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Detroit Journalism Cooperative

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

At one time, Detroit’s black families had one of the highest home ownership rates in the nation. Now that rate is among the lowest. Every year in Detroit, thousands of people lose their homes to tax foreclosures. In many cases, it is unnecessary. The city is accused of illegal taxes and denying tax exemptions homeowners deserved. When I got to Darryl and Alisa Beavers' house, I was greeted by Jackson, their small dog. They’ve been living in a three-bedroom, two bath, 1,600 square foot home on...

Andrew Colom and Davide Alade
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

When we talk about investment in Detroit, the likes of Dan Gilbert or Christopher Ilitch come to mind. Certainly Gilbert has led the way in buying downtown buildings, reshaping the look of downtown Detroit. But today, we're going to look at investment in Detroit's neighborhoods. Andrew Colom and David Alade both gave up jobs to move to Detroit and launch an investment company called Century Partners . Their idea was to invest in Detroit's neighborhoods, and to close the wealth disparity gap by helping people invest in the rehabilitation of their neighborhoods.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

In 1967, many American cities were rocked by civil disturbances, including Detroit. Black people rose up against police brutality and unfair treatment.

Razor wire at a Detroit police station.
Tim Jones / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Heather Ann Thompson has been in the news recently because of the success of her new book , Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy , a nonfiction finalist this year for the National Book Award. But Thompson is also a nationally respected expert on mass incarceration and through her research has reached some provocative conclusions about the role Michigan’s criminal laws have played in Detroit’s slow-motion economic collapse in the decades following the 1967...

VIDEO: Interview with Russell Simmons

Oct 31, 2016
Russell Simmons.
DPTV

We sat down with entrepreneur, author, clothing line creator, and film and music producer Russell Simmons to get his take on the state of police and justice for Chapter 6 in our Detroit Journalism Cooperative series: Justice . Simmons talks about the frequency that African Americans are being killed by police which has shocked a nation. He also speaks about the importance of having African American police officers in urban areas like Detroit. Watch the clips below: https://youtu.be...

Inside Jackson Prison.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The prison reform movement in Michigan – and across much of the nation – is one of the rare issues in this contentious era that attracts support from individuals, public officials and organizations with a wide variety of agendas and political views. Among the voices calling for changes to laws and practices that have made Michigan a leader in locking up its own citizens – at the cost of some $2 billion a year — are Gov. Rick Snyder; the Detroit-based American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan...

Grosse Pointe Farms Municipal Court

Black and white residents of southeast Michigan differ in their perceptions of how people of color are treated in local courts, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Detroit Journalism Cooperative . About half – 49%– of African-Americans surveyed said blacks were treated worse in the courtrooms, but just 16% of whites agreed. Nearly two-thirds – 64% – of whites said they think blacks are treated the same as whites, but only 40% of African Americans agreed that treatment is similar....

Max Nussenbaum is the CEO of Castle, a company looking to make property management simpler and more efficient
Courtesy of Generation Startup

What's the barrier between you and the life you truly want to lead? That's one of the questions Cheryl Miller Houser explores as co-director of the documentary film Generation Startup . It follows some young entrepreneurs as they build startups in Detroit. They try, stumble, learn, and try again.

Room in an abandoned school in Detroit
user Freaktography / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

More than 152,000 students in metro Detroit attend class in a district or charter other than the district where they live. As minorities move into some districts, other students use the state schools-of-choice law to move to less-diverse districts. Families say they use "choice" to move their kids to higher-performing, or safer, schools. Consciously or not, however, this law has left many districts in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb County more racially segregated. Chastity Pratt Dawsey and Mike...

Black Lives Matter protesters Anthony Sammour, Shauna Jones, Michelle Bishop-Dawkins, Samona Dunn, and Jade Bishop in Ann Arbor.
Catherine Shaffer

The Detroit Journalism Cooperative commissioned a poll, asking people about race. It was conducted by Epic-MRA . The sample was unique in that one-third of those surveyed lived in mostly black communities, one-third from communities which include different races, and one third from mostly white communities.

Metro Detroit racial divide is widest over police

Sep 16, 2016
Demostrators in downtown Detroit protest police-involved shootings that have killed African-Americans.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

While black and white metro Detroiters are finding common ground on racial progress, there remains a gulf, shaped by vastly different experiences, in how the two groups view police. And nowhere are those differences laid more bare than in the divergent views on the protest movement known as Black Lives Matter .

Roughly eight-in-10 African-American residents in metro Detroit express support for Black Lives Matter, according to to a survey on racial attitudes conducted this month for the Detroit Journalism Cooperative. BLM arose three years ago in reaction to the killing of unarmed blacks by police. Black support for the group (79% strongly or somewhat support BLM) is more than double that among white metro-Detroiters, 34%.

School choice, metro Detroit’s new white flight

Sep 13, 2016
Photo courtesy of Chastity Pratt Dawsey / Bridge Magazine

When the high school in Eastpointe recently welcomed the football team from Lakeview High, it was a homecoming of sorts. That’s because nearly 700 students from Eastpointe actually attend school in Lakeview, a public school district five miles away in St. Clair Shores. As it happens, many of the students who left Eastpointe for Lakeview are white. So it was that on a cool September evening, most students and fans on the home team’s side of the football field were African American, while many...

A newspaper clipping of Detroit's busing era.
clipping courtesy of Ray Litt / via Detroit Free Press

The U.S. Department of Education says kids at schools with mostly black or Latino students don’t get as good of an education as kids at schools with mostly white students. Generally speaking, their teachers are not as experienced and their buildings are in worse shape. You can see that in Detroit, Flint, and other Michigan cities. There was a major Michigan court case that could have ended segregated schools and made it possible for children to have a good education no matter where they lived. Here's how that court case might have made a difference today.

MDOT / via Twitter

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department says 22,000 owners of surface parking lots and other parcels covered in impervious materials like concrete need to start pitching in for the city's $125 million annual cost for wastewater treatment. Gary Brown is Director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

"They do not have a water account," says Brown. "They don't use water or sewage. But yet when it rains, the water runs off their parking lot and into our sewers. And it has...

Members of the so-called "Homrich 9" before their initial trial.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Why has a criminal misdemeanor case involving seven Detroit protesters been stalled for nearly nine months? Those defendants and their lawyers want to know, and in a letter sent to Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway, they petition him to resolve the case “promptly.” The defendants, part of the self-proclaimed “Homrich 9,” had briefly blocked contractors’ trucks tasked with shutting off water to Detroit homes. This was in the summer of 2014, when Detroit was still in bankruptcy...

A Detroit water shutoff notice
Ali Elisabeth / Michigan Radio

Detroiters looking for help with their water bills are hitting some barriers, as a new aid program tries to get a handle on its funding situation, and navigate confusion between the different agencies involved. The Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP) just launched in March. It was touted as a comprehensive solution to Detroit’s chronic problem with delinquent water bills, and the subsequent service shutoffs that have hit tens of thousands of households over the past three years. But...

Wikimedia Commons

UPDATE: The EAA has released emails that appear to show the state and DPS agreeing to revise payments from the EAA. You can read those emails here. Yesterday, the governor's office said this debt debate is "really an issue for the EAA and MDE to be responding to," while the Michigan Department of Education declined to comment and referred questions to the Treasury Department. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, a Treasury spokesperson confirmed the $14.8 million in payments owed by the EAA to DPS: " As...

By Bill McGraw is a reporter for Bridge Magazine, a Detroit Journalism Cooperative partner Though their sprawling region had long wrestled with segregation, and racial violence has dominated national headlines this summer, about half of all metro Detroit residents say local race relations today are generally good, according to an exclusive new poll by the Detroit Journalism Cooperative. Seven-in-10 metro Detroiters say they believe race relations in the greater Detroit area are getting better...

Ali Lapetina / Detroit Journalism Cooperative

Attitudes about race have been improving in southeast Michigan, but there are still wide gaps on some issues between white people and black people. Those are some of the findings in a new survey commissioned by the Detroit Journalism Cooperative. The survey included people from mostly black communities, mixed communities, and mostly white communities in the Detroit metropolitan area. When asked to rank the importance of race relations, black and white people ranked that issue below issues...

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows the majority of Americans think race relations are getting worse. Concern about race relations spiked shortly after the reports of white police officers killing black men. Since the poll, two black men have targeted and killed police. If you’re white, you might be surprised by increased racial tensions. If you’re black, you know there’s been tension all along. “Prior to the video phones and video taping of police murder, it had been happening continuously...

The 12th Street Riot began in the early hours of July 23, 1967 following a police raid on an unlicensed after-hours bar on the corner of 12th and Clairmount.
Public Domain

In the summer of 1967, the streets of Detroit shook with violence. Civil unrest over lack of housing for blacks and open animosity with the mostly white police department boiled over in the early morning hours of July 23. What began with a police raid on an unlicensed after-hours club grew into rioting and looting that devastated parts of the city and lasted for days. Then-governor George Romney called in the National Guard, and President Lyndon Johnson sent in paratroopers to help quell the...

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The first thing you notice about the street in front of Walter Hicks' home is it's peaceful. There are lots of trees, chirping birds, and most of the lawns are mowed. But then you see that the houses on either side of Hicks' home are boarded up. And there are lots of boarded up homes all down the street. That doesn't seem to put even a little dent in his pride of ownership. "Well, I got the house through the auction in 2012," says Hicks. "I got it for $2,400. And I been here ever since, and I...

Allen Academy is unimstakably a former Catholic church.
Allen Academy / via Facebook

How do you decide if a so-called “failing” school should shut down, and is there a right way to do it? Three Detroit charter schools shut their doors forever at the end of this school year. One of them, Allen Academy, was one of the city’s very first charters. And its closure leaves a wake of upheaval. "The kids are going to be better off" The ornate, red-brick complex on Detroit’s west side is unmistakably an old Catholic church. The Saint Theresa of Avila parish closed in the 1980s. Since...

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Racial tensions are growing as the perceptions and evidence of racial inequality are growing. Many of Detroit's residents see billionaires buying up downtown buildings where new retailers open shop, selling items most of Detroit's impoverished citizens cannot afford. There's a marked divide between that prosperity in downtown and the poverty in the neighborhoods. That divide is stark in the Cass Corridor. New residents, often white, are moving in. Rents are rising. New restaurants and boutique shops are popping up. The old residents, often black, are being pushed out.

Detroit's new Red Wings arena under construction.
Rick Briggs / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Detroiters may get to choose between two, competing ballot proposals in November. Both lay out a process for negotiating community benefits agreements with developers of large, publicly-subsidized projects. Community benefits can range from job opportunities to health and safety protections. Such agreements are sometimes touted as a way to make sure neighborhood residents see gains from big development in their midst. The Detroit City Council put one such proposal a step closer to the ballot...

A picture of Viola Liuzzo, in the park that bears her name.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit is launching a two-year investment campaign in some neighborhood parks, starting with a park named for a murdered civil rights activist. Viola Liuzzo was the Detroit activist and mother killed by Ku Klux Klan members near Selma, Alabama in 1965. The northwest Detroit park that that honors her was dedicated in 1982, but had fallen into disrepair. Now, it stands to get almost $1 million in upgrades, from new playscapes and picnic shelters to some functional landscaping. Palencia Mobley,...

The Atlantic posted a piece on July 8th which gets to the heart of what Michigan Radio and the Detroit Journalism Cooperative have been reporting on this year: Have things changed since the Kerner Commission's report of 1968 was published? That presidential commission report outlined the grievances of black America and remedies to ease racial tensions. The Atlantic explores the issue and contrasts it with the current presidential election year. When questions over race and policing were front...

 A mural by Louis Delsarte at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic site.
Flickr user yooperann/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

This week, violence and race have hit us in a way many of us have never seen. Violence and race, though, are not new. The Detroit Journalism Cooperative has been looking at the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s . Some of the core issues then are some of the issues we're still struggling with today. You've got to understand the history to really understand what's happened this week.

Flickr user TS Elliott/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Race is very difficult for people to talk about. Many white people want to believe we’re in a post-racial society. After all, we have an African-American president. Many black people note the inequalities that exist, the segregation that exists. How can Americans begin to have a real discussion about race when we’ve been comfortable in our own beliefs about that subject for so long?

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

A recent legislative overhaul to Detroit Public Schools is being challenged in court. Governor Snyder signed bills that split the old school district in two last month, avoiding a potential bankruptcy. But members of Detroit’s elected school board say there are a number of problems with those bills. Thomas Bleakley, the board’s attorney, says one problem is the laws are written so that they only apply to Detroit — and the state constitution is clear about the process for passing “local acts.”...

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