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Labor Day Festivities in the Detroit Area

Labor Day weekend this year might feel a little different with masks and staying physically distanced with those outside of your COVID-19 bubble. Here are few things you can do this weekend to celebrate and brush up on Detroit history with the Labor Movement: 

Don’t Miss a Beat 

Get your fix of Detroit’s treasured end-of-summer festival from the comfort and safety of your home, car or phone! That’s right, tune into the Detroit Jazz Festival on Facebook Live, YouTube, Instagram, WDET 101.9 FM, and WEMU 89.1 FM to experience the largest free jazz festival in the world, celebrating 41 years. View the full line-up here! (Poster designed by Sanders Skip Bryant) 

Detroit Industry Murals

Schedule a visit to the DIA to admire Diego Rivera’s famous Detroit Industry Murals for the 100th time! The Mexican muralist spent 9 months creating the 27 fresco paintings that decorate the four walls of Rivera Court. Depicted in the murals are symbols of Aztec culture, human advances in technology, and Detroit’s rich history as an industrial economy.

“What time is it on the clock of the world?”

Get cozy in your book nook, on your front porch, or in your hammock while you read up on some of the most celebrated labor activists of our time- James and Grace Lee Boggs. James and Grace Lee Boggs were (and still are) internationally known for their work that was rooted in Detroit’s labor and civil rights movement. Recommended books: In Love and Struggle and The Next American Revolution, both available here. To compliment your reading, watch this PBS documentary to learn more.

UAW and Civil Rights History

The Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University collects and provides access to years of Detroit’s labor history in their online archive, social media, and podcast. Unfamiliar with Walter Reuther? In 1963 Reuther was the president of the UAW and vice president of the AFL-CIO simultaneously based in Detroit. A close friend and co-liberator with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Reuther raised thousands of dollars for the Southern Christian Leadership Council, even organizing King’s bail from Birmingham jail, and continued King’s fight for workers’ rights after his assassination. Recommended reading: Once in a Great City by David Maraniss. Purchase online through one of these local bookstores.

3 Worker-Owned Businesses You Should Know About

Speaking of workers’ rights, let’s take it a step further. Worker-owned businesses are growing in Detroit, especially with the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.  Detroit Community Wealth Fund Director and Let’s Detroit Ambassador Margo Dalal, has seen an increase in the number of business owners interested in converting to an employee-owned model in order to survive. While there are many, here are three Detroit worker-owned businesses you should know about:

  • Building Cooperatively is a construction cooperative specializing in historic home restoration. “We hold ourselves to honoring and developing ethical business practices and providing competitive living wages to Detroiters.”
  • Book Suey is a cooperatively owned and operated bookstore supported by member-owners. You can visit the store in Hamtramck by scheduling a 20-min appointment or shop for your favorite books online.
  • Cleaning in Action Cleaning is “a worker, latin@, women-owned cleaning cooperative and the first cleaning cooperative in Detroit, offering high quality green cleaning for houses and offices in Metro Detroit.”

Written by Let’s Detroit Katherine Brown 

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