Conversations In Detroit 2011 & 96 th. Birthday Poem Detroit Jesus


Conversations In Detroit 2011 

 The Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership and Detroit–City of Hope recently hosted Conversations In Detroit, Time For Transformation: Growing Our Humanity @ Home And Abroad.

 The purpose of the  June 27-29  multicultural, intergenerational gathering was to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 911 and to address the issue of mass incarceration.

 It was initiated by my old friend, Dr. Vincent  Harding, who was a speechwriter for MLK and  is the founder and director  of the Denver-based Veterans of Hope.

 Participating were movement activists from Atlanta,  Boston, Chicago, Columbus, O,  Denver,  Detroit, Greensboro NC, Oakland, CA. and Philadelphia.

We met for discussions  at Christ  Church,  celebrated my  96th birthday at  Sunday Dinner, and toured  Detroit  with Rich Feldman to get a sense of the mew post-industrial society emerging in the ruins of a city which for most of the 20th century had been the international and national symbol of the miracles of industrialization..

 During the gathering Peter Putnam wrote Detroit Jesus.   

 Among the Proposals coming out of the gathering were:

 ·   A Letter of Solidarity to the Arab Spring thanking them for decolonizing themselves and helping us decolonize ourselves.

  • ·   A Letter to prisoners urging them to view themselves not as victims but as returning citizens coming back to help  rebuild our  neighborhoods.
  • ·   A Call to the millions who rallied voters for Obama in 2008 to  practice Participatory Democracy in 2012 by creating on the ground, local versions of Detroit  Summer/ Beloved Community/Cities of Hope.

 Thanks to Kique Cubreto, Lydia Debnar and Sara Perryman for photos.

Detroit Jesus

                                   (for Grace Lee Boggs

                                    one day after her 96th Birthday)

                                    Time, Inc., buys a house in Detroit

                                    and tries to track him for a year.

                                    But he’s invisible to those looking for a

                                                blue-eyed dude in a white robe

                                    or a city gone completely to hell.

                                    He is the cinnamon of my son’s skin

                                    with a green thumb and a Tigers cap

                                    and my daughter’s dove-grey eyes.

                                    He prays into Blair’s guitar,

                                    hangs out on Field St.,

                                    bakes bread at Avalon

                                    and plants tomatoes on the East side.

                                    He rides his old-school bike down the heart

                                                of Grand River,

                                    paints a mural in the Corridor,

                                    shoots hoop in the Valley

                                                with priests and pimps and lean young men

                                    trying to jump their way to heaven.

                                    At night,

                                    while the Border Patrol counts cars,

                                    he walks across the water

                                                to Windsor,

                                    grabs a bite to eat,

                                    walks back.

                                    Born in Providence,

                                    he lives so simply,

                                    he could live anywhere:

                                    Dublin, Palestine, Malibu.

                                    But Detroit is his home.

                                    It was here one Sunday

                                    that a boy invited him down

                                                off the cross

                                    and into his house

                                    for a Faygo red pop.

                                    That was centuries ago, it seems,

                                    and how far he’s come,

                                    reinventing himself more times than Malcolm.

                                    He’s been to prison,

                                    been to college,

                                    has a tattoo of Mary Magdalene on one arm,

                                    Judas on the other,

                                    and knows every Stevie Wonder song by heart.

                                    He’s Jimmy, he’s Invincible, he’s Eminem.

                                    He’s the girls at Catherine Ferguson

                                                and their babies,

                                    and he’s the deepest part of Kwame

                                    still innocent as a baby. 

                                    The incinerator is hell,

                                    but he walks right in,

                                    burns it up with love,

                                    comes out the other side,

                                    walks on.

                                    He can say “Amen” in twelve religions,

                                    believes school is any place

                                    his head and heart and hands


                                    and wears a gold timepiece around his neck

                                    with no numbers, just a question:

                                    What time is it on the clock of the world?

                                    And every second of every day

                                    he answers that question

                                    with a smile wide as the Ambassador

                                    and a heart as big as Belle Isle,

                                    hugging this city in his arms

                                    and whispering to each soul

                                    words no one else dares to say:

                                    You are Jesus,

                                    this is your Beloved Community,

                                    and the time

                                    on the clock of the world

                                    is Now.

Tula Jenny Grace Mike

 Living For Change