Black Detroit has a long history of engaged citizenry. Black residents rebelled in 1967 to protest police brutality and economic/social exclusion. Afterwards, they exerted political will power by electing the city’s first black mayor, Coleman Young. In the past, black neighborhoods thrived due to civic organizing rooted in the black church, labor, and long standing and robust social networks.
Black Detroit’s rich history has been rewritten to portray long-time black residents as socially, economically, and politically incompetent. This kind of revisionist narrative has taken hold across the country in many majority black cities. The false narrative supports the theory that the exclusion of black residents is necessary for Detroit’s successful revitalization.
This workshop will feature two local grassroots organizations and focus on concrete strategies to fight destructive development policies caused by the narrative being deployed against long-time Detroiters, and working in favor of the corporate and political backers of the city’s “revitalization.” ¡MIRA! will make the case that majority-black cities commonly deliver progressive policies that benefit Latinx, Middle Eastern, and Muslim communities. Detroit People’s Platform will demonstrate methods for building community power such as grassroots organizing, coalitions, and policy advocacy. Participants will work together to identify common elements of displacement and inequitable development, and then evaluate activist interventions that can disrupt displacement while transferring power from the private sector and ineffective political leaders back to black community leaders. Workshop participants will receive tools for reclaiming city revitalization initiatives to restore the progressive and powerful status of majority black cities.