In September 2008 the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity collaborated with the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion to release the report Opportunity for All: Inequity, Linked Fate and Social Justice in Detroit and Michigan. The paper documents the inequities facing Detroit and Michigan, inequities fueled by barriers to opportunity that depress prosperity for all of Michigan’s residents. The report was featured prominently in a January 2009 convening hosted by the Michigan Roundtable. At that convening stakeholders throughout Detroit and the civil rights community gathered to identify strategies for addressing inequity and bringing opportunity and prosperity to all of the people of Detroit.
Four years later, we revisit the themes addressed in our paper, looking at the dynamics of inequity, opportunity and prosperity in Detroit following the national housing crisis and one of the most devastating recessions in recent history. This crisis has left the city fiscally insolvent and facing the threat of losing local autonomy to an emergency fiscal manager. After weathering the storm of the foreclosure crisis and recession, Detroit sits at a precipice, deeply challenged but ripe with opportunity, resiliency and a deep sense of community, qualities that are essential to the future of Detroit.
The following paper looks at conditions in Detroit today and proposes that equity, robust civic engagement and an opportunity oriented model of development and investment will be essential to fostering health and prosperity in this great city and throughout the State. It is critical that the building blocks of equity, engagement and opportunity be at the center of efforts to envision Detroit’s future. Historically, Detroit has been a prominent global city, a jewel of American ingenuity and prosperity. Today, Detroit presents a potential model for the future of urban America, a vision of what can be for cities across our nation, cities that have struggled with a history of segregation and dramatic economic transition. If Detroit is successful, it will serve as a model for revitalization, equity and sustainability for our nation’s cities and cities across the globe.