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Detroit Journalism Cooperative

Detroit demo blitz linked to rising lead levels in children

Nov 14, 2017
measuring lead paint levels
Joel Kurth / Bridge Magazine

Lead levels among Detroit children are rising after decades of decline, and health officials say the city’s aggressive housing demolition program is partially to blame.

The city has razed nearly 13,000 homes since Mike Duggan was elected mayor in 2013. 

MorningSide: A Detroit Neighborhood

Nov 10, 2017
MorningSide
Mercedes Meija / Michigan Radio

Downtown Detroit is in the midst of a resurgence. However, business districts in the neighborhoods are not seeing the same successes. The decline in population and the decline in wealth in many neighborhoods is keeping much of the city in a prolonged economic downturn.

Mike Duggan celebrates winning a second term as Detroit mayor.
Duggan for Detroit / via Twitter

It wasn’t even close.

As expected, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan coasted to an easy re-election victory Tuesday night, defeating State Sen. Coleman Young II with over 70% of the vote.

Detroit has the highest auto insurance costs in the nation. Depending on the survey, it costs somewhere between seven thousand and ten thousand dollars a year.

Fairy's signature black-and-white "Andre the Giant" face appeared on a water tower in downtown Detroit.
Eugene Kim / Flickr

Detroiters will vote for mayor on Tuesday, and first-term incumbent Mike Duggan is expected win re-election handily.

That’s despite his opponent having one of the best-known names in Detroit political history.

And it’s despite Duggan’s time in office exposing some major rifts in a rapidly-changing city.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit residents will soon vote for mayor, city council, and other offices. What do they want for the future of the city? The MorningSide neighborhood reflects the rest of the city well. So, how well do the priorities of the residents align with the candidates vying to represent them on city council?

Actually, they align surprisingly well. We talked with a dozen residents of MorningSide. One of their top concerns was abandoned houses.

Is Detroit coming back? It depends on the neighborhood.

Oct 17, 2017
Bridge Magazine

Detroit is at an inflection point. Maurice Cox can see it. So can the Rev. Aaron McCarthy, Jr. And their visions reveal much about a city brimming with possibility and problems.

The director of Detroit’s Planning Department, Cox has one of the best views at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. His eighth-floor window overlooks a downtown so revitalized that it’s practically unrecognizable from a few years ago.

“A lot of people who have been following Detroit’s recovery for a very long time have convinced me there’s something different about this one,” Cox said.

“People are seeing forward momentum. The streetlights come on at night. The lots are better maintained. Blight is coming down in everyone’s neighborhood. Little shops are popping up. Our downtown is on the upswing.”

Owe taxes? That’s OK. Wayne County will still sell you foreclosed homes.

Oct 12, 2017
Sarah Alvarez / Bridge Magazine

Wayne County doesn’t always enforce a law that forbids tax delinquents from buying properties at its tax foreclosure auctions, contributing to a cycle of speculation that perpetuates blight, a Bridge Magazine investigation has found.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit might not be ready for the wave of baby boomers who are aging. The oldest baby boomers are now 71. The youngest are 53. Right now in Detroit, many seniors rely on informal networks of neighbors, family, or friends.

In Detroit, 41 percent of people over 60 live alone according to a report by Data Driven Detroit based on 2010 Census data.

That’s the case with Ida Brown, 87, who lives in a house in the MorningSide neighborhood of Detroit.

Although she has lived there three years, she really hasn’t gotten to know her neighbors.

Are there two Detroits? A new report says yes, but…

Sep 13, 2017
Detroit skyline
City of Detroit

Turns out, there could be something to perceptions about “two Detroits” after all.

The Urban Institute, a nonprofit Washington D.C. think tank, issued a report Tuesday that concludes tax subsidies in Detroit have disproportionately favored downtown and Midtown.

Those areas received 57 percent of state, federal, and local tax subsidy investments from 2013 to 2015, even though they only contain 46 percent of the city’s 245,000 jobs, the report found.

Inside Nikolai Vitti's early effort to transform Detroit's battered public school image

Sep 13, 2017
Erin Einhorn

Three months after taking on one of the most daunting tasks in American education, Nikolai Vitti was having a fit over pizza — $340,000 worth of pizza.

Vitti, Detroit’s new school superintendent, had just discovered that the district had set aside that eye-popping sum of money last year to pay Domino’s Pizza for what he assumed were hundreds of thousands of slices for parties in schools.

Michigan Radio added to its list of awards received in 2017 this weekend with recognition from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

Aubrey Pollard about a year before his death.
Courtesy Thelma Pollard Gardner / via Bridge Magazine

This Friday, the movie simply titled “Detroit” debuts nationwide.

It depicts the most notorious single incident of the 1967 Detroit rebellion — the brutal police killings of three black teens at the Algiers Motel.

The still-contested events of that night at the Algiers Motel have already been written about extensively. A surviving witness called it “a night of horror and murder” worse than anything he had experienced as a soldier in Vietnam.

But after multiple trials, none of the officers involved were ever convicted of any crime.


Students from Detroit's Neighborhood Educational Center Program in 1970.
American Library Association

In the wake of Detroit’s 1967 rebellion, and similar unrest nationwide, a group called the Kerner Commission dug into the underlying causes.

Their main finding was that America was heading toward two separate, unequal societies: one white, one black. One of the deepest inequalities was in education.

group of students facing away from camera
Courtesy of The James & Grace Lee Boggs School / Facebook

 


Fifty years after Detroit’s 1967 rebellion, conversations about what the events of that summer so long ago mean for our society today have been everywhere.

But kids, who generally prefer cartoons to the evening news, might not have many opportunities to engage with the history of what happened in the city 50 years ago. That is, unless, they to go the James & Grace Lee Boggs School

LBJ Presidential Library

News media around the world are talking about Detroit’s resurgence.

Politicians in the city and the state, such as Gov. Rick Snyder, hype its revitalization.

“New investments have helped fuel a rapid dramatic transformation of Detroit and today it’s America’s comeback city,” he said in a video.

But that’s only part of the story of Detroit.

In the city’s neighborhoods, many people are still struggling.

However, there was a plan released in the 1960s to help end racial discrimination in Detroit and the nation.

two young men in tshirts
Lyricist Society / YouTube

It's been 50 years since 1967, the summer of one of the deadliest civil disturbances in American history. Teacher Quan Neloms knew now was as good a time as any to teach his students about what happened that year in Detroit.

gordon park sign
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It’s a Sunday afternoon, and there’s a party of sorts going on at 12th Street and Clairmount on Detroit's west side.

Exactly 50 years ago, the police raid that sparked the city's massive, deadly riots started right here. Now there’s a newly-refurbished park on that corner and a marker designating it a state historic site.

Walter P. Reuther Library: Wayne State University.

The 1967 Detroit uprising was a time of confusion and upheaval. Countless rumors and false narratives spread through the country, and some facts remain unclear to this day.

Luckily, many Detroiters have come forward to tell their personal accounts of the rebellion.

Courtesy of Sister Theresa Milne

The Detroit rebellion erupted in the early Sunday morning hours of July 23, 1967, just blocks away from the Catholic church and school of St. Agnes located on 12th Street. That street is now known as Rosa Parks Boulevard.

The parish had been a strong presence in the neighborhood for many years, with its church and a community high school staffed by nuns: the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHMs). The order is noted for its strong commitment to social justice and education.

Nick Gregory

Divisions, intolerance and a biased political process have influenced Detroit for several decades before and since the 1967 uprising. The idea for “Split” was born after meeting Detroiters who live behind the Wailing Wall, built in the 1940’s to separate white and black neighborhoods.

Cynthia Canty / Michigan Radio

Director Kathryn Bigelow's new film Detroit depicts one of the most horrific events of the 1967 rebellion: a night of terror at the Algiers Motel, a night that left three young black men dead at the hands of white police officers.

Detroit had its world premiere this week at the Fox Theatre, just blocks away from where buildings burned, bullets flew, and 43 people died.

Detroit in July of 1967
Walter P. Reuther Library / Wayne State University

The violence in Detroit in the summer of 1967 destroyed large swaths of the city, mostly in black neighborhoods. It also energized the political ambitions of the city's African-American citizens.

The Shrine of the Black Madonna, which opened a few months before the riots broke out, wanted to turn the black church into a political force in Detroit. Its founder Albert Cleage combined the church's history in civil rights activism with an emerging black nationalist movement.

As the nephew of the Shrine's first leader, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans has a unique take on how the summer of 1967 changed the course of religious and political life for black people in Detroit. He also had a front-row seat to the chaos that broke out less than two blocks from his home.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

One powerful way to bear witness to history is through theater.

AFTER/LIFE is a living history play based on oral histories of women and girls who lived through the Detroit ’67 rebellion.

The play was conceived by Dr. Lisa Biggs, an assistant professor in Theater and Performance Studies at Michigan State University. It features oral histories from women left out of news accounts, and teaches students about one of Detroit's pivotal moments.

Biggs, along with actor and poet Deborah Chenault Green, joined Stateside to talk about the performance, and Green’s personal account living through the ’67 rebellion.

Courtesy: Friends of the Alger Theater

Across Detroit, neighborhoods are trying to figure out what they can do to remake their community. One neighborhood is pinning hopes on something it still has that most of Detroit’s other neighborhoods lost years ago.

There used to be dozens of movie theaters scattered across Detroit’s neighborhoods. Nearly all of them have been closed and demolished. There are a handful left. One of them is the Alger Theater  in the MorningSide neighborhood on Detroit’s east side.

Paul Phillips is a board member of the MorningSide Community Organization. He says the Alger was once central to the area, a gathering place that helped keep the business district along East Warren Avenue buzzing.

Walter and Wallace Crawford experienced Detroit's 1967 rebellion first hand.
Stateside Staff

In July 1967, Walter and Wallace Crawford had just graduated from St. Vincent High School in Detroit.

The twin brothers were dedicated athletes, heading to college on track scholarships in the fall. On the morning of July 23, the Crawfords woke up and headed to their weekend job at a car wash.

The fires of the Detroit riot began blazing exactly fifty years ago today. Years later, in an odd case of serendipity, I got to know Ray Good, the first police lieutenant on the scene, in the course of profiling his wife Janet for Esquire Magazine.

That was in the 1990s, when she had her moment of fame as Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s partner in evaluating who he would help die.

The historic marker in Gordon Park at 12th St. and Clairmount.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Fifty years ago this week, Detroit exploded in violent unrest that still marks the city to this day.

Now, the place where it all began is also marked as an official state historic site.

Jim Atkin
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

More than 7,000 people were swept up in mass arrests during the 1967 Detroit uprising.

Jails and police stations were overflowing, so many people were held in makeshift detention centers, often in squalid conditions.

Jim Atkin was a member of the Michigan Air National Guard at that time. His unit was called up to try and contain the situation in Detroit, and his first assignment was guarding people taken into custody during the initial days of the chaos.

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