Thursday, September 14, 2006

DeVos, One Detroit and Grand Rapids,The City of Boom by Akindele Akinyemi

Recently, I attended to the Racial Healing Conference that was sponsored by the DeVos for Governor campaign. This was a three city tour that started at the Detroit Regional Chamber in Downtown Detroit.

Guests included Dick DeVos, Nolan Finley from the Detroit News, Bishop Keith Butler,Vivian Carpenter (Former Chair & Member of the Black Chamber of Commerce), Nasser Beydoun (President, American Arab Chamber of Commerce), James Snider (Exec. Director of Council of Asian Pacific Americans), and Jane Garcia who is the VP of the Board of LaSED (Latin Americans for Social & Economic Development).

Then it was on to Pontiac, Michigan at the First United Methodist Church. Oakland County Clerk and Lt. Governor candidate Ruth Johnson was there along with Pastor Kent Clark who is the CEO of Grace Centers of Hope. Rev. Thomas Taylor, the Senior Pastor of 1st United Methodist Church, Vivian Carpenter and Mary Beven who is the Owner of Artistic Wear were present as well.

Then One Detroit drove two hours to Grand Rapids, MI for the final session that took place on the downtown campus of Grand Valley State University in Downtown Grand Rapids. When I got off I-196 to merge onto US 131 in downtown Grand Rapids I noticed the growth of the city. It has been five long years since I have been to Grand Rapids and to see the rapid growth and development of the city was phenomenal. I thought I had left the state to be honest. It looked like Ohio or something.

Grand Rapids and Detroit are total opposites. You can ACTUALLY raise a family in Grand Rapids as compared to Detroit. With the state economy so bad right now you can STILL find a job in Grand Rapids as compared to Detroit, where you cannot find a job. However, Black people I've noticed ARE STILL paranoid when it comes to race and begging for a handout even in booming Grand Rapids. Again, the educational levels among Black people in Grand Rapids are low due to the lack of educational values. When are we going to realize in this society that we need the PROPER education to free our minds from slavery?

I must mention that Stedman Graham was present and hosted all three cities and did an excellent job of speaking on issues of diversity as it pertains to the workforce, the classroom and in our communities.

Even though race is an issue in Grand Rapids and that was well shared by the Hispanic and Black people in the room this community is at least willing to work together as compared to Detroit where it is a constant war zone daily.

Stedman Graham (CEO of S. Graham & Assoc & Best Selling Author – “Diversity: Leaders not Labels”) speaks to Dick DeVos before leaving for the airport to get back to Chicago, Illinois.

Dick DeVos thanking his friend, Stedman Graham, for taking the time and energy to create a dialogue on racial healing in Michigan.

Dick DeVos and I are talking about our success in Downtown Detroit with my "I AM A BLACK REPUBLICAN" t-shirt. He acknowledged the powerful effect of the shirt and positive feedback from those in his camp. He encouraged me to continue healing young people through education. I encouraged him to keep his eye on Detroit the same was he has kept his eye on Grand Rapids if Michigan is going to be a contender in the 21st century.

DeVos and I talking about the DPS teacher strike, the need for more educational options and moving Michigan forward through a competitive educational reform effort. I also spoke to Dick's wife, Betsy DeVos, on working to reform education in Detroit through educational choice. She wanted to hear more of my grassroots efforts.

Dick DeVos, (the CEO of Alticor) and Akindele Akinyemi (the CEO of the One Detroit Network) shaking hands with each other on job growth through supporting small businesses in Michigan.

This is the year where educators must support DeVos, a candidate that will support small businesses, educational reform and help bring our state to compete in a 21st century job market.

Supporting anyone else is failure.

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