From Devils Night to Movement City and Bioneers
By Grace Lee Boggs
Nov. 2-9, 2013
On Friday, October 25 I participated in the Movement City Symposium at the University of Michigan, and on Saturday, October 26 I was given an award at the opening session of the 9th annual Bioneers Conference at Marygrove College which over the weekend offered dozens of workshops on Detroit’s rebuilding.
At the Bioneers Conference I learned that Gloria Rivera, founder of Detroit Bioneers, Malik Yakini, director of Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, and Lottie Spady, Associate EMEAC Director, had all been invited to the recent National Bioneers Conferene in California to tell the story of Detroit’s miraculous resurgence.
Since then I have been reflecting on how and why Detroit has changed so drastically in the last decade.
Only a few years ago Detroit was notorious locally and nationally for Devils Night, an annual torching on Halloween night of abandoned houses and factories by young people rebelling against the continuing decline and deterioration of the city.
Overnight Zeev Chafetz achieved a national reputation by writing Devil’s Night: And Other True Tales of Detroit
In an effort to combat this orgy of arson, city leaders renamed the night “Angels Night.” hoping that the new name would rally concerned citizens to protect their neigborhoods against the arsonists.
The renaming brought out a few concerned citizens but much older and on the defensive, they were helpless in the face of the rebellious youth arsonists.
It was only when other concerned Detroiters began respiriting and rebuilding Detroit with community gardens and peace zones that Hope emerged and with it the revolutionary/solutionary movement that I report in The Next American Revolution,and which is increasingly being recognized by people around the country and the world.
Lenin and the Bolsheviks thought that it took a vanguard party and Soviets seizing state power to change the world.
But this quote from sociologist and anthropologist Margaret Mead more accurately describes what has been happening in Detroit in the last ten years:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”