Detroiters honor Dr. King's dream, take to the streets to get rid of blight

Rep. Young, Detroit Blight Busters commemorate MLK day of service
Detroit getting $42M for blight removal program
Posted at 5:41 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 17:41:27-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — As the nation marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day, many Americans across the country are stepping up to make their communities more equitable through service.

One initiative took place Monday in Detroit, where a team of volunteers took to the streets to get rid of blight.

Fifty-seven-year-old Marcus James Manns has been fighting blight with Detroit Blight Busters for over 30 years. It's a job he says provides the ultimate satisfaction.

"It’s a sense of gratitude to be able to help and know that I’m giving back to the community," said Manns, who is the head supervisor at Detroit Blight Busters.

But for Manns and his team, Monday is special because on MLK's day of service. They are making a difference to the lives of residents at this senior living accommodation on Southfield Freeway.

"They can get down the streets with no problems. No debris in their way," Manns said.

Before joining Detroit Blight Busters, Marcus was working as a landscaper.

The biggest reason for him to switch jobs was to be a role model for his daughter.

"Giving her a safe environment to grow up around, showing her that people can be positive to do something to beautify the neighborhood and take pride in their neighborhood," Manns said.

The nonprofit was joined by state Rep. Stephanie Young who says after hearing concerns, she initiated the drive.

"It's difficult for us sometimes to get to the bus stop, to even get to the corner store. And I said I’m going to make that commitment to you to work with some of our partners to get out here and make a difference," Young said.

And she is took on the task of clearing the pavement and picking up trash.

"Debris is depressing, blight is depressing and so when you are able to come out and clean up, that just automatically uplifts the spirit," Young said.

Meanwhile 2 miles away on the city's northwest side, Detroit Blight Busters' Executive Director John George was supervising the demolition of a 30-year-old abandoned building that he says was creating negative energy in the area.

"We’ve attempted to keep it boarded to keep the vandals and the scrappers out but after today, we won't have to worry about that, the focus will be on the sunflower building and its new birth," George said.

He believes that Detroit’s best days are ahead.

"If we can put our petty difference aside and focus for a moment, we can create community centers and coffee shops and art centers, so we don’t want to look back, we want to look forward and we are asking people to join us in this effort," George said.

Now if your neighborhood is also suffering from blight, reach out to Detroit Blight Busters at 313-255-4355 or visit

You can also connect with Young by calling 517-373-3815 or dropping an email to