After nearly 70 years of sending at least one African American to Congress, Detroit voters failed to elect any of the eight Black candidates who ran for an open seat in 2022.
The BridgeDetroit newsroom and WDET, the city’s public radio station, collaborated on the five-episode podcast, “What Had Happened Was,” for a deep dive into the city’s historical representation in Congress,the impact of redistricting and why candidates who battled to represent the new 13th Congressional District didn’t unite around one Black leader as some had hoped.
State Rep. Shri Thanedar, an Indian American millionaire, prevailed in August 2022 over State Sen. Adam Hollier, the Black candidate who came the closest in the Democratic primary.
Thanedar has noted he grew up in “abject poverty” before immigrating to the United States and vowed to push for a progressive policy agenda which helps vulnerable constituents in Detroit.
But some fear that his victory will hold back progress on equity efforts, including the level of support for Detroit’s public school district, workforce development and racial justice initiatives.
BridgeDetroit’s Executive Director and Editor Catherine Kelly, Executive Advisor Stephen Henderson, Engagement Director Orlando Bailey and Reporter Malachi Barrett delve into the potential impacts through interviews with Thanedar and Hollier.
The team also talks with Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, who led a selection process to bring community leaders around one “consensus” Black candidate, former candidate and Focus: HOPE CEO Portia Roberson, and Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American who made history in 2018 as the first Muslim woman elected to Congress and who now represents part of Detroit in the new 12th Congressional District.