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I just got back from Chicago and was amazed at the vitality of Chicago. People on the street, people shopping. An active city. Detroit was once that way too. I am going to start with the history of why I think Detroit is dying. Here are the three major influences of white flight out of the city
1. The Riots of 1967. Detroit starting dying the day the 1967 riots started. Detroit and it’s suburbs were racist back in the day. Many suburbs were “lilly white”. Black and white did not mix back in the sixties. Up to the 1960’s there was a large caucasian population in Detroit. White and black co-existed in the city just like many of the big cities around the country. But the riots of 1967 started the white flight out of the City of Detroit.
2. Bussing. Detroit like many other cities had their areas. Some were wealthy white areas and other areas were the poor areas. We had Indian Village, The University district, the Boston Edison district, Rosedale Park, Palmer Park, and Palmer Woods. All beautiful “nicer” neighborhoods. All along Outer Drive were nice areas. Bussing kids from those nice areas to mix with poor black kids did not sit well with the wealthier white families. Many of them had lived in Detroit for years. But when it came to sending their kids to be bussed they just said “we will move”. Thus starting major white flight out of Detroit.
3. Coleman Young. Coleman Young did many good things for Detroit but in my opinion he was just like Orville Hubbard of Dearborn was. I won’t call them racist, but I don’t think either one of those two mayors liked the other race much. I don’t blame Coleman Young. He had seen discrimination his whole life. He had served his country with the Tuskeegee Airmen. They had done many great things but never got the credit they deserved. African Americans were treated badly during those times. As Colemen Young gained in power his disdain of the white establishment became more apparent. As Coleman Young rose to power he openly told the suburbs he didn’t need them. Of course the white suburbs listened. Slowly over the Coleman years key businesses moved out of the city. White people knew they weren’t welcome. The white population moved out of the city.
Coleman Youngs black utopia was in it’s infancy. Slowly but surely many whites stopped going into the city to shop. They stopped going into the city to eat. Even the shows suffered. Sure the Ren Cen was built, sure the people mover was built. All good things. But every major city needs the suburbs around it to survive. Whether it was fear of crime or what, the city center started slowly dying.
Adding to it were some minor things that added to white flight and the caucausion population not coming into the city and shopping
a. Repeal of having to live in the City of Detroit. The City of Detroit had a rule at one time that if you worked for the city you had to live in the city. Throughout the city there were pockets of white policement or white firemen living together. After the rule was abolished many of the city employees moved out of the city.
b. Malice Green Trial – two white policemen were convicted of beating a black man to death. Again Colemen Young voiced his opinion quickly about the white police officers before they even went to trial. On one side was the black community and on the other was the white community.
To say that these are all the factors that have contributed to the death of Detroit would be wrong. There are many, many things that have started the decay. The questions are
Is it too late to save Detroit?
How do we save it?
How do we get Detroit to become a multi racial city?
Unfortunately some Detroit suburbs are pre-dominately white or pre-dominately black. But as a real estate agent I am noticing that many cities are becoming multi-racial and multi-cultural. So how do we get that to happen in Detroit is the question? How do we get the city back? How do we make it a great city again? Letting Detroit die may not be a good thing. Letting Detroit die won’t be good for the suburbs either. Or for the State of Michigan.
So what do we do?
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