Dear Flint…

(A Citizens View on the State of Our City)

January 27, 2012

City of Flint residents, et al:

Let me begin by extending my condolences to the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, and relatives of all of the unfortunate homicide victims this year, and in years past.  My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Also let me state that, no, I am not the mayor of the City of Flint.  I am simply a resident that loves his community.  When asked why I haven’t left this area to pursue employment and opportunities elsewhere, my answer is simple: I am in Flint because Flint is in me!

If you’ve ever watched television, listen to the radio, or read the newspaper, I am sure you are familiar with the state of our City.

FBI statistics report that Flint has a violent crime rate that has been in the top five among U.S. cities for years 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010; witnessing record number homicides in recent years.

Though small in comparison to major cities, Flint isn’t exempt from large scale issues that face our nation; issues in the areas of unemployment, incarceration, infant mortality, poverty, etc.  As a matter of fact, we’ve been dealing with them for some time now.  As a community, we are in need of many things.  On the top of that list, however, is hope.

During this appeal, my aim is not to disrespect or minimize the efforts of any public official – or any citizen for that matter.  My charge is simple: To reinforce hope.  Criticism, finger pointing, and blaming may have its place, but it is time-out for that.  The “blame game” approach is no different from riding a treadmill.  It gets us nowhere, fast!

With hope, we must stand together as a community.  Mary McLeod Bethune, a great educator, always used her hands to illustrate this point.

If I take a finger and touch you, you may feel it.If I use two, you will know you have been tapped. But if I bring together all of the fingers into a fist, I can strike a mighty blow.

As a community, we need to strike a mighty blow to all of the ills that face us.

This mighty blow is not a violent one at each other.  To prosper as a community, we must join together recognizing all the ways we need each other.  All of us!

Blacks and Whites;

Public Schools and Charter Schools;

City Government and County Government;

Corporate Sector and Community Based Organizations;

Faithful Christians, Muslims, and those who are not yet saved;

All of us are essential parts in the body of this City.

Staying connected to one another builds strength, enhances power, and reminds us that it is not good enough, for just some of us to be okay.  The vitality of our city depends on it.  It depends on hope.  It depends on us.  And we, believe it or not, depend on each other.  Working together isn’t something that is nice.  It’s necessary.

We can do this, together.  I don’t think it is farfetched for us to have hope, and look toward the promise land.

On April 3, 1968, during what was his very last speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told us, “I may not get there with you.”

He said that he had been to the mountain, and had looked over to see the promise land.  I can only imagine what Dr. King was seeing in this promise land.  I would imagine it was a land where there was racial, economic, and social justice for everyone.  Be it downtown Flint, or the North End.

Yes, I believe Flint, Michigan was a part of the promise land that Dr. King spoke of.

A land where the content of character truly meant something;

A land where we no longer had to fight for our rights and our lives at the same time;

Maybe it was a land where entertainment would not supersede education;

If you are into sports, maybe it was a land that had a level playing field for all; realizing that not everyone is born on third base.  Yes, some of us are born outside the stadium.

Flint! We are faced with the imperative task of coming together, persevering, and having hope.  Why?  Because if we fail, others fail also!  Starting with the African American male.  We must do what we can to save the African American males in our community.  If the black male fails, Flint fails.  If Flint fails, Genesee County fails.  And furthermore, if Genesee County fails, the State of Michigan is also at risk.

I know times are hard, but we have made some significant gains as a City, despite what the headlines may say.

We are a community that is known for hard work and innovation.  The automotive giant, which serves as the engine of our country, was born here on this soil.  Along with a public school system that attracted educators from all over the world to study our model.

As we come together, there are even more significant roles that we can play in the walls history.  Some contest that our city is on its knees.  I believe that with hope, we have the strength to get up.

Times of crises call for bold leadership.  Therefore, I offer this to you.  No one is better at leading you, than yourself.  This means that leadership is no longer only reserved for those who hold public office, or are in senior management positions.  It is no longer reserved for those of us with extensive resumes.  Nor is it reserved, with all due respect, for the church pastor with the largest congregation.

I call on us to shift in our approach and embrace the fact that leadership extends beyond a “position” and stretches far and wide into a place where our passions and purpose take the driver’s seat.

Personal agenda’s can no longer be on the agenda if we are to grow into a healthy Flint.  A Flint you and I know we can be.

A Flint that is committed to taking a strong stand against violence and homicide;

A Flint that has the utmost compassion for the least of these;

A Flint that has unwavering courage when it comes to ensuring the quality of life for our youth;

My fellow residents we must start with hope.  The challenges we face are an open book.  We just have to have the courage to read it.

Thank you.

God bless you and God bless the City of Flint.

With hope,

David McGhee
Flint, MI

10 thoughts on “Dear Flint…”

  1. Excellent speech David. I have and always will have hope for the city of Flint. The city that raised me and molded me into the man I am today. The rich tradition it has and the wonderful people the city has produced in all walks of life. I pledge to give more action than words in terms of lifting the city back up. Living in Atlanta shouldn’t and will not waver my commitment to Flint. I love Flint. And I pray other current and former residents can do their piece in bringing Flint back to respectability.

  2. Amen. I will never forget my town where I come from. I still have faith and hope that things can get better. I pray for everyone and believe that positive things can be done. I may not reside in Flint anymore but currently living in DC makes me appreciate where I came from. Maybe one day it will go back to the Flint, Michigan I grew up in. The one that motivated me to do my best and work hard.

  3. David – hit the nail RIGHT ON THE HEAD! The people of Flint (tough, resilient, caring, etc. though they may be) need to look no father than themselves to help that beautiful community. I love Flint and it’s people as well, and it breaks my heart to see many in the community self-destructing every day. People need to share their passion, resources, toughness & courage to “get things right” in Flint. It can be done. Thanks for speaking to the “heart” of Flint – I heard you LOUD & CLEAR!

    Dave Ginsberg

  4. Great words Mr. McGhee! Very inspiring! Reminds me of our country’s leader! 🙂 Keep encouraging us out here! We need it. God Bless
    ~Always praying for the Flintstones~

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s