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A different perspective on Black History Month

Black History Month graphic
Posted at 7:05 AM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 07:05:47-05

(WXYZ) — We're getting a different perspective on Black History Month from lifelong Detroiter, a young man who is Chief Storyteller of the City of Detroit and the Duggan administration.

Eric Thomas gives his insights.

You can see the full interview in the video player above.

"In my role, I consider myself helping with the brand, the narrative, how we communicate our story, how we connect with residents, and so that's been a lot of the work I've been doing in my last year in the job," Thomas says.

"Cultural preservation and understanding where you are is important for everybody's development," he says. "When you look at cities across the country, from Seattle to San Francisco, to Brooklyn, you see when there's development there's this idea that the place is the buildings, but really the things people what chase is the culture created by the people who live there, Detroit is a place, I mean there's really no other way to put it, Detroit is a place that is shaped by its Black culture, it's Black identity, and so I think it's important that we realize that. You can't just flop the buildings out and say 'wow, Black people used to live here.' Detroit is cool, and it's inspiring, and it's engaging because of the contribution that Black people made, and so in this Black History Month and every other day of the year, it's important to have a conversation that says what are we as a city, how incredible can we be, and how do we elevate the people who were here, are here and are going to be here."

"There are definitely places that are defined by the culture that built there and through no fault of the Black people that live here, there's been all kinds of racial segregation, redlining and edging and kicking people out, the population of Detroit is so heavily Black, the most Black city by capita, that it has been shaped by the culture that has really shaped most of American society, and music, and culture," Thomas says. "And so, I think we sometimes forget that Detroit feels this way because of the people, not because of what happened in Motown, but something's that's been happening in the City of Detroit last week."