Detroit 48202: Conversations Along a Postal Route examines the rise, demise, and contested resurgence of the City of Detroit through the lens of African- American mail carrier, Wendell Watkins, and the committed community he faithfully served for thirty years.
A truly brilliant and illuminating film. By the simple act of trailing a mail carrier on his route through the city, Pam Sporn presents a stunning alternative history of Detroit that powerfully illustrates the impact that racist housing policies, capital flight, and neoliberalism have had on Black urban communities.
In Detroit 48202 we take a journey with Wendell along his route, which winds through the center of what was, once upon a time, a vital and thriving city. We listen in on his conversations with his customers – the resilient Detroiters who share stories of resistance: pushing back against racial segregation in housing; challenging industrial and political disinvestment; and living on reduced pensions as a result of the 2014 municipal bankruptcy. Our characters share stories of hope and propose creative ways to re-imagine an inclusive, productive, equitable and re-invigorated city.
We also meet legendary labor organizer, General Baker, Historian Thomas Sugrue, and Urban Planner June Manning Thomas, who provide a thread of analysis and historical context.
Detroit 48202: Conversations Along a Postal Route is urgent. It asks: will the resurgence of Detroit center on a high tech, and increasingly white downtown or, will it focus on the vast stretches of neglected neighborhoods that continue to deal with a 40% poverty rate, water shutoffs, tax foreclosures, poor transportation, and a school system in crisis?
Detroit 48202 is an essential tool for teachers and community organizers whose work covers:
*Urban Planning/Equitable Development/Design
Detroit 48202 is searing—a powerful reckoning with what it looks like when capital abandons a major American city, and… stunningly beautiful reminder that corporate greed and ugly racism have utterly failed to destroy this same city.
DETROIT 48202 provides a rare inside-out perspective on the history of a city that embodies the effects of boom-and-bust capitalism and structural racism as well as the ongoing resilience of a spirited, steadfast and embattled African American community. As the inspirational figure at the film's center, Wendell Watkins offers an intimate, inviting glimpse of a world too often reduced to fatalistic headlines and lurid sound bites.
DETROIT 48202 is a lively and engaging story about the city’s black community that speaks in the voices of its residents. It is an excellent teaching tool for classes in urban studies and urban policy, and for all the social sciences that address racial inequality, gentrification and displacement.
If you want to understand Detroit in all its turbulence and spirit, you need go no farther than this film. Pam Sporn’s meticulous archival research and loving, artistic storytelling shed essential light on her hometown’s energies and injustices and on the resistance and renewal that live in the heart of its people. Wendell Watkins is an Everyman whose daily pilgrimage shows how deeply each of us is connected, to the forces of history and to one another.
Walk with Wendell Watkins. Consider Detroit’s history through the eyes of a postman with thirty years on the job. DETROIT 48202 engages the economic rise of the motor city and the politics of labor organizing, police harassment, race riots, abandonment, bankruptcy, and gentrification. Pam Sporn’s award-winning film is sure to provoke lively class discussions.
A comprehensive history book of Detroit comes to life in Detroit 48202: Conversations Along a Postal Route. Compelling personal interviews provide Sporn the pathway to the city’s history, all of which unravels in stunning, rarely seen archival footage.