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.
(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.
while the Border Patrol counts cars,
he walks across the water
grabs a bite to eat,
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,
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
Living For Change