​​ advancing progressive ideas and actions

Detroit 48202:

Conversations along a postal route

Detroit 48202 Campaign

"A truly brilliant and illuminating film. By the simple act of trailing a mail carrier on his route through the city, Pam Sporn presents a stunning alternative history of Detroit that powerfully illustrates the impact that racist housing policies, capital flight, and neoliberalism have had on Black urban communities."
- Robin D.G. Kelley, Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair, History, UCLA


DETROIT 48202: CONVERSATIONS ALONG A POSTAL ROUTE is a feature documentary that examines the rise, demise, and contested resurgence of Detroit through the lens of African-American mail carrier, Wendell Watkins, and the community of committed residents he faithfully served for thirty years.

We take a journey with Wendell along his route, which winds through the center of what was, once upon a time, a vital and thriving city. We listen in on his conversations with his customers – the resilient Detroiters who share stories of resistance: pushing back against racial segregation in housing; challenging industrial and political disinvestment; and living on reduced pensions as a result of the municipal bankruptcy. Our characters also share stories of hope and propose creative ways to re-imagine an inclusive, productive, equitable and re-invigorated city.

We also meet legendary labor organizer, General Baker, Historian Thomas Sugrue, and Urban Planner June Manning Thomas, who provide a thread of analysis and historical context.

DETROIT 48202: CONVERSATIONS ALONG A POSTAL ROUTE is urgent. It asks us to ponder: will the resurgence of Detroit center on a high tech, and increasingly white downtown and follow the normative model as other urban spaces in crisis – or, will it opt to focus on the vast stretches of neglected neighborhoods that continue to deal with a 40% poverty rate, water shutoffs, tax foreclosures, poor transportation, and a school system in crisis?