Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson Michigan Chronicle Senior Editor
“I have fought against White domination and I have fought against Black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela in his own words from the dock at the Rivonia trial before the Pretoria Supreme Court, June 11, 1964. After his famous “I am Prepared to Die” speech, Mandela and seven others, including Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Elias Motsoaledi, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada and Denis Golberg would be convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
What was their crime?
For standing against a brutal and racist apartheid regime that shamelessly carried out well orchestrated economic subjugation and blatant dehumanization against a race of people in the face of an international community that stood by and watched as Mandela and his colleagues were rushed to prison.
On Feb. 11, 1990, Mandela came out of Robben Island. His release was symbolic as well as pragmatic for Blacks in South Africa and around the world. The essence of his 27-year imprisonment and subsequent release provided the political framework for emancipation struggles involving oppressed people around the globe. From the streets of Detroit, which led mass demonstrations, to the towns and villages in Nigeria whose leaders supported Mandela, the cries of liberation could be heard just as in the film “Sarafina.”
Mandela died today at 95 after a long battle with lung cancer leaving behind a nation that is still mired in the struggle for economic justice for the masses of Black South Africans.
In South Africa he is called “Tata,” which means “father”; some say “Madiba,” which refers to the clan he belongs to; and still others call him “Khulu,” which means “great” or “paramount.”
In Detroit we should name a street or an educational institution after Mandela. If the city of London in Britain can erect a life-size statue of Mandela alongside British war heroes, Detroit, which is the Mecca of Black America, should name a street or school after Mandela to honor his legendary lighthouse global statesmanship.
Leadership is not only parading the emblem of being the largest African American conclave in the nation. Leadership means also honoring the lives of those who have been remarkably pivotal in the battle for political and economic emancipation of an oppressed people. Too often the habitual form of celebration in the Black community is to wait for such exemplary leaders to pass away before any concrete show of respect and observance of their legacy is instituted.
It is instructive that Detroit was one of the first places Mandela made his triumphant entry in 1990 for a major rally at the Tiger stadium after his release from jail. It was not surprising that after getting off the plane at the airport in Detroit, one of the first persons Mandela recognized among the entourage (including Mayor Coleman A. Young) that came out to meet him was Rosa Parks, matriarch of the Civil Rights Movement who had chosen Detroit as her home.
“He is the epicenter of the African liberation movement. His magnificent legacy and work is worthy of honor and respect globally,” Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson told me when Mandela turned 90. “I remember when he came to Detroit for the city-wide tribute. While New York City spent three days raising money for him, Detroit did it in one day.”
Yes. That again is no mistake because to know Detroit’s history is to understand that it is a place rooted in popular struggle and mass mobilization; it is where Martin Luther King Jr. first delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech and Malcolm X gave his “The Ballot or the Bullet” presentation. It is the home of Albert Cleage Jr. where he gave a different meaning to Christianity, emphasizing a Black theology that advocates the empowerment of the Black community. Detroiters, both Black and White, recognized the significance of what was going on in South Africa.
I recall three years before she died, former Detroit City Council President Maryann Mahaffey engaged me in a deep conversation at her office about her view of the world. Mahaffey was not the typical politician.. She was always accessible to the media, myself and other city beat reporters covering city hall for interviews or disentangling any complicated public policy. She was upfront, and always made it clear where she stood: the spirited fight to uplift the underprivileged.
And so in my conversation with Mahaffey she recounted so many stories about her life. But one that stood out the most and showed the nexus between Detroit and South Africa was her arrest in front of the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C., for demonstrating against the apartheid regime..
Out of all her noble work, Mahaffey’s anti-apartheid moment in Washington, D.C., helped to define her legacy as a White woman who did not pander to race and racism but the commonality of the struggles of the underclass across races.
Political freedom is an achievement. Economic opportunities with sound policies that do not undercut the road for real economic transformation is what South Africa and any other developing nation or struggling city needs. Any serious political leadership that aims to empower economically starving communities would work towards creating possibilities and action-oriented programs that would lead to well-paying jobs. A hungry community or nation cannot feed on empty fiery rhetoric as Mugabe is forcing his people to do or sing refrains of “Gloriana Africana.”
Understanding Mandela’s legacy on his death would mean working for economic freedom. Nelson Mandela did his part.
He issued this warning at the conclusion of a London celebration in his honor before a crowd of 46,000.
“Madiba” urged, “Our work is for freedom for all. We say tonight, after nearly 90 years of life, it is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now, I thank you.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 19:45
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
The auction house Christie's put a price tag on one of Detroit's highest-profile assets - the city's share of the Detroit Institute of Arts collection - but the masterworks might not be worth enough to help the city out of its financial crisis.
Christie's said on Wednesday that nearly 3,000 works controlled by the city are worth between $452 million and $866 million. The appraisal surprised some experts who thought the works, which include masterpieces by van Gogh and Matisse, might be worth more.
The finding by Christie's, hired to place a value on art treasures that have become a point of heated debate over the past few months in the city and its suburbs, could become a contested element of the Detroit bankruptcy if the city tries to "monetize" its masterpieces. The report puts a range of value on 2,781 works owned or partially owned by the city.
Christie's also proposed five alternatives to an outright sale of the art, including using the collection as collateral for a loan to the city.
The holdings represent only about 5 percent of the total number of art pieces in DIA's collection. But Christie's, which sought to appraise the most valuable pieces in the city-owned collection, stated that 11 of those pieces account for 75 percent of the total value of all appraised pieces.
With the finding Tuesday that Detroit is bankrupt under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy code, it is possible the city may seek to monetize some of the artwork. With debts totaling $18.5 billion, Detroit may need to sell all or part of the DIA collection as part of its plan to emerge from bankruptcy.
But the relatively low price range Christie's assigned to the collection could make the art a less vital asset than some observers had expected, said Michael Bennett, a law professor at Northeastern University and a bankruptcy expert who has written about the plight of the DIA.
"If Christie's is saying that we'd be looking at something less than $1 billion, and perhaps something significantly less than $1 billion, in proceeds from a sale, clearly that's not even a drop in the bucket if you bear in mind the magnitude of the financial deficit of the city," Bennett said.
Christie's report did not specify the works that were appraised, but some of the most best-known works owned by the city include an 1887 self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh and Henri Matisse's "The Window," an oil painting of a turqouise-shaded drawing room.
Another highlight: a rare 1566 painting, "The Wedding Dance," by Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder, that depicts a joyous wedding party.
In its report to the city, Christie's proposed five potential approaches to monetize the collection without having to sell it. Options including use of city-owned works as collateral; long-term leases; and sales to philanthropists who might loan pieces back to the city could be used in combination to raise funds for the cash-strapped city, the auction house said.
"The current robust global art market coupled with the fact that the city-owned collection contains some high-quality and valuable works, suggest this could be an effective financing arrangement," Christie's America President Doug Woodham said about the proposed use of the collection as collateral for a line of credit.
The city could raise money from a traveling exhibition of select DIA pieces and might create a "masterpiece trust," selling shares in city-owned works to other museums, Christie's said.
The DIA declined to comment on the appraisal but said in a statement that it "continues to maintain its position that the museum collection is a cultural resource, not a municipal asset." The museum also said that if the collection were threatened, it would be "committed to taking appropriate action to preserve this cultural birthright for future generations.
Bill Nowling, a spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
With Wednesday's report, Christie's has completed two of three phases of appraisal assigned to it when Orr retained the auction house in August: valuing 319 city-owned works on view in the museum's galleries, then appraising pieces in storage estimated to be worth more than $50,000.
The third phase involves lesser works in storage and should be completed later this month.
Christie's sought to appraise the DIA art at fair market value, the price at which a piece would be sold in an appropriate market.
The market for fine art has sizzled this year. Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" fetched a record-breaking $142 million in a Christie's sale last month. The Nov. 13 auction in New York brought in $691 million, the highest in art market history, and prompted talk of a bubble.
'DELAYS THE INEVITABLE'
Detroit's options for the DIA could be limited by resistance from surrounding suburbs. In 2012, voters in Detroit and the three suburban counties voted to increase property taxes to help cover the DIA's operating expenses, and suburban officials have threatened to quit sending tax proceeds, which provide about two-thirds of the museum's budget of about $35 million, if DIA art is sold.
But Orr has maintained that the city must value all of the city's assets, including the art. He also has said the city is looking at other assets to monetize, including the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, Coleman A. Young International Airport or other city-owned parking lots or land.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes in his ruling Tuesday warned that asset sales will not provide a solution to Detroit's long-term financial problems.
"A one-time infusion of cash, whether from an asset sale or borrowing, delays the inevitable," he said.
A group of the city's largest creditors last month asked Rhodes to approve an independent valuation of the DIA's collection. Also last month, a federal judge acting as chief mediator in the bankruptcy case put forward a proposal that a group of non-profit foundations could create a fund to protect the DIA's city-owned art.
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 23:43
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
– Just a month following the election, Detroit Mayor-elect Mike Duggan will give the keynote address at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) 2013 Annual Meeting on Thursday, Dec. 12 in The Music Box at the Max M. Fisher Music Center (3711 Woodward Ave.).
“There is not a cosmopolitan city in the world that does not have a thriving fine arts community," said Duggan. "The DSO is, and will continue to be, a key player in what makes Detroit a great place to live and to visit. I am honored to have the opportunity to reaffirm that fact at the DSO's upcoming annual meeting.”
Based on the themes of People, Place and Purpose, the meeting will also feature performances by DSO musicians and remarks from DSO Chairman Phillip Wm. Fisher; Michael Keegan, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Management at Chrysler Group LLC and DSO Trustee Chairman and Stephen D’Arcy, Principal of The Quantum Group and DSO Trustee.
The DSO announced earlier this year that its 2013 Annual Fund campaign set a record-breaking pace by raising more than $18.9 million in the fiscal year ending August 31, 2013. This represents a 43 percent increase compared with the 2012 campaign, which raised $13.2 million. Over $6 million of the total came from the exceedingly generous giving of DSO directors and trustees.
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 13:18
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
Wayne S. Brown, Director of Music and Opera for the National Endowment for the Arts since 1997 and a native Detroiter, has been named President and CEO of the Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) effective January 1. He succeeds David DiChiera who founded MOT in 1971 and has served as General Director of the theatre since its inception. Dr. DiChiera will remain as Artistic Director.
"We are thrilled to have a man of Wayne Brown's experience and vision to take over the role that David has so capably carried out for so many years," said Rick Williams, MOT chairman. "And we are delighted that David will continue as artistic director, the role that's always been closest to his heart."
DiChiera announced in February that he planned to step down from his role as General Director to focus on the artistic and production side of the theatre. A search committee, including Dr. DiChiera, has been reviewing and interviewing candidates for the position since that time. Brown is the committee's unanimous and enthusiastic choice to join David as the organization moves into the next chapter in its development.
"We considered a variety of candidates with a variety of backgrounds, candidates from across the country, and none of them equaled Wayne's level of experience and enthusiasm for the job. He has a glittering professional record, is a nationally recognized and respected figure in the arts community, and isas thrilled to be coming home to Detroit as we are to have him," Williams said.
In addition to managing grants for music and opera projects at the NEA, Brown directed the NEA Jazz
Masters Fellowships, the nation's highest honor in jazz. Prior to his affiliation with the NEA he served as producer of music programs for the Cultural Olympiad in Atlanta, GA, where he managed music events associated with the 1996 Olympic Games. He also is a former executive director of the Louisville Orchestra and was a founding member of the "Magic in Music" advisory committee for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Brown began his career with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra where he was instrumental in bringing about the DSO's first annual Classical Roots Concert. He is a graduate of the Music School at the University of Michigan.
"Coming home to Michigan to be part of the city's transformation and to work side-by-side with a legend like David DiChiera is a huge honor for me," said Brown. "It's an opportunity of a lifetime and I look forward to building on the enormous strides David, the Board and the staff have made in making MOT one of the premier opera companies in the United States. I can't wait to get started."
"This is a win-win situation for Wayne, for David, for MOT and for the City of Detroit," Williams said. "David has been the inspiration and the power behind MOT for decades and we're blessed that he wants to continue to play an active role. Having Wayne here to lead the team, direct day to day operations, and build the plan for the future was our major priority and will allow David to focus on the part of the business he loves most. We couldn't have asked for a better outcome."
Underscoring the enthusiasm over today's announcement, Marc Scorca, President of Opera America, said, "The appointment of Wayne Brown as President and CEO of Michigan Opera Theatre is tremendously exciting. Wayne will arrive at the company with an established national reputation, an incomparable knowledge of artistic trends and best management practices, and an unparalleled level of goodwill among his opera colleagues. He has a long-standing commitment to Detroit and its cultural community and will build on the strong foundation laid by David DiChiera."
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 13:40
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Donald James
Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013 was a bittersweet day for Joyce Hayes Giles, assistant to the chairman and senior vice president of public affairs for DTE Energy. On one hand, she was retiring from DTE after 35 years and looking forward to the perks of freedom that most retirees treasure. On the other hand, she was leaving a company that has become a major part of her adult and professional life, and has allowed her to become a friend and change agent to the community.
As Giles looks back over a three decade-plus career at DTE, she has every reason to be proud of her time and contributions to the company and community. Over the years, she has served DTE in numerous senior executive and directorship positions, including such areas as customer relations, material management, administrative services, customer information and physical assets.
Giles remembers her first day on the job in 1978 when she joined the company as its manager of compensation. DTE was known as MichCon. at the time.
“I didn’t plan on being with the company more than maybe three years,” said Giles, who previously worked for the Automobile Club of Michigan and Chrysler Corporation. “Someone at my previous company told me that I would be bored working for MichCon because it was just a sleepy utility company. That person was wrong, as I was given some great challenges and opportunities. When I started working in human resources, I realized that this company was different. DTE treated its employees and customers very well. It wasn’t a perfect culture, but it was evolving.”
In her time with DTE, Giles said there are many memorable moments.
“I loved when DTE became laser-focused on improving its customer service and really valuing its community involvement at a very high level,” Giles said. “I appreciate that the company developed a strong passion for serving the community and allowed me to create and design programs that helped those who needed help. I will greatly miss that part of what I loved doing for the community.”
Over a significant part of her career with DTE, Giles was the face of the company.
“I’ve had so many people come up to me and say, ‘thank you for being so passionate about helping our community,’” Giles said. “For a long time people in the community didn’t know who our officers were. It was important that we came out to be a valuable part of the community. While it’s true that companies are in the business to earn money, there’s more to it than just making money, it’s about caring about people and their communities as well.”
Growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, Giles was taught at an early age to care about people. She also learned that education would be her passport to prosperity and the world. As a youth, she had career aspirations of becoming a psychiatric social worker.
After high school, she went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Knoxville College, a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Detroit, and a law degree from Wayne State University Law School.
Since arriving in Detroit in 1972, Giles has been a true Detroiter.
“This is home for me,” said Giles. “I love the city and its people.”
After she retires on Dec. 1, she has plans to travel. She knows that Los Angeles will be a frequent destination for her because both of her adult daughters live there; one is an aspiring actress, the othe a screenplay writer.
For Giles, total retirement is out of the question. One look at her biography shows a multiplicity of civic and community affiliations — too many to list — that only begin to define her dedication to making life better for others. For her professional and personal efforts, she has received dozens of local, regional and national awards and honors that speak volumes to her leadership and humanitarian acumen.
While Giles won’t reveal all of her post-DTE plans, she did share that she is not leaving her love for serving the community; she will surface again will goals of empowering the people and communities of Detroit on some level.
In addition, Giles will become an adjunct professor at Wayne State University next year, where she will teach business ethics in the school’s MBA program. Also, she is getting married next fall.
“For those who know me, they know that I’m not capable of just riding into the sunset and sitting down” said Giles, with a laugh. “I have to have purpose. I have to continue to do something meaningful to help improve people’s lives in and around Detroit.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 10:11
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the Michigan Chronicle Digital Daily newsletter!
- Detroit Begins A New Chapter as Detroit Bankruptcy is Allowed to Proceed (1)
- Joyce Hayes Giles retires after 35 years with DTE (2)
- Sarah Palin accuses Obama of Libya ‘shuck and jive’ (1)
- Detroit is eligible for bankruptcy, pension cuts (2)
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network among lowest priced health plans on Michigan’s ACA health insurance marketplace (1)