Is it safe to say that Detroit is a “comeback city”? Or is there still work left to be done?
The documentary provides an overview of the last 100 years in the city of Detroit from its glory days through years of decline and up to its current state.
The documentary also specifically focuses attention on Ford’s recent acquisition of Michigan’s Central Station as a symbol of this comeback.
Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Steve Gillon, historian-in-residence for the History Channel. Gillon is also a professor of history at the University of Oklahoma and the author of Separate and Unequal: The Kerner Commission and the Unraveling of America Liberalism.
Gillon explains the symbolism of Ford’s acquisition of Michigan Central Station, what Detroit needs to fully “come back,” and why people from Detroit should watch the documentary.
On Ford’s acquisition of Michigan Central Station in relation to the rest of Detroit:
“This is an important step. It’s an important symbolic statement,” says Gillon. “And we use Michigan’s Central Station as a symbol for Detroit’s rise in the early part of the 20th century and then its decline in the last quarter of the 20th Century and as a statement of what the energy is.”
“What Ford is doing is a great symbolic step, but there are so many questions and problems that lie ahead. And it will depend on the residents of this resilient city to help play a role in coming up with solutions.”
On improvements in Detroit and problems that still exist:
“You can’t renew a city from the top down. The challenge going forward is, will everyone benefit from (these initiatives)? Will the jobs that people are talking about and renewal impact poor communities? And will people of color and others traditionally left out be included in this renaissance? Cities are built from the bottom up.”
“This is not just a problem of Detroit. This is an American problem. This is a problem that every city, every community in America, confronts.”
Why someone from Detroit should watch the documentary:
“This is the first documentary that’s covered 100 years of Detroit history. People who think they know Detroit will learn a lot,” states Gillon. “People will learn about the glory days of Detroit, the decline and why it took place, and the social forces that led to its decline, and some of the things taking place that suggest the future will be better for Detroit.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.