Wednesday, June 29, 2011


   Traction by Guy Mingo
              Actor/activist Danny Glover, and hundreds of others, made an appearance at a June 16 rally in support of the Catherine Ferguson Academy. After weeks of sporadic but well-attended protests, the public school for teen mothers will remain open as part of an established group of charter schools. The charter aspect is problematic for many, but those closest to the highly successful program say that a victory has been won-- the doors are still open.
             There is still much to be learned about how the school will actually be run. But the movement to save public education in Detroit gained a little bit of traction this month. Public pressure in the form of non-violent resistance made a difference and that is something to build on.
             The track above incorporates portions of Glover's impassioned but brief June 16 speech, given with CFA principal G. Asenath Andrews at his side. The rally also featured a moving performance by the Henry Ford High School Marching Band’s drum corps who, unknowingly, symbolized the current state of public education in Detroit.
             Visually, the band was a bit tattered. There were only about nine members including the majorettes representing, I assume, only a small portion of the full squad. But maybe the occasion didn’t warrant uniformity. What it needed, as always, was more input from the parties most affected by the debate over the future of our public school system.
             Curent and former CFA students provided verbal testimony to the positive impact CFA has had on the Detroit community. The Henry Ford H.S. drum corps provided the score with deep, pulsating drums, overshadowing their stripped-down facade in the process.  While our public school system is overrun by state-sponsored ideologues and capitalists, its resources cut off completely, here were the kids themselves, survivors of all the unrest, the closures, and the relocations that the DPS district has endured since the first state takeover in 1999.
            If the current trend continues, the historic, powerhouse high schools in Detroit will likely be transformed to little charter academies with less oversight and feeble music programs. When the Henry Ford H.S. drummers executed that slow, steady and defiant backbeat-- it set the perfect mood to underscore the tragic and orchestrated decline of the DPS. May we look back with little regret at what we allowed to be taken from us.
           All the percussion sounds in 'Traction' were recorded from the Henry Ford High School drum corps performance. My apologies for utilizing my artistic license and chopping them up for the first section. Peace be.