The aforementioned video invited Detroiters to share their family photos. I thought it would be interesting to see the city’s history through the lens of its people instead of statistics: Detroit serves Detroiters. It also just so happens that we have visited many places featured in this video, like the Charles H. Wright museum and downtown Detroit.
Chantel is an Ojibwe, and she shared her story of being alienated during her elementary school years due to her ethnicity: how people thought that she was Mexican. Her grandparent actually helped build the Renaissance Center, so far the tallest building in Detroit. When people say Detroit, they realize that the demographics are composed mostly of African Americans, but people of all kinds help contribute to the city’s development and their efforts are not always recognized. During the 1950s, Chantel’s grandparents needed to petition a block club in order to purchase the house because the neighbourhood is predominantly Polish, and deemed them to be “too brown to live there”.
Gabriel and Angela Bradby were descendent of former slaves who came to Detroit to start live anew, and they mentioned that their ancestor started his life in Detroit as an 18 years old at the Second Baptist Church, which was an important stop on the Underground Railroad. He later became a supplier during the Civil War and made his fortune. His spirit echoed with that of Detroit: he was an entrepreneur, and seeked to give back to the community, a mission that is pursued by all of our program partners. He ended up donating almost 20,000 dollars to the Underground Railroad.
Detroit’s diversity is still seen reflected in its geography: “Mexican Town, Corktown, Black Bottom and Pole Town”. As a first generation immigrant myself, I was happy to hear stories about immigrants coming to Detroit and thrived. It is a place that welcomes talents of all kinds, and such beliefs encourages entrepreneurship.
The video is less informative regarding the decline and re-rise of Detroit, but put heavier emphasis on its history, which is almost never talked about and what I, or other people, would associated Detroit with. I thought it was an educational experience.