our city’s neighborhoods using Detroit’s vibrant music scene and historic sites as the backdrop.

Through powerful and compelling oratory provided by award-winning author and journalist Ken Coleman, our Tour Guide, you’ll come away with an understanding of the challenges that Blacks faced when they arrived in the Motor City and how the societal pressures that they faced yielded gems. They include business moguls like drugstore chain owner Sidney Barthwell; radio pioneer Dr. Haley Bell; Motown Records and its founder Berry Gordy Jr.; Coleman A. Young, the city’s first Black mayor; and great social organizations led by African Americans like the Detroit Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.

TL;DR: It’s really really good and very moving.

A front view of the Motown Museum during our Black History Tour

Where We’re Going

Birwood Wall

Located on the city’s northwest side, the “Wall” is a symbol of race segregation in Detroit.

Baker’s Keyboard Lounge

Operating continuously since 1936, Baker’s is America’s oldest jazz club. Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and “Dizzy” Gillespie performed there.

Marvin Gaye’s former home

The late Motown Records star lived here during the early 1970s.

1967 Detroit Rebellion site and Historical Marker

Gordon Park is located where the 1967 Detroit Rebellion took place.

Aretha Franklin’s childhood home

The site where the “Queen of Soul” spent her childhood years.

Dr. Haley Bell home

Longtime home of WCHB and WJZZ radio founder. First black owner of radio station in Michigan.

Gordy Mansion

The 10,500-square-foot mansion once owned by Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. 

Hitsville U.S.A. Motown Museum

The birthplace of the “Sound of Young America”

Detroit Association of Colored Women’s Clubs

A leading gathering place for African-American women’s groups during the mid-20th century


Ken Coleman is a journalist for the Michigan Advance reporting on education, civil rights and voting rights, a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and probably the kindest and sharpest guy you’ll meet all day. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader.

His work has shown up in the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, The History Channel and CNN. We’re way excited to have this great orator and thinker to guide this special history adventure.


The Pickup Location & Time
We’re boarding the bus at 10:00AM at Urban Bean in downtown Detroit. They’re located at 200 Grand River Ave., Detroit MI 48226 at the corner of Grand River and Griswold. They have a bunch of tasty treats and coffee drinks plus a bathroom, which is nice. Your name will be on the list so you don’t need to bring anything with you.

We’ll be back to Urban Bean by about 1:00PM.

There are a number of surface parking lots right near the coffee shop that range from $5-20 to park. There is a great parking deck just across Woodward called the Z Deck at 1234 Library St. that features a bunch of really cool murals throughout the levels and there’s some bars and restaurants tucked in the bottom. Basically there’s a lot of parking around.

Public Transit
The Rosa Parks Transit Center is very close to our pickup location. Most major DDOT routes run to this transit center. The People Mover drops off very nearby too. Finally, the Q Line has a station on Woodward so you can get here from Midtown and New Center easily. All roads lead to Urban Bean.

Refund and Cancellations
Your tickets are fully refundable up to 7 days before the date of your tour. After that period there are no refunds. Sorry to be so mean about it. You’re welcome to reassign your tickets by emailing us at help@thedetroitbus.com.


What happens if I miss the bus? Will the bus wait for me if I’m late?
Unfortunately we can’t hold up the bus for late comers, there’s a schedule we gotta keep. Be on tiiiime please.

Can I drink on the bus?
Not for this one folks. We’re in learn-and-listen mode for this black history tour, not party-and-forget.

What about food and soft drinks?
Snacks and soft drinks are cool! We just ask you leave them on the bus when we enter our locations. These locations aren’t plastic-wrapped like grandma’s couch.

What if I can’t show up? Will my friend be able to go instead?
Totally. Just let us know ahead of time via help@thedetroitbus.com and we’ll update your tickets with the new name or send them with your printed tickets.

Will you be selling extra seats at the bus?
Nope. Sorry. All passes gotta be bought online. There’s a limited number of seats and we want you to have plenty of room – no roof riders no matter how cool that might sound.

What about weather SNAFUs?
We live in Michigan. Sometimes Mother Nature likes to throw us a curveball. We keep safety as our highest priority. In case of gnarly weather, you’ll receive an email the day of the event with a raincheck/snowcheck date. If you cannot make the rescheduled date, you’ll get a voucher good for a future tour with us.

PSST! We also offer this experience as a private tour if that’s more your speed. You choose the day, the pickup location and we’ll handle the rest. More here.

Still not convinced? Read our reviews!

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