For some Detroit families, the construction of the five freeways that cut through the heart of the city was a destructive and tragic process — families lost homes and neighborhoods, and communities were split by the six-lane thruways that made suburban economic growth possible.
Those living in Black neighborhoods suffered the worst, where residents didn’t have the political or economic clout to defend themselves. This same phenomenon happened frequently in other major U.S. cities.
The Biden administration is taking steps to acknowledge this history and is helping to remove parts of America’s highway system to reverse some of the damage done.
In Detroit, the state of Michigan will be using $105 million from the federal government to replace the one-mile stretch of I-375 with a six-lane boulevard catering to pedestrians and cyclists. The transformation will create $50 million worth of land.
I-375’s construction meant the end for important Black neighborhoods and commercial districts. One of the issues with the idea of recreating the area is who should benefit? Will the descendants of the people who lost their homes and businesses be restored in some way for those losses?
“I would like to see the urgency of June 2020, July 2020, when it comes to what’s happening at 375.” — Charity Dean, President & CEO of Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance
Listen: What people can do to ensure justice for those displaced by I-375
Charity Dean is the president and chief executive officer of the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance. She says corporations that made statements about the racial injustices that occurred during the summer of 2020 should be advocating for the new I-375 project to be reparative, and to put wealth into Black communities.
“I would like to see the urgency of June 2020, July 2020, when it comes to what’s happening at 375,” Dean tells Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson.