Southeast Michigan’s Global Gateway
By Alistair Kiyingi
Where will you find a new commemoration of a global gateway for immigrants? Starting this weekend, the City of Hamtramck (“the world in two square miles”) will display its global diversity at the Hamtramck Historical Museum. In fact, with over 40% of its residents born outside the U.S., Hamtramck is Michigan’s most diverse city and is home to the first majority Muslim City Council in U.S. history.
On Thursday July 19, the Hamtramck Historical Museum opened its doors to the public as they launched the “Coming to Hamtramck” mural. The 150-foot long piece of art tells a story of the diversity of Hamtramck, made possible by a $15,000 grant from the Michigan Humanities Council. Retired teacher-turned-muralist Dennis Orlowski, the artist behind the murals, said that most of the people in the murals are based on real figures. He doesn’t take photographs or even recordings because he believes that “if you draw from life, you remember more”.
When you enter the museum the panels of the mural surround you. Each panel depicts a different ethnic group or culture, including American Indians, French, Germans, Polish, African-Americans, Ukrainians, Albanians, Yemeni, Bosnians and Bangladeshi.
I was privileged to represent Global Detroit at the official opening ceremony. The museum, which is located on Joseph Campau, was filled to capacity with people anxious to get a look at the new mural. Dignitaries present included Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski and former United States Senator Carl Levin
Don’t forget to put a visit to these impressive murals on your weekend “to-do” list.