I Love Detroit

Life throws many curve balls, and most times, out of instinct, you reach up to catch it and not let it drop and roll away. Such was Detroit, Michigan.

While living/working in Detroit, the television station I managed, WDWO TV-18, sat on a frontage road where it nearly took up the length of an entire city block. When snow came, there was an ordinance whereby we had to keep sidewalks cleared and passable. Late one Friday afternoon, the snow began to fall, and plans were to clear the walks before going home.  But, before that could be done, a shiny new Cadillac pulled up, a spiffy-looking gentleman stepped out, introduced himself as a city commissioner, and told us we needed to clear the walks. When explaining that we were getting to this before leaving, he told us that for $100 cash, he could see to it that we didn’t have to worry about shoveling.

Well, in my momentary brilliance, I knew he wasn’t offering to shovel the walks for me. He was making me an offer he hoped I would not refuse.  Needless to say, I played dumb, which I can do so well, and politely refused. This story flashes through my memory when something happens that reminds me of the city’s decline.

This brings me to Kwame Kilpatrick, who, at the age of 37, plummeted himself to disgrace with a sex scandal, and now faces many years in prison for racketeering, extortion, bribery and tax evasion. When I met Mayor Kwame in 2004, he presented himself as humble, caring and determined to lead the city into a new era, a sense of pride and to overcoming. I believed him.

Kwame KilpatrickAmong other aaccusations from the case, federal prosecutors have said that Kilpatrick operated a fund for the needy called the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, with the aim of helping Detroiters in need. Instead, they said, the former mayor used the money for yoga classes, golf clubs and vacations.  Huffington Post

Although Detroit is battered by the likes of Kilpatrick and greed and violence, let there be no doubt that The Motor City continues to breathe because of those who know no other home, because of the many whose hearts beat loudly with hope, because of the resolve to keep putting all they have into the fire of promise.

As I talked and worked with hundreds of “Detroiters”, it was clear that they know pain, heartache, defeat, second, third, fourth chances.  Coming from my little southern Illinois town, I had not been exposed to the tragedies such as those that prowl Detroit.  My heart would break as I listened in disbelief to the stories of sweet people maimed by drive-by shootings, young mothers widowed because their husbands were pumping gas on the wrong side of town, good people frozen by homelessness, families displaced with massive evictions . . .

But!  There was joy in every voice I heard!  There was hope in every discussion of tomorrow.  There was resolve that a better day was coming!

One of the highlights of my experience in Detroit television was producing Mykelti Williamson in a live program.  The name may not mean anything to you as he is best known as Bubba, Forrest Gump’s friend.

Mykel Williamson WDWO

Mykelti and his wife are passionate for Detroit so they talked of hope and faith and overcoming adversities.  They are only one of so many who see a better day for Detroit.  Meet David Gough, President, International Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame (, who is purchasing river front property for a state of the art facility honoring our history in Gospel Music.  Visit the Pastors, Apostles, Bishops and street preachers who never grow weary in sharing a message of hope, cheer for the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions and Red Wings. buy your car American made, and always pray.  Detroiters believe in prayer, because more often than not, that is all they have had.

There are those who will not allow Detroit to become a forgotten city, but again, life has declared that every man out for himself does not build a great city, nor does it bring leadership to a worthy population. I hope Detroit can find redemption within and for its beautiful people because they kept a part of me.  I no longer have dreams of returning, but Detroit, Michigan left an indelible mark on my soul.

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