Skip to main content

Lorenzo Cultural Center explores how Detroit became the Arsenal of Democracy

– Tuesday, February 23, 2016 12:00AM

At its peak, the Willow Run manufacturing complex produced one B-24 bomber every hour –churning out nearly 8,700 from 1942 until the end of World War II. Elsewhere, metro Detroiters produced tanks, aircraft engines, military vehicles and other equipment needed to support the war effort.  As part of its program series The 1940s: Through the War and Beyond, a series of presentations at the Lorenzo Cultural Center offer perspective on how  Southeast Michigan became synonymous with the Arsenal of Democracy.

  • The Arsenal of Democracy: Detroit in World War II, March 3, 7 p.m.: A. J. Baime, journalist and author of The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War, recounts how Detroit shifted from manufacturing autos to war production, highlighting Edsel Ford, who rebelled against his father, Henry Ford, to build the Willow Run bomber plant.
  • Detroit: Arsenal of Democracy, March 17, 11 a.m.: Armed forces veteran John Lind, founder of the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum, will share how Detroit earned the moniker “Arsenal of Democracy” and discuss the region’s continuing role as the defense industry corridor of the United States.
  • How Detroit Saved the World: The Willow Run Story, March 19, 1 p.m.:  Randy Hotton, professional pilot and former executive director of the Yankee Air Museum, tells the story of the Willow Run bomber factory, starting with President Franklin Roosevelt’s call in 1940 to build 50,000 airplanes per year, through the involvement of the auto industry and the construction of the facility. He will discuss the plant’s role during the war as well as future plans for the site.

  • Forging Thunderbolts: Detroit Mobilizes for War, March 30, 11 a.m.: Professor Gregory Sumner, University of Detroit Mercy, and author of the book Detroit in World War II, traces the conversion of Motor City industry to war production, highlighting the contributions of Albert Kahn, Henry Ford and Rosie the Riveter: the millions of women who took on jobs in industry previously held by men.

  • Everyday Life in the Arsenal of Democracy, March 30, 1 p.m.: Professor Sumner continues the story of wartime Detroit, with a look at air raid drills and scrap drives, “Victory” beer, dance ballrooms and sports culture, capped off with a party thrown by the city upon the defeat of the Axis nations.

All presentations are free to attend, but pre-registration is required. Register by phone by calling 585.445.7348 or online at

The 1940s opens March 2 and continues through May 7, offering nearly 40 presentations, performances and films, as well as exhibits, exploring this decade of radical transformation.  The exhibits in the cultural center’s 8,500-square-foot Discovery Hall are also free to view and don’t require pre-registration to visit.  The Lorenzo Cultural Center is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Thursdays. School and group tours are available. 

The Lorenzo Cultural Center is located on Macomb Community College’s Center Campus, 44575 Garfield Road (at Hall Road), in Clinton Township. For more about The 1940s, visit

About the Lorenzo Cultural Center
The Lorenzo Cultural Center ( explores the influences and experiences that shape our community's heritage, examining topics from a variety of perspectives and creating interactive opportunities for learning, celebration and entertainment. Located on Macomb Community College's Center Campus, Hall and Garfield roads in Clinton Township, the cultural center is adjacent to the Macomb Center for Performing Arts.

About Macomb Community College
Macomb Community College ( is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 48,000 students annually. Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges and is the largest grantor of associate degrees in Michigan. The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.

Media Contact: James Melton, 586.445.7271,