GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A documentary that highlights race problems in mid-size cities will soon put Grand Rapids back in the spotlight.
The film is based on Dr. Todd E Robinson’s book “A City Within A City,” which examines the freedom struggle for the African American community during post-World War II development.
“Even though this is Grand Rapids and there are aspects that are unique to Grand Rapids, this is about secondary cities and the intimacy of race relations in these places and spaces,” Robinson said. The film is still in production and has shoots scheduled around town.
While it will feature the themes laid out in the book, Director Jason Nichols said it will also cover ongoing issues happening within the city.
“So many of the same things that was happening back in the 1900s continue to happen today,” Nichols said. “As much as there has been progress we’re still dealing with the same exact things. They’re just dressed differently or presented differently.”
Nichols said the shooting of Patrick Lyoya will be part of the documentary.
Last fall, the city of Grand Rapids declared racism a public health crisis. Stacy Stout, director of equity and engagement with the city, said while the city has faced new problems surrounding protests and contentious city commission meetings there has been progress.
An equity analyst joined the city’s payroll in February.
“She did have to focus on the Grand Rapids neighborhood summit when she first joined us,” Stout said. “Which had a theme around the social determinants of health and also the political determinants health.”
The analyst has also created tools utilized by each department that will help vet policies and new equitable practices. “It’s really going to be in the infrastructure, the DNA of what we do. As we present to city commission, or to one another, department leaders will have that lens applied to their decision making.”
The documentary is expected to be completed by spring.