Stephen Henderson Finds Childhood Home Gutted in Detroit

Courtney Hurtt/ WDET

If you picked up The Detroit Free Press this weekend you saw a long and stirring column by Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson regarding his childhood home on Tuxedo Street on the west side of Detroit. And what you read was this…

When I was born in 1970, the neighborhood’s strength was girded by the steady jobs at nearby auto plants and suppliers, by the pride that people had in their homes and their lives, and by the opportunity that existed for people like me to climb from working-class roots to higher stations on the economic ladder.

But standing in the house three decades later, amid the physical devastation in the various rooms and in the wider neighborhood, I was struck by wonder about the possibilities for kids born here more recently. What chances do they have? What does opportunity look like?

There are still children, lots of them, in the neighborhood — I see them on bikes, and playing basketball on the hoops they set up in the street because there are no nearby parks.

But growing up there is no picnic today. Last year, in a house across the street from 7124, a 4-year-old got hold of a parent’s gun and accidentally shot his 4-year-old cousin. Periodically, I’ll see houses in the neighborhood adorned with the stuffed animals and graffiti-ed messages that let you know a child died there — in a shooting, in a fire, or some other tragic end.

That was the beginning of my turn toward the idea that I couldn’t just walk away from 7124 Tuxedo.

Do you have a neighborhood in Detroit that you go back to? Did you grow up in the city, and have seen your neighborhood of home in decline? Is it important to you to you to see that neighborhood revitalized? If so, what’s the best way to do that?