Whether a movement succeeds or fails can often be traced to the agenda, ability and direction of its leadership. A shining example of this progress comes from the civil rights movement in America. With meaningful marches, rallies that lead to policy change and demonstrations that forced significant discussions, it certainly is not what it used to be.
Some may ask; why is there a need for a movement in 2014? Answer: There continues to be individuals and organizations who seek to plant ideas and agendas into the hearts and minds of others, in an effort to live life according to their rules, and frequently without regard for the greater and common good. Detroit, Michigan, with its financial woes and dwindling population is such a place. It is a classic case of the haves and have nots, duking it out via political rhetoric, sensationalized media, horrendous crimes and crime rates, poverty and failing schools, all beneath an undercurrent of poor race relations.
What gets lost in this process is the rich history of the struggles that once inspired a race of ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary feats. A 20 something year old Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lead marches and actually delivered his renowned “I have a Dream” speech in Detroit, before sharing it in Washington, D.C., Berry Gordy, in a terrible economy, found a way to launch Motown Records and ignite energy in the hearts and minds of a city filled with stress and tension through music, Mrs. Rosa Parks made Detroit her home after a long fight against segregation and injustice, the “Brown Bomber”, Joe Louis brought worldwide attention to Detroit as a heavyweight boxing champion and now the longest serving member in Congress, with the retirement of John Dingell, John Conyers, continues to address challenges experienced in Detroit and cities like it, via his community and political efforts, as a highly regarded living legend.
So who are the pioneers of the 21st century? What is the agenda for Urban America and the list of socio-economic priorities for the foreseeable future?
Yes, times have changed. With a financial manager leading the charge in Michigan’s largest city, the trust levels among city leaders, organizations and city residents are at an all-time low. Which begs the question, are reasons for this discourse based on race, politics, economics or all of the above? How are the 700,000 citizens of this city to respond to the lack of clear direction, given its 47% functionally illiterate rate, dilapidating neighborhoods and lack of relevant job training programs?
What many fail to keep in the forefront of their mind is the debilitating impact of unemployment, such as the apparent self-centered focus and lack of value for another person’s life as a result. While all eyes are on the headlines of Detroit as well as the tolerance of Detroiters, the unaddressed desperation that grows organically, in the minds of individuals experiencing extremely tough times, as proven by history, often gives life to increased poverty, senseless crimes and eventually civil unrest.