This past weekend Detroit found herself playing host to two noted men eager to help her sort out her woes.
On Friday night A. Alfred Taubman — Metro Detroiter, shopping mall magnate, felon and 278th richest man in America — gave an hour-long Q&A at the College for Creative Studies for CityScape Detroit. Topics included a candid discussion of urban sprawl (a destructive natural force we are powerless to resist), mass transit (population density isn’t high enough in Southeast Michigan to justify light-rail) and the return of large retail to Detroit (looking better all the time.)
Two nights later, Bill Cosby spoke to an invitation-only crowd as part of a counseling session for parents of troubled youths. In recent years Cosby has fallen under sharp criticism for several strident speeches — including one given in Detroit in 2005, inspiring the creation of ARISE Detroit — criticizing urban African-Americans for not being more active in directly addressing the problems in their communities. Sunday’s talk was a follow-up to the 2005 speech. Cosby, an insightful and thoughtful speaker with a doctorate in education buttressing his own ample life-experience as a father, is well-suited to help struggling parents find a stable place to stand and assess their family’s situation:
You can’t buy their love letting them do what you know is wrong. [. . .] I have looked forward to today more than I have looked forward to going up and doing my comedy — not that I want to give that up — but this is too important, because I want to laugh, I want to enjoy, I want to see the beauty in our children.
Of course, there’s no evidence either man stayed the night in Detroit this past weekend, tried to go grocery shopping or needed to catch a bus anywhere, but it was still nice of them to come and share their opinions and insight.