As we prepare for WDN Connect 2016 in Detroit, we would like to share some films, articles, and resources to help you learn more about Detroit's history and the people and projects shaping its future. 

American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs was a 100-year-old Chinese American woman whose vision of revolution will surprise you. A writer, activist, and philosopher rooted for more than 70 years in the African American movement, she devoted her life to an evolving revolution that encompasses the contradictions of America’s past and its potentially radical future. 

American Revolutionary was produced with support from Chicken & Egg Pictures, a project from WDN member Julie Parker Benello. Watch the film on Netflix. 

Carlos Osorio / AP

Carlos Osorio / AP

The Extreme Sacrifice Detroit Parents Make to Access Better Schools

Some parents have to travel six hours and take up to eight buses each day to take their kids to better schools outside of their neighborhoods. The Atlantic covers the challenges facing students and parents in Detroit's school system.

Brittany Greeson / The Ground Truth Project

Brittany Greeson / The Ground Truth Project

How race, class set stage for Flint water crisis

Darryl Wilson is tired of fighting and scraping just to get what most Americans take for granted: clean, safe drinking water.

He wants to leave Flint for a while so someone can replace the pipes and fixtures in his house and the city’s lead and lead-soldered service lines that are leaching the poison into the water. But he doesn’t have the money.

New Era Detroit/YouTube

New Era Detroit/YouTube


As Detroit, the most densely Black city in the country, faces water shutoffs, land grabs, and the displacing impacts of “revitalization,” a new generation of activists has emerged to join decades of liberation movements that came before them.



Donna Murray-Brown, CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association, lives the duality experienced by many Detroiters faced with tough decisions to make for the city’s economic recovery. On the one hand, she is a nonprofit executive, a public policy advocate, and—to some extent—a player at the table in the discussions of what Detroit needs to do to recover from the brink of economic collapse and chart a path toward citywide recovery; on the other hand, she is the daughter of a senior Detroiter whose retirement pension was reduced as one of the components of the partly foundation-funded “grand bargain” that became the blueprint for Detroit’s escape from a prolonged and debilitating bankruptcy.

Photo: Louis Aguilar, Detroit News

Photo: Louis Aguilar, Detroit News

On a World Stage, Architects Imagine Detroit as the City of the Future

Detroit will represent the United States at the Venice Biennale. According to, "mention of the city that once stood at the heart of America’s lucrative auto industry now evokes bleak images of deteriorating buildings, vacant schools, and destitute neighborhoods. But associating Detroit solely with urban decay is like thinking in the 'past tense...' The Biennale allows urban planners and designers to pivot the conversation toward how architecture can help the city move forward. And it puts that conversation on a world stage."


15 Famous Detroit Movies

A unique metropolis, Motor City is one offbeat cinematic setting, far from the glamor of New York and the commonness of Toronto, Hollywood's go-to stand-in town. Only a handful of films have been set in Detroit (and even fewer have actually been filmed there), but we scrounged up an eclectic selection, boasting the likes of Clint Eastwood, Carl Weathers, Warren Beatty, and Eminem.