I’d like to give prayers and blessings to Delores Bennett’s family, friends, and supporters after her passing on Tuesday February 7, 2017.
Delores Bennett was a Wayne County Commissioner for years. But she will forever live on in the mind of most as the Godmother of the North End.
The North End is Detroit’s neighborhood that surrounds what was Detroit’s historic Northern High School bordered by I-75, Highland Park, Woodward Avenue, and the New Center District.
Delores Bennett was one of my mentors and most avid supporters. Bennett, Chokwe Lumumba, Judge Claudia House Morcom, Eleanor Josatis, and my late Godmother Ortheia Barnes are anchors of grace and excellence that have opened many doors for me.
Bennett stands out as the loudest voice pushing me to write a book and engage young people of Detroit. There were Summers (Falls, Winters, and Springs too) when I would run low on cash and she would hire me to perform, speak, or buy my albums for many of her mentees on the North End.
Humbly she’d always share a laugh and make sure I was working on something creative.
The North End stands as a significant landmark in the changes of Detroit. As many younger White residents move into the neighborhood the challenges faced by the families that have lived there for generations exist.
Delores Bennett is the only name to recognize when determining the sincerity of organization that speaks of helping this neighborhood.
Sadly the mass media news outlets have not recognized her transition.
Politically, her work at a time in the face of racism and sexism is groundbreaking. She stood tall against many odds. Most will remember her work for the tens of thousands of families she provided Christmas gifts, food, and money for since the 1970s. Her impact was transformative as the Founder and long time Executive Director of the North End Youth Improvement Council (NEYIC).
FUN FACT: In the early 1980s Mrs. Bennett approached a member of the Coleman Young Administration to gain access to Cobo Hall for her annual Christmas Gala which raises the money for the families. The Young Administration member did not respond quickly enough for Mrs. Bennett so she sought him out in at a public forum.
Within days, Bennett was provided use of Cobo Hall on behalf of the City of Detroit.
Mrs. Bennett said Mayor Young told her “I’m not gonna’ be somebody on the wrong side of Delores Bennett.”
That shows you the power of this amazing woman. Let us never forget those who made our city brighter in the days when most people said “the last one to leave, turn off the lights.”