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What if … Detroiter’s had our Retro Hustle (The Entrepreneurial Spirit of past Generation’s)

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Attorney Todd Russell Perkins has built Perkins Law Group in the style of his Father’s business and Grandfather’s business. Perkin’s Grandfather was born in Arkansas in 1889. In the 1910’s he moved to Detroit to explore his entrepreneurial ambitions. In Detroit Perkin’s found a home and business. Opening, owning, and operating a restaurant and barbershop on Hasting’s Street in Detroit’s Black Bottom. His barbershop was located next door to the legendary Bosky’s Drug and General Store on Hasting’s street.

In the tradition of the family Perkin’s Father carried on as an entrepreneur. Perkins’s Father expanded his Father’s barbershop into a chain of seven barbershops throughout Detroit. Throughout the 1960’s this business provided the stability for Perkin’s to explore more business ventures. As a collective of businessmen and burgeoning Detroit leaders Perkin’s Father, Judge Damon Keith, Judge Fred Bird (of 36th District Court), and Hall of Fame Football Player & Chicagoan Buddy Young all inspired one another. Perkin’s Father eventually settled into the business of contractual construction, clean up, and development. This business flourished as a foundation for his family, friends, and community.

“Detroiter’s always have had a swagger different than any and all. When I was at Dartmouth as an Ivy Leaguer my Detroit style attracted, engaged, and captured my peers and professors alike,” Attorney Perkins. “I believe if what I learned from my Father was taught and applied today, there would be no limitations for the Black Detroiters of today. I’ve never seen some of the things that are happening in Detroit till this day. I think many of Detroit’s Black business people are not imposing our wills into the business sector of what’s happening in our city,” Attorney Perkins.

Detroit's Black Bottom
Detroit’s Black Bottom

Editor’s Note – Attorney Todd Russell Perkins had the honor of working with the late Mayor Coleman Young before his passing and after his service as Mayor of Detroit. His legacy and impact on the city established institutions of Black leadership that are unparalleled to any American standard (DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Oakland, etc). This reality I witnessed as a child is the reasoning behind why I feel it’s unjust and out of context when many, and most campaigns highlighting today’s development in Detroit as Detroit’s only progress in over 40 years. This marketing ideal I first recognized propagated with the last Gubernatorial campaign of current Michigan Governor Rick Synder I think unjustly dismisses decades of Black political leadership that has routinely had to operate local governments with less resources than adjacent and formerly White run administrations.

Attorney Perkins was on the legal team bringing Coleman Young’s vision of a Black owned and operated casino to Detroit. The casino would have been named Paradise Valley. A collection of Black business stakeholders would have been involved in breaking ground on this venture. But the casino would have provided jobs, contracting, and investment opportunities for Detroiters. “Coleman Young wasn’t even into gambling. He knew that the commodity done correctly in Detroit in the 90’s would have provided an economy for Detroiters,” Attorney Perkins. “He was such a visionary in his understanding of process. He pinpointed the location for the casino to be where the MGM Grand is located now. Also he was negotiating the expansion of the people mover to reach not only the casino but throughout Detroit,” Attorney Perkins. “Having the foresight to include everyone into the Detroit was the genius of Coleman Young. Today using talent, skill, and process the same success is achievable in Detroit,” Attorney Perkins.

“Today Detroit is starved for attention. The Meijer that just opened on 8 Mile Rd is their most profitable store in the state. This is operating on less than the 24 hour cycle that all other Meijer stores operate. The Whole Food’s store in Detroit is the most profitable store in the state albeit is the smallest Whole Food store in the state of Michigan. These are examples of the services and goods Detroiters seek. It’s unfortunate that many Detroiters aren’t taking advantage of these business opportunities,” Attorney Perkins.

“I believe through faith and vision so much is possible. If Detroiters collectivize and invest in one another the resources are available to have our city flourish,” Attorney Perkins.

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