Murray–Wright High School

Philip J. Murray–Wright High School is a former secondary school in the west side of Detroit, Michigan, United States.[1] It was operated by Detroit Public Schools.

Prior to its closure in 2007, the school served Downtown Detroit, Midtown Detroit, and a portion of New Center.[2] Currently Douglass Academy for Young Men occupies the former Murray–Wright.[3]


Philip Murray Senior High School opened in 1963 as an all-girls school, and was merged with the much older nearby all-boys Wilbur Wright High School to make Murray–Wright.[4]

The Detroit School Board selected the site for the school in its September 6, 1959 board meeting. The board named the school after Philip J. Murray, a labor leader, in January 1960. The rededication ceremony occurred on November 23, 1965.[5] It was previously Philip Murray Senior High School.[6]

In 1969, a group of around 20 students demanded the removal of Lucy Duck, the principal, who was a White American. The students threatened to forcibly close the school if their demand was not met. Most of the students were members of the Association of Black Students.[7]

In February 1970, about 120 U.S. history students from Centennial High School in Windsor, Ontario visited Murray–Wright. In April 1970, 85 black students from Murray–Wright visited Centennial for a day to discuss whether they preferred nonviolent or violent methods of achieving racial equality.[8]

On November 30, 1970, a 17-year-old student received stab injuries in a cafeteria, and was in serious condition at the Detroit Receiving Hospital. Two 16-year-olds were arrested.[9]

On Thursday February 12, 1976 about six intruders, who according to police looked like junior high students or younger, entered Murray–Wright. According to the police, they were searching for a student who had "stolen one of their girlfriends."[10] Two teachers discovered the intruders and asked them to leave. A security guard escorted the intruders down a hallway as about six Murray–Wright students followed the intruders as they were leaving. Outside of the door to the school, two of the intruders brandished guns and fired into the group, shooting and injuring five students. One of the injured was treated and released and the others were treated at Henry Ford Hospital.[10]

In 1981, the school planned to show about 200 students an educational film; they were junior and senior level students of teachers who were administering standardized tests to sophomore students. The school inadvertently screened The Howling, an R-rated horror movie. Most of the students were under the age of 18.[11]

As a result of the University of Michigan basketball scandal, Murray–Wright forfeited its entire 199495 season. This corresponds with Robert Traylor's senior year.[12]

In 2004, the school had about 1,500 students. On Monday February 9, during that year, vandals attacked the school, damaging computer equipment, breaking windows, and causing other destruction.[13] In October of that year, after a pep rally went out of control, police detained six juveniles and arrested six adults.[14]

Violent incidents in the 1980s

In 1987, James Risen of the Los Angeles Times said "Murray–Wright had become one of the most violent schools in the city."[15]

On Friday October 18, 1985, during Homecoming celebrations,[16] four teenagers entered the American football game area in an automobile,[17] two minutes before halftime during the Public School League game between Murray–Wright and Northwestern High School.[18] When the car pulled behind the grandstands, one teenager fired on a crowd of 300 people with a shotgun, causing seven people to receive injuries.[15] Six of the injured were teenagers, ranged in age from 13 to 19. One received critical injuries. All six received treatment at the Detroit Receiving Hospital.[17] The shootings occurred at 4:15 PM, and the suspects left the scene.[19] This shooting was the week's second shooting that had high school students involved.[17] The shooting was the second one in a month in which Homecoming activities were involved.[16] Police said that one of the suspects had been involved in a fight on an earlier occasion.[18]

In 1987, a student at Murray–Wright entered the school parking lot and shot 17-year old Chester Jackson, a junior running back, in the head, killing him. The attacker went into the gymnasium and shot 18-year-old Damon Matthews, a basketball player, in the face. Tomeka Turner, an 18-year-old, was wounded. Risen said that Turner's injuries occurred "apparently in the school's corridors as the attacker fled the building."[15] The youth with facial injuries received treatment at the Detroit Receiving Hospital. The incident occurred around noon.[20] The attacker, Michael Schofield, was 14 at the time of the crime.[21] Schofield, 15 years old at sentencing, was sentenced to serve in a juvenile correctional facility until he turned 19.[22] Schofield killed four people in 2003 during an attempted robbery of a convenience store in Westland, Michigan,[21] and then killed himself.[23] The Los Angeles Times News Service said that the 1987 Murray–Wright shooting was the incident that put "most clearly into focus" the epidemic of youth violence in Detroit.[24]

After the murder and shootings, school officials started a plan to reduce violence in the school. The school was closed for two days as officials held special assemblies concerning school violence. The school officials said that of the students who appeared at the assemblies at Murray–Wright, half appeared with their parents. This occurred despite fears that few parents would appear.[25]


In 1991, Murray–Wright's girls' basketball team was ranked No. 1 in Class A of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. During that year Detroit Public Schools agreed to remove the school team from the tournament because one player was omitted from an eligibility list and the Associated Press said that a backup list "allegedly" was not approved. Wayne County Circuit Judge Kathleen MacDonald upheld the decision, saying that she had no authority to reverse the decision of DPS withdrawing one of its own schools.[26]

Notable alumni


  1. "Students shot at high school." Wilmington Morning Star. Friday April 17, 1987. 2A. Retrieved from Google Books (2 of 31) on November 2, 2012.
  2. "High School Attendance Areas 7/10/2003." Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on November 13, 2009.
  3. Dawsey, Chastity Pratt. "Girls school: A model for change." Detroit Free Press. February 4, 2008. Retrieved on June 30, 2015.
  4. Shebib, Richard (2018). Keeping the Faith: A True Story. p. 34. ISBN 9781984509697. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  5. "History." Murray–Wright High School. January 27, 2004. Retrieved on November 2, 2012.
  6. "school.jpg." (name on school building reads "Philip Murray Senior High School") Detroit Public Schools. May 1, 2003. Retrieved on November 2, 2012.
  7. "Students Issue Threat." The Owosso Argus-Press. Wednesday November 26, 1969. p. 22. Retrieved on Google News (12 of 22) on November 2, 2012.
  8. "Students swap views." The Windsor Star. Saturday April 11, 1970. p. 5. Retrieved from Google News (6 of 107) on November 2, 2012.
  9. "2 Youths Arrested In Detroit Knifing." Associated Press at the Toledo Blade. Page 3. Retrieved on November 2, 2012.
  10. "Intruders Wound 5 Students In Shooting At Detroit School." Associated Press at the Toledo Blade. Friday February 13, 1976 (141st year). Page 2. Retrieved from Google Books (3 of 20) on November 2, 2012.
  11. "'Howling' Brings Pupils Abreast." UPI at the Reading Eagle. Friday October 9, 1981. p. 13. Retrieved from Google News (13 of 59) on November 2, 2012.
  12. "Webber violated amateur status". ESPN Internet Ventures. 2004-03-02. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
  13. "School cleans up after vandals." The Detroit News. February 10, 2004. Retrieved on November 2, 2012. "Crews worked Monday to clean the massive damage inflicted by vandals at Detroit's Murray–Wright High School so 1500 students could return to class today. "
  14. "7 arrests are made at Detroit school rally." The Detroit News. October 8, 2004. Retrieved on November 2, 2012.
  15. Risen, James. "Athlete Killed in Detroit School Violence." Los Angeles Times. April 17, 1987. Retrieved on November 2, 2012.
  16. "POLICE SEEK GUNMAN WHO SHOT 6 AT GAME." San Jose Mercury News. October 20, 1985. 13A Front. Retrieved on November 2, 2012.
  17. "Six Students Wounded." Associated Press at The Albany Herald. Saturday October 19, 1985. 3A. Retrieved on November 2, 2012.
  18. "Fight Occurred At School Before Shootings". Associated Press at the Houston Chronicle. Sunday October 20, 1985. Section 1, Page 17.
  19. "6 Shot, Injured at Homecoming". Houston Chronicle.
  20. "Two students are shot in Detroit high school." Associated Press at Times-News. Friday April 17, 1987. p. 26. Retrieved from Google News (26 of 31) on November 2, 2012.
  21. Kresnak, Jack and Suzette Hackney. "AT AGE 14, GUNMAN KILLED CLASSMATE." (Archive) The Detroit News. Saturday September 13, 2003. Retrieved on November 3, 2012.
  22. Ahn, Angela. "Detroit civic leaders want students to look past grim realities." Associated Press at Ludington Daily News. Tuesday October 30, 1988. p. 7. Retrieved from Google News (4 of 8) on November 2, 2012.
  23. Hackney, Suzette. "STORE TAPE REVISITS HORROR OF DEADLY NIGHT IN WESTLAND - FAMILIES SOB MAN SHOT IN THE FACE TESTIFIES." (Archive) The Detroit News. Wednesday February 4, 2004. Retrieved on November 2, 2012.
  24. "Detroit closes high schools, seeks to curb teen violence." Los Angeles Times News Service at The Milwaukee Journal. Tuesday April 28, 1987. 4A. Retrieved from Google News (3 of 69) on November 2, 2012.
  25. Franklin, Stephen. "Detroit Schools Seek A Recess On Violence." Chicago Tribune. April 28, 1987. Retrieved on November 2, 2012.
  26. "Judge upholds Murray–Wright's ouster from state tournament." Associated Press at The Argus-Press. Monday December 9, 1991. p. 8. Retrieved from Google News (5 of 8) on November 2, 2012.
  28. McCabe, Mick, Jeff Taylor and Nicholas J. Cotsonika. "15-year flashback: Robert Traylor changes mind, decides to stay at Michigan for junior year." Detroit Free Press. May 3, 2012. Retrieved on November 2, 2012.
  29. The official Website of Johnny Davis

27. DC Military Times. Publication: The Journal, by: WRNMMC Public Affairs Office; Thursday July 18, 2013;

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