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Reaching Michigan Central Station was first step to a ‘good life’ for longtime Detroiter

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Reaching Michigan Central Station was first step to a ‘good life’ for longtime Detroiter



As a teen living in the South, the future Bernice Laster chose Detroit to be her home. More than 70 years later, Laster is still happy with her choice and grateful for a special place in Corktown.

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The year was 1951. And in Macon, Georgia, an excited group of students were celebrating their graduation from Ballard-Hudson Senior High School, an institution designed by pioneering architect Ellamae Ellis League. 

Among the proud graduates was an 18-year-old student who had traveled the country a bit as a child thanks to the train passes issued by Central of Georgia Railway — her father’s employer. This student had already designed her own life plan, which entailed leaving the South behind for a northern destination more than 800 miles away. 

That student — known then by her maiden name, Bernice Farmer — is Bernice Laster today. And the chosen city up north that the daughter of Perry and Willie May Wembley Farmer set her sights on moving to, even prior to her high school graduation, was Detroit. 

“I was born in the South, but I wanted to go to school and receive the training and skills that would allow me to be an entrepreneur, or pursue some other job that was not domestic work,” said the now 91-year-old Laster, who was encouraged to move to Detroit to attend Wayne (now Wayne State) University by her history teacher at Ballard-Hudson which back then had an all-Black student body due to forced segregation. “In the South, as a Black woman, even with training, you were not going to get opportunities because all of the store jobs and government jobs, and any kind of jobs, went to privileged white women. But my mother and grandmother instilled in me to want more in life, so I was glad to leave home for an opportunity to try to give myself a better life in Detroit.” 

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However, before Laster could begin executing her plan, she first needed to make her way from the Macon, Georgia, train terminal to an imposing location in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood that once housed a three-story depot with 10 gates for trains, connected to an 18-story tower with more than 500 offices.

“I remember walking through that station; buildings like that you didn’t see everywhere,” Laster regaled as she recalled her earliest thoughts about the Michigan Central Station, Detroit’s primary railway depot from 1913 to 1988, and a onetime gateway to Detroit for thousands of daily rail passengers from across the country. “I was excited when that train stopped in Detroit. But as Black people living during those times, we didn’t carry ourselves in public just any kind of way as we do now. Everywhere you went, you were always concerned about your safety.”  

Laster’s statement reflects the views of someone whose early life experiences were shaped not only by a segregated society, but also by the violence that came with it. The violent treatment of Black people in the South often had a lasting impact on future generations, such as the infamous July 25, 1946, Moore’s Ford lynchings, described by some as “the last mass lynching in America,” which resulted in the killing of two Black married couples — George W. (a World War II veteran) and Mae Murray Dorsey, along with Roger and Dorothy Murray (in her seventh month of pregnancy) — by a white mob at Moore’s Ford Bridge in Walton County, Georgia, about 80 miles north of where Laster grew up. 

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“You talk about segregation, they knew how to segregate in those days. But despite segregation and all of our struggles connected to it, our mothers still found a way to raise families and educate their children,” said Laster, who spoke Sunday evening from her home in northwest Detroit. “Some of these women even built colleges; and they filled up your belly. My mother and grandmother always saw to it that we had plenty to eat and that was very important. Before we left home, we would have biscuits, grits, salt pork and eggs that they prepared in the morning. That’s how we started every day.” 

As Laster tells it, the crammed shoebox containing mouth-watering fried chicken that she took with her on the train while heading north was just a small sampling of the physical, mental and spiritual nourishment she had received from her family, which Laster would need to successfully make a new home in Detroit. For example, when money was needed to continue her education after completing a semester at Wayne, Laster called on lessons she had learned in and around the kitchen back home to secure a job as a cook and a waitress at Bonner’s Kitchen on Davidson and Dequindre. And the money she made at the restaurant helped her pay for classes at Highland Park Community College, where she ultimately earned an associate’s degree. There would be more jobs for Laster, too, including a nurse’s assistant position at Henry Ford Hospital. 

Then, in 1964, Laster accomplished something that she believed would have been impossible for her to do had she not boarded a train to Detroit after completing high school: She landed a “good, government job” with the U.S. Postal Service.    

“It gave me the opportunity to work and make a living wage,” said Laster, who was hired as a distribution clerk at Detroit’s main post office at 1401 W. Fort St. “That was one of the greatest things that ever happened to us.” 

The “us” that Laster was referring to in that instance was the life partnership she shared with the late Ernest Laster, her loving husband for 58 years, and the person who validated Bernice Laster’s decision to come to Detroit in the grandest way possible. 

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“I was blessed that the Lord sent me someone to love, and the Lord sent me a man who loved me,” Laster, who married Ernest three months before starting work at the post office, beamed. “When we were first getting to know each other, he asked me to ride out to Belle Isle, and who would refuse going out to Belle Isle? From that point on, he just worked everything to perfection.”  

And with plenty of love in her life, Laster said it was not difficult for her to work 27 years at the post office, where she retired in 1981 as a mid-level supervisor. After completing her government work, Laster then was able to fully focus on providing service to her community, particularly youths, which she happily performed by teaching Sunday school and vacation Bible school at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church for 18 years.

In recent years, Laster has touched the lives of metro Detroit youths through outreach she has performed with Boys & Girls Bible Clubs and Child Evangelism Fellowship. It is work that Laster still continues today and does not plan to give up anytime soon — however, she confided that she is looking forward to taking a little break. And during that “break” she said she expects to return to a familiar site with a few close friends to take part in the reopening celebration at Michigan Central Station that is taking place through June 16.  

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“After moving to Detroit, it was always exciting to catch the train to visit family back home, and I’m excited about being invited to go down to the station for the reopening,” said Laster, whose knack for offering encouragement to others throughout her life extended to her husband, who she encouraged to go to law school, which he successfully completed. “The physical strength and energy that God gives you is amazing and I used it to have a good life in Detroit. But nothing we did here in Detroit was us — it was all the Lord.”

Scott Talley is a native Detroiter, a proud product of Detroit Public Schools and a lifelong lover of Detroit culture in its diverse forms. In his second tour with the Free Press, which he grew up reading as a child, he is excited and humbled to cover the city’s neighborhoods and the many interesting people who define its various communities. Contact him at stalley@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @STalleyfreep. Read more of Scott’s stories at www.freep.com/mosaic/detroit-is/. Please help us grow great community-focused journalism by becoming a subscriber.    



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Philadelphia Phillies at Detroit Tigers odds, picks and predictions

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Philadelphia Phillies at Detroit Tigers odds, picks and predictions


The Philadelphia Phillies (51-26) visit the Detroit Tigers (36-41) on Monday for the start of a 3-game series at Comerica Park. First pitch is slated for 6:40 p.m. ET. Let’s analyze BetMGM Sportsbook’s lines around the Phillies vs. Tigers odds and make our expert MLB picks and predictions for the best bets.

Season series: First meeting; Phillies won 3-0 in 2023

Philadelphia is on the road after a 4-2 homestand. Despite owning the top winning percentage in MLB (.662), the Phillies are just 1-4 in their last 5 road games.

Detroit is continuing a homestand that opened with the Tigers taking 2 of 3 from the Chicago White Sox over the weekend. The Bengals have struggled offensively of late; before scoring 11 runs in a Sunday triumph, they have slogged their way to a .597 OPS over the previous 15 games.

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Phillies at Tigers projected starters

RHP Aaron Nola vs. RHP Casey Mize

Nola (8-3, 3.54 ERA) is making his 16th start. He has authored a 1.06 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9 and 8.0 K/9 in 94 IP.

  • Last outing: No-decision, 6 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K in 4-3 win vs. San Diego Padres Tuesday
  • Career vs. Tigers: 2-0, 1.40 ERA (25 2/3 IP, 4 ER), 18 H, 8 BB, 31 K in 4 starts
  • Has benefited from a .246 batting average on balls in play (.219 BABIP against inning-leadoff batters)

Mize (1-5, 4.43 ERA) is lined up for his 15th start. He has a 1.45 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9 and 6.0 K/9 in 69 IP.

  • Last outing: Loss, 4 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 3 K in 2-1 loss at Atlanta Braves Tuesday
  • Has never faced the Phillies
  • Has pitched fewer than 6 innings in 5 of his last 6 outings

Who’s going yard? Here’s a breakdown of today’s best home run props with our top picks. Include the BetMGM bonus code SBWIRE to score a $1,500 first-bet offer.

Phillies at Tigers odds

Provided by BetMGM Sportsbook; access USA TODAY Sports Scores and Sports Betting Odds hub for a full list. Lines last updated Sunday at 12:01 a.m. ET.

  • Moneyline: Phillies -175 (bet $175 to win $100) | Tigers +145 (bet $100 to win $145)
  • Run line (RL)/Against the spread (ATS): Phillies -1.5 (-105) | Tigers +1.5 (-115)
  • Over/Under (O/U): 8 (O: -115 | U: -105)

Phillies at Tigers picks and predictions

Prediction

Tigers 5, Phillies 4

Moneyline

Mize, who owns a 3.26 ERA at home, has been hurt around the margins and figures to be under-bet. Nola’s numbers swing the either way. And he faltered badly in his last road turn and the 5-day rest interval has not always agreed with him in the later years of his career.

A shaky-of-late Detroit offense has been undone, in part, by a .262 batting average on balls in play in the month of June.

The Tigers are the lesser club, but they are 8-6 over their last 14 games and the tag here offers some underdog value. BACK DETROIT (+145).

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Run line/Against the spread

The Over has a lean here, but the weather forecast calls for an inward breeze and the total is relatively low. A Detroit +1.5 play would be worth looking into if the price got near -105. Otherwise, AVOID and shoot for the outright plus-money return.

Over/Under

The Under cashed in 2 of 3 series meetings a year ago and is 4-1 across the last 5 Philly-Detroit games.

But the Phils can bang the ball around and the Tigers offense figures as undervalued by just a bit. The OVER 8 (-115) is worth consideration on a partial-unit basis.

Play our free daily Pick’em Challenge and win! Play now!

For more sports betting picks and tips, check out SportsbookWire.com and BetFTW. Follow SportsbookWire on Twitter/X and like us on Facebook.

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How This 100-Year-Old Foundation Helped Save Detroit

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How This 100-Year-Old Foundation Helped Save Detroit


“In some ways, I’m a little sheepish because we don’t have a big splashy announcement,” admits Rip Rapson, referring to the 100-year birthday celebration of the Kresge Foundation (“Kresge”), over which he presides. Yet, the centennial celebration of this Detroit-based philanthropic powerhouse is anything but low-key. Earlier this month, Rapson marked the occasion by sharing the stage with former President Barack Obama, who lauded Kresge’s legacy.

If you’re not familiar with Kresge, you’re probably not alone. Named after Sebastian Spering Kresge, founder of the company that became the once-dominant Kmart retail chain, the foundation is hardly a household name outside Detroit. While Kresge’s $4.3 billion endowment is substantial, it’s less than a tenth the size of the Gates Foundation.

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Yet, in Detroit, at least, Kresge’s impact has been well documented and is even credited with helping to save the city at one point. During our conversation, Rapson, who has led Kresge since 2006, traces its century-long journey from “pocketbook philanthropy” to providing $3 billion in funding for major infrastructure projects in the late 20th century through initiatives like it’s Capital Challenge Grant Programs.

In recent years, Kresge has shifted focus to bolstering cities and supporting their most vulnerable communities. Rapson lists countless examples, such as transforming “brightened and abandoned land”—sites that private investors avoided and government officials left unaddressed due to electoral blowback—for years. One standout moment was Kresge’s pivotal $100 million contribution to Detroit’s ‘Grand Bargain’ during the city’s 2013 bankruptcy, a move credited by Mayor Mike Duggan with stabilizing and revitalizing Detroit. Many projects Kresge now invests in involve new, untested ideas that might be too sensitive for the political class to touch. As Rapson explains, philanthropy can leverage its credibility to convene discussions, secure technical resources, invest in community engagement processes, and undertake various initiatives to foster consensus.

As the foundation turns 100, it faces some potential criticism. Unlike the current trend in large-scale philanthropy to spend down endowments for greater immediate impact, Kresge has chosen to ensure its annual grants do not erode its endowment, effectively meaning it will continue to exist in perpetuity. This approach contrasts with the philosophy of spending down philanthropic assets, famously championed by Chuck Feeney, who donated nearly his entire $8 billion fortune before he died in 2020. Similarly, in its latest annual letter, the Gates Foundation pledged to spend down its entire endowment within 20 years of its founders’ passing, significantly increasing its annual expenditure to achieve this goal. Countless other foundations have also opted to implement sunset clauses. These commitments arise amid global calls for immediate financial intervention, especially as foundations worldwide collectively hold a record $1.5 trillion in assets that some argue could be put to better use during times of pressing need like the present.

Reflecting on Kresge’s decision, Rapson is introspective. Amid multiple crises that hit Detroit over the years, from automotive bankruptcies to political turmoil, the Foundation could have immediately deployed $3-4 billion for maximum impact. However, Rapson ponders the long-term consequences and trade-offs of such a decision. He notes that Kresge has granted out $3-5 billion over its lifetime, roughly equivalent to its current endowment. Yet, this figure doesn’t include the additional philanthropic and public investments it has spurred. For example, when funding infrastructure projects, Kresge required recipient organizations to secure at least two-thirds of project costs from other sources before providing a matching grant. A more recent example is Kresge’s investment in the Justice40 Accelerator, a collaboration with Partnership for Southern Equity and other partners. This has enabled community-based organizations to access over $15 million in funding, empowering them to compete for federal, state, local, and philanthropic grants. It may not attract ‘splashy’ headlines, but when considering this leveraging power, Kresge’s indirect financial impact over the long term is likely far greater than its total grant outlays.

Now, using its centennial as a platform, Kresge aims to export its core philanthropic philosophy of leveraging broader resources to support urban communities beyond Detroit. Like Obama, Rapson views cities as pivotal economic opportunity, innovation, and culture centers. However, cities across America and worldwide face significant challenges, and new infrastructure and community development programs need to be designed with these in mind. As Rapson explains, climate change presents new challenges, necessitating new adaptive practices to mitigate wildfire risks in California, elevate sidewalks against rising sea levels in Miami, and raise houses on stilts in New Orleans.

In addressing such challenges, Rapson acknowledges the potential of significant public investments promised by the Inflation Reduction and Infrastructure Acts. However, he also emphasizes the difficulties cities encounter in accessing these funds and other philanthropic resources, such as donor-advised funds (DAFs), which lack mandatory spending requirements but could be motivated to contribute through streamlined approaches. For the latter, Rapson wonders if community foundations could blend aspects of DAF spending alongside their perpetual existence. For example, the San Francisco Foundation could set long-term priorities—addressing housing crises, health emergencies, or urban flooding—while maintaining a dedicated fund replenished by DAFs. If successful, this model could incentivize DAF holders to spend down and continuously contribute to the fund over time.

Ultimately, Rapson envisions foundations playing a multi-stakeholder “sherpa” role to municipalities, providing technical assistance and testing new ideas that other public and private funders might otherwise initially avoid until proven successful. As Rapson’s counterpart at the Rockefeller Foundation, Raj Shah, notes, philanthropy at its best often serves as the best source of capital to make “big bets” on ideas to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

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As Kresge looks to the future, its true legacy does not rest solely on the size of its grant contributions—whether that’s $5 billion or more in the decades to come. Nor does it lie solely in the billions its grants might unlock. Instead, the measure of its influence will ultimately be seen in the widespread adoption of Kresge’s philanthropic playbook by other community foundations that, as Obama reflected, are often too cautious. If widely adopted, Kresge-style practices promise to exponentially catalyze transformative investments in cities, fostering health, inclusivity, and sustainability worldwide. If this promise holds true, countless urban communities will be glad that Kresge decided to stick around for another century to come.



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Oakland County sheriff’s deputy dies in the line of duty

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Oakland County sheriff’s deputy dies in the line of duty


Parents in Detroit-area school district upset after former Oxford principal hired and more stories

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Parents in Detroit-area school district upset after former Oxford principal hired and more stories

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(CBS DETROIT) – An Oakland County sheriff’s deputy has been killed in the line of duty, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday morning. 

The sheriff’s office is holding a press conference at noon Sunday and will provide an update. 

The circumstances surrounding the incident have not been released at this time. 

Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter issued the following statement Sunday: 

“I am heartbroken to learn of the shooting death of one of our Oakland County Sheriff deputies. Please keep him, his loved ones and county colleagues in your heart today. I’ve been in contact with Sheriff Bouchard to offer support to sheriff’s office employees during this difficult time.” 

This is a developing story. Stay with CBS News Detroit for the latest updates. 

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