This Week on One Detroit:

Attention turns to Detroit as the city prepares to host the 2024 NFL Draft

While the Detroit Lions’ historic winning season has come to an end, the football mania in the city isn’t over yet. The 2024 NFL Draft takes place in Detroit April 25-27. Campus Martius and Hart Plaza will be the primary sites for NFL draft activity in the city, which will include the NFL Draft Experience, the NFL’s interactive theme park.  

Hundreds of thousands of football fans are expected to visit Detroit for the draft, Visit Detroit CEO Claude Molinari said. During the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas, more than 300,000 fans attended events in the city and NFL draft coverage was seen by 10 million viewers, a Ford Field press release said. With a handful of other NFL cities close to Detroit, Molinari expects attendance in the city to meet or exceed previous years.  

Visit Detroit is also offering “On the Clock” tours through April. The tours include 10 stops across seven of Detroit’s neighborhoods in an effort to boost excitement around the city’s neighborhoods leading up to draft day.  

One Detroit contributor Stephen Henderson, host of “American Black Journal,” sat down with Molinari at the 2024 Detroit Policy Conference to talk about how the city plans to host one of the largest events it has undertaken recently. Plus, they talk about how tourism, city amenities and outsiders’ perception of Detroit have changed over the last decade, as well as what impact the draft will have on suburban counties like Oakland and Macomb. 

Rob Edwards’ forthcoming graphic novel details a little-known story in America’s Black history

Rob Edwards, a Detroit-born screenwriter best known for Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” and “Treasure Planet,” and the TV shows “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “In Living Color,” has a forthcoming graphic novel detailing a little-known, yet highly prominent figure of America’s Black history: Robert Smalls 

Titled “Defiant,” the graphic novel chronicles the extraordinary life of Smalls, who as a 23-year-old slave successfully commandeered a Confederate Civil War ship and surrendered it to the Union Army, before joining the Union Army and becoming a war hero himself. Smalls went on to run for Congress five times, and won, the longest-serving Black congressman during Reconstruction, among several other successes.  

“He started a printing press. He started a railroad. He’s the reason why we have Black people in the military, because they showed courage, you know, intelligence and strength. He’s the reason why we have public schools,” Edwards said during an interview with One Detroit’s Chris Jordan. It’s a story Edwards felt compelled to tell as a Black author and one that readers were hungry to get their hands on. The graphic novel has been backed by almost 2,000 supporters, bringing more than $150,000 on Kickstarter to help fund the project.  

One Detroit’s Chris Jordan caught up with Edwards on a recent visit home to Michigan, at Comics & More in Madison Heights, where they talked about “Defiant,” the support he’s received through Kickstarter, and why a comic book is a perfect, if unorthodox, way to teach kids Black history. Watch the full, extended version of this interview here.

Northern Michigan Trauma Camp takes alternative approach to helping returning citizens with re-entry

There’s help available for returning citizens – those re-entering society each year after serving time in prison – as they try to adapt and adjust to life on the outside. At a small program held in Northern Michigan last fall called Trauma Camp, returning citizens were able to confer and learn coping skills from counselors. The annual gathering was started in 2020 by Aaron Kinzel, a faculty member in the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Criminology and Criminal Justice program. 

The camp gets support from grants and fundraisers, and there is no cost to the participants. Supporters of the camp include the Michigan Association of Re-Entry Support/Youth Justice Fund and The Michigan Justice Fund. Last year, there were fifteen people in attendance. Kinzel brings a well-informed perspective, having served prison time himself before moving into the academic world. He said it’s important to get people who’ve been incarcerated away from the distractions and stress of everyday life. 

One Detroit’s continuing coverage on the challenges returning citizens face takes contributor Mario Bueno, who has also served prison time, and senior producer Bill Kubota to the Trauma Camp to see how it works and hear from some of its attendees.

One Detroit Weekend: February 2, 2024

The snow might have melted, but it’s still winter festival season in metro Detroit and beyond. This weekend, you can find some wintry fun at the Plymouth Ice Festival, Royal Oak’s Winter Blast and the Chilly Fest in downtown Port Huron. If you’re looking for some indoor excitement, there’s the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship at Ford Field. Plus, there are a few new plays in town, and as always, some live music. See what else is coming up in and around Detroit on “One Detroit Weekend” with Dave Wagner and Peter Whorf of 90.9 WRCJ.  

Upcoming Events:  

  • Check out some ice sculptures, slide down a tube run and take in the winter wonderland of downtown Plymouth’s Ice Festival Friday-Sunday, Feb. 2-4, at Kellogg Park.  
  • Listen to live music, try out some food trucks and take a trip down the zipline at Royal Oak’s Winter Blast festival in downtown Royal Oak Friday-Sunday, Feb. 2-4.  
  • Catch a carriage ride, compete in the chili crawl, play a game of corn hole and watch the bed races at Chilly Fest in downtown Port Huron Friday and Saturday, Feb. 2-3.  
  • Enjoy a classic murder mystery with Wayne State University’s production of “Murder on the Orient Express.” The play runs through Sunday, Feb. 11 at the Hilberry Gateway. 
  • Watch Detroit Public Theatre’s production of “Blues for an Alabama Sky,” the story of a group of friends who have become a chosen family. The play runs through March 3.  
  • See four original works of choreography during the University of Michigan Department of Dance’s “Dancing in Memory Burning” performances through Feb. 4 in Ann Arbor. 
  • Make your way to Ford Field in Detroit Feb. 3 for the Monster Energy 2024 AMA Supercross Championship. Qualifying rounds begin in the morning. 
  • Headbang with heavy metal act Machine Head, who is performing at Saint Andrews Hall in Detroit Feb. 3. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. 

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