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MLK Day 2019 – A New Social Contract for Detroiters

MLK Day 2019 – A New Social Contract for Detroiters

In 1967, Dr. King spoke; There can be no gainsaying of the fact that racism is still alive all over America. Racial injustice is still the Negro’s burden and America’s shame. And we must face the hard fact that many Americans would like to have a nation which is a democracy for white Americans but simultaneously a dictatorship over black Americans. We must face the fact that we still have much to do in the area of race relations. Dr. King shared these words as part of his explanation of what he called “the three evils”; racism, poverty and war in ‘America’s Chief Moral Dilemma’. 

In 2019, in the majority black city of Detroit, as we read Dr. King’s words it is obvious that, even with the great changes 50 years has wrought, many things remain problematic for African Americans. Dr. King calls out many American’s desire for a race-based selective “democratic” process, wherein whites have decision making power, while the black vote and voice is suppressed, silenced or supplanted. 

Today, as we survey the economic and political landscape of Detroit we bear witness to the evolution of the racist desire Dr. King addressed.  Emergency Management and the Bankruptcy, as intended, dismantled a great deal of black political and economic power. 

Now, those power structures have been divided and their control and management distributed to white-led or corporate-influenced authorities, boards and organizations. 

Now, vast amounts of public resources have been stripped from the commons in the form of huge tax abatements and redistributed to wealthy white billionaires. 

Now, money that could have been used to address human rights issues like water shutoffs and affordable housing will be given away for decades to ease the financial burdens developers. 

Dr. King stated that in order to address the issues of racism, poverty and war a redistribution of wealth and power is required, but we are moving in the wrong direction.

The data indicates that significant and persistent inequities exist in Detroit’s majority black population.  Until we implement public policies that reflect an intentional strategy to achieve racial equity  across all social and economic indicators, the inequities will continue. 

To that end, this year and moving forward, we will organize and advocate for A New Social Contract for Detroiters.

In May of 2018, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative NESRI (, launched a campaign for A New Social Contract. Their intersectional approach to address inequity and injustice offers community-centered solutions and tools, many advanced by DPP and our allies

NESRI’s A New Social Contract integrates:

PUBLIC GOODS FOR ALL Tools/Solutions: Universal Social Insurance and Free Public Services and a Just Tax Policy

OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH LANDTools/Solutions: Green Energy Democracy and Community Control of Land and Housing 

HOW WE LABOR Tools/Solutions: Worker-Driven Enforcement Models and Cooperatives 

FINANCING DIGNITY Tools/Solutions: Finance for Social Change and Public and Postal Banking 

FROM EXCLUSION TO EQUITY AND PARTICIPATION Tools/Solutions: Restorative Justice and People-Centered Democracy

In 2019, Detroit People’s Platform will also integrate the Just Transition Principles into our Housing and Equitable Development work:

Climate Justice Alliance – Just Transition Principles 

A Just Transition moves us toward Buen Vivir – Buen Vivir means that we can live well without living better at the expense of others. 

A Just Transition creates Meaningful Work 

A Just Transition upholds Self Determination 

A Just Transition equitably redistributes Resources and Power 

A Just Transition requires Regenerative Ecological Economics

A Just Transition retains Culture and Tradition 

A Just Transition embodies Local, Regional, National and International Solidarity 

A Just Transition must be liberatory and transformative.

A Just Transition builds What We Need Now

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What to watch for at Detroit City Charter Commission meetings

What to watch for at Detroit City Charter Commission meetings

There have been two public meetings of the new Detroit City Charter Commission. The meetings have been well attended by community members who have been vocal about their concern over external influence on the commission. The commission is currently determining how to organize themselves and developing the process to go about the important work of revising our city’s “constitution.”

  • Watch for preference for proposals from corporate interest. 
  • Watch the process for submitting proposals. Demand transparency!
  • Watch for efforts to thwart the commissions independence.
  • Watch for efforts to muzzle the voice of community through paternalistic rules and sanctions.

The next Detroit Charter Commission Meeting will be Saturday, January 26 at 12pmS

Lower Level Kilpatrick Room

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Profiles in Corporate Welfare

Profiles in Corporate Welfare


Gilbert’s Net Worth is $6.5 billion. (1)

Synonymous with Corporate Welfare, Dan Gilbert’s portfolio and influence in Detroit continues to grow.  In late. 2017 Bedrock broke ground on the “Q-Scraper”, a high-end, high-rise on the old Hudson’s site that will benefit from tax incentives and tax capture for 30 years.  Gilbert received nearly 3/4 of a billion dollars in tax subsidies for this project alone!

Ford Motor Co.

Ford’s Global Revenues in 2017 were $156.7 billion. (2)

Ford Motor Co. promotes their reputation as a socially responsible corporation. They claim they want to be a good corporate neighbor but they only agreed to invest $10 Million in community. Ford can voluntarily enter into a REAL community benefit agreement with the community at any time.

The Platform

The Platform has hundreds of millions of dollars in projects in varying stages of completion. (3)

“The Platform” is a multi-site development project with locations across the city. They are also grabbing a great deal of public tax incentives to subsidize high-end housing that most Detroiters can’t afford, like their “Cass and York” project.


Public financing for LCA totaled $324.1 million. (4)

For the amount of tax incentives that went into Little Caesars Arena one would think that Olympia would improve nearby  neighborhoods, but they have turned it into a large parking lot for people who don’t live in the city. 

Profiles in Corporate Welfare, sources:
1. Gilbert: 
2. Ford:
3. Platform: crainsdetråç 
4. LCA:   

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What is the Detroit People’s Platform?

What is the Detroit People’s Platform?

Detroit People’s Platform has been able to move forward a great deal of work over the last 5 years. While the ability and tenacity of our leadership and team members has been a vital aspect of our success, the organizational commitment to agreed upon principles, disciplined participation in process-driven strategies, dedication to cultivating trust and strong relationships with community and allies have been invaluable. 

What We Do

The work of Detroit People’s Platform launched from relationships and discussions around race and equity with Social Service providers, their constituents and residents in nearby neighborhoods. We support efforts to organize and build community  power in order to achieve systemic and transformational change for the good of  long term Detroiters.

We Center Race

While intersectionality is important in building an equitable future for our children, we center our work in the reality that Detroit is the nations largest majority black city and demand that our elected officials and those who have taken the reigns of Detroit implement policies that reflect that reality.

Who We Are

Current Detroit People’s Platform is organized by a core team with support from volunteers, allies and coalition members. The  core team maintain relationships with and support community groups, often represent DPP in coalition work and facilitate leadership groups.  These relationships drive our community engagement, public outreach/media efforts, organizing and issue-based advocacy.

Public Outreach/Media

Our public outreach/media efforts are created in support of these relationships and strives to be accessible to everyone. Issue-based ‘one sheets’ are frequently updated and this paper, the Platform NEWS is published 3 times a year. Our online social media, web page and smartphone app are updated based on our print materials. We maintain email and phone networks for our calls to action and advisory alerts.  

Coalition Work 

Detroit People’s Platform is the institutional anchor for the Equitable Detroit Coalition, the  city-wide CBA Coalition and the Housing Trust Fund Coalition. There are plans to reconvene of the Community Land Trust Coalition.  We are also active members in the People’s Water Board Coalition focusing on public health and water shutoffs. We build relationships statewide through our active participation in the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan and We the People of Michigan. 

Can I Join The People’s Platform?

If you are interested in becoming a member of Detroit People’s Platform or volunteering please email: join at detroitpeoplesplatform dot org or call the Platform Hotline and leave a voicemail. Subscribe to the Detroit People’s Platform NEWS.