Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter. – October 31st, 2018

October 31st, 2018

grace and jimmy

It has been a week of hate crimes and violence across the country.

Please join us at interfaith press event to condemn recent acts of violenceand extremism targeting the Jewish community, immigrants, African-Americans and the press, and call for unity and mutual support.

We must loudly proclaim our positive vision of a strong, multi-cultural democracy, and affirm the importance of pluralism and freedom of the press.

1 PM, Thursday, Nov. 1st
Islamic House of Wisdom
22575 Ann Arbor Trail
Dearborn Heights, MI

Speakers & Attendees Confirmed So Far:
Imam Elahi, Islamic House of Wisdom
Rev. Ed Rowe, Methodist Federation for Social Action
Rev. Paul Perez, Office of Peace & Justice, Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church
Imam Mustapha El-Turk, Islamic Organization of North America
Rabbi Ariana Silverman, Downtown Synagogue
Rashida Tlaib
*more to be confirmed*

RSVP to:



Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Weaponizing Water

Gary Brown, the director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, recently revealed that the Duggan administration is once again threatening to use water shut offs as a weapon to clear people out of neighborhoods.  Brown had scarcely concluded his interview with Bridge Magazine when Food and Water Watch released its first national assessments of water shut offs for non-payment of bills. The report entitled America’s Secret Water Crisis: National Shutoff Survey Reveals Water Affordability Emergency Affecting Millions,  is a stark condemnation of the approach Duggan is taking to the water crisis.

Duggan and Brown would do well to consider the key findings of the report. It concludes:

  • We estimate that 15 million Americans experienced a water shutoff for overdue bills in 2016.
  • The average water utility shut off one in 20 households for nonpayment that year.
  • The most water shutoffs are concentrated in the South: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida.

Detroit figured prominently in the report. Of the 73 municipalities that responded to the survey, Detroit ranks number 9 in percentage of shut offs. We are the largest city outside the South to experience these shut offs.

The report explains, “the highest shutoff rates occurred in lower-income cities with higher rates of poverty and unemployment. Water service is exceedingly unaffordable for low-income households in Detroit and New Orleans, in particular. More than one in five households in these cities receive water bills that exceed 9 percent of their income.”

Shut off policies and high water bills especially effect communities of color. The report noted, “Overall, communities of color had higher water bill burdens. This pattern was seen among the cities with the highest and lowest shutoff rates.”

Things do not need to be this way. Two cities do not use a shut off policy at all for non payment of bills, Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Leominster, Massachusetts. Several cities have either adopted, or are moving toward real water affordability based on income, not use.

The truth that Brown, Duggan and the corporate elite refuse to admit is that water shut offs make no economic sense. As economists have demonstrated time and again, a water affordability plan based on income is a much smarter way to collectively support public utilities. Such a plan rewards conservation, supports vulnerable families, improves public health, and expands consciousness of our responsibilities as stewards of the waters that support us.

Yet Duggan and his cronies have refused to address this logic. Instead they have avoided any substantial effort to provide a rational water policy.

Now Gary Brown has made it clear why. The administration sees water as a weapon for ethnic cleansing.

This was clear from the first day of Emergency Management when Kevyn Orr tried to sell the water department to private interests. Ultimately that effort lead to the establishment of the Great Lakes Water Authority, the loss of control of the department by the city, and a deal that will earn Detroit less per year than it is currently paying the consultants to review the water system.

Duggan of course denies he intends to close down any neighborhoods. But the reality is that the current pattern of persistent water shut offs, foreclosures, school closings and lack of adequate transportation make life more and more difficult throughout much of the city.

Detroit has the opportunity to provide visionary, thoughtful policies for water usage. There are broad citizen coalitions that have spent decades clarifying the simple ideas that water is a human right and a sacred trust. These organizations have already crafted affordable water policies and have led the way in water conservation and consciousness.

It should be clear to everyone Duggan is weaponizing water in his drive to remake Detroit as a whiter, wealthier city. Evidence keeps mounting that he is ignoring those who have an inclusive justice vision of how we can live together.

What We’re Watching

Pulitzer-prize winning Journalist, Author and Activist Chris Hedges, discusses modern day consumerism, totalitarian corporate power and living in a culture dominated by pervasive illusion.



Assembly & Training in Detroit, November 8-12, 2018


Assembly & Training in Detroit, November 8-12, 2018



Boggs Center – Living For Change NewsLetter. October 23rd, 2018

October 23rd, 2018

grace and jimmy
Ward and Petty_Flyer

Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Attack in Brightmoor

Detroit has few friends in Lansing.  We have learned over these years of right-wing republican rule that a favorite trick of those in power is to withhold funds from a city or school district and to then declare a financial emergency which their actions have intentionally created.  This emergency becomes the justification for imposing an unelected, unaccountable overseer. This single individual supplants all democratic authority and rules in ways that benefit the rich and powerful. This was the bitter lesson of the Detroit Bankruptcy process, the experience of Benton Harbor, Pontiac, and the poisoning of Flint.  Emergency managers are bad for democracy, bad for cities, bad for schools, and bad for people who care about fair and equitable decision making.

Emergency managers are usually imposed with a rhetoric that explains the loss of political power is for our own good. We somehow have not “managed” our affairs well. We need the strong hand of state government to set things right.

All of us now know that Emergency Management is just one more way the Lansing Legislature and Governor have of shifting public money into the pockets of their friends. It is one more way to promote racial antagonisms to hide greed.

Even the Governor’s own commission charged with investigating the Flint water disaster  concluded that systemic racism is at the foundation of these efforts. Further, this commission joined the growing call to eliminate emergency management as a tool of state government.  They specifically suggested:

  • Replacing or restructuring Michigan’s emergency manager law.
  • Developing a plan of action to provide environmental justice to all Michigan residents.
  • Developing a deeper understanding of the roles of structural racialization and implicit bias, and how they affect decision-making throughout all branches of state government, and provide training on implicit bias to the Governor’s Cabinet, Mission Flint, and the staff of all state departments including DHHS and DEQ.

None of these actions have been taken.

So, when we again see an effort to impose an emergency manager, we should be very suspicious.

Almost two weeks ago a “mini manager” surfaced in a dramatic confrontation at Detroit Community Schools, a public charter school in Brightmoor. Sharon McPhail, who has been leading the school since 2012, was forcibly removed from the building.

McPhail had no warning, but the media had been alerted to be on hand. Subsequent reports border on a smear campaign, implying instability and corruption. In reality this appears to be a dispute over credentials, and a murky one at that.

A “conservator,” Nancy Berkompas, has been appointed to “Bring the school into compliance with state law by retaining a chief administrator with proper state certification, obtaining proper financing, addressing the penalties assessed by the Michigan Department of Education, and resolving other issues related to the college’s notice that it intends to revoke the school’s authorization.”

The school’s board has been removed from power. Berkompas is currently the governance specialist for Bay Mills college’s charter school office, which authorizes the school.

Maureen Taylor, a respected Detroit activist works at the school and witnessed the forced removal of Ms. McPhail.  She said, “There is something else going on here that attracts this level anger and disrespect. This crew alerted local media to be on hand for the event and they demanded to come in to film this disgraceful episode. Our students are 3rd on SAT scores in Detroit. We have a full complement of security staff to maintain safety on site. We graduate at a high level, insisting that ‘failure is not an option’.  We list all the 12th grade students who have been accepted into post-secondary education and so far, we have a 95% acceptance rate.

She said, “This is a move to destroy the school, to disrupt the positive progress toward educational excellence, to denigrate the CAO, and to deny the staff and students the peace and tranquility we have all worked so hard to develop over these seven years.  No efforts have been expended to help in those areas where we need support. It seems to me that this is about money or resources in some way.  Why any effort would be aimed at disrupting a school is suspect, so I am asking my community to step to this situation in full force.”

This is a call we all need to heed.


Design 2
What We’re Reading

Anita, Christine, and Me
The Media’s Moving On, But I’m Not
By Belle Chesler
It’s been three weeks since Dr. Christine Blasey Ford gave her testimony before the nation and I’m still struggling to move on. As talk turns toward the impending midterms, I find myself mentally pushing back against the relentlessness of the news cycle as it plows on, casting a spell of cultural amnesia in its wake. I’m still mired in the past, shaken by the spectacle of the Kavanaugh hearings, and pulled across the decades into the darkest crevasses of my memories. KEEP READING

Charlene Carruthers Flyer



Boggs Center Living For Change – October 16 th, 2018

October 16th, 2018

grace and jimmy

Design 2

Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Effecting the Children

This week the Michigan League for Public Policy released a new report on the crisis of education in our state. It identifies the failures of decades of so-called reforms and argues for a honest look at systemic racism embedded in these efforts

The report urges legislators, leaders and all concerned people to face “the inescapable truth of deep inequities in educational opportunities and outcomes for children based on race, ethnicity, place and income.”

It continues, “While all children can learn and deserve a top-notch education, children of color and those living in low-income communities face barriers to educational success from cradle to career. Attempts to improve Michigan’s educational system without addressing those barriers will undoubtedly fail.”

The study puts the failure of state educational efforts into a broader context explaining that “educational disparities do not occur in a vacuum and can be traced to public policies that limit employment and housing options for many parents, fail to adequately recognize the added costs of teaching children who live in high-poverty neighborhoods, and view investments in teachers as a “diversion” of school funding away from children.”

The report concludes with a series of recommendations to law makers. These recommendations are not new, but they point to how inadequate recent legislatures have been in addressing the needs of our children.

The first step, the report says is for policy makers to “consider the impact of potential budget and policy decisions on children of color and low income communities.” It goes on to recommend investment in “efforts to reduce poverty and ameliorate the impact of poverty on learning.”

These first two recommendations should guide any decision, anywhere. The simple question, “how does this effect the children” should be a basic standard of judgment. By this standard most of the policies enacted by our city fail.  Water shut offs, foreclosures, punitive testing, lack of transportation, escalating rents, and the use of public money to build jails and entertainment center all fail to meet this basic standard.

As we consider this report, I was reminded of one published more than a year ago by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. It was described at the time as “a searing 135 page report,” documenting the impact of “systematic racism” and the “complete failure of government.” The subject was the Flint water crisis. That report also “delved into the history of race and racism in Flint.”  It linked structural racism to emergency management legislation and “called for changes in the state’s emergency manager law and more training on racial bias at all levels of state government.”

“It is abundantly clear that race played a major role in developing the policies and causing the events that turned Flint into a decaying and largely abandoned urban center, a place where a crisis like this one was all but inevitable,”

The Flint report concluded with this warning. “We cannot predict what the next crisis will be, when it will occur, or in which decaying urban center it will happen. But we do know that unless we do something, it will occur, and it will disparately harm people of color.”

These reports are bringing to the forefront of public discussion a reality that most of us know every day in our bones. It is a reality that diminishes the lives of all of us, but especially those of our children. The urgency for deep, structural change has never been clearer. Care for the children. Advance democracy. Provide the basic necessities for life. Our challenge is to find new, collective ways to craft just futures for our children and ourselves.

dear ford

For Immediate Release
Coalition for Ensuring the Black Legacy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Community Coalition Challenges the C.H. Wright Museum Board over Controversial Jefferson Exhibition and Lack of Community Representation in Museum Leadership

A Coalition of 20 community organizations, bolstered by social media campaigns ( and that collected more than 17,000 signatures, has been rebuffed by the Board of Trustees of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (CHWMAAH) in its effort to win community representation on the Board, and prevent the hosting of the exhibition, “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello:  Paradox of Liberty.”

Recently the Coalition wrote to the Museum Board to oppose installation of the Jefferson plantation exhibition during Black History Month, 2019. The exhibit seeks to represent the slavery experience in ways that delete or obscure the essential features of the plantation system: inhumane violence and terror. As such, the exhibit erases from history the sufferings of our ancestors, and fails to acknowledge their extraordinary capacity to overcome the oppression to which they were subjected. This falsification of history is offensive and inappropriate, given the heinous practices of slaveholders like Jefferson, and given the nature of current race relations in the U.S., where police violence and murder of our youth continue to plague our communities.  Thousands of signers have supported the Coalition’s insistence that such an exhibit should not be featured at the CHWMAAH, which was founded to uplift and inspire the African American community.

In a letter to the Coalition, the Museum Board has reiterated their determination to host the Jefferson exhibition.  They also rejected the Coalition’s proposal that there be community representation on the Museum Board and the CEO Selection Committee.  

The recent ouster of CEO and President, Ms. Juanita Moore, prompted the Black community’s concerned response.  Ms. Moore was dismissed suddenly, despite her stellar record of creating financial stability for the Museum, and raising the programming of the Museum to a level of national recognition and enthusiastic community support. Within two months of her leaving, the Board appears to be moving towards other staff changes, alerting the Coalition that the Board intends a new direction in policies and programs.  We are concerned that this new direction is intended to accommodate corporate/private, White supremacist interests –like the Jefferson exhibition — rather than those of the African American community at large.

Indeed, it appears that the Board member who is taking the lead in imposing the Jefferson exhibition is Euro-American attorney James P. Cunningham of Williams Williams Rattner and Plunkett law firm, Birmingham, MI. The other Board members appear indifferent to the outrage of 17,000 individuals who have signed the petitions against the exhibit.  

Are the Board Members aware that Jefferson made an enslaved child, Sally Hemings, the bearer of seven of his children (only four of whom survived to adulthood)? Are they aware that for over a century, white historians in the U.S. attempted to cover up this history, dismissing the claims of African American descendants of Hemings and Jefferson, until DNA science made it impossible for them to do so?  Having no alternative now but to recognize Thomas Jefferson’s outrageous hypocrisy as a slaveholder, such historians now want to recast Sally Hemings, the enslaved child, Jefferson’s victim, in the following contradictory ways: “…Negotiator. Liberator. World traveler. Enslaved woman. Concubine. Inherited property. Mystery.” (Press release, Office of Cultural Affairs, City of Dallas)  What unmitigated deceit!

At a community meeting held at Sacred Heart Church on September 19, 200+ activists carried out a nomination and election process to vet 10 community representatives to join the Museum Board, and four community representatives to join the CEO Selection Committee.  The following were the criteria for nomination:

  1. Ten or more years of ongoing engagement in community service or organizing to advance and protect the rights and well being of the African American community
  2. Demonstrated leadership and trust of community
  3. Interest in, knowledge and advocacy of African American history and culture
  4. Readiness to collaborate to generate resources to maintain African American institutions

The following well-known community activists were elected:

Museum Board

Ms. Theo Broughton
Mr. Jamon Jordan
Ms. Marian Kramer
Mrs. Helen Moore
Ms. Monica Patrick
Ms. Tawana Petty
Prof. Charles Simmons
Ms. Maureen Taylor
Mr. Paul Taylor
Mr. Malik Yakini
Alternate:  Mr. Khary Frazier

CEO Selection Committee

Atty. Jeffrey Edison
Dr. Gloria Aneb House
Mr. Michael Imhotep
Rev. JoAnn Watson
Alternate:  Dr. Kefentse Chike

The Coalition will continue to demand that these elected community representatives be included on the Museum Board and the CEO Selection Committee.As the corporations and their allies in government and public agencies continue their ruthless gentrification of Detroit, dispossessing African Americans and other people of color through home foreclosures, illegal property taxes, water shutoffs, toxic water and school closings, and as these forces insist on building yet another jail to facilitate the school-to-prison-pipeline for our youth, the Coalition will take all actions at its disposal to ensure that the CHWMAAH remains a center of our community, governed in the interest of the community.

The Coalition is appealing to everyone who treasures the Museum, both locally and nationally, to speak out, send letters and texts to the Board Chairperson, Mr. Eric Peterson ( and Interim COO, Mr. George Hamilton, retired Dow Chemical Executive (  Demand that the elected community representatives be seated on the Museum Board and on the Selection Committee for the new CEO, and that another exhibit, representative of our people’s hopes and strivings, be brought to the Museum to celebrate African American History Month, 2019.

The next meeting of the Coalition will be held at 6:30 p.m. on October 10th at West Side Unity Church, 4727 Joy Road, Detroit.  


Boggs Center – Living for Change News letter October 3rd, 2018

October 3rd, 2018

grace and jimmy

Thinking for Ourselves     Shea Howell Being Counted
Detroit young people are taking the lead in challenging the complacency of the Mayor and Superintendent of Schools over the water crisis in our city. Detroit Area Youth Uniting Michigan (DAYUM) are hosting a Freedom School today (October 3rd), urging students to stand up for themselves, younger students, and their community by striking on Count Day. Elders, university professors, and community leaders are invited to join the students to learn and strategize together about how to continue to press for safe, affordable water and an education that encourages critical thinking, creative action, and collective wisdom.
The demands of the students are directed at the Mayor and the Superintendent as both hold responsibilities for the current crisis in drinking water. The students list 4 demands. They are asking Mayor Duggan to provide free lead testing and remediation clinics throughout the city to address immediate concerns around lead poisoning. They are also asking for a true water affordability plan to ensure water for all. Of Superintendent Vitti students are asking that all suspensions be ended as lead poisoning can result in impulsive, disruptive, behavior. They are also asking for individual education plans for all students impacted by lead poisoning and for an increase in services for children with special needs, who have been especially hurt over by diminished support and are often more vulnerable in situations with limited water.
The dimensions of the drinking water crisis in our schools have been widely reported. We know that the majority of schools have water that contains toxic levels of copper and lead. In response, the school district is attempting to use bottled water systems. The city is quick to claim no responsibility at all, blaming the problem on pipes in the school.
The students in DAYUM are rejecting this kind of narrow thinking. They know that until the water was shut off, many students depended on schools for drinking water and basic sanitation as the horrific policy of water shut offs continues with the Mayor. They also know that shutting off water alters the water flow, allowing the biofilm in pipes to be disrupted, putting everyone at risk as water pressures fall in neighborhoods.
Most of the adults know that high levels of lead in our children is not new. In 2010, when many of these current leaders were just entering public schools, 58% of the 40,000 Detroit children tested for lead in their blood streams at levels well beyond the limits set by the Center for Disease control.
In 2016, under emergency management, nearly 1/3 of all elementary schools and middle schools tested above the Environmental Protection Agency standards for action. As a result of these tests, 15 schools were shut down.
Dr. Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech professor whose research helped bring national attention to the poisoning in Flint, believes that the tolerable levels set by these standards are too low and actually pose a much greater health risk than is acknowledged.
Asking “Do we count?” young people are refusing to accept the segmented, fragmented responses of either the Mayor or the Superintendent. It is simply unacceptable to ask children to go to schools that do not have safe water. It is unacceptable to ask children and their families to live in homes that do not have water. It is criminal to poison children and lock them up as toxics take over their bodies.
We need a comprehensive approach to providing water in our city. The basic principles our young people are advocating rest on two ideas: Water is a human right. Water is a scared trust.
It is time for all of us to take a stand. Join DAYUM on count day at the Cass Commons.

What We’re Reading

Meredith Tax

Visionary Organizing Lab is a laboratory to experiment with, ideas, ways of thinking, and practices for facilitating the systemic transition of the modern world-system into something else.
With the world-economy undermining its survival on environmental, technological, and economic grounds, we recognize that opportunities exist to create a more humane economy and to facilitate the emergence of a new social system. Taking advantage of this opportunity requires us to connect to our capacity to create and transform, as well as develop an ability to think and act holistically. Visionary Organizing Lab experiments with ways to facilitate these connections and supports people in developing these analytical skills and practices so that people might self-consciously facilitate this systemic transition.
We provide this support by facilitating what we call Praxis Labs, by producing short documentaries on projects with implications for systemic transition, and by publishing writings on these projects, the world-economy, and on political and personal transformation.

Boggs Center Living For Change News Letter – September 26th, 2018

September 26th, 2018

grace and jimmy


Thinking for Ourselves    
Shea Howell
The Wright Vision

“I love my museum. I’ll be damned before I let you take it away.” That sentence summed up the determination of the nearly two hundred people who gathered at Sacred Heart on September 19 to organize to protect the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. People want to be sure it remains a place that reflects the heart of the African American community.

Recently, the Board of Directors dismissed Ms. Juanita Moore, a popular and sensitive leader who is widely credited with creating a solid direction for the Museum. Under her leadership the museum has become a vital community resource. As people affirmed on Wednesday evening, it is a place of memory and memorial, a place of therapy and healing, and a space where we come together as a community. The removal of Ms. Moore was followed by an effort to cancel the popular African World Festival. Then there was an announcement that an exhibit reflecting the life of Thomas Jefferson would be opened during African American History month.

These choices, in a time when so much of our community is under vicious assault, signaled a shift away from being a place that reflects our legacy as a community that stands for values of respect for the lives and well being of people and toward placating corporate interests. Thus people gathered out of “love, concern, and respect.” As the organizers said opening the meeting, “This is something we have got to do. We must assert our power and control.”

The leadership of the gathering, including Dr. Gloria House and JoAnn Watson, reported on a meeting with the current Board of Directors, where they presented over 17,000 signatures on a petition that stated: The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History was founded to serve as a repository and representation of African American culture to affirm our people’s strivings and achievements over several centuries. Our intention is to safeguard the vision of this treasured public institution for its continued service to the Detroit Black community.


A broad-based coalition of well-respected Detroit organizations hereby express concern for the future direction of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History following the abrupt departure of beloved CEO Juanita Moore. We, the community groups and individuals who cherish the Museum for its dedication to serving our cultural and educational interests and aspirations, demand for representation on the governing board and in the search for the CEO successor.

The committee presented the board with 5 demands:

  1. The name of the museum should be legally changed to Charles H. Wright Musuem of African American History.

  2. 10 community people should be added to the board of directors. These are people selected by the community, not the board.

  3. 4 community members should be on the search committee for the new CEO.

  4. The Thomas Jefferson exhibit should be cancelled.

  5. A bronze plate should be put in the floor of the rotunda honoring Dr. Charles H. Wright.

The committee reported board membership required a $10,000 donation to the museum. In response, organizers proposed a criteria to the public gathering. They proposed we select people to represent the community who have 10 years or more in ongoing engagement in struggles to advance and protect the rights of African Americans; demonstrated leadership and trust in African American interests, a readiness to collaborate with others, and commitment to generating resources to maintain and advance the community. In open elections people were selected for board membership and the selection committee.

This effort to protect the soul of the Charles H. Wright Museum is already making clear that Detroiters offer a vision of a much better future than that found in corporate dominated board rooms.


Science Gallery Lab Detroit seeks interactive, participatory works for DEPTH, a free exhibition that explores the power and complexities of water and its many roles in the physical and social world.

Water is life. Its presence affects all living things. From creation stories about life on Earth, to the looming devastating effects of pollution and climate change, water has the power to spread life and rejuvenation as well as death and destruction.

Who has access to water? Who decides? These issues raise questions about water as a human right. About our responsibilities to water as a resource and our responsibilities to each other.

This exhibition examines water’s polarizing extremes. From discoveries of water on Mars and hydroelectric power, to issues of water quality and access, to the complexities of water systems at the microscopic and macroscopic scales, our futures are directly linked to the future of water. What will that future be?