A Decade of Detroit People’s Platform

June 7, 2023
Detroit People’s Platform (DPP) was forged out of the unique environment that is Detroit during what arguably has been one of the most challenging decades in the city’s history, especially for its majority Black population. 

DPP’s origin dates back to 2013 when the city was under siege from seemingly all directions.  It was an unprecedented multi-level attack on the people’s vote, land and housing, and access to basic city services including household drinking water.  Evictions and foreclosures were on the rise and corporate speculators were buying huge tracts of land for pennies on the dollar. Public officials were embracing Detroit Future City known then as Detroit Works as a blueprint for land use that promoted elimination of city services to thinly populated neighborhoods. A growing fear among Detroiters was forced removal from their homes as a result.  The strategies outlined in Detroit Future City would hasten gentrification and displacement.


It became clear that Detroit was evolving into Two Detroit’s - one thriving from a recovery fueled by public investment in private development, private wealth-making and centering the needs of a mostly white, younger and affluent demographic - with the majority of Black Detroit essentially locked out of the so called economic comeback.  Yet, organizing continued as residents do what majority Black Detroiters have basically always done - look out for one another and rise to the challenges before them.  Organizing and fighting for equity and racial justice is in the DNA of majority Black Detroit. Disrupting oppressive narratives and advancing media stories that center the voices, values and perspectives of Majority Black Detroit has emerged as a necessary tool for challenging the power of the status quo.

Organizing and fighting for equity and racial justice is in the DNA of majority Black Detroit.

Detroit People’s Platform was launched in the shadows of the state takeover of local government thru Emergency Management and the contested filing of the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy.
Detroit People’s Convention was held in June 2013 drawing nearly 300 Detroiters from across the seven city council districts. The gathering was the culmination of more than two (2) years work where residents landed on five (5) priority planks that formed the initial foundation of the Detroit People’s Platform: Land, Food and Transit Justice, Good Jobs and Good Governance. The five (5) issue platform provided the initial framework for how residents and organizational partners could plug into DPP.

A decade later, with an annual count of roughly 400 meetings of various member/supporter formations, DPP supports organizing work across issue areas that reflect present day priorities of majority Black Detroit. DPP now focuses on Land Justice to include Housing Justice and Good Jobs integrates Equitable Development and the Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) movement. DPP remains committed to advancing the call for Good Governance while Transit Justice continues to center the needs of essential bus riders in the city.

DPP also organizes and responds to emerging issues that impact the lives and well being of residents as evidenced by organizing and advocating with long time social service partners to bring critical resources to neighborhood residents throughout the covid pandemic.

Detroit’s unique history shapes DPP’s work in profound ways.  For many DPP members/supporters the powerful memory of Detroit as a thriving Black majority city and the collective grief, concern, the rage the constant attacks, theft, and displacement facing Black people over recent decades are key motivations for their work.  DPP has provided a space where it is safe to talk about the needs of Black people. Further, DPP is a place where members and supporters experience success from building and wielding power together that result in concrete WINS to improve the material lives of majority Black Detroiters.


DPP has provided a space where it is safe to talk about the needs of Black people. Further, DPP is a place where members and supporters experience success from building and wielding power together that result in concrete WINS to improve the material lives of majority Black Detroiters.

In addition to their presence in the local and state environment, DPP members/volunteers have brought their leadership and lived experiences into the national policy arena.  This participation ensures that national policies for example like low income housing opportunities, reflect the priorities of Detroiters. Building power with and for Detroit’s Black community and with residents has increased belief that everyday people can organize, build power together and WIN.  Through DPP trainings, leadership development and organizing approach more residents have the skills, the courage and the commitment to advance a vision for a more just Detroit.

When We Organize We Win!

  • Organized with residents and social service providers in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Coalition to establish the Detroit Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The Housing Trust Fund increase affordable housing opportunities for our most vulnerable families with incomes at 50% AMI and below funded by a dedicated revenue stream from annual City of Detroit land and real estate sales. 
  • Spearheaded fundraising drive to launch the city’s first residential Community Land Trust (CLT) 
  • With Transit Justice team and essential bus riders, organized to restore critical downtown bus lines including the Woodward #53 (now the #4) and Clairmount (#11) and Tireman (#47) saving bus routes critical to majority Black Detroit ridership.
  • Organized and launched with low income renters and homeowners the Detroit Affordable Housing Task force to advance the movement for accessible, affordable and quality housing. 
  • Established Equitable Detroit, the citywide Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) coalition 
  • Organized in coalition to bring to the ballot and win the nation’s first CBA ordinance. 
  • Joined with citywide coalition to advance critical amendments to the Revised City Charter thru Proposal P
  • In coalition with women of color founding member of statewide Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan (EJAM) to fight for increased minimum wage and benefits for all Michigan low income workers 
  • Founding organization member of Demand Democracy Action Working Network (DDAWN) BIPOC coalition focused on improving civic literacy among voting age residents in ten (10) cities across Michigan
  • Organized with the Justice for Beniteau residents to push for corporate accountability related to negative environmental impacts on local residents by Stellantis.
  • Over the years provided Detroiters robust public education tools and materials including advocacy and organizing toolkits, policy briefs, fliers, policy one sheets to increase resident knowledge on critical issues. 
  • Ten year publication of Detroit People’s Platform Newspaper, the city’s only newspaper dedicated to social justice issues that impact the everyday lives of majority Black Detroit. 

Detroit People's Platform celebrate a Decade of Organizing in Detroit

Highlights Include a powerful panel discussion, intensive breakouts and anniversary festivities.

  • A powerful panel of experts including Atty. Anthony Adams, Gregory Hicks, Ph., Atty. Tonya Myers Phillips, Monica Lewis Patrick and Shakara Tyler, Ph.D
  • Facilitated learning circles on Self-Determination and Co-Governance, Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good, Movement Building for the Next Generation, and Mapping the Landscape for Electoral Power.
  • Amazing food, music and fellowship celebrating 10 years of organizing with majority Black Detroit.

On Saturday, June 3, 2023 Detroit People's Platform returned to Marygrove to recognize 10 years of organizing with communities and to look to the future of Detroit as a majority Black city.

Detroit Peoples’ Platform is building a Majority Black Detroit where the peoples’ money funds our communities, not wealthy developers and billionaires. We envision a city where we all have a roof over our heads; don’t have to worry every first of the month whether we can make rent and then pay the bills; we have buses and roads that can get us to work and school safely; small Black businesses of and for our communities can thrive; and our community has the ability to come together and make decisions about how our collective resources are spent.  

In our vision for Detroit, the people co-govern to make this reality, and we practice self-determination. We reclaim the commons for the common good, and our resources are spent to support our families and economic well-being. We reclaim Black electoral power, of and for the people, to fight against redistricting and secretive corporate money. We live into the next generation of Detroit’s strong Black movement tradition. 

During the past ten years, we as DPP have championed this vision to advance material well-being and protections for low-income majority Black Detroiters in the face of relentless political resistance and corporate takeover. While we have weathered an onslaught of attacks, we have out-organized developers to win concessions towards our vision for affordable housing, thriving and safe neighborhoods, and equitable development in Majority Black Detroit.

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Congratulations to DPP!

Thank you to our partners, allies and supporters for sharing these messages!