detroit-bankruptcy-illegal-wrong Freep

Critics of Michigan’s emergency manager law and Detroit’s bankruptcy pledged this morning to keep up their fight against what they called an illegal and immoral attack on a predominantly African American city.

The groups alleged that the city’s bankruptcy exit plan unfairly benefits financial institutions on the backs of retirees of modest means and the poor.

Members of Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management and other activist groups said at a news conference at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Corktown that Detroit’s bankruptcy amounted to wealthy banks and other investors getting off easily while impoverished Detroiters face deep sacrifices, including losing homes, access to affordable water and cuts to pensions and health care.


What some Detroit retirees think about the cuts to their pensions

Monica Lewis-Patrick of the group We the People of Detroit spoke out against bankruptcy deals that reduced pensions and health care for city workers and retirees while giving creditors valuable city real estate and putting city assets such as Belle Isle and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department under control of the state or regional authorities.

She called the city’s Chapter 9 filing by emergency manager Kevyn Orr with the approval of Gov. Rick Snyder a “contrived and rogue bankruptcy that was created as a way to commandeer and control the future of the citizens of Detroit.”

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes on Friday approved the city’s plan of adjustment, the blueprint for Detroit to emerge from the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Orr remains emergency manager until the effective date of the city’s plan, likely before the end of the year, while Mayor Mike Duggan and the City Council have control over the city’s operations but with state fiscal oversight in place.

“We do not consent to Gov. Snyder, Mayor Duggan, and Judge Rhodes leading the nation to believe that the leadership of this city, of this community, is unfit to lead ourselves,” Lewis-Patrick said.

The groups were sharply critical of local media coverage of the bankruptcy and Rhodes’ approval of the plan of adjustment. The Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman of St. Peter’s said Rhodes’ legacy will be that he “gave sanction to illegitimate and unconstitutional government, and successfully prevented that illegitimate government from being challenged in court.”

9 ways Detroit is changing after bankruptcy

Wylie-Kellerman invoked biblical principles about caring for the poor and vulnerable, “which is to say that judges and governors, managers and their mayors, banks and corporations, foundations and even the corporate media stand under the judgment of God. … I won’t pretend to know that judgment. I know the character of it, and I know that all of them will be held accountable for how they served the human community, and that’s measured by how the poor and the least are treated.”

Spokesmen for Snyder and Duggan had no immediate comment today on the allegations. Orr spokesman Bill Nowling pointed out that Rhodes ruling confirmed that “bankruptcy was the only solution for the problems of the city,” but he declined further comment.

Rhodes does not discuss the case with the media but addressed anger among Detroiters in his ruling on Friday.

“A large number of you told me that you were angry that your city was taken away from you and put into bankruptcy,” Rhodes read from the bench. “You told me in your court papers. You told me in your statements in court. You told me in your blogs, letters, and protests. I heard you. I urge you now not to forget your anger. Your enduring and collective memory of what happened here, and your memory of your anger about it, will be exactly what will prevent this from ever happening again. It must never happen again. When Fredia Butler testified during the confirmation hearing, she quoted the great wisdom of Marian Wright Edelman, who said, ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport.’ And so I ask you, for the good of the city’s fresh start, to move past your anger. Move past it and join in the work that is necessary to fix this city. Help your city leaders do that. It is your city.”


How Detroit was reborn: The inside story of the city’s historic bankruptcy case

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department retiree William Davis, a member of the Detroit Active and Retired City Employees Association, said he and others in his group were formulating appeals of Rhodes ruling. He said the pension settlement in the bankruptcy cost him $100,000, and many of his fellow DWSD retirees lost $50,000-$150,000, money they counted on to pay bills in retirement and send their kids to college.

Davis, an African American, said black Detroiters are bearing the brunt of the bankruptcy, and few seem to care.

“I personally think they all need to go to jail,” Davis said of the leaders behind the bankruptcy. “We think this whole process is illegal and just wrong.”

Contact Matt Helms: 313-222-1450 or Follow him on Twitter: @matthelms.

The Next American Revolution



Michigan Citizen, Oct. 24-30, 2010

Coming Spring 2011

Preview at UCPRESS

The Next American Revolution, my book with Scott Kurashige, will be available from the University of California Press in the spring of 2011.

At  UCPRESS, you will find the announcement, the table of contents, a print of chapter 1, and a blurb by Robin Kelley.

“A world dominated by America and driven by cheap oil, easy credit, and conspicuous consumption is unraveling before our eyes. In this powerful, deeply humanistic book, Grace Lee Boggs, a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America, shrewdly assesses the current crisis-political, economical, and environmental-and shows how to create the radical social change we need to confront new realities.

“A vibrant, inspirational force, Boggs has participated in all of the twentieth century’s major social movements-for civil rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, and more. She draws from seven decades of activist experience, and a rigorous commitment to critical thinking, to redefine “revolution” for our times.

“From her home in Detroit, she reveals how hope and creativity are overcoming despair and decay within the most devastated urban communities. Her book is a manifesto for creating alternative modes of work, politics, and human interaction that will collectively constitute the next American Revolution.”

Foreword by Danny Glover

Introduction by Scott Kurashige


  1. These Are the Times to Grow Our Souls
  2. Revolution as a New Beginning
  3. Let’s Talk about Malcolm and Martin
  4. Detroit, Place and Space to Begin Anew
  5. A Paradigm Shift in Our Concept of Education
  6. We Are the Leaders We’ve Been Looking For

“This groundbreaking book not only represents the best of Grace Lee Boggs, but the best of any radical, visionary thinking in the United States. She reminds us why revolution is not only possible and necessary, but in some places already in the making. The conditions we face under neoliberalism and war do, indeed, mark the end of an era in which the old ideological positions of protest are not really relevant or effective-and this book offers a new way forward.”-Robin D.G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination.



Pages from a Black Radical’s Notebook, a James Boggs Reader, compiled and edited with a 34 page introduction by University of Michigan historian Stephen M. Ward, will be released in February by Wayne State University Press.

The Reader is part of the African American Life series, edited by WSU Professor Melba Joyce Boyd who is planning a book party Tuesday evening, February 15, at the McGregor Conference Center.

Described as “required reading for anyone who wants to understand urban social transformation in the second half of the twentieth century, ” the Reader is arranged in four chronological parts that document Jimmy’s activism and writing.

Part 1 presents columns from Correspondence written during the 1950s and early 1960s. Titles include ” What makes Americans run?” and “A Visit from the FBI.”

Part 2 presents the complete text of The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook, Jimmy’s most widely known work which documents the rise and fall of the union and the challenge of automation. It was translated and published in French, Italian, Japanese and Catalan.

Part 3, “Black Power-Promise, Pitfalls and Legacies,” collects essays, pamphlets and speeches that reflect Jimmy’s participation in and analysis of the origins, growth and demise of the Black Power movement.

This section includes the complete text of the Manifesto for a Black Revolutionary Party, Jimmy’s 1972 New York Times column ” Beyond Rebellion,” and “Think Dialectically, not Biologically, ‘ his 1974 speech challenging Black Nationalism.

Part 4 comprises pieces written in the last decade of his life, the 1980s and early 1990s. During this period Jimmy not only challenged Coleman Young’s Casino gambling proposals. He proposed Detroit Summer, a youth program to “redefine, rebuild and respirit Detroit from the ground up’ and insisted that the time had come to ” Stop Thinking Like Victims and “Act Like Citizens, Not Subjects.”