Educational resources for:

Urban Challenges


Urban life in the period from 1968 to the present witnessed a major drug epidemic and the flight of industries abroad, which created acute crises in housing, transportation, social services, and health for inner-city residents. Was "urban renewal" also "community renewal"? Or did it undermine communities in its attempt to alleviate serious social ills? ABJ shows examine these issues through interviews with community leaders and special feature programs.

Featured Show Clips & Comprehension Questions

Related Videos

"Joe" discusses teen gun violence

Bobby Seale discusses the change in perspective that occurred for African Americans in the 1960s

Bobby Seale responds to an audience member's question about his future

Bobby Seale responds to an audience question about education

Coleman Young's thoughts on a crackdown on crime in the city of Detroit

Ed Gordon and Alonzo Bates, school board members, discuss the board of education’s travel expenses

Erma Henderson describes her mayoral campaign

Erma Henderson discusses her relationship with and challenge to Mayor Coleman Young

Jesse Jackson answers a high school student's question about how to keep drugs and crime out of schools

Jesse Jackson discusses the nature of the crisis facing black America

Making of a Rioter

Mel Farr and Charles Harrell, auto dealership owners, respond to a caller's question about the importance of dealer location and customers' credit

Nathan Conyers discusses the number of black-owned automobile dealerships

Panelists Jefferson and Vaughn describe how efforts to promote school safety will continue to be made

Panelists discuss in-school assemblies for students, parents, and staff convened in the wake of violent school incidents

Panelists discuss reluctance of black consumers to buy cars from black dealers

Panelists discuss the need for empowerment of public housing residents

Panelists respond to callers' questions about expulsions and metal detectors

Panelists' views on the public housing situation in Detroit

Professor Hartford Smith describes factors contributing to the rise of youth violence

Report on juvenile gun violence

School board member Clara Rutherford responds to a caller’s question

Susan Watson's commentary on the Detroit Board of Education's spending practices

Thematic Questions

What kinds of concerns do you see being raised repeatedly in the programs highlighted under this theme?

How do different shows in this group provide different perspectives on the same subject -- such as education or teen violence?

If you had to choose, what would you say are the three most important challenges examined by the programs in this group, and why did you choose those issues?


FINE Network
Part of the Harvard Family Research Project, the Family Involvement Network of Educators (FINE) seeks to strengthen and grow partnerships between schools/educators, families and communities.

Harvard Family Research Project
This Harvard Project is a project targeting disadvantaged youth through educational research, its publication and dissemination.

Michigan State Housing Development Authority
Contains information on the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Contains a wealth of resources for home buyers, the homeless and those with special housing needs, renter assistants, nonprofits, local governments, and developers, among others. Covers everything about Michigan Housing and Development from grant resources to reports on city living patterns.

National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center
A site sponsored by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and federal partner agencies. With a mission to "prevent violence committed by and against young people," the center contains resources on a variety of topics including abuse and neglect, mental illness, and crime and delinquency.

The City of Detroit's Planning and Development Department
The department's mission is to "strengthen and revitalize the City of Detroit's neighborhoods and communities and to stabilize and transform our physical, social and economic environment." Among other subjects, this site contains information including available grant and redevelopment programs available to community groups.

The Obsidian Society
"The Obsidian Society is a non-denominational fellowship of African American Christian scholars and leaders who have entered into community for the purpose of developing future generations of scholars and leaders in the service of the Kingdom of God." The organization also seeks to "promote solidarity among North American black leaders."

Related Films

Eyes on the Prize.
VHS. 14 hours.
Multiple directors. Alexandria, VA: PBS Video, 1986.
An award-winning documentary series exploring major points in the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1985. Mixes archival footage with contemporary interviews.

School: Making the Grade.
VHS. 30 minutes.
New York: Castle Works, 1998.
Part of the “In The Mix” Series targeting school educators and administrators, this episode showcases school programs which have reduced drop out rates and improved teacher-student communication.

Claiming Open Spaces.
VHS/DVD. 90 minutes.
Produced/Directed by Austin Allen. New York: National Black Programming Consortium, 1995.
A documentary focusing on how urban African Americans’ use of public space, namely parks, is sometimes in conflict with city planning. The cities and peoples of Columbus, Detroit, Montgomery, New Orleans and Oakland are featured.


Brown, Cherie R. Leading Diverse Communities: A How-To Guide for Moving From Healing Into Action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005.
A practical guide to building effective leadership, developing inclusive environments, and forming alliances in grass-roots organizing. This work was developed in partnership with the National Coalition Building Institute (

Cole, David. No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System. New York: The New Press, 1999.
An exploration of race and class based inequalities in the U.S. criminal justice system. The author posits reform strategies for leveling the playing field including youth incentives and community building to secure safe communities.

Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader: Documents, Speeches, and Firsthand Accounts from The Black Freedom Struggle, 1954-1990. New York: Penguin Books, 1991.
A companion volume to the PBS series Eyes on the Prize.

Garrett, Anne G. Keeping American Schools Safe: A Handbook for Parents, Students, Educators, Law Enforcement Personnel, and the Community. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2001.
A practical guide for those seeking to eliminate violence in schools. The author begins the work by documenting recent trends in school violence, moves to how one can identify potentially dangerous situations and recommends strategies for intervention.

Teaford, Jon C. The Rough Road to Renaissance: Urban Revitalization in America, 1940-1985.Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990.
The author examines urban revitalization efforts in twelve northeast and Midwest cities over a forty-five year period. He explores the influence of city politics, finance, and policy in the pursuit of urban renewal.

Additional Show Clips & Comprehension Questions

Related Videos

Cornel West discusses the impact of economic trends on American culture

Cornel West on the importance of leadership

Cornel West on love and hope

Overview of Detroit students' trip to King Center in Atlanta.

Coretta Scott King discusses MLK's vision of the Beloved Community

Coretta Scott King describes leadership development and values

Kenny Cockrel retrospective

Mike Hamlin discusses Ken Cockrel's labor activism

Ernest Dillard discussing the present state of political and legal rights of African Americans and the limitations of affirmative action

Ernest Dillard discusses the need for cooperative action with whites on economic issues

Minister Rasul Muhammad describes the efforts of the Nation of Islam is taking to establish programs in Detroit

Opening Tribute to Rev. Franklin

John Conyers' thoughts on how the struggle for civil rights has evolved into a struggle for human rights

John Conyers discusses the issue of reparations for slavery

Dick Gregory discusses the Atlanta child killings