A couple weeks ago, I was over at Macomb Community College, one of our state’s hidden jewels. Not only does the school do a lot of really high-end vocational training, they put on an brilliant series of intellectual and cultural attractions every year.
Last year, they took an amazing look at the 1960s, and brought people like President Kennedy’s speechwriter in to participate. Currently, they are doing a ten-week look at life in the 1930s that is so sophisticated and full of top-drawer talent that you would think it was being done by the Smithsonian.
The series is called "And Still They Prospered: Living Through the Great Depression." They’ve got a large cultural exhibit that includes everything from one of Henry Ford’s suits to a car identical to the one that Bonnie and Clyde were gunned down in.
The series includes lectures by some of the state and the nation‘s top historians, including Alan Brinkley, the Pulitzer-Prize winning David Kennedy and Tom Sugrue. Other experts and nationally-known authors are looking at culture, arts, labor, Hollywood, and virtually every other aspect of Depression life.
I was there to meet Kennedy, and had a conversation with someone who was trying to get publicity for the event. That’s been a challenge, because the school is too-seldom visited even in the Detroit area, because it happens to be miles from any freeway.
To my surprise, the official said her main goal was to get the series mentioned on Michigan Radio. "That’s the audience we want. People who think. People who are interested in a wide variety of things, and who aren’t afraid to learn new things."
Naturally, I was pleased that she understands what Michigan Radio is trying to do. But I have to confess I am even more pleased to be associated with a station where news is more than a drive-by shooting, and culture is more than a remake of Bonnie and Clyde.
One of the biggest songs during the Depression years was "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" I hope that to keep Michigan Radio humming through this century, you can spare a little more.