Marsha Battle Philpot (aka Marsha Music) is waging a one-woman crusade to reconcile the old and new Detroit.
The entertaining and outspoken writer, often attired in brightly colored turbans, tall knitted hats and leather bowlers, creates a commanding presence, particularly when accompanied by her talented artist and husband David Philpot.
These Lafayette Park residents stand tall amid the new farmers, techies and house rehabbers who populate the bars popping up all over Midtown and downtown.
And they stand up for the unseen.
“There have been folks here who have held on despite all and made a way out of no way,” Marsha Music says in a recent conversation at Punchbowl Social downtown.
And they deserve to be seen, she says. Music has made it her mission to expose the beauty of longtime Detroit and Highland Park residents and historic properties.
The woman, who stayed behind as her childhood friends left the city, now sees their children and grandchildren coming back to share urban life. Still, she misses her friends.
“More and more of these children are finding their way home,” she says. “But despite ghost town metaphors, blank pronouncements and prairie land descriptions of Detroit, they find the city already occupied. These strangers in a strange yet familiar land must learn to share it with those who held on.”
It’s these residents who have a “real” story to tell.
“We need a restorative movement to heal what has happened here, as the working people of this town competed against themselves over the right to a good life,” Music says. “We have to share stores about the experiences of the past era. As we move forward in Detroit, there must be a mending of the human fabric that was rent into municipal pieces with the divisions of city and suburbs.
“Small continual acts of reconciliation are called for here, as sections of the city rise again.”
Photos courtesy of Marsha Philpot