Progressive Heroes

What is it that makes a hero? For that matter, how do you define a progressive? Those are two questions we had to wrestle with when we decided to honor a select group of people and organizations on these pages. We didn't find easy answers – which made our job all the more interesting. What you'll find in the stories that follow is diversity – in mission and in approach. From the arts to politics to new technology, there are many different ways to be both a hero and a progressive. The common link, if there is one, is that the people profiled have, in one way or another, all dedicated themselves to improving the lives of others. What we also found was that there were many more who deserve to be honored. Which is why we intend to make this special issue an annual event. So, to those of you named a 1999 Metro Times Progressive Hero, congratulations. And to those of you who also deserve to be so honored, keep up the good work. Your day will come.


Maryann Mahaffey
by Curt Guyette
A social worker turned social activist, this Detroit City Council member is principled, compassionate, unwavering and damn tough – a progressive grand dame.

Bronson Gentry
by Ann Mullen
Preserving an eastside-Detroit park for local kids has been his lifelong mission. Despite developers' plans, Gentry won't be moved without a fight.


Tom and Sue Ness
by Jennifer Bagwell
Publishers of Jam Rag, the couple has always used the music magazine to promote political activism. Lately, they've been making sound waves by promoting the legalization of low-watt radio stations.

David Green
by Larry Gabriel
"L" is for left ... the chair of the local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America spells out his commitment to a living wage, a single-payer health care system and other socialist causes.

Dan McDougall
by Adam Druckman
You can call him "Mr. Communication" – he's always found new ways for people to talk with one another. Most recently, he brings the Web to technology-challenged nonprofit organizations.

Shea Howell
by Yu-Ru Lee
Her inclination to question authority has been there from the start; you might say she was born to rebel. From feminism to multiculturalism to city beautification, this professor doesn't discriminate in her volunteer efforts.

Terry Blackhawk
by George Tysh
This educator, mentor, poet and mover of obstacles from the paths of young people has a passionate commitment to changing the world, and to opening doors to the imagination.

Ismael Ahmed
by W. Kim Heron
Involved with Detroit's premier world music event, Arab-American political groups, social service organizations, and much more ... a common thread among all is his dedication to community, coalitions and culture.

Mike Banks
by Chris Handyside
He's an urban music rebel who brings often-disparate neighborhoods and cultures together through music – he and his Submerge record label are dedicated to the city of Detroit, its neighborhoods, and its musical and visual art.

Detroit Sunday Journal
by Alisa Gordaneer
A weekly newspaper published by and for the striking workers of the Detroit News and Free Press, the Journal is staffed by a dedicated lot who have refused to let the public forget about their continuing labor struggle.

About The Author

Metro Times Staff

Since 1980, Metro Times has been Detroit’s premier alternative source for news, arts, culture, music, film, food, fashion and more from a liberal point of view.
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