Detroit’s resurgence in recent years has been a remarkable economic phenomenon, but there is another more important change contributing to the success story — a sociological movement that is long overdue. Race relations in Detroit have always been strained. I used to think it was during my own lifetime, but as I became more familiar with history I realized that this has been true since at least the 1940s.
Detroit has been one of the more segregated cities in the North. Up to the 1960s there was literally a wall separating Birwood Street on the Northwest side. Then, until recent years, there was the figurative wall of 8 Mile Road. It wasn’t all one way either, with many “no go zones” imposed on whites in certain areas of Detroit as well. Take a walk around Detroit now and see how things have changed.
Maybe the adversity of economics in the last two decades has created a sense that we are all in the same foxhole, or maybe it is something else. Now when you walk through Eastern Market on a weekend, or simply go to one of the numerous new restaurants or entertainment venues in Detroit, there is not only an obvious diversity of people, there is a comfort with that diversity.
Certainly younger people who were spared the tough years of the ’70s and ’80s when Detroit spiraled down into collapse, have brought an openness absent the tension of those days. Mayor Duggan has been more than just a catalyst for the economic resurgence in Detroit, he is also symbol of the social renaissance. If not for the fact that he was white, his race is irrelevant. That’s the way it should be. There is a hope that this Detroit will be the best Detroit ever.