As Pancakes & Politics moves into its 12th year, one thing is for certain — there will be no shortage of topics to discuss. This is already a big year in the news, both locally and nationally, and we’re barely out of January.
As always, those invited to share their views during this year’s four separate forums focusing on the critical issues of the day will be sure to provide those in attendance with more than enough food for thought.
Created in 2006, Pancakes & Politics has established itself as a widely-respected forum for discussing the business and economic issues affecting the entire metro Detroit region. The series brings together leading newsmakers in the business and government sectors to address the topics considered most relevant to the community. The event regularly attracts an audience including many elected officials, as well as business and community leaders from across the region. In years past, Pancakes & Politics has welcomed a wide variety of influential local and regional leaders such as Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Michigan Sen. BertJohnson, Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans, former Gov. Rick Snyder, former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, and Mary Kramer, publisher of Crain’s Business Detroit.
Not surprisingly, the subject of public education was one of the hottest topics of last year’s discussion and one that will no doubt be an ongoing focus throughout the years. It was also the first event of the year, setting a high bar for the other discussions to follow. The Chronicle reported:
“Early Thursday morning, at this year’s first Pancakes & Politics forum, the panel discussion started off politely enough, but quickly evolved into a more direct and honest assessment of what is behind the problem and what needs to be done to solve it. Perhaps some of the most frank talk was delivered near the end of the conversation by Michigan Sen. Bert Johnson, who was the first to tackle the issue of race, labeling it “the elephant in the room” and putting it on the table for all to see as a too-big-to-be-denied-yet-for-some-odd-reason-still-unspoken reason why the children of Detroit are considered an afterthought in Lansing.”
Another robust Pancakes & Politics discussion occurred when discussing the ongoing revitalization of the region. Although there is clearly much to celebrate, roadblocks and obstacles remain, many of which were dealt with head-on by an all-star panel. The Chronicle reported the event as follows:
“Detroit … is making a noticeable comeback, but some noticeable stumbling blocks remain, seemed to be the consensus of four panelists joining a lively discussion focusing on regional revitalization Thursday morning at the sold out Pancakes & Politics event, held at the Detroit Athletic Club. Although everyone can see the virtual explosion in construction projects taking place in and around downtown Detroit, thorny issues such as Detroit schools and entrenched poverty are obstacles that threaten to derail the progress being made, or at the very least postpone it.
“Detroit Mayor Michael Duggan, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Arn, Tellem, Palace Sports and Entertainment vice chairman, and Daniel Loepp, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan President and CEO, covered a range of topics affecting the stability of Detroit’s revitalization. On the county level, the issue of whether or not to ditch the troubled Wayne County jail construction in favor of a glitzy soccer stadium fostered lively debate which was quickly brought back to earth by Evans. The Wayne County Executive pointed out that despite the obviously lopsided support of those in the room in favor of a sparkling new sports structure, the issue is affordability and how to craft a deal that would not stick Wayne County taxpayers with another hefty bill on top of the $150 million already spent on the troubled project.”
Once again, the Michigan Chronicle is pleased to welcome PNC Bank as this year’s lead sponsor.
The dates for this year’s season are March 16, April 20, May 18 and June 15.
what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said one year prior to the 1967 Detroit riot/rebellion in an interview with Mike Walagainst an unjust society? Listen to lace on NBC’s “60 Minutes”:
“I contend that the cry of ‘Black Power’ is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.”
Or was it a riot, devoid of all racial and or political significance? Was it simply an excuse for an unruly crowd to act up and act out, indulging their worst instincts, and stealing whatever they could get their hands on?
How you answer that question is most likely heavily influenced by your politics, as well as your experiences with law enforcement. If you believe that police officers would never purposefully injure another human being without some form of provocation, that they serve and protect everyone equally, then you are more likely to believe that what happened was a lawless riot, plain and simple. However, if your experiences have taught you that police officers are not always there to help you, and that the color of your skin tends to dictate the quality of justice you receive, then the word “rebellion” is more likely to be the way you view the events of July 1967.
But whichever definition is more accurate, the more potent question today is what, if anything, has been learned from the riot/rebellion of 1967? And to what degree should active physical protests against perceived injustice play a part in shaping the narrative of history and the direction of our shared future?
When is the time to share a table and discuss, and when is the time to scream?
Just take a look at the protests that occurred over the weekend at Detroit Metropolitan Airport — and around the country — against the ridiculous and harmful anti-Muslim policies enacted by the newly elected president of the United States, clearly designed to discriminate against our fellow citizens based on their religious beliefs. Muslims out, Christians in. As if Christians were never associated with some of the world’s worst atrocities, including slavery and the Ku Klux Klan. It wasn’t Muslims burning those crosses, or lynching black bodies.
You want modern day? Dylann Roof is not a Muslim, nor was Timothy McVeigh.
Thankfully, the weekend protests did not escalate into violence, let alone anything resembling a riot, but certainly the seeds for much more mass unrest on a scale as yet unimagined have been sown by this new administration, and it hasn’t even been a month yet.
Fifty years ago, it was Detroit that caught fire in an era of national social and racial unrest that caught the attention of the entire world. The two presidents directly involved with the crisis that was seizing America by the conscience were President John F. Kennedy, followed by President Lyndon Baines Johnson. The historic leadership of both men was largely defined by how they reacted to this crisis and the actions they took.
The flames consuming us today have been lit by the president himself.
“Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority, but to their inhumanity.”
— James Baldwin, “The Fire Next Time”
Pancakes & Politics
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with more than enough food for thought.
Created in 2006, Pancakes & Politics has established itself as a widely-respected forum for discussing the business and economic issues affecting the entire metro Detroit region. The series brings together leading newsmakers in the business and government sectors to address the topics considered most relevant to the community. The event regularly attracts an audience including many elected officials, as well as business and community leaders from across the region. In years past, Pancakes & Politics has welcomed a wide variety of influential local and regional leaders such as Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Michigan Sen. Bert