Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – November 26th, 2020

November 26th, 2020

revolution image final

Black people did not vote to save American democracy. They voted to save their lives and the lives of their children.” – Junebug Jabbo Jones, Nov. 4, 2020

Veteran SNCC Activists Praise Today’s Young Social Justice Leaders on Participation in 2020 Presidential Election.  KEEP READING

Thinking for Ourselves

Police Violence
Shea Howell

The Detroit Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability  (CPTA) held a public hearing on police brutality November 21, 2020. For more than 3 hours people recounted the history of violence embedded in the Detroit Police Department. In story after story, spanning more than 50 years, we heard details of unprovoked, life shattering  encounters with physical and psychological assaults suffered at the hands of police.

People spoke of doing the most ordinary things in their lives. Mailing an application for a scholarship, dropping off a child’s car seat,  or going on a first date. These quiet moments were interrupted by vicious police assaults, changing lives forever. As one witness commented, it seemed “ just being black” justified police violence.

The hearings also provided a forum for people who had experienced police violence while exercising their right to be critical of public policies and police conduct. Individuals outlined in quiet, graphic detail, abuses they had endured, including being beaten, kicked, handcuffed, denied medication, intentionally placed in filthy, unsafe conditions, ridiculed, chocked, and threatened with death.

People living without documents shared the daily terror and fear of police, keeping many in their homes, afraid to take children to school, go to work, get groceries, or go to church.

This was the third public event sponsored by the CPTA since July.

The Coalition was formed in the wake of police killing of Hakim Littleton. Mr. Littleton was killed during a chance encounter in his neighborhood. This shooting provoked immediate response by the community and marked one of the most violent responses by police to public protests.

Chief Craig released a video within hours of the killing, claiming it vindicated the officers, as Mr. Littleton appears to pull a gun and shoot at police.

Chief Craig is so immersed in the use of force and the perspective of police, he did not see what many of community people  saw clearly on the video.

We see a frightened young man walking down the street, seeing his friend being arrested. The young man is approached by police and he pulls a gun , shoots and appears to try and run away. Mr. Littleton is tackled, possibly shot, and ends up flat on the ground, the gun kicked away. He is clearly subdued. More shots are fired by police. Then an officer runs up and points a gun directly at the back of Mr. Littlteton’s head, firing the shot that killed him.

The Coalition took the tape played by Chief Craig and simply slowed it down to reveal the questions that emerge from the death. It held a press conference, released the video with a community perspective, and called for an independent investigation. In a statement accompanying the video, Coalition members said:

“Although Chief James Craig immediately characterized the killing as an appropriate use of force, members of the community are left with many questions, not the least of which is whether the death could have been avoided altogether if officers had used the law enforcement profession’s best practices and employed de-escalation techniques,”

The CPTA continues to call for an independent investigation of this case, as well as the series of shooting deaths that followed within two weeks of the killing of Hakim Littleton.

The second effort to expose the violence of the Detroit Police was a People’s Tribunal that highlighted the many questions raised by this killing. You can watch the tribunal here, as well as find supporting material about the case.

Four elected officials attended the Hearing as listeners: Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, State Senator Stephanie Chang, and Detroit City Council members, Mary Sheffield and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez.

Currently, the Detroit Police Department has accelerated aggressive behavior, including pursuing a lawsuit against protestors, and attempting to ramp up technologies of surveillance in our city. Police are asking for millions of dollars for listening devices and cameras to be deployed in neighborhoods.

What should be clear to anyone who listens to these public hearings is that since their beginning, police have been used to repress, control, intimidate and kill those who challenge power and privilege.  Especially Black people. Police do not make us safe. Safety comes as we care for one another, often in the face of violent authorities.

violent authorities. 

listen works
post election



Charles Ezra Ferrell
Kariuki wa Ngugi © 2020

Welcome to all those who love freedom.
Welcome to all those who love justice.
Welcome to all those who seek to forge a world where artificial boundaries disappear and the unity and diversity of humanity is celebrated.
Welcome to all those who seek to keep Darnell Stephen Summers free.

My name is Charles Ezra Ferrell and I am the former vice-president of Public Programs and Community Engagement at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

In 2019, I received the first inaugural Humanitarian Champion of the Year award from Michigan Humanities and the Certificate of Senatorial Recognition from US Congressman Gary Peters, and this year I received the Culture Bearer Award for the Societe of the Culturally Concerned, The Detroit Black Legacy Coalition Award, the Spirit of Detroit Award from the Detroit City Council, and special recognition regarding my work has been entered into the Congressional Record on September 4th by freedom fighter US Congresswoman Rashidi Tlaib.

Now, I serve as vice-president of development and global programs at Keiga Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization, which has offices in Roseville, MI, Kampala Uganda, and a partner organization in Kassel Germany. Keiga Foundation is a partner with the Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability. We will present a virtual program entitled, The Execution of Hakim Littleton: A Conversation about Police Violence against African Americans on November 19th at 7 PM. This virtual program – https://www.keiga.foundation/hakim-littleton – will include the soundtrack music of  Darnell Stephen Summers: Cool Jazz Flavor Live! during the program opening and closing credits.

Darnell is the brother of the legendary percussionist, Bill Summers, who worked with Herbie Hancock, most notably on the groundbreaking cut, Head Hunter.

Keiga Foundation had begun discussing developing a program series focused on eradicating global homelessness and centered on the creative work of Darnell Stephen Summers. Darnell is as an internationally recognized film documentarian, musician, social justice and human rights advocate and activist. He has captured absolutely stunning footage of images and interviews of the homeless in Berlin and Detroit.

I was shocked to learn that our dear brother, Darnell Stephen Summers, had been harassed by search warrants to extract his DNA, snatch his mobile phone, and threaten him with innuendo. But then, in this political heightened anti-democratic climate, where autocrats with blond hair and orange pigment or wearing red baseball caps or blue uniforms, anything can happen. This is why we are calling on all lovers of freedom and justice to lock arms with Darnell Stephen Summers.

I offer this following poem:

(say “hashtag keep darnell free!”)


The past is present.
The repetition of brutal acts of political persecution

Date sampling:


New hands of oppression
Guided by the same criminal impulse to incarcerate
Freedom of expression and lovers of freedom

Attempts to silence mass voices
The Conscious Creatives
through manufacturing
and planting
false evidence, fertilized with viciousness
and a total disdain for the truth


We Know

They are paid mercenaries
More frontal
in this climate of naked hate

Agent Orange
Chemical and Non-chemical Warfare
Berlin to Detroit
Louisiana to Detroit
Iran to Detroit
Iraq to Detroit
Palestine to Detroit
Guyana to Detroit
All Roads from Inkster to Detroit

The Malcolm X Cultural Center in 1968
A street of Dreams on Harrison
Filming harsh realities

Exposing the shard glass edge
of contradictions
And broken mirror realities

A Land of Great Affluence and Mass Homelessness
Jails packed with 2 Million People of Color – Mostly Black Young Men
Massive Foreclosures and Homelessness
Surrounded by Fresh Great Lakes in a city where 140,000 homes have water-shutoffs

Who is the real criminal?

Ghost Witnesses Evaporate
Into Thin Air
The moment their mouths were pried opened
And stuffed
with fabric-

Lynch ropes
Lying dead in the open streets for hours
In a pool of blood
Shot seven times close range
RV chased and crashed black youth death

Blue cars with Red round lights
Mostly white
Patrolling black streets

Search warrants
Signed in red blood
Seize Mobile Devices
Insert Swab in mouth to extract DNA cells

They are scheming untruths to silence


We will breathe
We will speak
We are a fearless, analytic, independent, resilient human beings

The pit you dig for us
You will fall in

Truth and Justice and Our Victory will prevail
8:46 seconds in May exploded global thunder
The people hit the streets to say NO
This has got to stop – NOW!

White knee on black neck
The pressure of racism
Causes rebellions

Can serial killers
bent on violence against humanity
really reform themselves?

They teach war,
they practice it, they worship it at their alters
violence overflows everywhere in this culture
Truth denial

In Media
Pennsylvania, 1971
Vietnam draft dodgers broke into a FBI building
To destroy their records
But found COINTELPRO documents
Confirming a deadly federal conspiracy
To kill blacks
The Uncontrollable Ones
The Ones who can Influence Others
The Orators


Darnell Stephen Summers
Keep Darnell Free
Darnell is you
Darnell is me

This is a 52-year old protracted war
Who’s winning?
Who will win??

Tactics of oppression will not cause us to break rank
We will stand together, fiercely, and rise up to new heights
To leap forward into the new freer tomorrows.
The people are standing together
Calling out with one global voice

Under your blue constant green light eye of injustice
Collecting data
Tainted by racism and class bias

Let’s interlock our arms around this body
Who they seek to snatch from us as a political prisoner

We remember the false persecutions
Ahmad Rahman
Imam Jamil Al-Amin
Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Assata Shukur


We must place the Devil on the Cross

Say No!
No! to racist and self-hating police
No! to tyranny
No! to false persecutions
No! to crucifixions
No! to lynching
No! to medieval metal cuffs
and No! to medieval small rooms with metal bars or locked metal doors

No! bully
No! we are not scared of you

Your lies dissolve in our truth

You have nothing real
Because Darnell’s heart is pure
There is no record, no branded internal memories that require evaporation or erasure
His innocence allows for our deep belly laughter

You must live in your world of false illusions

This is not 1619, 1955, 1965, 1968, 1992, 2012

This is 2020, the year of SANKOFA


Victory is ours.
Fighting is winning.




PASC-program-flyer 1
PASC-program-flyer 2

Over this year the demands on The Boggs Center have expanded to the point where we have made a commitment to engage an executive director and support staff, especially around social media. We invite you to make a financial contribution to the Boggs Center. This is a responsibility that requires us to create a clear financial plan and we urge you to become a Monthly or Yearly Sustainer. Our goal is raise $50,000 in 2020-2021 through this fund.

To contribute, click the “donate” button at the top of our homepage or send a check to

Boggs Center
3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan


Try Email Marketing with VerticalResponse!

Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – November 18th, 2020

November 18th, 2020

revolution image final


Thinking for Ourselves

Breaking Myths
Shea Howell

President Trump continues to stoke hatred and violence. He refuses to acknowledge reality and concede the election.  He continues to claim widespread voter fraud. On Saturday he drove through a rally of supporters who shouted, “We Love Trump” and “Stop the Steal.” Later those supporters attacked Black Lives Matters demonstrators and challenged counter protestors. Fistfights and bottle throwing broke out and several people carried guns.

These actions mystify many liberals and progressives. Jennifer Rubin wrote last week in the Washington Post that, “The greatest challenge to our democracy is not that we hold deeply polarized beliefs, but that one party refuses to operate in a fact-based world that might challenge its beliefs.”

Rubin describes right wing mythmakers and offers this characterization,

“Many in the right-wing media bubble are marooned in a weird time warp in which the “other side” is some Cold War-era Marxist caricature. (Hence, the infatuation with the word “socialist.”) But there is also a jaw-dropping, willful blindness about U.S. history and race that allows Trumpian media personalities to exempt anyone from the charge of white supremacy unless they don a robe and hood. These opinion-makers and politicians have imbibed an unhealthy dose of authoritarianism and self-satisfaction with the status quo to the exclusion of concern for social justice, tolerance, freedom, equality and inclusion. Wittingly or not, they are the quintessential defenders of white supremacy, in which challenges to authority are painted as extreme and dangerous.

Mix in a heap of White evangelical Christians’ sense of victimhood (for whom no legal accommodation of religious liberty is sufficient), and you get a writhing right-wing culture that feels justified in its intellectual dishonesty.”

Among the 74 million who voted for Trump, White Supremacist evangelical Christians played an  outsized role. While only 15% of the population, they made up around 25% of the electorate and voted overwhelmingly for Trump. About 40% of all Trump voters identify with this group.

White Supremist Christianity is as old as America. In the last 70 years it has been systematically creating political forces to counter its dwindling numerical status.  This latest incarnation of white supremacy was given force by  critical Supreme court decisions in the mind 1950s, outlawing school desegregation and school prayer. These decisions sparked immediate backlash.

For the next 70 years white supremacists have been building the alternative reality Rubin identified. This reality  did not emerge with Fox news. In fact, Fox news emerged to support these long-fostered beliefs.

This world view is a product of a deep American tradition that uses a version of Christianity to justify and protect the political power of white men. It begins with the assumption that the U.S. was created by God to fulfill its destiny to give white men dominion over the land. They are to govern based on biblical principles. They believe urban elites, in alliance with socialists and people of color, are attempting to establish an anti-god country, ruled by socialist, communists and sexual predators.  These beliefs have been expressed time and again in battles over evolution and creationism, book banning,  and school curricula. They are at the core of what the media often calls the culture wars. But these culture wars stem from deliberate strategies of myth making.  Regardless of the particular issue, the right wing engages in “a cloud of fear-mongering propaganda and extremist hyperbole. The attacks from the far right stand apart … because of their incendiary language, their apocalyptic warnings, and their reliance on distortions, outright falsehoods and antigovernment conspiracy theories.”

Soon we will have five generations of individuals raised in this atmosphere. Millions of people voted for Trump because they fear a future they no longer control.

If we are to create a different America, we need to offer a vision of that is more compelling, richer in texture, and deeper in purpose. We know that this vision is emerging every day as people struggle to find new ways of living together.  A new reality is emerging out of the choices we are making to care for one another and the earth upon which we depend. This is the only way to shatter destructive myths.


What We’re Reading



Dear Legal Community,


What We’re Reading



Dear Legal Community,


Dear Legal Community,

This summer, we saw the largest mobilization of protest in U.S. history. Across the country, communities rose up in love and rage, for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, and so many other Black people killed by police. The movement is clear that reforms of recent years have done nothing to keep Black people safe. With demands to #DefundPolice and invest in needed community resources, organizers offer us a vision for true collective safety. From the summer of 2020 to the elections and beyond, there is more at stake than we could possibly list. Whether you are new to the struggle or not, we invite you to join us in opposing repression, strengthening vital movements, and advancing a society that is truly democratic, fair, and free.

As tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets, lawyers have moved in to partner with them. In Detroit alone, more than 150 local attorneys have come forward to defend protestors. From coast to coast, the legal community has come forward in an outpouring of support.

Moving forward we are building on the wave of protests that erupted across the country this summer. We have witnessed the brutal crackdown on protesters, amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Voter suppression, armed white supremacist militias, and threats about the government’s unjustified use of power to retain control persisted during the elections. The struggle continues and now is the time for lawyers to meet this moment.

Lawyers, legal workers, law students — you may ask yourself, what is my role in all of this? Are you wondering if there is a place for you in the fight against anti-Black racism and the struggles for freedom and liberation?

We are here to tell you: we NEED you. KEEP READING


Over this year the demands on The Boggs Center have expanded to the point where we have made a commitment to engage an executive director and support staff, especially around social media. We invite you to make a financial contribution to the Boggs Center. This is a responsibility that requires us to create a clear financial plan and we urge you to become a Monthly or Yearly Sustainer. Our goal is raise $50,000 in 2020-2021 through this fund.

To contribute, click the “donate” button at the top of our homepage or send a check to

Boggs Center
3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan


Try Email Marketing with VerticalResponse!

Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – November 11th, 2020

November 11th, 2020

revolution image final

 “Oppression alone doesn’t breed revolutionary movements; on the contrary, sometimes it breeds fascism. . . . Community, solidarity, collective struggle is very hard work and is not a product of oppression.  It’s a product of imagination, culture, conversation, safe spaces, spaces of semi-freedom where people can laugh and cry out loud, share pains and pleasures, plan, teach, learn.” – GLB

Thinking for Ourselves

After the Election
Shea Howell
I was preparing for a meeting with the National Council of Elders on Saturday morning when the banner from CNN flashed across my screen. Biden Elected President. Minutes later as I watched commentary about Pennsylvania putting Biden over the top in the Electoral College count, I surprised myself by crying. I have no illusions about electoral politics, and none about Joe Biden, but the broad and deep repudiation of Donald Trump brought forth a flood of relief, allowing a grief I didn’t even realize I was holding, to pass.

In the days ahead there will be a lot for us to analyze and think about. But for now, it seems we should be thankful for our cities, north and south, that came through for some measure of fairness, decency, and justice. There is no question that the imagination and inventiveness of African American women in organizing, registering, and turning out the vote made a critical difference. There is no question that suburban women of all backgrounds organized, talked to neighbors, and shifted critical areas toward Democrats.

And there is no question that 70 million people voted for Donald Trump, in spite of everything. Trump actually received more total votes than Barack Obama did in his historic wins.

So, we clearly have a lot of work to do. This work has already started as the conventional Democrats are trying to back away from progressive politics, preparing to once again leave those who voted for them in the dust. As usual, many Democrats are more concerned about appealing to the right wing and its thinly veiled racism than pursuing a vision of a new kind of country.

One of the many gifts of Detroit is the ability to capture clearly what is really going on in this country. Early Wednesday morning, as workers were patiently counting absentee and mail in ballots, about 200 white republicans gathered at the TCF building.

What unfolded was an ugly scene of the divisions and violence we are facing. White men and women were screaming, pounding on windows, calling names, and all but foaming at the mouth, yelling, “Stop the count.” It was reported that some had guns. By week’s end a bomb threat was received.

Virtually all of the election workers, enduring these insults and feeling the real potential for violence, were African Americans. Most were women. In the heart of Detroit, a majority Black city, we witnessed a white mob, prepared to do almost anything, to stop African Americans from exercising their most fundamental right and responsibility. This mob is as old as America itself. It should affirm for all of us how much work lies ahead.

It should also remind of us of how much our city administration leans toward protecting white power and privilege. Neither Mayor Duggan nor Chief Craig denounced the protestors.

In fact, Detroit Police Chief James Craig called the protests “uneventful.” He went so far as to say that people who came to challenge the white mob had tried to “agitate” them.

Craig and Duggan, who were quick to call those who challenge police abuse “outside agitators” driven by a “Marxist Ideology” seem to think a bunch of white people, challenging the legal counting of votes are an “uneventful” occurrence. Neither man mentioned that these protesters were all “outsiders” and they adhere to a white supremist ideology, clearly spoken, as they shouted at black workers.

We who believe in freedom have a lot of work to do. But this vote, this week, reminds us that we are not alone. The desire for real, systemic change is a shared longing that will not be stopped.



Virtual Book Club:
The Next American Revolution
hosted by Dr. Scott Kurashige

Friday, November 20th
6:30 – 8 PM est

Read Scott’s new essay, This is a “People Power” Moment: It’s Time for a Revolution in the Name of Democracyhere.




What you see is what you get. It’s what you don’t see that will get you. Everything’s Political, is a podcast about the politics we don’t see that shape our lives. They can shape our lives for good, for bad, and sometimes without us realizing. Join Junius Williams for a conversation on the hidden side of politics.

Over this year the demands on The Boggs Center have expanded to the point where we have made a commitment to engage an executive director and support staff, especially around social media. We invite you to make a financial contribution to the Boggs Center. This is a responsibility that requires us to create a clear financial plan and we urge you to become a Monthly or Yearly Sustainer. Our goal is raise $50,000 in 2020-2021 through this fund.

To contribute, click the “donate” button at the top of our homepage or send a check to

Boggs Center
3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan

Try Email Marketing with VerticalResponse!

Black Bottom Archives – Memories and Experiences


Black Bottom
Digital Archive
Welcome to the Black Bottom Digital Archive, where the memories and experiences of those from the long-gone Black Bottom neighborhood are preserved for future generations. Here you will find oral history interviews, historical documents and media from the neighborhood, and entries about historical sites and figures and events.

Black Bottom Digital Archive Team

BBA Present and Former Staff

  • PG Watkins, Director & Co-Founder
  • Kamau Baaqi, Communications Associate
  • Tulani Pryor, Digital Archives Assistant
  • Lawrielle West, Community Engagement Coordinator

Black Bottom Digital Archive Interns & Contractors

  • Abdeena Barrie, Intern
  • Nic Ciccone, Intern
  • Conor Mendenhall, Web Developer

BBA Advisory Board

  • Emily Kutil, Black Bottom Street View creator
  • Angela Abiodun
  • Ever Bussey
  • Steven Farrar