Land Acquisition, Displacement and Emergency Management: A History of Injustice in Michigan

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Michael Fotos
Essay Abstract: 
Michigan’s African American population has been suffering in silence since racial tensions escalated in the 20th century. In Benton Harbor, the leasing of a well-frequented public park sparked conflict between the government and people. This land was acquired to be converted into a golf course and resort, and this started a multi-year plan, funded by a local corporation and supported by the state government, to gentrify the city and displace Benton Harbor’s low-income citizens. In the years after this conversion of land, Benton Harbor was appointed an Emergency Manager. Through this system, Michigan has been unfairly controlling African American communities. An Emergency Manager is appointed, and has the ability to make decisions within a community without clearance from others, getting things done faster than in an established, permanent local government. In this thesis, I’ll be examining the use of land acquisition as a medium for the racialization of space, as well as Michigan’s implementation of the Emergency Manager System.