Across Metro Detroit, we usually do a terrible job of acknowledging our past and how those decisions impact our region today.

But in an energetic speech in a venue where a message about race is uncomfortable for some, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan talked about the systematically racist policies that shaped our region today and finished with a standing ovation.

The TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) version is thanks to a practice called redlining if you were white after World War II, you could get home loans to buy or improve your home. But if you were a person of color, well, nope. The Federal government subsidized and bankrolled the suburbs while denying the same opportunity to African Americans, Hispanics, and other people of color.

We dived into the physical manifestation of it here on our site last year, a wall by 8 Mile. 

It’s an uncomfortable truth about our past. We need to acknowledge it to push forward as a region. There are reasons why things happened the way they did, and they’re not pretty.

Historically, development hasn’t been a level playing field and it’s completely justified for people to question and push for inclusion.

But Duggan putting that story out there has a power that other sources simply do not.

He then looked to the future, talking about eight policies for development:

There have been examples of success in the past – such as River Crest – that he called out in his speech, as well as efforts in the Fitzgerald neighborhood.

Duggan has outlined a tall order to execute, and there are a lot of potential pitfalls. But who would have thought a few years ago the city budget would have a surplus, and home sale prices would be up by more than 50 percent in more than half of the city?

It’s refreshing to be talking about what the right pace of improvement is instead of whether or not it will ever happen. That in itself is an accomplishment.

Check out the video below.

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