Thursday, September 8, 2016

Listening To Stephen Henderson

Erin Franczak

Listening to a Pulitzer Prize winner checked off my bucket list. On Wednesday I listened to Stephen Henderson discuss everything to what was happening when he received the news of the Pulitzer to  what it was like during the Flint Water crisis. He also brilliantly answered questions from the audience.

The question answer formatted interview started with what was it like to receive a Pulitzer. Henderson's  first statement was that there are some days that rank really high in your life and that was one of those days. He said that he was completely shocked. He actually was expecting a colleague to win and when he walked into work and heard shouting, he assumed that the yelling was his friend being recognized.

When he checked the computer he realized, he was actually the winner. He then looked at his assistant and then double-checked the computer.  This was a really inspirational story because it showed how humble he stayed throughout his career. To really emphasize how humble he stayed through the process he talked about what he learned. Not only did it open up new opportunities for Henderson, but he said it also reshaped his work and pushed him into new spaces.

The next topic up for debate was focusing on his place of residence and the differences within Detroit. He talked about the commentary pieces he wrote on the debt problem. He also discussed the depopulation and the approximate 1.4 million people who left. The racial tensions were brought up at this time, but more was delved into later on. For more information on Detroit's debt problem click here. 

There was a lot of people who were upset over this. Henderson said the city is the people who live there. The people were disappointed in this growing problem. Henderson gave the example of street lights. They didn't have the money to buy new ones, so it stayed dark. He said he worried about his son walking home at night. He focused around 30 to 40 columns on the issues of how unacceptable the way they were living was. To check out an article by Stephen Henderson click here.

 He gave ways that would help Detroit, but the one that seemed to really stick with me was the problem  to fix the cultural dynamic between the suburbs and urban cities.

Eventually the discussion went into the topic of politics. He talked about how the candidates can fight racial tensions within the U.S. He said that Trump will have a lot of trouble combatting this problem because when racial tension occurs, he finds a scape goat rather than works to fix the problem. Clinton, on the other hand, has ignored the racial tensions. He then went from a global approach to the micro structure and what can one person do to make a change. The best way to do this is.... TALK!

He then answered some final questions and to prove my point that he is humble, the audience comes to find he started his own non-profit organization to make more of a difference than his writing alone.

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