East side Detroit below E. Jefferson and Holcomb

By Charles Lewis

December 10, 2017

Charles Lamont Lewis

DETROIT, I love you. I first arrived in Detroit in the early 1960’s. I jumped out of the car and ran and dived into the snow. It was the first time that I saw snow. I didn’t know that the pearl white stuff that was so beautiful was so cold. You could hear the soulful, tempting Temptations, The Four Tops, The Supremes, Ray Charles and many singers, early in the morning coming from radios. Motown artists dominated the air waves in the 1960’s.

Back then I went to Williams Elementary on Canfield and Mt Elliot. I was fascinated with this big white baby grand piano and played it every chance that I got.

I would race to get home to sit on the front porch with an old car steering wheel and play cab driver or bus driver. In July of 1967, I sat on our front porch at 3721 Superior and watched the 67 riot unfold right before my seven year old eyes. Have you ever been in the midst of something that you knew was special? I can honestly say that my seven year old brain couldn’t comprehend why Detroit was suddenly going up in smoke. I just knew that it was special.

5821 Pennsylvania neighborhood

My family like many black families migrated from Superior between Moran and Gratiot to Pennsylvania between Shoemaker and Chapin. Home for me no matter where I go is 5821 Pennsylvania.

The first time that I heard “I Want You Back,” by the Jackson 5 was when we stayed on Pennsylvania. We lived on Pennsylvania in 1968 when the Tigers won the World Series.

I was attending Chandler Elementary on April 4, 1968 when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. My fourth grade teacher cut off the lights and had all of the students bow their heads and pray. Then Ms. Couchie told the class that Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot and killed. I vividly remember not knowing who he was. When I got home the news of Martin Luther King Jr’s death dominated the news.

Chandler Elementary School, now closed.

In 1970 my cousin Pete married Judy Gardner. My family missed the wedding but made the reception. I sat at our table at the reception bored out of my mind.

I looked across the room and saw Annette Gardner and thought that she was the most beautiful little girl in the whole world. I spent the rest of the night talking to her and dancing with her.



Abandoned houses on blocks that were once vibrant are a symptom of a much greater problem. The greater problem is a combination of bad government, economic apathy and financial flight.

Abandoned schools that sit on trash filled lots, where weeds, trees and grass now grow wild, are a symptom of a much greater problem. The greater problem is a combination of bad government and crooked school principals and school administrators. The tax money collected in Detroit that was allocated for Detroit schools was spent on exotic trips, expensive jewelry, cars and houses.

Highland Park youth outside school board meeting where most of their teachers were being laid off, 2004.

Detroit’s youth suffered the most. They were forced to attend rodent and roach infested schools, with outdated books and unqualified teachers. Many of Detroit’s youth were forced out of school.

Abandoned auto plants that sit on trash filled lots where weeds, trees and grass now grow wild are a symptom of a much greater problem. Where did all the people go? And, more important, why did they all leave? It is not exactly clear where all the people migrated to.

Some went west in search of prosperity. Some went South in search of a better life. Some left because they couldn’t find employment. Some left because they were tired of the crime. There was a mass exodus for many reasons. Detroiters packed up and left the city by the hundreds of thousands. Many of the faithful Detroiters that still reside in Detroit are there because they have nowhere else to go.

My motto is “When life gives you lemons make lemonade,” and make the best out of your present situation. So, the question is this, “how do you improve your current situation?”

The first thing that you need to do to change your circumstances is to change you. The first step that you have to take is the hardest. The first step is changing the way that you think. Our thoughts create our reality. You are where you are now, wherever you in life, because you thought your way to this place in your life. You will have to think your way out of your current situation.

Here is an example of changing the way that you think. Let’s say you are unemployed and you filled out hundreds of job applications and you’ve gone on job interviews and no has hired you. Think about creating your own business and working for yourself.

What are you good at? Everyone has some ability or hidden talent that they were blessed with. Use your talent to start your own business and employ yourself. Change the channel in your brain and you can change the world.

If your life is not all that you want it to be change your thoughts and you will change your life. Find at least one thing to laugh about every day. Every day that you are blessed to see is a day that you can’t get back. There are no do overs in life. So, make the best of every day that you are blessed to see. Avoid toxic people that never have anything constructive or positive to say. Make wise life choices that yield good consequences. Know that you are responsible for your happiness. You are also responsible for your sadness. No one has control over you unless you relinquish your control to them. Hold on.

If Detroit is not all that you think that it should be know that you have the power to make Detroit better. Through the power of positive thought you can change Detroit. Today I decided to make Detroit. I’m going to make Detroit better one positive thought at a time.

Cleaning up distressed Detroit neighborhood

One positive thought can start a chain reaction. That one positive thought can cause one positive action. That one positive action can transform a city. One positive thought caused me to write this article that you are reading right now. What will this article cause you to do to make Detroit better?

Let us focus on the things that we can do to make Detroit better that do not cost any money. You start a cleaning drive and pick up the trash in your neighborhood. The cleanliness of a neighborhood says a lot about the character of the people that live in the neighborhood. Cleaning up your own neighborhood does not cost any money at all.

If you are a woman you can mentor to young girls. It does not cost any money to talk to young girls about sexually transmitted diseases. You can talk to them about college and the importance of a college education. You can talk to them about female empowerment. How much money would that cost you? Not one dime.

Young Detroit women, children on Belle Isle in 2012 before state takeover.

You can start a financial empowerment group and focus on teaching people how to start and run their own businesses. Detroit has the largest business library in the world at Two Woodward Ave. That library has books on everything dealing with business. That does not cost any money at all.

You can start a conflict resolution class for troubled black males that desperately need help resolving conflicts. That would not cost anything but your time.

You can start a BUY DETROIT, campaign. How many times does a dollar circulate in Detroit before it leaves Detroit? Every single time that a Detroit earned dollar is spent in a Detroit owned business, it helps that business grow. Let’s start a new trend called BUY DETROIT, BY DETROIT. Let’s start buying our goods and services from fellow Detroiters.

VOD Editor’s Note: Charles Lewis has been serving an unconstitutional juvenile life without parole sentence for 41 years in the MDOC. His article shows how he has survived those brutal years and what he has to contribute to the people of Detroit upon release.

At the age of 17, Lewis was framed up by the notoriously corrupt Sgt. Gil Hill and STRESS cop Marvin Johnson, among others, for the shooting death of off-duty Detroit cop Gerald Sypitkowski. The cop’s partner and numerous other witnesses identified a different perpetrator.

Charles Lewis with mother Rosie Lewis in 1977.

Judge Joseph Maher

Recorders’ Court Judge Joseph Maher sentenced Lewis to LWOP after dismissing his first jury without cause in May, 1977, meaning Lewis should have been acquitted.

Maher was well-known as one of Detroit’s most racist judges, assisting in the acquittal of STRESS murderer Raymond Peterson, and putting Atty. Kenneth Cockrel, Sr. on trial for calling Maher appropriate epithets out of court.

VOD has reported constantly on Lewis’ battles to dismiss his case due to the suspicious loss of his complete court files. Give a shout out to Charles (K.K.) Lewis on Facebo0k: #FREECHARLESLEWIS#TAKEAKNEEFORCRIMINALINJUSTICES https://www.facebook.com/groups/1512572892145578/.

Judge Qiana Lillard

Also call his Judge, Qiana Lillard, at 313-224-2391, and Prosecutor Kym Worthy at 313-224-5817 to demand his release, and offer assistance to his defense attorney Victoria Burton-Harris at 313-224-2166 on behalf of his mother, four brothers and sisters, grand and great nieces, and numerous others who know him and have been helped by him.

Put Charles Lewis’ name in the VOD search engine for related stories. Write to  Charles Lewis, #150709, at the Lakeland Correctional Facility, 141 First St., Coldwater, MI 49036.

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