I think it properly only necessary to watch half this video (or less) to get the picture!
The car manufacturer GM was born in Flint and employed 80000 people who moved to the town with their families and invested millions of dollars in buildings, shops and museums, many of which now lie abandoned. GM employs 7500 today. Such massive decline has lead to more than simply widespread unemployment. Those that could moved out of the city in the 70s, 80s and 90s, a movement often called the white flight. Population has gone from 200,000 to under 100,000 today. Yet this move was less about race and more about education and opportunity. Those that could get a job elsewhere did, those that couldn’t stayed behind.
Today we visited a project called Christ Enrichment Centre which is part of St Paul’s Episcopal Church Flint (the church we attended yesterday). The centre was once an Episcopal church but as folks moved out congregants dwindled and this church was closed. Today it supports those people who have been left behind because they can’t get a job elsewhere. For many of these people, they, like a third of the city’s adults, are illiterate.
Part of the reason for this widespread illiteracy is that factory jobs that existed previously did not demand many of the workers to read and write. These people – black and white – cannot now work anywhere else.
Christ Enrichment Centre focuses on literacy amongst families and training people learn how to read and write. They are supported by St Paul’s and other local churches, by the Episcopal church centrally and they also receive some government funding. They also have an onsite foodbank, work to support young mothers and run a summer camp for children. Today we met a 73 year old gentleman in the centre learning to write for the first time.