Butzel attorney featured during 2022 Michigan Cybersecurity Conference

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Butzel attorney and shareholder Claudia Rast will be a featured panelist during the (virtual) Michigan Cybersecurity Conference on January 21, 2022. The topic is “The Power of a Functioning Incident Response Plan.”

Rast, who chairs Butzel’s Intellectual Property, Cybersecurity and Emerging Technology Practice Department, blends her expertise in law, business, and science to assist companies in their strategic use of technology, counseling clients in the areas of privacy, cybersecurity, data security and governance, intellectual property licensing and registration, and the forensic preservation and analysis of electronically stored information.

The unchecked growth of cyber threats combined with the heightened vulnerability of businesses as employees continue to work from home has made Rast’s background in digital forensics and data breach response invaluable when counseling companies both on how best to defend against, and respond to, the inevitable cyber attack.

Similarly, over the past several years, she has worked within both the IT entrepreneur community and the automotive supplier network to negotiate contracts covering innovative technologies associated with autonomous and connected vehicles, addressing security, privacy, IP ownership, and to counsel on the impacts of new laws and regulations, ranging from the General Data Protection Regulation in the EU to the new consumer privacy laws in California, Virginia and Colorado.

Rast was appointed to a three-year term to co-chair the American Bar Association (ABA) Cybersecurity Legal Task Force in 2020. Prior to that, she had been appointed to successive one-year terms since 2013.

About Butzel

Butzel is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Troy, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Butzel adds attorney to firm’s growing International Business Practice Group; Everardo Tapia’s practice is focused on automotive, business, commercial litigation and IP

DETROIT, Mich. – Butzel continues to grow to meet client needs with the addition of associate attorney Everardo Tapia to the firm’s International Business Practice Group.

Based in Butzel’s Detroit office, Tapia focuses his practice in the firm’s Automotive, Business and Commercial Litigation, and Intellectual Property Groups.

His practice has included serving as national discovery counsel for clients in the automotive industry in addition to representing major telecommunications and energy companies in intellectual property litigation.

Tapia earned a B.S. in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering from Pennsylvania State University and a Juris Doctor in two and a half years from Chicago-Kent College of Law. While in law school, he was the associate editor of the Journal of Intellectual Property and a member of the Hispanic-Latino Law Student Society & Intellectual Property Law Society.

Notably, Tapia has earned recognition for pro bono work representing underserved members of the community in family and criminal matters. He is admitted to practice law in the State of Missouri.

About Butzel

Butzel is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Troy, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Foster Swift Elects Four Shareholders

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. –Foster Swift Collins & Smith, P.C. attorneys Mark J. DeLuca, Taylor A. Gast, Rachel G. Olney and Tyler J. Olney have been elected as shareholders of the firm entering 2022. All four joined the firm together as associates in 2015.

Mark DeLuca practices from Foster Swift’s Lansing office as a member of the trusts and estates practice group. DeLuca advises and counsels clients in the areas of estate planning, estate and trust administration, business organization and planning, and probate litigation. DeLuca also serves as a board member for the Capital Region Community Foundation, Sparrow Foundation, and Highfields, Inc.

Taylor Gast practices from the firm’s Lansing office. Gast helps businesses and organizations of all sizes and at all stages of development grow and solve problems. He provides practical and thoughtful advice on issues including technology law, data privacy and cybersecurity, startups, mergers and acquisitions, taxation, employee benefits and contracting.

Rachel Olney is a litigator in the firm’s Southfield office where she focuses her practice on a broad range of complex insurance coverage litigation matters including first and third party no-fault, insurance defense, medical malpractice defense, business and commercial litigation, and mass tort defense cases.

Tyler Olney focuses his practice in general litigation and workers’ compensation defense from the firm’s Southfield office. Olney has extensive experience representing employers, insurance carriers, and third-party administrators in workers’ compensation matters throughout the state. He is experienced in counseling employers on labor and employment issues and the intersection between employment and workers’ compensation laws.

Bodman Attorney Jennifer M. Hetu Appointed to INTA Committee

(DETROIT  January 11, 2022) Bodman PLC is pleased to announce that Jennifer M. Hetu has been appointed to the International Trademark Association (INTA) Public Information Committee.

In her role as a committee member, Hetu will help create material for INTA’s website that educate the general public about trademarks and brands.

Hetu is a member of Bodman’s Intellectual Property Practice Group and is based in the firm’s Troy office. Her practice focuses on trademark law and brand protection. She advises businesses of all sizes on a wide range of trademark matters in the U.S. and international markets, collaborates with foreign law firms on worldwide trademark protection, and provides counseling regarding U.S. use and registration.

She also counsels businesses in the rapidly growing cannabis industry on how to navigate trademark protection strategies in the current landscape. She is a former trademark attorney with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

INTA is a global association of brand owners and professionals dedicated to supporting trademarks and related intellectual property (IP) to foster consumer trust, economic growth, and innovation. INTA members include nearly 6,500 organizations, representing more than 34,350 individuals (trademark owners, professionals, and academics) from 185 countries, who benefit from the Association’s global trademark resources, policy development, education and training, and international network. Founded in 1878, INTA is headquartered in New York City, with offices in Beijing, Brussels, Santiago, Singapore, and Washington, D.C., and a representative in New Delhi. For more information, visit inta.org.


Bodman PLC is one of the Midwest’s leading business law firms, providing counsel to many of the region’s most successful companies and individuals on a broad range of issues. Deeply rooted in the communities they serve, Bodman lawyers provide clients with the personal attention of a small firm combined with the talent and knowledge expected of the nation’s leading attorneys. To learn more, visit www.bodmanlaw.com.

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Butzel elects Javon R. David and Mitchell Zajac shareholders

DETROIT, Mich. – Butzel attorneys Javon R. David and Mitchell Zajac have been elected Shareholders. Previously, David and Zajac were associate attorneys.

David and Zajac are members of Butzel’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice Group, one of the firm’s largest practices areas.

The Practice Group has a distinguished history of successfully handling arbitration and litigation matters including a range of complex issues and areas of litigation, including appeals, bankruptcy and restructuring, business entity disputes, commercial litigation, product liability, professional liability, real estate litigation, technology and electronic discovery issues, and white collar criminal defense and investigations.

Javon David

David concentrates her practice in the areas of commercial litigation, media and entertainment law, and products liability. She has extensive litigation experience, successfully handling matters from the onset of suit through trial.

In 2021, she was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel Association (MDTC). She accepted this appointment after serving as Co-Chair of the Trial Practice Section of the MDTC.

David holds several leadership positions in the legal field. She serves on the Business Court and Counsel Committee for the Oakland County Bar Association (OCBA). She also serves as Deputy General Counsel for the Michigan Press Association (MPA), and on the litigation, insurance, and advertising/commercial speech committees for the Media Law Resource Center (MLRC). In addition, David serves on the Board of Governors for the Young Leaders Council, Original Equipment Suppliers Association – Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (OESA-MEMA).

She earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, graduating with honors. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, with concentrations in History, Political Science, and Psychology.

David has been named to the list of Michigan Rising Stars in Super Lawyers magazine for 2017-2021. She also was named among Michigan’s Top Women Lawyers from 2017-2021. David was named as Ones to Watch in commercial litigation by Best Lawyers in America in 2020 and 2021.

David is admitted to practice law in the State of Michigan, the United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, and the United States District Court, Western District of Michigan. She also is a certified mediator through the American Bar Association.

Mitchell Zajac

Zajac’s practice also includes a focus on automotive, intellectual property, regulatory and emissions compliance, and sports and entertainment law. He is a registered patent attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Before joining Butzel as a summer associate in May 2017, while attending law school full time, Zajac was an engineer at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). He moved quickly through the ranks at FCA. He was responsible for multiple ground-breaking development projects, led the international engineering team producing the Ram ProMaster City, and had a leading role in FCA’s corporate audit group with responsibilities in safety/regulatory compliance, quality and purchasing.

Zajac has practiced in six federal courts, the U.S. Patent Office, and the U.S. International Trade Commission. Zajac’s career as an attorney builds on his strengths and experiences he gained while at FCA and has helped him to grow his practice beyond the automotive industry. Zajac has helped several clients manage and craft IP portfolios in other unique industries, like medicine, light-weighting, and industrial manufacturing. He also has experience in complex patent, trade secret and commercial litigation cases.

His clients include automotive and transportation companies developing IP portfolios, multiple start-up companies with $4M+ capitalization developing strategic national partners, and multi-million-dollar global automotive clients navigating international trade issues.

Between trials and hearings in Detroit and Washington D.C. on behalf of Detroit auto suppliers, sitting first-chair and taking depositions across the U.S. and around the world (including London, Singapore, and Taiwan), Zajac also spends time presenting across the country in remanufacturing, automotive IP, and automotive contracting and supply agreements.

Zajac attended WMU-Cooley (J.D., 2017) after graduating from Western Michigan University with Bachelors’ degrees in Mechanical Engineering and German (2012) and a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering (2013). He was a Rhodes Scholar finalist (2012); interned for Congressman Fred Upton; and was a four-year starter on the Division 1 football team at WMU. Zajac was named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 2020 Class of Up & Coming Lawyers. Moreover, he received the Detroit Bar Association’s “One to Watch” Award in 2019. Zajac has been named to Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch, Commercial Litigation, 2022 and DBusiness magazine’s Top Lawyers of Metro Detroit, Intellectual Property and Patent Law, 2021 and 2022.

Further, Zajac is very active in the community. He was elected to the Livingston County Board of Commissioners. Moreover, Zajac was appointed to serve a four-year term on the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School Board of Directors.

At the same time, Zajac is an advocate for continuous education and public service. He’s the Association for Child Development (ACD) President, a non-profit organization facilitating ~$30M/annum through the USDA CACF Program providing healthy meals to children across the Midwest. He has helped achieve financial stability, organizational structure, and leads strategic expansion of ACD programs to more children and to provide education to more families.

Zajac dedicates hundreds of hours each year coaching high school football in Howell, turning his standard 12-hour workdays into 15+ hour days in order to work with and mentor young athletes.

About Butzel

Butzel is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Troy, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Butzel attorney Darius Dynkowski featured during January 13 Oakland County Bar Association program

DETROIT, Mich. – Butzel attorney Darius W. Dynkowski will be a featured presenter during an Oakland County Bar Association (OCBA) professional development program on Thursday, January 13, 2022.

The virtual program will feature a discussion on F.P. Development v. Canton — Uprooting Local Ordinances. Notably, the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated Canton’s tree ordinance, deeming it an unconstitutional taking. The OCBA discussion, which is designed for municipal and real estate attorneys, will address questions including:

• What do municipalities with similar ordinances do now?

• How will opponents of local ordinances challenge those ordinances?

• What should municipalities do to make their ordinances less prone to successful challenges?

Dynkowski concentrates his practice in the areas of condemnation and eminent domain, inverse condemnation and defacto takings, regulatory takings, property tax appeals, real estate valuation litigation, general real estate litigation including easements, leases, property line disputes, and all other aspects of real property dispute resolution in both state and federal courts. He is fully licensed in Michigan and Ohio and has handled matters nationally.

He has devoted his career to protecting private property rights and specializes in all aspects of real estate and business valuation. He has guided his career on the basic premise that no one should be forced to face the involuntary loss of their property by a governmental agency without representation.

About Butzel

Butzel is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Troy, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Black Entrepreneurs Feel the Pull to Locate in Royal Oak: Here’s why

Detroit Free Press
Chanel Stitt
Jan. 15, 2022

Black entrepreneurs looking to open their experiential self-care, entertainment, shops and food businesses have found a spot they like: Royal Oak.

Known for small businesses who have located there and stayed, Royal Oak saw this new crowd of entrepreneurs open in the city, many during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 About 20 Black-owned businesses have storefronts now in the Royal Oak area, according to the Greater Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce.

And when it comes to where businesses are locating downtown,  Main and Washington streets are the most popular, but Fourth and Lafayette streets are hidden gems where small businesses are continuing to open.

“Just being able to have a location where people are predominantly coming for friend linkups or date nights and a lot of activities is really important,” said Charvae Golden, co-owner of the selfie shop and karaoke lounge Icon Pix Studios. “And then being able to make something a little more intimate was really cool.”

Icon Pix Studios, also co-owned by Kayla White, opened in September.  The business utilizes two buildings for each activity, and also hosts a variety of themed events and birthday parties.

Icon Pix Studios on W. 4th Street in Royal Oak on Jan. 12, 2022.

“Being able to also capitalize off of [clientele] being able to rent the whole space if you have a larger party,” means the space can accommodate  “anywhere from 18 guests all the way up until 50,” Golden added.

The business’s royal blue color is bold at 110 W. Fourth St., and you can often see people participating in karaoke from the front window. You can bring your own food and refreshments into a karaoke room starting at $250 or the selfie museum for $25.

The business idea had been in the works when there were only two selfie shops in the region. But there wasn’t one in Royal Oak and adding the twist of karaoke to the selfie museum experience made the business stand out.

“Being a small business and growing a small business, it is very difficult,” said White. “We kind of just wish that we can get that support and that backing from not only our community, but Royal Oak in itself, because, at the end of the day, it’s exposure.”

What the city is doing

Although businesses are still thriving and new storefronts are opening, trudging through the pandemic hasn’t been easy after many businesses faced temporary and permanent closures, along with a decrease in foot traffic. But the city of Royal Oak came up with ways to support its businesses.

“As a city, we’ve taken a very proactive and strategic approach on how to support all of our businesses,” said Todd Fenton, deputy city manager of Royal Oak, “especially our retailers and restaurants that were really dramatically impacted by the pandemic, and still are, to some extent.”

Owner and designer of the Profit Brand line, Trevor Coates, 31, splits his time between Detroit and Chicago. The Profit Brand store is located at 202 W 4th St. in Royal Oak on Jan. 10, 2022.

The Downtown Development Authority and the city established a Downtown Dollars program, which has dispersed over $800,000 to small businesses in Royal Oak. Gift cards are given to residents and visitors to use at 60 of the city’s small businesses in an attempt to increase support from the community.

Fenton said there are several businesses waiting to announce their openings and home and commercial property values continue to spike.

“We’re seeing increased investment in our downtown,” Fenton said. “I think some of it has been spurred by things like having Henry Ford and Baker College moving into the area. We just built a new two-acre downtown park, which is going to be a fantastic gathering place both for our residents and people who are visiting the city, shopping and spending money with our retailers.”

One year of business growth

Chi Uwazurike, of West Bloomfield, started Le Don Collection 10 years ago and is now opening a storefront in downtown Royal Oak, Mich., during the coronavirus pandemic, doubling down on his business. Le Don Collection is located at 508 S. Washington Ave.

Opening the Le Don Collection in Royal Oak allowed owner Chi Uwazurike to make triple the amount he expected to make in one year. The streetwear store has become an experience, where people can view artwork or attend events. He said most people in Royal Oak have supported him regularly, including the surrounding businesses.

“It just makes me feel great — makes me like I picked the right location to be at,” Uwazurike said, “and that’s the best decision I could’ve ever made — is making sure that the location of my business, I can be proud of it 10 years to come, 20 years to come. It’s just going to keep evolving.”

In order to spread the word about the store, Uwazurike spends time passing out his flyers to businesses and people in the city. He also posts about the business and runs advertisements on social media every day. But he wishes there were more grant opportunities for himself and other businesses in the city.

Chi Uwazurike, of West Bloomfield, started Le Don Collection 10 years ago and is now opening a storefront in downtown Royal Oak, Mich., during the coronavirus pandemic, doubling down on his business. Le Don Collection is located at 508 S. Washington Ave.

“They come out with the small business loans, or all these things, (grantors) always bring (funding) to the businesses that are downtown located in Detroit,” Uwazurike said. “Never the ones that are in Royal Oak, Southfield. So we’re left out because we chose to be over there. That’s also a disconnect that I kind of want to shed a light on.”

Over a decade of sales

The diversity of Royal Oak is what attracted the store owners of The Accessories Shop and Blu Jean Blues, who have both been located in the city for a while.

The Accessories Shop, which opened in 2007, can dress women head to toe from size small to plus at 511 S. Washington St. Store owner Carla Marshall has seen business owners come and go because of major changes, like the 2008 recession and the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m glad to say that we have sustained through a recession and a pandemic — we’re still here,” Marshall said. “It can be challenging for businesses. But I’ve seen the city grow.  There’s so much more development now. All of the new apartment buildings, condos that are being built, all of that wasn’t here back in 2007.”

And Monica Elledge-Wilson opened Blu Jean Blues boutique in 2011. The store sells unique women’s apparel from dresses, tops, bottoms, and of course, blue jeans. The store also carries accessories and swimwear.

Elledge-Wilson said in the last 10 years that “more people are realizing that Washington is a street that you need to also come and see what’s around here. We actually have more shopping than Main Street does, and Main Street has more restaurants than we do. So that allows people to be able to walk into different individual small shops and be able to find something different.”

Opening during the pandemic

Many businesses got their start during the pandemic, despite the many struggles that business owners faced, such as closures during lockdowns, along with the lack of access to capital.

Profit Brand is a high-end outerwear and streetwear store where there is something for everyone. You can find the brand at 202 W. Fourth St., but its products also are sold online and in stores in cities such as Detroit and Chicago, and in states such as California and New Jersey. The store also hosts pop-up shops for female business owners to sell their products, which will restart in February.

“Before we opened, all the customers were buying all our stuff,” said owner Trevor Coates, of Southfield. “It’s still somewhat that way. Our last big release we had was last year (2020) in February. We had released jogging outfits and we sold probably 100 in four hours.”

The store opened in 2014 in a building at Grand River and Lahser in Detroit. It closed in 2017 after Coates went through a phase of burnout. But the customer base was still there. A year later, he decided to drop a few items, which sold out the same day.

By 2020, Coates had an opportunity to open in Berkeley, California. But the pandemic started and paused those plans. After some thought, he felt the space of the original Burn Rubber shoe store location in Royal Oak would be the best place to open his store, and now the business gets worldwide traffic online and in-store.

Boutique One 11 has been open for almost a year. In the store, you can get a variety of women’s jeans, skirts, blazers, T-shirts and sweaters. The store also can custom order pieces, and it hosts events and pop-up shops. The city attracted store owners and friends Crystal Banks and Shanesia Fox because they feel the city is very laid-back and lots of fun at the same time.

“Everybody [in Royal Oak] just wants to live, have fun and enjoy life, so it was just somewhere that we really enjoyed coming and eating, and even going out,” Banks said. “We both really like Royal Oak, so that’s one of the things that drove us here.”

Because of the welcoming environment, Banks and Fox said they plan to remain in the city for the long run.

“I see us becoming more than just a boutique store, but more like a fashion retail store, and having more than one location,” Fox said. “I think that we will probably always want to stay in Royal Oak, but also expand. Downtown Detroit seems really great to be in. The atmosphere and environment are changing, and it would be great to be a part of it.”

View the original article.

Opinion: MLK changed Detroit – but only after Detroit changed him

Detroit Free Press
Jan. 16, 2022
Jamon Jordan

Fifty-three years ago this March, just three weeks before his assassination in Memphis, Martin Luther King came to one of America’s  wealthiest, whitest suburbs to deliver a speech entitled “The Other America.”

Sponsored by the Grosse Pointe Human Relations Council and picketed by a right-wing extremist group known as Breakthrough, the event at Grosse Pointe High School (now known as Grosse Pointe South) would turn out to be King’s last visit to the Detroit area.

But it was not his first.

King, already a precocious freshman at Morehouse College, was just 16 years old in 1945 when he accompanied his father to the annual meeting of the National Baptist Convention in Detroit, where the senior MLK had been invited to deliver a sermon at Second Baptist Church.

Like his father-in-law, A.D. Williams, Martin Luther King Sr. was a distinguished and influential leader in the Baptist Convention, and over the years he would return to Michigan often for speaking engagements, often with his son in tow. But the 1945 visit provided MLK Jr. with an early opportunity to see how the nascent struggle for Black civil rights was unfolding in the northern United States.

North and south

Born and raised in Atlanta, the teenaged King was familiar with racial discrimination as it was practiced in the Jim Crow South. But many Black Americans faced as much hostility from their white neighbors in Michigan and other northern states:

  • Five years before the Kings’ 1945 visit, the Birwood Wall was erected on Detroit’s northwest side to separate a housing development for white homeowners from an African American neighborhood.
  • In 1942, National Guard troops were summoned to the intersection of Nevada and Fenelon when a white mob attacked Black defense factory workers trying to move into the Sojourner Truth Homes, a housing project financed by the federal government and the Detroit Housing Commission.
  • A year later, 34 Detroiters, including 25 African Americans, were killed in a deadly riot. Seventeen of the victims — all Black — were killed by members of the Detroit Police Dept.
  • And in 1944, the year before 16-year-old KIng’s first visit to Detroit, white neighbors sued in an attempt to stop a Black couple, Orsel and Minnie McGhee, from moving into the house they’d purchased at 4626 Seebaldt St. The case would eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

‘Colored Night’

When the MLK Sr. and Jr. arrived for the Baptists’ annual meeting, Detroit’s neighborhoods and schools were still segregated. Most hotels and downtown bars refused to serve African-American guests, and Black people were not allowed to sit in the stands at Briggs Stadium, where the Detroit Tigers played. The city’s most popular dance hall, the Graystone Ballroom, welcomed African American patrons only on Monday, also known as “Colored Night.”

Later in 1945, Sarah Elizabeth Ray, a young Black woman was removed from the SS Columbia, one of the two boats that ferried visitors to the Boblo Island amusement park, because she was “colored.” Her lawsuit alleging illegal discrimination by the Boblo Excursion Company would also reach the Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled in her favor.

In the decade following their first father-son visit, MLK Sr. arranged for his son to speak in dozens of Detroit pulpits. In 1954, Rev. A.A. Banks, the pastor of Second Baptist, invited the younger KIng to deliver a guest sermon, entitled “Rediscovering Lost Values,” at the church he’d first visited as a teenager.

King told the congregation he was humbled he was to speak at Second Baptist, Michigan’s oldest Black church. But he added that he’d returned to the city so often over the previous nine years to visit the family of his father’s sister, Woodie Clara King Brown, “that Detroit is really something of a second home for me, and I don’t feel too much a stranger here.”

Then, after thanking his hosts, he got to the meat of his sermon.

“There is something wrong with our world, something fundamentally and basically wrong.” he began. “I don’t think we have to look too far to see that.”

Surely few Black Detroiters took issue with his assessment. Five years earlier, the National Housing Act of 1949 had heralded the beginning of a federal government campaign to demolish big city slums. Over the next several years, more than 100,000 African American Detroiters — including many in the Second Baptist congregation — would be displaced by the demolition of the city’s Black Bottom neighborhood.

Bombing churches, clearing slums

The mid-50s marked the beginning of King’s meteoric rise to national prominence. In September 1954, he became the pastor of Montgomery, Alabama’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where he played a leading role in a 382-day bus boycott. Second Baptist Church sent the Montgomery Improvement Association $2600 (about $25,000 in today’s dollars) to support the boycott effort and dispatched an additional $1500 (about $14,000 today) after King’s home and a number of other churches and homes were bombed.

In a letter thanking the Detroit congregation, King wrote that “Second Baptist Church has contributed more to the work of the Montgomery Improvement Association than any single church in America… Your moral support and Christian generosity are of inestimable value in the continuance of our humble efforts…”

After the Montgomery Bus Boycott, U.S. Rep. Charles Diggs Jr., the first African American elected to the US Congress from Michigan, took King on a tour of Detroit’s Paradise Valley neighborhood, which was being decimated to make way for the I-375 and I-75 freeways. It was another lesson in the young minister’s continuing education about urban renewal.

The promulgation of federal development policies and financing incentives was not as dramatic as the segregation of southern lunch counters, buses and public restrooms, but those policies perpetuated racial inequities and exacerbated the growing wealth gap between Black and white residents in metropolitan areas like Detroit.

In September 1958, King returned to Detroit for the annual National Baptist Convention. It took place at King Solomon Baptist Church, which had moved into a building at 14th Street and Marquette that had originally housed the all-white Temple Baptist Church. The latter had moved its congregation steadily westward as the surrounding neighborhood became more integrated, eventually relocating to Plymouth.

In a keynote speech given at an auditorium across the street from King Solomon, King recounted the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott for a rapt Detroit audience. Three days later, he was attending a Harlem book signing for his just-published “Stride Toward Freedom” when a mentally unstable African-American woman named Izola Ware Curry stepped forward and stabbed him, nearly ending King’s life.

But the preacher survived, and his relationship with Black Detroiters continued.

Marching to the Motown sound

A year after King’s speech King Solomon, a record company that would grow to be the most famous Black-owned business in Detroit’s history opened its doors about eight blocks from the church. Over the next few years, Berry Gordy Jr.’s Motown Records signed Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Mary Wells, Martha and the Vandellas, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and the Temptations.

In 1962, Gordy’s older sister, Esther Gordy Edwards, began talking to KIng about producing recordings of his speeches. When King agreed to deliver a major address in Detroit the following year, Motown Records struck a deal to record and release it.

The Detroit speech was integral to a campaign two Detroit ministers had launched to augment and complement the Southern Freedom Movement already underway in the South.  Rev. Clarence LaVaughn Franklin and Rev. Albert Cleage Jr,  hoped a mass march and demonstration in the Motor City would focus attention on housing segregation, school inequality, job discrimination, police brutality. and other forms of racial discrimination flourishing in northern cities. Cleage, in particular, hoped the Detroit march would push the civil rights movement in a more Black nationalist direction..

But when Cleage insisted that the march should be restricted to Black participants, the Detroit Branch of the NAACP threatened to boycott it, led by its president, attorney Edward Turner, and executive secretary Arthur Johnson, who had been King’s Morehouse College schoolmate. The Baptist Ministerial Alliance, a group led by Rev. Roy Allen of Chapel Hill Missionary Baptist Church, also objected to Cleage’s vision of an all-Black march.

King resolved the standoff by throwing his support behind Franklin, and the march was integrated, with UAW leader Walter Reuther, and Detroit mayor Jerome Cavanaugh being added as march leaders.

Before and after

Held on June 23, 1963, the Detroit Walk to Freedom attracted 125,000 participants and stood as the largest civil rights demonstration in U.S. history until it was eclipsed two months later by the March on Washington. It was also a dress rehearsal, including parts of the  “I Have a Dream” speech King would deliver in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial that August.

But the MLK who went to Washington that August was more than the southern civil rights leader who had first visited Detroit 18 years earlier. After witnessing the northern states’ distinctive version of Jim Crow, he had begun to inveigh against the housing discrimination, school inequality and police brutality experienced by Black urban residents. In the Cobo Hall warm-up for his iconic speech on the National Mall, he urged Detroiters to combat “the de facto segregation” of the North.

By the time he was assassinated, King bore even less resemblance to the Nobel Prize-winning preacher of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington. The King of 1968 was the Vietnam war-opposing, Poor People’s Movement-leading champion of fair housing, a guaranteed income, and a massive federal plan to end poverty. By the time he gave his “The Other America” speech in Grosse Pointe, he had embraced a larger vision of radical social transformation and a daring interracial movement against racial and economic inequality.

After King’s assassination in April 1968, uprisings erupted all over the county. Later the same month, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act, which outlawed racist housing practices by homeowners, real estate agents, banks and the government itself.

Martin Luther King had changed America. But he had done so only after Detroit had changed him and endowed him with a more complex and sophisticated understanding of the challenges confronting Black Americans.

Jamon Jordan is the City of Detroit’s Official Historian and the founder of the Black Scroll Network History & Tours. He teachers a class on Detroit history at the University of Michigan. 

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Newly Minted Maya Angelou Quarters Enter Circulation and Make History

Smithsonian Magazine
Nora McGreevy
Jan. 14, 2022

If you pay with cash in the next few weeks, keep an eye out for a new face among the Lincoln pennies and Jefferson nickels in your change: Esteemed poet Maya Angelou will now feature on a select batch of 25-cent coins, the U.S. Mint announced Monday.

Angelou’s likeness marks the first time that a Black woman has been represented on the U.S. quarter, reports Annabelle Timsit for the Washington Post. The coin is one of five new designs that will be rolled out this year as part of the American Women Quarters (AWQ) program. Set to run through 2025, the program will release five quarters each year.

Manufactured at mint facilities in Denver and Philadelphia, the Angelou quarters began shipping to locations across the country on Monday. Mint officials encourage interested people to reach out to their local banks in late January or early February to ask when the quarters will be introduced into circulation in their area, according to a statement. Individuals can also pay a fee to enroll and receive all four annual installments of the coins by mail, according to the mint website.

Angelou’s design depicts the writer as a young woman with her arms outstretched in front of a bird and a sunrise, in a reference to the author’s famous memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. All AWQ quarters will feature a right-facing profile of President George Washington that was designed by American sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser in 1932.

Also set to release later in 2022 are quarters featuring astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; Wilma Mankiller, the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation; Nina Otero-Warren, a New Mexico superintendent who fought for women’s right to vote; and Anna May Wong, the Chinese American actress who made cinematic history as the first internationally successful Asian American movie star.

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen worked with the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative; the Congressional Bipartisan Women’s Caucus; and the National Women’s History Museum to select this year’s honorees from a list of more than 11,000 names suggested by the public. Yellen became the first female Treasury Secretary when President Joseph Biden appointed her to the position in January 2021.

“Each time we redesign our currency, we have the chance to say something about our country—what we value, and how we’ve progressed as a society,” the secretary said in a statement released on Monday. “I’m very proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women, including Maya Angelou.”

In Angelou’s decades-long career as a dancer, poet, educator, author, and activist, she wrote more than 30 bestselling books. She also served as the first African American cable car conductor in San Francisco, acted on Broadway and in films, became a professional calypso singer and dancer, and guided the civil rights movement.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) recounted her childhood experiences of abuse and racism and celebrated Black motherhood and resilience, as Veronica Chambers reported for Smithsonian magazine on the autobiography’s 50th anniversary.

Shortly before the book’s publication, friend and fellow writer James Baldwin said that the memoir “liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.” He added, “[N]ot since the days of my childhood, when the people in books were more real than the people I saw every day, have I found myself so moved… Her portrait is a biblical study of life in the midst of death.”

Angelou published one of her most enduring and oft-cited poems, “Still I Rise,” in 1978. Its lines echoed themes of survival and resilience prevalent throughout her body of work: “You may write me down in history / With your bitter, twisted lies, / You may trod me in the very dirt / But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

President Barack Obama awarded Angelou the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2010. She died in 2014 at 86 years old.

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Birmingham Cemetery Could Join National Underground Railroad Network

Metro Times
Alex Washington
Jan. 10, 2022

Detroit is a city with a deep history. Some of that history is connected to slavery and the Underground Railroad.

Throughout the city, you’ll find sites that are connected to the route like the First Congregational Church of Detroit, or statues that honor the route, such as the Gateway to Freedom marker on the riverfront facing Canada.

The Underground Railroad’s historical sites are not limited to just Detroit. They extend to the city’s suburbs as well. And soon, Birmingham could join the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

The Network to Freedom was established after the passing of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act in 1998. The goal is to preserve the history of the Underground Railroad and offers a list of verified sites that were used to help slaves escape to freedom.

In Birmingham’s Greenwood Cemetery, George Taylor, a freedom seeker, and Elijah Fish, an abolitionist, are buried. According to Hometown Life, Birmingham Museum director Leslie Pielack submitted all materials establishing Taylor and Fish’s connection to slavery abolition.

If the application is approved, Greenwood Cemetery would become the first Birmingham site listed on the national registry. It would join Ann Arbor, Jackson, Lansing, Adrian, Detroit, Ypsilanti, Muskegon, and others if accepted.

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