Reckoning 375: Community stakeholders discuss potential impact of I-375’s removal

“Reckoning 375,” a new miniseries from “Detroit Today,” will explore the history behind — and repercussions of — the freeway’s construction, and what the replacement project will entail.

A rendering of the boulevard replacing Interstate 375 in Detroit.

A rendering of the boulevard replacing Interstate 375 in Detroit.

In the latest installment of Detroit Today’s special series, Reckoning 375, we continue our conversation about the plan to replace I-375 with a six-lane boulevard, and how the project will affect the neighborhoods and institutions that surround it.

Several community stakeholders joined Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson on Friday to discuss the redevelopment plans taking shape, how the neighborhoods and businesses in the area will be affected, and the reparative actions needed to help rectify the destruction of the predominately Black communities of Paradise Valley and Black Bottom as a result of I-375’s initial construction.

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Ken Coleman is a writer for Michigan Advance and has written about the history of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley. He says the project is an opportunity to revisit how things were before I-375 was built and to imagine a better future for African Americans living in the area. 

“On the upside, I thought it would be a good opportunity to educate people about that community, and maybe in some form or fashion reimagining those two lost communities, Black Bottom and Paradise Valley,” said Coleman. 

Damian Perry is the principal of Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School, and is part of the Community Advisory Committee for the “I-375 Reconnecting Communities Project.” He says the business development of the project should connect back to the schools and teach students the history of the area. 

“[It would] allow our students to be able to learn the history of that area,” said Perry. 

Jennifer Pascha is the operations manager for Bailey Park Neighborhood Development Corporation, and a part of the Community Advisory Committee for the “I-375 Reconnecting Communities Project.” She says the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood will be affected by the project.

“This new project will open a roadway for our community. We will be like an entrance,” said Pascha. “It will give us more sustainability… We will be more renowned.”

Charity Dean is the CEO and president of the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance. She says the project needs to focus on reparations when exploring future business opportunities. 

“We want to have a real conversation about what repair could look like in the neighborhood,” said Dean.

Listen to Detroit Today with host Stephen Henderson weekdays from 9-10 a.m. ET on 101.9 WDET and streaming on-demand.

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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.