Have you wondered why the Social Forum is being held in Detroit? Many people at the forum, including much of the SCSJ delegation, have never visited Detroit and they got the chance to learn about the city’s significance on Wednesday. At the evening plenary, we all learned why Detroit is known as the “City of Resistance.”
Grace Boggs, Detroit’s renowned anti-racism and civil rights community activist fervently detailed the history of political and racial struggle in Detroit, which led to the coining of the term. She explained that Detroit, in the midst of the economic crisis with its car industry, was selected to be the host because of the opportunity it presents to “create something new and something different.”
She, along with former Black Panther members, talked about the many national movements that began in Detroit, including the Shrine, the Freedom Now Party, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Nation of Islam.
In the second part of the plenary, we learned about Detroit’s role as a “border city” and how “secure” the U.S. and Canadian border has become since September 11. While the U.S.-Mexico border cities contain stories of harassment against the Latin@ community, the American Muslim community as well as the Latin@ community, are simultaneously targeted here.
The first mosque in the U.S was founded Detroit in 1921 and the Nation of Islam was founded here in 1931. Since then, the Muslim community has commuted between Windsor, Canada and Detroit, MI for worship. Panelist Malik Yakini from the Counsel of American-Islamic Relations, explained that “every international issue facing the Arab world are local issues faced by the Islamic community in Detroit.” He communicated that their right to worship freely has been greatly affected.