Week 7 – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 7

Something that has really stood out to me has been the tours we’ve taken with Jamon Jordan. These tours helped me to learn more about how race, history, and politics intertwine in the city. I really like how Jamon talked about the history that has been destroyed or overlooked. He took us to areas to talk about what used to be there, instead of what is there now. For example, on Tuesday we went to the area that used to be the center of the Paradise Valley neighborhood, which was destroyed when the city decided to put a freeway through the neighborhood. Currently, there are stadiums there. The fact that the city subsidized the building of these stadiums while purposefully destroying a Black business district shows how ingrained racism is in the history and politics of the city. Jamon also talked to us about historical placards that have been placed around downtown. For example, one of the placards talked about a white member of the underground railroad but didn’t mention a more influential Black member of the underground railroad who operated at the same stop. Jamon talked to us about why that might be so, discussing how most members of the underground railroad were Black, even though this is not most people’s understanding of the underground railroad. I also remember him showing us a statue of the first governor of Michigan and telling us that the statue was false. Although the statue showed the first governor when Michigan was a state, Michigan had had territorial governors before that. This showed me how easy it was to influence what people know about history. The city (just in terms of what statues and placards it chooses to put up) has so much influence over what we come to understand about history, so I think it is vital that tour guides and historians continue to highlight parts of history that the city might brush to the side.

2 thoughts on “Week 7”

  1. Haley Ruth Divis

    I totally agree and was thinking the same thing when we had the tours about how easy it is to assume historical stories from statues and plaques, but really there can be a totally different story behind it.

  2. Kenneth Ray Washpon

    Mr. Jordan’s tours were extremely insightful and I am truly thankful for his historical accounts. I too noticed the structural racism ingrained in Detriot and like many other cities it still persists.

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