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Engage Michigan: Solutions to Crises Ignored by ‘Official’ State of the City

Message from the African American majority who “paid and stayed” 

DETROIT – A group of social justice organizations provided grassroots solutions to Detroit’s crises with a “People’s State of the City” (#PeoplesSOTC) directly following Mayor Mike Duggan’s State of the City speech. Spearheaded by the Detroit People’s Platform, the event covered topics such as making sure everyone has as access to clean drinking water, keeping people in their homes in the face of gentrification, and raising the voices of Detroit’s longtime African American majority.
HOPE Global Forum 2015

Source: Chris McKay / Getty

“Those of us who have stuck with our city, who have paid and stayed, have the right to be front and center as Detroit develops,” said Rev. Roslyn Murray Bouier, executive director, Brightmoor Connection Food Pantry. “That means basics like the right to affordable water through income-based water bills and having a seat at the table when wealthy developers take public money for private development. Mayor Mike Duggan has been avoiding the effects of poverty on Detroiters and ignoring the power imbalance between wealthy, mostly white developers taking public money from a majority African American city. We need a serious Community Benefits Ordinance that guarantees residents a place at the table with mega developers who take big public subsidies.”

In addition to water affordability and a real Community Benefits Ordinance, those gathered for the “People’s State of the City” support other policies that would help longtime residents continue to weather Detroit’s challenges.
“The narrative of ‘two Detroits’ is based on overlapping crises: massive water-shutoffs, widespread home foreclosures, and a general refusal to acknowledge the need for racial and economic justice,” said Tawana Petty of the People’s Water Board. “We have cut the grass on vacant lots, boarded up abandoned houses and fought to keep control of our city and our schools. We, the black majority, will not be pushed out or made to feel unwelcome when we are the ones who held the city together. That’s why we fight for our right to sit at the table with developers and to make sure people are not priced out of homes their families have been in for generations. As the old song says, ‘We shall not be moved’.”

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