DETROIT — Jamon Jordan could not mourn his mother in the traditional way. At Jacquelynne Jordan’s memorial in early April, there were just seven people. No hugs. No traditional dinner where family members could gather to honor the 66-year-old matriarch’s memory. That stripped-down scenario has played out hundreds of times in Detroit — 912 to be exact, the number of city residents who have died of COVID-19. So amid the pandemic, Detroit — the nation’s largest black city, the birthplace of distinctive soulful music and black cultural significance — grieves collectively. Famed across the world as Motown, Detroiters know it as a big city with a small-town feel, with a connectivity that has only magnified the community’s pain. “People always say that Detroit is like a northern country town,” said Marsha Battle Philpot, a cultural writer known as Marsha Music. “There tends to be very closely knit familial connections. In Detroit, there’s not six degrees of separation — there are only two and, most of the time, just one. Detroit has this character, which in a time like this, exacerbates the grief and the loss. But it will also be part of the recovery because Detroit is a fighting town.”


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