Detroit Historical Society launches program highlighting Detroit’s black entrepreneurs


The Detroit Historical Society is embarking on a multi-year project that will feature the stories of Detroit’s black entrepreneurs. // Courtesy of the Detroit Historical Society

A new multi-year project at the Detroit Historical Museum will showcase the stories of Detroit’s black entrepreneurs, connecting contemporary business owners with the pioneers who blazed their trails in a series of exhibits and public programs.

The Hustle is the Detroit Historical Society‘s newest community engagement and exhibit project that follows in the footsteps of the Detroit67 project. Incorporating large-scale photography by Detroit photographers, oral histories, museum exhibits and events, public programs, school tours and a resource summit, this program strives to serve unsung members of the community whose contributions are not always recognized through programming, exhibitions and events.

Through The Hustle, the company will document the history of Detroit’s black businesses that are the backbone of their neighborhoods.

“Our mission is to tell the stories of Detroit and their significance,” said Elana Rugh, CEO of the Detroit Historical Society. “No story is too big or too small for our museums and we often say that our goal is for our visitors to see themselves somewhere in our rooms or on our walls. The Hustle will do this in a way that no other project has ever done, and we are thrilled to celebrate these stories in our museum.

The Hustle is sponsored by the Gilbert Family Foundation, Toyota Motor North America and AAA/The Auto Club Group. Additional funding was provided by Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase.

“Toyota is proud to support this program showcasing the many unsung Detroit Black entrepreneurs who make this city thrive,” said Alva Adams Mason, group leader of Multicultural Business Alliance and Multicultural Dealer Relations and Strategy. at Toyota Motor North America. “Toyota is focused on creating opportunity for everyone as we celebrate the differences that make us all unique and ensure not just a seat at the table, but a ticket to the party and a seat in the driver’s seat. Detroit Historical Society’s Hustle is aligned with our mission to shine a light on building a market of limitless possibility for all.

Jasmin DeForrest, director of arts and culture for the Gilbert Family Foundation, says, “Detroit’s entrepreneurs, especially our black entrepreneurs, are the backbone on which this city was built. We are grateful to the Detroit Historical Museum for raising their voices and stories for the world to hear.

To identify Detroit entrepreneurs who exemplify The Hustle, the company is recruiting nominations in May and June. Nominations can be made through the website, on ballots available at the Detroit Historical Museum, and at neighborhood and town hall community meetings where The Hustle will be discussed.

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