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Message to America: Hope is alive in Detroit


I was amused, and maybe a bit perturbed, when I saw in one of Detroit’s daily newspapers that a popular televangelist was “bringing hope” to Detroit.

The headline to frame the minister’s visit read: “Pastor Joel Osteen Bringing Night of Hope to Detroit.”

In response, a newspaper writer opined a column under this headline: “Joel Osteen offers no hope for Detroit. City’s poor need jobs, not televangelists.”

I, in fact, have no issue with Osteen’s uplifting messages, though some criticize them as being “prosperity preaching.”

Osteen, pastor of a nondenominational church in Houston of more than 50,000 people, bills his evangelical rallies as “A Night of Hope.”


While I applaud his visit, we can always use more hope — I submit “Hope” is alive in Detroit, and, in fact, has never left – even under the weight of the crushing problems of crime, population loss, blight and a struggling school system.

The 10th annual ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day, on Saturday, August 6, offers ample evidence that hope is very much alive in Detroit.

Hope can be found in the hundreds of organizations and thousands of volunteers who will spread out all across the city’s 143 square miles — in every zip code — to engage in more than 260 community improvement and service projects of all kinds. These hope-filled Detroiters will build houses with Habitat for Humanity of Detroit, remove blight with Life Remodeled and the Denby Neighborhood Alliance, celebrate in arts and music at the Sidewalk Performing Arts Festival and the Grandmont Art Fair, and participate in numerous other festivals across the city.

Habitat for Humanity at work

Habitat for Humanity at work

They will give away thousands of backpacks with school supplies to children. They will paint the homes of senior citizens and give free food to their neighbors in need. They will lift their voices in song; churches and block clubs will work together; people of all faiths and colors will bond around a common goal of creating a better Detroit.

This is not possible in a city without hope.

I see hope in Derek Blackmon of Black Family Development and Rev. Aaron McCarthy and the Detroit chapter SCLC, who are organizing peace walks on Neighborhoods Day. I see hope in Shirley Burch of Community United for Progress who has formed an alliance with suburban businessman Tom Peltzold to improve her northeast Detroit community.

I see hope in the millennials, young people like, Rebecca Willis, an architect, Imani Mchunu, an intern from Harlem at Detroit Future City, and 19-year-old Hakeem Weatherspoon, all passionately working to improve city neighborhoods.

Dewayne Dickerson, 16, from Detroit clears charred debris along with other volunteers from Urban Neighborhood Initiatives near Azteca Supermercado during the 2015 ARISE! Detroit Neighborhood Day

Dewayne Dickerson, 16, from Detroit clears charred debris along with other volunteers from Urban Neighborhood Initiatives near Azteca Supermercado during the 2015 ARISE! Detroit Neighborhood Day

I see it in John George, of Motor City Blight Busters and Carl Zerweck III of Rippling Hope, both of whom have recruited thousands of volunteers to help the city.

I see hope in the work of the Shrine of the Black Madonna, New Bethel Baptist, Sacred Heart Catholic Church and scores of other houses of worship that will be part of Neighborhoods Day.

I see hope in the smiles on people’s faces, in the handshakes of new friendships and the laughs of old friends.

I see hope in a city that never gives up.

Come to Detroit on Aug. 6 and you will see it, too.

For more information on activities or to volunteer, visit

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2 comments on “Message to America: Hope is alive in Detroit

  1. A journey, after all, neither begins in the instant we set out, nor ends when we have reached our door step once again. It starts much earlier and is really never over, because the film of memory continues running on inside of us long after we have come to a physical standstill. Indeed, there exists something like a contagion of travel, and the disease is essentially incurable.

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