Hill Harper

  Hill Harper? Moving to Detroit?

For real?

OK, I probably should maintain my journalistic cool about all this, not allow myself to fall into the celebrity-worship trap. Remain jaded at all costs.

But I have to admit, I do think this is pretty cool. Not so much because of Hill’s TV star status, although a little Hollywood glitz isn’t always such a bad thing, but more because of Hill’s reputation off the screen. Over the years, as his acting star has risen, Harper has gained an equal amount of notoriety for his commitment to the betterment of young black men. In other words, this is a star – a black male star – who has used his elevated status to give back. And back. And then back some more.

And now he’s giving back to Detroit, even though he’s from… Iowa? Hey, I won’t even go there. Not today, anyway. Right now, it’s just nice to have a story about a positive young brother who believes in the potential of Detroit the way we do. Not that there’s anything wrong with the (numerous) stories we continue to read about the non-black Detroit boosters and transplants because we welcome any and all Detroit supporters who mean what they say when they say they love Detroit. But you’ll forgive me if I feel a bit of extra glee whenever the Detroit Love camera shines on a young black male who says he wants to join the community.

More specifically, and I don’t mean to brag here, I really don’t, but, well…


Serious. Just got it confirmed that Hill Harper will be buying the Fisher Mansion in Boston Edison, which just happens to be the same Boston Edison where my wife and I have lived for the past 12 years. Our friendly Boston Edison Neighborhood Association has informed us that Harper has already indicated he plans to be an active and contributing member in the Association. Apparently there was some confusion earlier about which Fisher mansion, because there are several in Detroit due to the number of Fisher brothers.

According to a press release, Harper said that “Detroit is a great American city that was forged on innovation, social enterprise and entrepreneurship. Having lived here filming two movies in Detroit over the past four years, I have come to love this city and its people. I believe in Detroit. It is truly a vibrant, unique and great American city.”

Harper is also a New York Times best-selling author, and he plans on bringing his Summer Empowerment Academy (SEA) to Detroit this summer, which focuses on young people. SEA is a free high school and college readiness program that Harper’s Manifest Your Destiny Foundation runs in the most challenged areas in cities across the country.

Which is to say that, despite the glowing and welcome narratives about the New Detroit, we still more than qualify as a ‘most challenged area’ because, well, we just are. I’m not going to depress anybody today by reciting the statistics all over again (although I will come back to them later), but suffice it to say that we can definitely use the energy and enthusiasm of a Hill Harper, who has also bought the Roasting Plant as a business investment. According to the Detroit News:

“Harper’s plan is to use the coffee roastery and cafe as a platform for his Manifest Your Destiny Foundation that helps underserved youths. He wants to use the Roasting Plant to provide tactical work skills and professional growth opportunities for young people in Detroit.”

Sometimes it’s nice just to let yourself feel good about some good news. And this right here? This is some good news.

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