You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Detroit’s decline

Story Topics
Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

View results

The year was 1953, and I was a first-grader at Longfellow Elementary, situated near 12th and Buena Vista streets in Detroit. We lived in a four-family flat across the street from the school. Buena Vista consisted of a mix of single-family homes and large rental buildings with manicured lawns. I was a latchkey kid at the age of 6, and this was my neighborhood.

I remember my best friend, Edward. His family owned a home on Indiandale, about a block away. The home had a two-car garage that housed an old car we used to play in. Edward's family was much better off than ours; they had not only a home, but a TV set. I think Edward's mother took pity on a poor white kid recently arrived from the South. Most days when I joined Edward for the "Mickey Mouse Club," she offered me chocolate chip cookies.

Something very strange happened in 1956. Edward got a new friend, who apparently did not like me very much. Soon after, the neighborhood got turned upside down. The historians call it "block busting." Every single house on the block changed hands within six months. My dad said it was the real estate agents turning a quick buck, and it worked. Every white family on the block was gone, and we followed by moving to Highland Park.

What happened to Detroit? Why couldn't a poor white kid have a black kid as a friend beyond the age of 6? In 1953, Detroit was still one of the richest cities in the world. Was its decline all because of the vanishing auto industry and one-party progressive rule for half a century, with the incompetence and corruption that comes with it? At this point I have no idea, but it will haunt me for the rest of my life.

SAMUEL BURKEEN

Reston

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts