Published in the Detroit News

By Darren Walker

In the depths of the Great Depression, Edsel Ford commissioned Diego Rivera to paint a mural in Detroit’s public art gallery. The resulting five frescos — “Detroit Industry, or Man and Machine” — are a testament to this city’s triumphs, depicting the doctors and scientists, accountants and secretaries, farmers and auto workers at Ford’s River Rouge plant who together made Detroit great. Today these murals surround the Rivera Court in the Detroit Institute of Art, and serve as a reminder of Detroit’s promise and potential.

Detroit is on the path to recovery. The city’s government is functioning, innovating, and beginning to deliver on the civic promise. And yet, there’s still more work to be done. If Rivera’s monumental depiction of Detroit’s past is any indication, our vision for the city’s future should be no less ambitious or inspired. Indeed, if Detroit’s industry was defined by man and machine, Detroit’s recovery might best be subtitled “People, Place, and Partnership” — since these elements will be vital to an equitable recovery.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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