Detroit’s digital divide must become digital equity

Sixty years ago this summer, the Detroiters held a huge civil rights rally that became a rehearsal for the historic March on Washington two months later. The Rev. CL Franklin (Aretha Franklin’s father) led 125,000 people down Woodward Avenue in the Walk to Freedom, and the day’s keynote speaker, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. concluded with his soon to become famous: I have a dream.

It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last that a dream started in Detroit. Over the past century, Michigan built the cars and trucks that kept America moving, the planes and tanks that won World War II, the blue-collar middle class that propelled postwar prosperity and a civil rights activist who is still fighting for every American to enjoy the American dream.

Rev. Lawrence Sewell

Now, as our economy evolves from analog assembly lines to digital lines of code, Michigan must build a new model of progress and prosperity in the next century. Congressman John Lewis prophetically identified digital equity as the civil rights issue of the 21st century because gaps in broadband connectivity and digital know-how reflect and reinforce long-standing racial and economic inequalities.

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