Obama Weekend Festival in Detroit celebrates the former president

James Ford speaks proudly about his participation in the 16th Annual ARISE Detroit! Neighborhood Day. However, for Ford, the number 44, not 16, is the number that drives him to action, as Ford will demonstrate at his Obama Weekend Festival, which began Friday and runs through Sunday.

Inspired by the 44th President of the United States, Ford’s event takes place on the grounds of the Barack Obama Leadership Academy at 10800 E. Canfield. Planned activities include daily children’s parades; youth career seminars; goods and food sold by local vendors; music and dance; and more. And during all the festivities, Ford wants the former president of the United States, born on August 4, 1961, to be a priority for everyone in attendance, especially children.

“Children imitate those you celebrate,” Ford proclaimed. “Talk about Barack Obama and you will see another Barack Obama. I don’t think our people really understand what Barack Obama really meant to us, but our kids need someone positive to focus on. Look, I’ve asked this question on TV shows and in speaking engagements: find me a better role model than Barack Obama; find me one! No one has been able to answer that question in eight years.

“He (Obama) said he could be president and that’s what he pursued, so we have to celebrate and emulate him. Someone who comes to our Obama Weekend Festival is going to say, ‘I can do that” – it could be a girl. And anyone of any race can be like Barack Obama in their own way; the person doesn’t have to be in politics to do that.

James Ford, 75, of Detroit places a cardboard cutout of former First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama as a decoration at

Most of the more than 150 events and activities that make up this year’s Neighborhoods Day lineup will take place on Saturday, but for Ford, 75, the pride of 12th Street and Collingwood, Neighborhoods Day is more than a simple 24-hour day. time lapse. And when making a plan for his Obama weekend, Ford considered starting each of the three days with a children’s parade.

“Look, your kids are watching the Macy’s parade, they’re watching the Detroit parade; every child has seen a parade, but how many children have participated in a parade? asked Jones, who spent 30 years with Detroit youth as a baseball teacher and coach at Henry Ford and Redford high schools. kids parade in Detroit. We’ve never done this before at our festival, and it might not look like the most organized thing, but I hope the kids will will have fun and leave with unforgettable memories.

After:Cycling to the office in downtown Detroit opened his eyes to discordant views

After:Business owners in the same Detroit block are working together to bring it back

Ford’s vision for a children’s parade involves young people of various ages carrying banners with the names of neighborhood businesses and other positive community symbols as they parade around the Barack Obama Leadership Academy, a public K-8 charter school. And after the walk through school is over, youngsters head inside for career seminars focusing on what Ford calls “marketable life skills. However, as 1 p.m. approached Friday, the children supposed to take part in the parade had not arrived, and the 50 or so adults who had already gathered were talking that the children’s parade might not take place. But Janice Waters, 71, wasn’t about to let a change of plans overwhelm her.

“We’re kicking off Neighborhood Day today and just like the first pitch in any game, everything may not be in place, but it’s all about effort ongoing, collaborative, ironing out differences, and then anything is possible,” said Waters, who believed in Ford’s festival idea enough that she took on the responsibility of being director of her Obama weekend. This year.

(L to R) Janice Waters, 71, of Detroit, helps James Ford, 75, of Detroit hang up an Obama Day blanket to protect people from the sun before the start of the

Waters said that during Obama’s eight years in office, she never found enough confidence to write him a letter. However, smiling broadly, Waters said she had no inhibitions as she ordered two life-size cutouts of her all-time favorite president and former first lady Michelle Obama standing together, which were on display. at the festival on Friday.

“We are honoring the 44th President of the United States and his wife and I hope everyone – children and adults – will take a photo with them and be inspired,” Waters explained. “The president had a vision and we’re kind of leveraging it by coming together.”

Waters’ statements about using a Neighborhoods Day event to spur community progress echoed comments provided Tuesday by Detroiter Tonya Wall at ARISE Detroit! head office within the Samaritan Center located at 5555 Conner.

“The ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day is always an opportunity to engage our community,” said Wall, Vice President of the Regent Park Community Association, as she picked up a personalized Neighborhoods Day banner for her association along with t- ARISE Detroit Shirts! Headquarter.

In the past, Walls’ association has held a variety of activities on Neighborhoods Day, including neighborhood cleanups, ice cream socials, and back-to-school rallies. This year, the group won’t have its official Neighborhoods Day event until August 27, but Walls says it will be worth the wait given the size of the planned community project.

“We’re going to be working on a safe passage to school project,” Walls said. “We have two schools (Fisher Magnet Lower Academy and Fisher Magnet Upper Academy) located within our boundaries and they surround the Heilmann Rec Center, so it’s an area we like to keep clean; we ensure that open houses are barricaded; then we encourage students to use these routes to get to school.

The fact that Ford’s and Walls’ organizations, along with a few other groups, are holding activities shortly before or even after today’s flurry of events across the city is a sign that the community impact generated by Neighborhoods Day has grown over the past 16 years, says ARISE Detroit! Chairman of the Board, Dr. George Swan III.

“These groups have embraced Neighborhoods Day as a way of thinking, living and being, not just one day, but every day,” Swan said. “It’s a very powerful and very contagious statement.”

A tradition of volunteer service in Detroit continues

What: 16th Annual DEBOUT Detroit! Neighborhood Day. Since 2007, on the first Saturday in August, ARISE Detroit! introduced Neighborhoods Day, which provided a platform for nearly 3,000 community education activities and projects; public safety and public health; youth development; arts and culture; services for the elderly, etc. UP Detroit! Executive Director and Founder Luther Keith reports that more than 150 Neighborhoods Day events will take place across the city this year, with most events taking place today.

For more information: To view a full list of the planned 16th Annual ARISE Detroit! Neighborhood Days Events, please visit https://www.arisedetroit.org/copy-of-neighborhoods-day

About Jonathan J. Kramer

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