The pandemic created a year unlike any other, and in Detroit, life amid COVID-19 was both turbulently heartbreaking and sometimes inspiring, often at the same time. In this hour, Stephen Henderson looks at the ways that residents, businesses and City of Detroit officials responded to all the twists and turns of 2020. He’s joined by the BridgeDetroit team for a look back at their work and the moments that stand out most to them as the year comes to a close.
Listen: BridgeDetroit editor and reporters look back on the most memorable stories of 2020.
Olivia Lewis is a reporter for BridgeDetroit.
Catherine Kelly is the Managing Editor and Director of BridgeDetroit.
Bryce Huffman is a reporter for BridgeDetroit.
- Black Lives Matter: “We obviously wrote about the overall disturbing trends we kept seeing about COVID and Black Lives Matter, but when I look back I remember getting to tell stories like this,” says Louis Aguilar of a unique moment of intersectionality between Black and Indigenous Detroiters calling for an end to systemic racism and oppression. Aguilar also points to this story that came from the first weekend of protests in Detroit around BLM. “That weekend ended in violence and that’s the headline that dominated most coverage, but we took time to talk to community organizers, small business owners and families who were there,” recalls Aguilar.
- Facial recognition technology: “Facial recognition technology this summer saw a lot of heated debates… ultimately a lot of Detroiters still feel really uneasy about it,” notes Huffman, who covered the issue for BridgeDetroit.
- Gun violence: “When we look at (gun violence) there are a lot of ripple effects… I think it was an interesting way to frame a discussion we often gloss over,” says Huffman of a multimedia piece he created where he spoke with three Detroit mothers directly impacted by gun violence.
- The post-election fallout at TCF in Downtown Detroit: The BridgeDetroit team used noteworthy events like the election to put real Detroiters at the center of the year’s most important stories. Olivia Lewis focused in on telling the story of Sommer Woods, who was at the center of the ballot-counting process at TCF. “We wanted to interview Sommer because she was the gatekeeper at TCF,” explains Lewis.
- Listening to African American voices, especially the voices of Black women: “Detroit is a really complex place to live and report on… at BridgeDetroit, we try to give reporters enough space to really (look at nuances of key issues),” says Catherine Kelly, who adds that bringing Black female voices to the forefront is also crucial. Lewis echoes those sentiments. “Black women really took over 2020… at every step, any time there was adversity, Black women were there ready to stand up for what was right,” says Lewis.