And Still They Prospered: Lorenzo Cultural Center Examines the 1930s

And Still They Prospered: Lorenzo Cultural Center Examines the 1930s

February 27-May 8, 2010

alt textGil Rinke hands up a poster to Bob Tarnacki as part of the preparation for the
And Still They Prospered: Living Through the Great Depression series.

What did it take to not only survive the greatest economic challenge this country has ever faced but to rise up from that challenge and create a new industrial superpower? What strategies did people learn? What hopes sustained them?

And Still They Prospered: Living Through the Great Depression – a program series at Macomb Community College’s Lorenzo Cultural Center running Feb. 27-May 8 – examines the economic, social and cultural changes that took place during the 1930s and how these shifts laid the foundation for future prosperity in the Motor City and beyond.

The series will feature exhibits from the Smithsonian Institution and the Michigan State University Museum; more than 40 presentations providing a comprehensive look at the people and the times; and a performance of Forgotten, a “jazz-blues opera” that tells the story of a mysterious death at the Ford Rouge Plant during the effort to organize a labor union there.

“Many of the lessons that were first learned in the 1930s are being re-examined and reapplied today,” said Geary Maiuri, dean of Community & Student Enrichment at Macomb. “Through the And Still They Prospered series, we have an opportunity as a community to look back at not only the challenges of the 1930s and the Great Depression, but how those times became a springboard from which great things were launched.”

Highlights of the series at the Lorenzo Cultural Center include:

* David Kennedy, Stanford University professor emeritus and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression & War, who will offer a vivid account of how Americans coped with the Great Depression. Kennedy’s March 11 presentation will begin at 7 p.m., with a Meet & Greet opportunity at 5:30 p.m. Tickets to the presentation only are $15 or $5 for seniors, students or military; tickets including the Meet & Greet are $30.
* Forgotten at 7:30 p.m. March 26. The musical drama relates the story of the Rev. Lewis Bradford, a Methodist minister and advocate for the homeless and the unemployed who worked at the Rouge Plant. At the plant, he advocated for fair and just treatment of the workers before he died from injuries in an unexplained “accident” at the plant in November 1937.
* Columbia University professor Alan Brinkley, whose latest book, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was published in January 2010, will identify aspects of Roosevelt’s New Deal program that have left a lasting legacy. Brinkley’s presentation will begin at 7 p.m. April 29, with a Meet & Greet option at 5:30 p.m. Tickets to the presentation are $15 or $5 for seniors, students or military; tickets including the Meet & Greet are $30.*
* Presentations highlighting some of the key local personalities of the times, including Henry Ford, Detroit Mayor Frank Murphy and Detroit Tigers great Mickey Cochrane.
* A look at the artistic accomplishments of the decade, including the role of the Works Progress Administration in Detroit, the Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts, key movies of the decade, the Art Deco movement and the Detroit jazz scene.
* An April 21 presentation on the Henry Ford Trade School, a new approach to high school created by Henry Ford, focused on preparing graduates for technical work and providing admission preference to needy boys. The school graduated more than 8,000 young men during the 33 years it operated, beginning in 1916. Following the presentation, a private reception and reunion will be held for those who were students at the school.

Exhibits will include The Way We Worked**, a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution that reveals the effects of industrialization, urbanization, immigration, labor unrest, wars, and economic depression on ordinary working Americans, whether they toiled in a coal mine, on a tractor, at a typewriter or on an assembly line. An exhibit from the Michigan State University Museum will highlight the challenges faced by Michigan’s Jewish population during the 1930s and another offers a look at the legacy of quilt-making from that era.

The Lorenzo Cultural Center is located on Macomb Community College’s Center Campus, Garfield & M-59, Clinton Township. The cultural center is open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday; and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Additional information on the cultural center and on the And Still They Prospered program series is available at