In Mississippi, America’s most revolutionary mayor

In Mississippi, America’s most revolutionary mayor
by Siddhartha Mitter

September 19, 2013 5:00AM ET

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba is ‘applying a philosophy against imperialism to the practice of repairing streets’

lumumba2

Chokwe Lumumba, a former vice president for the Republic of New Afrika, was elected mayor of Jackson, Miss. in June
Chokwe Lumumba, a former vice president of the Republic of New Afrika, was elected mayor of Jackson, Miss. in JuneJoe Ellis/The Clarion-Ledger/AP

JACKSON, Miss. — On July 1, Chokwe Lumumba, an attorney with a long record of black radical activism, took office as mayor of Jackson. His inauguration took place in the gleaming convention center that sprang up four years ago in the state capital’s mostly deserted downtown.

A crowd of 2,500 packed the hall. The city councilors and other dignitaries, most of them African-American — Jackson, a city of 177,000, is 80 percent black — sat on the dais. The local congressman, Bennie Thompson, officiated. The outgoing mayor, Harvey Johnson, the city’s first black mayor, wished his successor well. The Mississippi Mass Choir gave a jubilant performance of “When I Rose This Morning.”

Finally, Lumumba, 66, approached the podium, pulling the microphone up to suit his tall, lean frame. “Well,” he said, “I want to say, God is good, all the time.”
The crowd replied. “God is good, all the time!”
“I want to say hey! And hello!”
The crowd called back, “Hey! Hello!”

Then Lumumba smiled and raised his right hand halfway, just a little above the podium, briefly showing the clenched fist of a Black Power salute.

Subject: Horace Mann building

From: Nova Project PTSA
Date: September 17, 2013 9:55:28 PM PDT
Subject: Horace Mann building

Dear, Students and Families of Nova.

I was asked to write a letter stating our staff’s general position on the ongoing situation with the Horace Mann building. To this point, most of our staff has signed this letter. Our hope is to gather signatures from as many of you who are willing to sign this letter, and then distribute our signed letter to local media/networks, especially The Central District News. I would like to send it out sometime this week, the sooner the better. (I realize that we could gather more signatures if we waited longer or pursued more communication channels, but timeliness is a definite concern in what has been a confusing and now fast-moving process.)

Liza has created a link to a Google form that is super easy to use and should hasten signature collection. Just click the below link and fill in the four boxes (first and last names, school, email), then hit submit. Once we have closed the signing period, we’ll send out the letter with your signatures.

Here’s the link:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1v861YWW4fliBI1HOFkxC-Z2tL0Mwek1TPQWa_XbFtGs/viewform

No pressure is intended; sign only if you agree with what the letter states. Again, the letter was written in concern for the absence of our Nova staff and community’s collective voice in what has been a several-month’s-long conversation within the Central District and other communities.

Thank you,

Adam Croft
Coordinator & Teacher, Earthology/Ecology/Environmental Justice/Gender Studies
The Nova Project

Indiana Man Handcuffed for Waving While Black

georgemadison-handcuffed-waving-0816-575-jc
George Madison Jr., moments after he was handcuffed for waving at police (Facebook/Evansville Courier & Press)

On Tuesday afternoon, while riding his bike on South Weinbach Avenue in Evansville, Ind., George Madison Jr., 38, waved to a couple of police officers nearby. From where Madison was, the officers looked familiar to him. After all, as a firefighter with the Evansville Fire Department, Madison is friends and has worked closely with many of Evansville’s finest, including the police chief, Billy Bolin.

But Madison didn’t look familiar to the officers, and as the Evansville Courier & Press reports, Madison said his friendly wave was deemed a threat by the officers.

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Horace Mann issues, solutions, and obstacles

Seattle Schools Community Forum

Debate the issues facing Seattle Public Schools, share your opinions, read the latest news. Organize and work for high quality public schools that educate all students to become passionate, lifelong learners.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Horace Mann issues, solutions, and obstacles

There were two issues discussed at the third meeting of the Horace Mann-African American Community Partnerships Task Force. The two issues are not closely linked. The immediate issue is about the Mann building, but that is actually the smaller issue. The Mann building issue was created to bring urgency to the big issue: the failure to educate African-American children in Seattle Public Schools. There isn’t much of a natural connection between these two, so it is easy and appropriate to regard them separately.

Bad Faith on the Mann Building

There are solutions available for the Mann building issue, but they don’t matter because the District refuses to engage on the question. The District refuses to consider any outcome other than the vacation of the building, eleven months of construction, and then NOVA’s return. It doesn’t matter what other solutions are available because the District always did, does, and will refuse to consider them. They are resolute.

A couple members of the community characterized this as “bad faith”. These folks are, of course, right. It is bad faith for the District to invite these people to discuss possible solutions when the District never had any intention of altering their course. There was nothing that anyone could have said or done in these task force meetings that would have changed the District’s decision. Not only is it bad faith, but it is also consistent with the District’s entire history of community engagement. They invite you to speak, but they don’t listen.

What solutions are possible? NOVA could move to the Lowell building instead of the Mann building and the Mann building could be left as is. Lowell is less than half full right now. Any work needed to make Lowell suitable for use as a high school – the addition of science labs and changes to washroom fixtures – could be done while the elementary school there continues. Since Lowell has been continuously occupied, the full scale effort to bring it up to current code would not be necessary. Lowell is, in many ways, a better location for NOVA than Mann. The cost to renovate Lowell for NOVA would be comparable – if not less – than the cost to renovate Mann.

Here’s a bonus to this solution. Calls for a downtown school will always meet with resistance so long as Lowell is sitting so close to South Lake Union with over 300 empty seats. If the Downtown Seattle Association wants any real chance to create an elementary school for Amazon, they will have to close Lowell. The DSA would have an interest in supporting this solution.

Could this work? Could there be other workable solutions? Who knows? It doesn’t matter because the topic is closed. The District refuses to discuss it. They refuse saying “That’s not what we promised the voters when they approved BEX IV.” This rationale is laughable. The District has a long history of changing BEX projects. They have done it in every levy to date, and they will undoubtedly do it in BEX IV as well. Fixing up an old building for NOVA, whether it is Mann or Lowell, is what the voters approved.

Also – and this is the really funny part – the Mann renovation won’t use BEX IV money. The money for the Mann building renovation is coming from other capital fund sources.

The Task Force is pretty big – over twenty people. But not one of them is a veteran District watcher with the detailed knowledge to refute this thin rationale. Melissa and I knew these facts, but none of the community members of the Task Force did.

There was some talk about whether the Peace Center could use the space in the Mann building after NOVA returns, but that’s neither likely nor particularly desirable.

Instead of considering any possibility that would allow the Peace Center to remain in the Mann building, the District has suggested that they lease other District sites instead. The District suggested Van Asselt and Columbia. The community rejected Van Asselt as too far south, but it is likely to accept Columbia. So, pending a lease agreement, Columbia will be the Peace Center’s new home. The Columbia building was, until recently, leased to the Torah Day School of Seattle. I wonder if the lease terms for the Peace Center will be comparable to the terms offered to the Torah Day School. A big difference could spark charges of discrimination and possible litigation.

So that’s the likely conclusion/solution for the first issue. It ran exactly according to script. Of course it did. The District has played out this scene dozens of times and they know the dialog and the business. The District refused to authentically engage or consider any outcome other than the one that they had pre-determined.

Bad Faith on Academic Achievement

The second, larger, issue also went according to the District’s script. The District is even more experienced with this drama. They offered the community the one thing that they always offer: an Advisory Committee.

The District will form an African-American Student Success Advisory Committee. This will enable them to co-opt the dissent by collecting it all together in one approved place for easy, efficient neglect while preserving the illusion of action. It is a public relations response to an academic problem. The District will apply bureaucracy to drain all of the urgency from this crisis and to systematically lower expectations.

The committee will take three months to assemble, then it will meet for six months, then it will produce recommendations, and then those recommendations will be ignored. The recommendations can be ignored for years as the District offers excuse after excuse (our plans for next year are already made, but we can include those changes in our plans for the following year). Finally, the District will say that it will take years for the reforms to result in improvements in student outcomes. That will buy them another three years. This will enable the District to appease the dissenters, create the illusion of engagement, and keep the peace through stalling tactics while they take no action whatsoever on the academic problem. Their stalling tactics are legendary.

They may make some promises and adopt some resolutions at the headquarters, but they will never apply any enforcement or accountability to them in the schools. All of the commitments will be personal, not institutional, so thanks to the turnover in the District leadership they will never have to fulfill any commitments. Look at their history. This is what they have always done.

The academic problem is the failure to educate African-American students. It is the academic achievement gap. It is the opportunity gap. It is the school to prison pipeline. The District has acknowledged this problem for over ten years. At times they have named it as their top priority and number one goal. But you will notice that the District has never developed a plan to address it. What kind of organization sets a goal as their top priority but never makes a plan to achieve it?

The superintendent was asked – directly – if he acknowledged the problem. He spoke passionately about the problem. Then he was asked -directly – if he has made any plan to address the problem. He admitted that, while he had plans to improve academic achievement for all students in all schools, he had no specific plan to address the under-achievement of African-American students.

So this is how and where it will end. The District has offered the Peace Center the opportunity to lease the Columbia building. They may offer them a preferential rental rate, but they do so at their peril. The District will form an Advisory Committee to address the failure to educate African-American students but, as we all know, the Advisory Committee will have no real impact. In short, the District will roll forward as they always have and do what they have always done.

If we are lucky, really lucky, then the efforts to improve academic outcomes for all students – MTSS, academic assurances, CSIPs, etc. – will result in some improvement for African-American students and this will create the illusion that they have made some progress. In truth, this resolution will allow the District to stall any outbreak of real activism and dissent for at least five or six years. The members of the Task Force got played just as every other community mistreated by the District got played. The District used the same tactics and the same script. I see no reason to believe that the results will be any different this time.

Here’s a solution to the academic problem: the Peace Center can apply for and receive a grant from the City through the Families and Education Levy to establish some demonstration projects to show how to educate African-American students effectively with culturally relevant curricula, culturally competent teaching, and culturally appropriate discipline based on the culture’s social norms.

If they show results, then they can continue to receive the grant funds. Then they can apply for and receive more grant funds to expand. Even if they never work inside Seattle Public Schools and even if the District never adopts their strategies, the Peace Center can have reliable funding to do the work they need to do.

Posted by Charlie Mas at 1:00 PM

Seattle mayor announces new music commission

by KING5.com
Posted on June 14, 2010 at 2:52 PM

SEATTLE – The City of Seattle wants to bring music to residents’ ears. On Monday, Mayor Mike McGinn introduced the new music commission.

The group of community and business leaders will guide efforts to support and expand the city’s culture of music.
“Music is such a part of the fabric of our city, and is one of the reasons why it’s so great to live here,” said Mayor McGinn. “I’m pleased that this group of individuals has agreed to serve together and leverage their collective efforts to continue to make sure that Seattle is the City of Music.”

Mayoral Appointments:
Jason Finn – Musician, Presidents of The United States of America
K. Wyking Garrett – Director, Seattle Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council/UmojaFest P.E.A.C.E. Center
Kyle Hopkins – Head of Music Acquisitions, Microsoft X-Box/ On-Air DJ,
KEXP.org
Megan Jasper – Executive Vice President, Sub Pop Records
Alex Kochan – Vice President, AEG Live (Showbox Venues)
Marcus Lalario – Entrepreneur / Nightclub Owner
Tom Mara – Executive Director, KEXP 90.3 FM/KEXP.org
David Meinert – Owner, Fuzed Inc./National Trustee: The Recording Academy
Larry Mizell, Jr. – Writer, Musician, On-Air DJ at KEXP.org
Griff Morris – Principal, Content Licensing and Vendor Management, Amazon MP3
Marcus Womack – Product Management, iLike Inc./iLike.com
Council Appointments:
Kate Becker – Co-Founder, Vera Project/Director of Development, Seattle Theatre Group
Elena Dubinets – Vice President of Artistic Planning, Seattle Symphony
Holly Hinton – Content & Online Product Manager, Starbucks Entertainment
Jason Hughes – Co-owner, Sonic Boom Records/Owner, Sonic Boom Recordings
Ben London – Executive Director, The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter
DeVon Manier – CEO, Sportn’ Life Records
Mike Meckling – President, SNMA/Co-Owner, Neumo’s and Moe Bar
Jon Stone – Executive Director of Festivals, One Reel
Annette Taborn – Executive Director, Pacific NW Blues in Schools
Vaca

The politics of a black girl’s dreadlocks at an Oklahoma school

An Oklahoma school’s decision to dismiss a black girl because of her hair props up a racist practice, argues columnist Lynne K. Varner.

By Lynne K. Varner

I feel for the seven-year-old Tulsa, Okla., girl whose recent first day at school turned into her last after administrators deemed her hairstyle unacceptable.
The girl wore short, barely discernible locs, also known as dreadlocks. The school’s dress code forbids dreadlocks, Afros, mohawks and other “faddish styles,” that they fear could distract from a “respectful and serious” learning environment.

Some would defend those rules as no different from bans on micro-minis or navel-grazing shirts. It’s different. It props up a racist practice of schools judging black kids mostly, and also Latinos and Southeast Asians, as unkempt or undisciplined because of the way they style their hair.
It is hard to believe that a half-century after Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of children judged by the content of their character, some continue to be judged by their hair, and by extension, skin color.

Schools turning themselves inside out to improve and better educate kids of color ought to take long hard looks at their disciplinary policies. Local school districts, followed by state officials and most recently, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office on Civil Rights, are putting schools on notice that they have gone beyond disciplining minorities kids — sometimes they’re picking on them.

It is understandable why many black parents have trouble trusting and in turn investing in their public schools.

WORLD BANKER MAKES STUNNING CONFESSION

WORLD BANKER MAKES STUNNING CONFESSION

THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE WORLD BANK, JAMES WOLFENSOHN, MAKES STUNNING CONFESSIONS AS HE ADDRESS GRADUATE STUDENTS AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY. HE REVEALS THE INSIDE HAND OF WORLD DOMINATION FROM PAST, TO THE PRESENT AND INTO THE FUTURE. THE SPEECH WAS MADE JANUARY 11TH, 2010. THE NEXT 19 MINUTES MAY OPEN YOUR MIND TO A VERY DELIBERATE WORLD!

HE TELLS THE GRAD STUDENTS WHAT’S COMING, “A TECTONIC SHIFT” IN WEALTH FROM THE WEST TO THE EAST. BUT HE DOESN’T TELL THE STUDENTS THAT IT IS HIS INSTITUTION, THE WORLD BANK, THAT’S DIRECTING AND CHANNELING THESE CHANGES.

WOLFENSOHN’S OWN INVESTMENT FIRM IS IN CHINA, POISED TO PROFIT FROM THIS “IMMINENT SHIFT” IN GLOBAL WEALTH.

See the video

Bankrupt Detroit documentary on Crime: Gangs, drug dealers, decline of the economy, and Detroit’s New Future.

Bankrupt Detroit documentary on Crime: Gangs, drug dealers, decline of the economy:

Detroit’s Future:

Reviving Detroit – 4 Arenas Where Nonprofits Can Act to Design a New Future.

by Rick Cohen

The classic action-comedy Beverly Hills Cop was showing on TV this past week. In it, Eddie Murphy plays a Detroit police detective who follows a murder suspect to the West Coast. The opening 10 or 15 minutes includes a chase scene through Detroit. The city is full of vacant buildings and land—and the 1984 film showed a better-looking Detroit than you’ll find today. Axel Foley’s Detroit declared bankruptcy late last week—the largest city ever to do so—ending a fall decades in the making.

Readers can find a surfeit of descriptions of the specifics that pushed Detroit over the precipice. More than 100,000 creditors are officially owed more than $1 billion, though with unfunded pension fund liabilities and other issues, the financial obligations of the beleaguered city could reach as much as $18 to $20 billion, according to the state-appointed emergency manager, Kevyn D. Orr. Detroit joins Stockton, California; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Central Falls, Rhode Island; Jefferson County, Alabama and other communities in seeking the protection of federal courts against debts that they can’t repay.

Instead of addressing what might be involved in Detroit’s potential protection under Chapter 9, we’d like to raise issues for nonprofits and foundations concerned about Detroit and other cities like it. Although Detroit’s large foundation community, led by the likes of the Kresge Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, the McGregor Foundation, and the Hudson-Webber Foundation, has been actively engaged and putting big dollars into Detroit initiatives, traction and results have been hard to come by. Many longstanding Detroit nonprofits have not fared well in recent years, some with organizational finances following Detroit’s trajectory. Where do foundations and nonprofits go from here? How can they participate in and help shape the necessary fixes for the Motor City?

Investment capital: There’s enough vacant space in Detroit, available for next to nothing, to make Detroit a city of start-ups. While Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans claims to have invested a billion in downtown Detroit and to have moved 9,000 employees to the area, there are few corporate moguls who are going to recommend a similar corporate relocation. But for small business start-ups, and for entrepreneurs who need space, subsidy, and financing, Detroit is an ideal laboratory. A couple of programs have emerged with entrepreneurship potentials, including Venture for America, a program of placing program graduates in Detroit and other troubled cities to counsel new startups, and Challenge Detroit, which induces college graduates to live and work in Detroit and, through the incentive of a stipend, devote extra time to working with community organizations on community improvement projects. Although Venture and Challenge are both described as modeled on Teach for America, they seem to have more the feel of a VISTA or a Peace Corps.

That may be one of the challenges facing Detroit. With a surplus of generous foundations, Detroit has the ability to invest philanthropic capital in nonprofit community development initiatives. What is striking about Detroit’s nonprofit sector is that groups like Focus: HOPE, Motor City Blight Busters, and Southwest Solutions show a track record of nonprofits that have persisted when many others would have simply given up the ghost. Unfortunately, many Detroit nonprofits are shells of what they were a decade ago or less. But they remain investment vehicles, some built into plans for the revitalization of the city, that could be mechanisms for creativity and innovation working with foundations, businesses, and what remains of the local government. Maybe Venture and Challenge feel like Peace Corps operations, but perhaps reviving the domestic Peace Corps—VISTA, which still exists in the array of AmeriCorps program vehicles—and committing to the kind of organizing and community mobilization that made VISTA workers so striking during the early decades of the program might be what the nonprofit sector can deliver right now on the ground. Detroit’s foundations, and those of the nation, could be making a major investment in the VISTA-like capacity and inherent creativity of community-based commitment in this city.

While this might be a distinct possibility for Detroit’s future, it has to begin from a premise entirely different than the dynamic that led to Detroit’s economic abyss. While Detroit is 83 percent black, the Detroit metro area suburbs of Oakland County, Macomb County, and some parts of Wayne County are predominantly white and, in some cases, among the most affluent communities in the nation. The wealth generated by Detroiters over the years has been taken out of the city and the poverty kept within. The symbol of this was always Eight Mile Road, the line between the city and the suburbs where the bus system of Detroit ended and the bus system of the suburbs began, with dysfunctional or nonexistent linkages in between. People of wealth moved out of Detroit and took their wealth with them.

If Detroit is going to be the laboratory, as it can be, for a new entrepreneurial dynamic, it has to be based on new conceptions of reinvestment and redevelopment that include and benefit, rather than exclude and impoverish, Detroit’s remaining 700,000 residents. That means networking reinvestment to community-based organizations, building on rather than bypassing the infrastructure that exists in the community, and maximizing the recirculation of capital inside the city rather than a dynamic of pure outflow.

There is, of course, a racial dimension to all of this. As Joe Darden and Richard Thomas noted in Detroit: Race Riots, Racial Conflicts, and Efforts to Bridge the Racial Divide, “more than forty years after the riot [in 1967], blacks in the city of Detroit still rely on white-owned employer firms for jobs, despite residence in an overwhelmingly black city.” Then with the Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University, john powell [sic] once described the “solution” to Detroit’s structural problems of race and poverty as “promoting an equity-based regional agenda in an undercapitalized city.” He advised Detroit’s leaders toward “proactive policymaking that gives all people access to neighborhood resources, connections to opportunity-rich areas throughout the region, and a voice in the future of their communities.”

Unlike the bailout of the auto companies, national policymakers are not going to be able to tell taxpayers that capitalizing an undercapitalized Detroit will yield the kind of returns and actual profits that they got from taking an ownership position in General Motors. Rather, this is reinvestment in Detroit to rebuild a city to give hundreds of thousands of people a path toward opportunity. To realize the potential in a “new economy” Detroit—a networked, entrepreneurial Detroit—the reinvestment in the city needs to be undertaken because it must be done, not because of the anticipated upside of public co-ownership of the Chevy Volt or GMC Sierra.

Public assets: A Chapter 9 filing, which covers municipal bankruptcies, differs from Chapter 11s that apply to private entities in a number of ways, one of which is that neither a judge nor the creditors can actually force the bankrupt city to liquidate its assets. But public assets might be on the chopping block nonetheless. In May, the emergency manager hinted that the city’s dire financial straits might force it to sell public assets such as the masterpieces in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Despite the outcry against that scheme and questions about whether the city or state really had the authority to sell any part of the collection, the official bankruptcy declaration will renew pressures to sell and is spurring fears that public museums in other cities might face pressure to monetize the value of their collections. Imagine a scenario in which creditors look to the sale of Van Gogh’s “Portrait of the Postman Roulin,” Picasso’s “Fruit, Carafe, and Glass,” Diego Rivera’s Detroit industry frescoes, or Henri Matisse’s “The Window” to meet Detroit’s pension fund obligations. The DIA doesn’t think that it is the property of the City of Detroit, but in the wake of the bankruptcy filing, Orr asked for the DIA for an inventory, which notably includes the original Howdy Doody puppet worth a reported $1 million. One report suggests that the 38 leading artworks in the DIA are worth $2.5 billion.

The line between nonprofit and public in the context of the DIA collection is porous to be sure (although the DIA’s artwork is technically owned by the city, the DIA itself is run by a nonprofit entity), but art isn’t the only public asset that Detroit might consider selling. The mayor of Windsor, Ontario, has suggested that Windsor might be willing to buy the Detroit-owned half of the tunnel between the two cities (and countries) if there were a possibility that the tunnel might be sold to an entity with dubious public interests. Probably the most valuable public asset is Belle Isle, the 982-acre island park in the Detroit River that is home to the Belle Island Conservatory, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and a municipal golf course. A solution based on selling the assets of the city, which could include Belle Isle for residential or mixed-use development, means that the City could find ways of generating one-time revenues to deal with some creditors, but selling core assets held in trust not just for Detroiters, but for residents throughout the state, doesn’t address the issues that led Detroit to this point in the first place.

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Nonprofit service providers: Governor Rick Snyder and Emergency Manager Orr assured Detroiters that everything would continue as before, just like normal, regardless of the bankruptcy filing. Garbage would be picked up, police would respond to calls, and so forth. That is a fine sentiment, except that normal for Detroit is a matter of extreme turbulence for Detroiters, city agencies, and nonprofit service providers. The average police response time in Detroit is 58 minutes, compared to 11 minutes nationally, with the variation among precincts ranging from a fast response time of 31 minutes to a slow time of 115 minutes. The heirs to Axel Foley’s police department solve only 8.7 percent of their cases, compared to a 30.5 percent statewide average, according to the bankruptcy filing. Forty percent of Detroit streetlights do not work, leaving the city with less than half as many working streetlights per square mile as Cleveland or St. Louis. The number of active public parks in the city is down to 107 from 317 in 2008, and 50 of the active parks are slated to be closed.

Vendors—nonprofit and for-profit—providing services in the city have been promised to be paid by the state, but the language of the announcement is that they will be paid for “essential services.” Which vendor services might be classified as essential, and how? The City has already been slow in many cases to reimburse vendors for expenditures. Despite the promise to pay, the emergency manager recently set up a hotline for vendors to call if they don’t get paid. According to Tim Delaney, the president and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits, nonprofit service providers with city contracts “become another creditor” in the huge list of creditors that Orr and the bankruptcy court judge will have to sort through.

In their huge commitment to continue offering services and meeting demands as the city’s public infrastructure crumbled, nonprofits have tended to put the best face on Detroit’s plunge into the financial abyss. They continue to do so, even in the wake of the bankruptcy filing. The Wall Street Journal quoted Marian Noland of the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan as suggesting that the bankruptcy filing might be a turning point “moment where maybe Detroit can start to move forward.” Responding to the bankruptcy, Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution described a number of nonprofit initiatives, such as Midtown Detroit’s anchor institution development strategy, the public-private partnership to build the 3.3 mile M1 light rail line, and the $100 million investment of a consortium of philanthropies in the New Economy Initiative with a similar kind of confidence about the role of nonprofits and foundations.

National policy responses: In 1975, as New York City teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, the New York Daily News printed the iconic headline, “Ford to City: Drop Dead.” Now Detroit is the largest city ever to declare bankruptcy (twice the size of Stockton, California, which was the largest until last week). What will be the message from the current president? Although President Obama famously intervened to save General Motors because he “refused to let Detroit go bankrupt,” he hasn’t quite made the same commitment to the city’s current financial predicament. Rather, according to Politico, “President Barack Obama is monitoring Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy…but has not committed any federal help for the beleaguered city.” Politico pointed out that the White House’s position contrasts with the Democrats’ position in the 2012 campaign—that Mitt Romney’s opposition to the car manufacturer bailout was essentially saying, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” Reportedly, Kevyn Orr strongly lobbied Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett and left frustrated, according to the Detroit Free Press, with “the White House’s lack of engagement.”

The reality is that public policy toward cities like Detroit is virtually nonexistent. Right after the bankruptcy announcement, Vice President Joe Biden admitted with typical candor that the Obama Administration really didn’t know what it could do to help Detroit at this point. Writing for the Washington Post, Dan Balz suggested that Biden’s “don’t know” comment reflected an urban policy with “neither the political will nor the financial wherewithal.”

The issue, however, isn’t just the lack of an urban policy. It is America’s still-persistent racial segregation, a long story in largely-black Detroit surrounded by white suburbs, and the nation’s increasing economic segregation. Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich described Detroit’s situation in terms that apply to many other metropolitan areas:

“Americans are segregating by income more than ever before. Forty years ago, most cities (including Detroit) had a mixture of wealthy, middle-class, and poor residents. Now, each income group tends to lives separately, in its own city—with its own tax bases and philanthropies that support, at one extreme, excellent schools, resplendent parks, rapid-response security, efficient transportation, and other first-rate services; or, at the opposite extreme, terrible schools, dilapidated parks, high crime, and third-rate services.”

Foundations have played a large role in capitalizing many of the initiatives that Katz and Bradley listed as promising strategies that might lead to a new Detroit. Capital investments like the Kresge Foundation’s $150 million to the implementation of the Detroit Future City plan will almost automatically attract ideas that nonprofits and foundations can carry a large portion of the social and financial fix that Detroit needs. This is where nonprofits have to get a seat at the table to help design Detroit’s path out of not only bankruptcy, but also its decades-long plunge. Tax-exempt capital cannot in any conceivable scenario be expected to save Detroit. The solution requires a federal commitment not simply to Detroit’s finances, but to the socio-economic divides in the metropolitan region that have pushed wealth and assets outside of the city limits.

They must also make sure that the entities speaking for “nonprofit Detroit” are not simply the interests of big universities and hospitals, which can sometimes design their own walled-off trajectories. The solution to Detroit’s problems is going to be in the revitalization of its communities, perhaps following the Futures plan that Kresge and others worked on for so many years. That requires thinking about social inequities and racial inequities. The path out of this morass for the Motor City is not going to be simply charted on a spreadsheet, but designed by the engagement and mobilization of those community residents who have stuck it out and committed to revitalizing neighborhoods like Boston-Edison, Bagley, and some in Midtown and Southwest.

Also read: Detroit Bailout Draws Little Enthusiasm From President Barack Obama, Federal Government

To better understand the situation, please see this video