Today marks the 50th anniversary of the National Guard troops being sent home by Detroit’s mayor. May we take steps to improve today’s world in our spheres of influence. Please consider signing the Michigan Declaration and passing the word about it along to friends.
2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Detroit riots or uprising, depending on your point of view. Civil unrest along racial lines in Detroit July 23-27, 1967 left 43 dead and 1,189 injured. 7200 were arrested with approximately 2500 stores looted (total property damage of $32 million), homes of white residents were firebombed, and fear ruled the city on all sides. Tanks rolled down Woodward Avenue as the Michigan National Guard and the 82nd Airborne Division were called out to restore order. In the aftermath, deep scars on the city’s psyche remained, as many whites left the city at their first opportunity.
The President commissioned an investigation to look into the causes of the 1967 riots. The Kerner Commission wrote a report with recommendations. In particular, the section on Detroit in this summary is worth reading.
Black mayors like Coleman Young did not help matters in later years by deriding the suburbs and lamenting the construction of shopping malls just outside the city, “Northland, Southland, all them other damn lands.” As retail stores in the city closed and moved to the suburbs, so did the people, including blacks. Same for grocery stores. Detroit public schools, once some of the best in the state, declined, too. Businesses and factories closed during auto industry downturns. You’ve probably seen pictures of Detroit with graffiti on buildings and heard about Devil’s Night arson, etc. It’s like a city that hasn’t been rebuilt after a war -- ruin porn of a once great city.
Black people in America did endure much suffering. The previous link has Joya Shepard’s excellent presentation to the USA Melting Pot club at the Troy Public Library. Other great presentations and articles are also shown under the Culture and Country heading on the right hand side of the website.
Take a few minutes to watch this moving video which has photos of slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights era as the Black National Anthem is sung.
Detroit in the 1920s was considered the Paris of the North (Charleston, South Carolina the Paris of the South), with many great buildings. The train station in the picture may one day be restored; it’s owned by Matty Maroun, the owner of the Ambassador Bridge. Many of Detroit’s great older buildings are still there, with beautiful architecture. Newer ones like the Renaissance Center, built in 1973, now houses GM’s headquarters and anchors the newly developing Riverfront, with Milliken State Park as part of the Riverwalk.
There is new investment in midtown Detroit and new sports stadiums by the Ilitch and Ford families. Large business owners like Dan Gilbert have poured millions into the city. Shinola and numerous smaller businesses have opened in Detroit and Pontiac. Pontiac is the poorest city in Oakland County but is on its way up with new businesses locating in downtown and charities like Grace Centers of Hope revitalizing the neighborhoods.
Hopefully Detroit has seen its worst days and some of its other neighborhoods besides Indian Village and Southwest Detroit will see improvement. Brightmoor was once called Blightmoor. There is a church plant in eastside Detroit called 5.7, named after the 5.7 square miles of its area.
Other Cities and Countries
Conflict is everywhere, with raucous incivility at California city council meetings. People are reluctant to discuss politics or religion at family gatherings or with friends. Race relations in America are once again at a low point. Police are again not trusted and are getting body cams to protect themselves. Nations are still fighting and scheming. Refugees are fleeing Middle East war zones and overrunning Europe. Militant religions, terrorism, fear, hatred. The list goes on and on, aggravated by the 24/7 news cycle telling us how bad things are, instantly in wide screen living color.
However…. Much good is happening: people are living longer than ever, safe drinking water is more available than ever, solar powered crop-drying devices in remote rural areas of developing countries, and crowd-funding of other worthwhile projects on the internet (not just crime and pornography).
Marvin Olasky wrote a thoughtful article about Jews reaching across the aisle to blacks in Detroit after the riot and during the Civil Rights era. Perhaps their example can help other minorities stick up for each other in the future and we can enter into a more peaceful era of civil discussion of ideas rather today’s Twitter wars and constant bickering.
For a more detailed article on the Detroit riots including the 1943 riot and analysis of the current mayoral race, click here. The second article in the series is The Detroit Riots: A Vietnam Vet’s Perspective.
The Michigan Declaration
What can you do to make a difference? How about taking five minutes to read and sign this on-line petition? When you are tempted to argue to long with someone on the internet, just remember Michigan Declaration principle 3 and walk away from those who would continue to insult you.
The Michigan Declaration has three points and is similar to the Manhattan Declaration, except it’s less controversial. The Manhattan Declaration was a 2009 ecumenical document regarding Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty. Probably the only people who would refuse to sign the Michigan Declaration would be hard core Leftists and some of my Troy Patch opponents.
The Michigan Declaration Principles and Promises
- I will promote a civil public square after the principles in The Global Public Square: Religious Freedom and the Making of a World Safe for Diversity by Os Guinness. He contrasts this with the naked public square proposed by the new atheists and separatists who would banish religion from public life. At the other extreme is the sacred public square favored by extremists of all religions who would try to establish theirs as the only one. This is not possible with today’s global diversity, anyway. The civil public square is the best way forward, where all religions and worldviews are given a fair hearing, with respect for those who differ, and freedom to practice your religion, change to a different one, or have no religion at all. Guinness laments that the 1948 UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights could never be passed today, especially Articles 18 & 19. We affirm this and will work to restore its principles, seeking a new solution for the 21st century that accommodates everyone.
- We will work together to rebuild our cities, towns and rural areas for the benefit of all residents, across racial and demographic lines, for the genuine thriving of all who live there. We may have different opinions about the best way to accomplish this, but will work together when possible and allow freedom for diverse methods, by governments, churches and non-profit organizations.
- We will seek to resolve differences peacefully through dialogue and discussion. We will ask questions to seek to understand the other person’s point of view, following the Stephen Covey principle of Seek first to understand, then to be understood. We will find common ground wherever possible, listing points of agreement and disagreement. When agreement on key issues are not possible after sincere discussion, we will walk away with a richer understanding, rather than with more ammunition to dislike another people group.
We, the undersigned, agree to these three principles and will pass this along to at least three other people for their consideration. We may not be able to solve all of the world’s problems, but by doing what we can within our sphere of influence, we can improve our little corner of the world. To sign the petition, click here and fill out the form. Or leave a comment on the article with your name and hometown, former hometown etc.
The information you enter will be tabulated to form a map of location of signers and other demographic data to be displayed for everyone to look at on the USA Melting Pot website. You will not be added to anyone else’s mailing list. If you choose to leave your email address, you will receive a thank you email and a maximum of two emails per year to keep you updated on the progress of the petition and other club activities. However, please bookmark this website for future reference and explore it for other interesting content. Thank you!
P.S. If we ever need a theme song, perhaps someone can rewrite “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” to be “I’d like to buy the world a Vernors.” With its Detroit origins, Vernors is the oldest surviving ginger ale brand sold in the USA. The oak-aged ginger ale was sold at soda fountains beginning in 1866 by pharmacist and Civil War veteran James Vernor. Though it was sold by the Vernor family in 1966, it’s still a Michigan-centric product, with 80% of sales occurring in Michigan, even though it’s available in 33 states, according to Wikipedia.
Dale Murrish, Weilou Gao, Sreedhar Patil
To sign the Declaration, visit the USA Melting Pot website Michigan Declaration article, leave a comment with your name and hometown, and send an email to at least three friends with a link to the article. We plan to program a short survey soon to replace this paragraph. You can return and take the survey if you like.
'"Free emails, power of the internet, small chance of success, what are we waiting for…" (paraphrase of a famous dwarf - Lord of the Rings)
In previous blog posts, I began telling the story of my brain tumor and the depression which followed it. The second article in the series described my faith in God which sustained me through both trials.
Having recently started a word-by-word translation of Martin Luther’s Bible from German to English, I introduced the project and published Matthew Chapter 1 . Later I wrote commentary on it; my church background and theological training is in my USA Melting Pot bio.
Dale Murrish writes on history, travel, technology, religion and politics for the USA Melting Pot club and Troy Patch. You can help this non-profit club by making your Amazon purchases through the link on the left side of their website. You can also see over a dozen ethnic presentations from people with firsthand knowledge under Culture & Country (right hand side), and outdoor presentations (Hobby & Fun), including posts on bicycling, skiing and camping.