Charnae Sanders


Charnae Sanders


In this interview Charnae talks about growing up in the diverse Northwest corner of Detroit and how friendly and welcoming it is. She talks about how the city is ever changing and even though there is development downtown and midtown you don’t see it stretching out to the edges of Detroit. Ultimately she concludes that the city is a great place to live because of the people that live within the city.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society


Narrator/Interviewee's Name

Charnae Sanders

Brief Biography

Charnae Sanders was born in Detroit on January 23rd 1993 and lived in the Northwest part of the city until her senior year in high school. Charnae currently lives in Lafayette Park and elaborated on her life growing up in the Northwest district of Detroit. She loves living in Detroit and works at the Detroit Historical Society helping the community through her work.

Interviewer's Name

Jacob Hrcka

Interview Place

Detroit, Michigan




J: So, where and when were you born?

C: I was born in Detroit of course I was born in the Northwest part of the city so actually on Fielding St. right between 6 mile and Evergreen, and I was born um I guess I don’t know if you need the exact date but I was born January 1994 January 23rd

J: Okay, what neighborhood, what would you consider the neighborhood you grew up in, because I was assigned 6 Mile

C: yep, yep, it’s right between 6 mile and Evergreen so it’s technically 6 mile, my neighborhood.

J: And so what like what is right around there? Parks or anything like that?

C: In that neighborhood we have the Redford library branch so that’s not super far off that’s like right on 6 mile and um and that was always something growing up that me and my family went to. There was a fire station there I’m not sure if it still is… and like a lot of different local restaurants, like my grandparents have a business not too far from that neighborhood which they still regularly own and I still regularly attend and which I still help out every now and then, so I think the neighborhood has a lot of local businesses, and it feels very community oriented, like even though I’m not there, every time I come back you still see familiar faces and it’s interesting to see how the neighborhood has changed over time.

J: Was it an integrated neighborhood

C: Um I feel, um to a certain extent I feel of course it was predominantly black, but when you go to like some of the businesses, like mini mart on 6 mile has all these different kinds of meat, like their known for their turkey chops so like that’s their key item, so like that business is owned im not sure of their ethnicity but it’s very diverse and just going into different businesses and seeing the different clientele and customers you can see that there is a lot of integration in the neighborhood but I would still say that it’s predominantly black

J: And so that’s like right right by Redford where you grew up then

C: Mmhmm, yeah

J: Okay, what did you do for fun in your neighborhood?

C: For fun? I was the kind of (laughs) okay like me and my older brother would ride our bikes around the neighborhood like our parents didn’t allow us to go too far, so we mainly just went up and down the street, and it was nice because sometimes our neighborhood would have like we had a block party once before kinda had Fielding St. completely blocked off it was just a good way to get connected with the other kids on the street. But on top of that I went to school not too far from home and you have sleepovers and just kind of hungout with the kids from school, but I feel like it was mainly playing in the backyard or riding our bikes up and down the street and just getting to know other people in the area

J: Yeah so, you only had one block party that you remember on your street?

C: Yep it was just the one I feel like they could’ve had more (laughs) at least during the time I was there but they only had one and I was real young, but it was still nice because I remember everyone like barbequed and people kind of, you know potluck style, you had different people bring desserts and contribute food and things and that was nice cause that was a time when you could actually drive in the street and you weren’t worried about cars just coming out of nowhere.. so it was nice at that point, but yeah it was just one.

J: (laughs) Where did your parents work when you were growing up?

C: My mother worked with Harmon Kiefer, it was kind of like I believe it was a health department and she worked in the early on health department from most of her career when we lived there, in downtown, and my father worked at Circuit City growing up when that was still around and then afterwards he started working at Kohl’s in Westland.

J: Okay, where did you go shopping? I think that means for anything too like for groceries and like (ahahaha) I don’t know clothes too?

C: Um I don’t know (laughs) that helps then, um I definitely went there was an area right off of Grand River and 6 mile, that area its still technically part of the neighborhood it’s not too far from the school I went to growing up and there was like a Rainbow, and I feel like a lot of girls, young girls went to Rainbow because you had a lot of deals, good deals really nice clothes and you had the Gamestop I had a Nintendo Gamecube growing up so that was one of my favorite places to go and it also a I wanna say it was like uhhh one of those chicken or fish businesses, but it was like so much in that area where we spent a lot of our time and did a lot of good local shopping. But then of course you go to the suburbs if you wanted to go actually to the mall or go to Kohl’s or something and we did Meijer like that was our main grocery store. Unfortunately by the time we moved they opened the Meijer on grand river so that would’ve been really nice if it was there when we were there, but yeah mainly went to the metro area for shopping when it come to food.

J: Okay yeah, yeah pretty much still how it goes today.

C: Thankfully there’s some progress with the Meijer on 8 mile but yeah.

J: Where did you go to school?

C: I went to um well I’ll start forward and move backwards, I went to a Communication Media Arts High School and that is on Saint no Mansfield right off of Grand River so not too far from Southfield Freeway and 6 mile and I also went to Ive Ludington Magna Middle School and cook Elementary school which are all Detroit Public Schools.

J: Okay,

C: Proud DPS alum

J: Can you tell me a little about the schools and stuff?

C: Yeah um, I guess for the schools there was like CMA or Communication Media Arts High School that one was a really nice school. Though it wasn’t one of the top three people like to say with Cass Renaissance, and King, I feel like it was a really good school for me because I was always interested in Journalism and there I was editor of like the high school newspaper, and there were so many opportunities, like our school was chosen to be in a kind of clean kind of revitalization project where they kind of wanna say it was Fox 2 News they did a makeover of our school, so it was really coolto get the community to support that area and help uplift the students at the time. And I feel like with Ludington and Cook it was your typical school in Detroit it was nice it was good people there good teachers, theres always resources that could be improved, but I feel like that’s in any school district.

J: Yeah um definitely.

C: (laughs)

J: Are there any stories from your childhood, like specifically surrounding your neighborhood that you would like to share? That maybe stood out besides maybe the block party or maybe elaborate more on the block party I don’t know, your friends that were there?

C: yeah I guess um I guess one of the favorite parts of neighborhood, I guess one time having friends comeover for a sleepover or just getting together right on six mile there’s like an in and out and anyone who knows Detroit or any major city there’s a ton of In and Outs around the area, But I always liked the In and Out because I always thought their pizza was bomb, but like of course it was like that greasy (laughs) pizza that you just know probably wasn’t to good for you but there’s just something about so you know kind of because it wasn’t too far from our house just leaving the house on Fielding going up 6 mile and just going there it always kind of felt just like small things like that made it feel like home. Sometimes the small businesses like my grandparents, you know people automatically it’s like regulars, even going to the Mini Mart, my grandfather goes there all the time and they’re on a first name basis, so I guess my special memories from the neighborhood is just really connecting to the people to the point where it goes beyond just that hi and bye relationship but you kind of really feel like your happy to support this business, and I guess kind of with the block party I was really young I can’t remember the age. I remember being around just the positive aspects that people don’t always focus on Detroit at times just letting kids play around and being innocent not having any crime or drama occurring in the neighborhood having parents and other family members on the street just coming together and just provide a safe and energetic atmosphere to just let people know this is Detroit this is about the people it’s about the heart of the community even though it was only one time. Hopefully it could’ve been more but.

J: How long did you live there?

C: I okay let me go back I moved there when I was 2 from a house that was in a whole other neighborhood in Detroit but I moved when I was 2 and moved right when I was about to graduate High School so 18?

J: Oh wow okay.

C: So yep, my bad I’m not good at math. (laughs) I don’t know what that number is

J: (laughs) we don’t need specific numbers. You mentioned your parents didn’t let you ride your bikes all around that much you had to ride on the block or just around the blocks um but did you venture around the city at all when you were a kid like in your teens or something?

C: Oh yeah I, definitely appreciate my parents for allowing me to see more of the city like we went downtown sometimes going to Belle Isle was really nice and experience that or even going to campus martius like when were younger going skating during the Holiday season, and I always like concerts growing up so when some of my favorite artists like Taylor Swift was my favorite artist growing up so thankfully my mother was able to go with me at the Palace in Auburn Hills, even though that’s not really in Detroit, that’s one of the things we went to. And then just kind of going to Pistons games of course. Sadly they weren’t in Detroit at the time thankfully now they are finally back in Detroit. I think just kind of venturing out in more Downtown and then like other neighborhoods cause having family that lives around the city being able to go further out on the East side I’m more of a West Side person but now I technically live on the East side of the city. So it was nice having an idea of the environment, but its definitely a diverse city so I’m happy to just be able to see Southwest Detroit and always broadening your horizons.

J: Yeah, did you feel comfortable in the City?

C: Oh yeah I definitely feel at most comfortable here than some other areas cause I feel like here is just like diverse but its to the point that theres support like even the saying Detroit Vs. Everybody I think that everybody here has that heart and hustle to where they just want to see the city doing good, they wanna support local businesses they want the best education for our future, so I think just having conversations with people who know the city and have lived here for years and who grew up with this city even despite the history and obstacles whatever remains here of this time are the reasons I love this city and makes it feel like home.

J: Um, one of the questions is to ask you about the decades you grew up in, it’s only like two decades (laughs) so uh what was Detroit like during the 60s no I’m just kidding

C: Im like decades? Okay I mean I was born in 94 but early 2000s..

J: So has your nade neighborhood you know changed over the years even in your lifetime though or has stayed the same you know how has it changed?

C: I feel like its changed like sometimes, I don’t know if it’s strange but sometimes I will, when I am in the neighborhood because the lady who does my hair is in that area I’ll literally just go down Fielding sometimes simply to drive by my old house and its cool because some of the neighbors are still there from when I was a kid so I feel like people of course theres some new people that moved in I feel like the racial mix-up has changed, at least that people that currently live in our old house, we don’t know them but they’re white so it’s nice to see that there is more diversity or progress in that area and I feel like that though Redford Library the one that we used to go to on 6 mile that had some revitalization as well so like just got new computers and just kind of cleaned it up a little bit and made it more modern and of course with the Meijer on Grand River I feel like there’s just more development which is nice because you can always notice or see the development happen in Downtown or Midtown to see have it in the neighborhoods especially ones that you grown up in and you can go back and see some of the changes it’s nice. I still feel like I appreciate very much that some of the same local businesses are still there and even just some of the same faces because that makes you feel like you’re not a stranger in your own neighborhood or community and it really just brings about the reason why it feels such like home, because you need familiar territory to feel like your going home to so I definitely see the growth but I definitely feel like there’s things that are staying the same which I am happy for.

J: Right so it’s growing with the people still in there?

C: Mhmm

J: It’s not excluding them it’s taking them with them and they are willing to go with them too

C: exactly completely agree it’s more like the neighborhood is growing and having more opportunities and at the same time it’s still being courteous and getting community input and not just changing things and throwing people out so I feel like that’s one of the reasons why it continues and has been successful because it feels like people care there about each other they care about the businesses and that the community is a reflection of what’s there now and has been there in the past.

J: Nice, have you ever thought about moving away from Detroit, I mean you went to Central Michigan you mentioned so you didn’t stay in the city for school?

C: I did have the option I had the choice between Wayne State and CMU but I wanted to get away just so I had that distance but funny story is that distance made me really want to come back home like after graduating from Central. Like my family is Southfield now and I knew that I wanted to come back to the city and coincidentally I ended up working here which is perfect because Im learning about so much more about the history of the City, But it felt so good to just be home honestly I don’t think I’ll be here, you know probably for like the next ten years. I love Detroit Michigan you know it’s cool, but I feel like theres other theres just so much else out there that I want to see and do and that’s not a shade or anything to the city sometimes you just gotta challenge yourself, but right now it feels great to be home and a part of a new community, and visit my old community and still have roots there.

J: So was it just more like you wanted to get away get out of the house a little bit get some separation from your parents or whatever?

C: Yeah kinda just get away and Central had a really good Journalism program and I got a full ride scholarship there and so it just. It was god’s plan. (laughs)

J: (laughs) so what prompted your move your senior year in High School to you know get out of your neighborhood?

C: My parents were looking to get a new uh I don’t know how much they were paying for the house but they were looking to see if they could get a bigger house for around the same price point that they were paying so they looked around in the area but in Southfield they found a bigger house with more space and not too much of a price difference versus where they were living on Fielding versus off of 10 mile. So as a kid you go you just follow your parents, so it was bittersweet to leave but at the same time it was nice to see a new change in scenery but I always felt like I was still there because my grandparents still have their business and my hairdressers still here and some of the places I still go to visit people here, my best friend is here, so even though I have that physical distance from the city I still feel like my street was what brought me back because I was here multiple times a week

J: Nice, when someone says the neighborhoods what does that mean to you?

C: When I think of the neighborhoods I think of the people, I think of the heart and soul of Detroit, and I think of the people that have never left the city even though it changes so drastically in certain areas when I hear neighborhoods I always just kind of think familiarity or jus the idea of something evolving but still staying true to its natural roots so I think it’s the heart I think it’s the hustle and I think it’s the core of what makes Detroit Detroit, is the neighborhoods because that’s the representation of the people.

J: How do you feel about the state of your neighborhood today? Not the one that your living in but the one that you lived in.

C: Mmhmm yep umm I take I feel good I take pride in that neighborhood I definitely feel like that neighborhood like every neighborhood has issues that are still trying to be resolved but I feel like with that space specifically there is so much potential as well as so much growth because even just driving down it I can see and feel a difference and at the same time just seeing the community and how people still support one another makes me proud to say I am from that neighborhood and it makes me proud to know that I can always return to that neighborhood even though I don’t live there, I’ll still feel connected cause there’s some areas that you go to where you were connected before but jus taren’t anymore so I am grateful in that sense that I can still feel connected to the neighborhood I grew up in.

J: Yeah um what would you like to see happen with your neighborhood?

C: I think it would be nice and I don’t know because it probably already have something like this in existence but kind of just more neighborhood appreciation events I know of Rise Detroit and Luther Kieth which is phenomenal that they have neighborhood day and you can go out and just go out and clean up or just support local businesses, but it would be nice to kind of even have an oral history project, have people that live there and lived there in the past to really just kind of communicate and jjust share the history because I think it would be nice to have an event where people just learn from other people who lived in that area just so we can all see from different points of views because I’m sure theres things that changed that people who currently live there can say which I had no clue of. So I would want to set up that space for communication would really just draw people together and would really connect the new Detroiters and old Detroiters cause some people probably recently moved there a few years ago so I think it’s a good way to help bring together the city.

J: If you could get a project done in that part of your neighborhood, what would it be?

C: Mmm it would definitely be the coming together kind of like what I just said just kind of getting people together and communicating just story telling like lets just call it story telling in your neighborhood and you just learn.

J: Yeah a performance block party maybe with a little stage at the end of it.

C Yeah you know have another block party there’s some times when it’s pretty warm outside like it’s okay right now but definitely not in the winter.

J: (laughs) yeah.

C: But I think that would be cool a block party in the neighborhood.

J: How do you feel about the state of the city today?

C: I feel indifferent, I am very proud to be a Detroiter and to wanna work at the DHS and be able to learn more about it and connect to different communities through the museum and I am excited because I feel like there is a lot of positive thing happening in the city and at the same time it’s a little bittersweet because there is some change that’s happening that doesn’t benefit people as a whole just certain people so I think there’s areas which can be improved upon, but I am choosing to remain optimistic.

J: Yeah that’s a good way to go about it, um let me just look at the time real quick, alright I will ask you a couple of more questions if that’s okay

C: Oh yeah

J: So, where what neighborhood do you live in now would you say?

C: Now I live in Lafayette Park which is formally Blackbottom

J: Okay oh okay okay yeah a lot of other people I think two people have Lafayette Park and you moved there what a couple of years ago?

C: I moved there actually a little over a year now, I been here a little over a year and a few months, so it’s been good.

J: What brought you to that neighborhood?

C: Honestly I wanted to come back to Detroit that was one of my goals and I wanted to be closer to my job so it’s not too far from the historical museum and its right by the Eastern Market which is really cool and a lot of other local businesses so it just felt like a wonderful spot to be in and I just felt like it was the most ideal choice, and it was reasonably priced (says doubtfully)

J: ehhh there was a little shrug there (laughs) what is it like? Is it integrated?

C: Oh yeah this neighborhood is like an influx of I feel new Detroiters and old Detroiters cause there’s some people that have been living there for years like some over a decade like this is just their home and it’s always nice to meet those people and just hear some of the stories they’ll mention and it’s really cool to meet the new people who have recently moved to Detroit and they might be going to school or working at Quicken Loans but to hear about what they’re adding to the city so it’s definitely a very integrated very diverse from a racial standpoint as well as just with age I think it’s definitely a nice central part of the city with a lot to offer the city and I like it a lot

J: What do you do for fun there?

C: Well now that I am closer to downtown its really nice because now I can hit up all the music venues like you’ll see me at some concerts and its nice to have the Pistons my dad got some tickets to the Pistons they’re back here hopefully they’ll actually have a good season, but anyways I am excited for that one going to the games the Lions pf course Comerica Park it’s just nice I feel like I can do aa lot of different things, and then not being too far away from the museums. Going to the Eastern Market to do some local shopping so I think it’s definitely a great central spot where you can just kind of get out and there’s always something going on whether it’s Downtown or going further in the East side I’m enjoying it.

J: Speaking of shopping, where do you go shopping now? Is there a local grocery store in Lafayette Park Or?

C: Well I still like Meijer the Meijer I go to is the 8 mile Meijer in Detroit so it’s thankfully it’s within the city limits so I’ll go to that one for grocery shopping, but for clothing honestly I still I’m a fan of the mall, I still find myself going to like Fairlane or Twelve Oaks but for local shopping there’s also a Lafayette booze which is right next to the apartment so sometimes I will go there it’s nice because it’s really convenient and its not far at all it’s within walking distance of the apartment so there, Eastern Market, and the Meijer on 8 mile.

J: Have you talked to anybody about how Lafayette Park has changed over the years or no? Just like

C: Ummm the only people I have talked to mainly people from here which is mainly telling me what Lafayette Park was before it was Lafayette Park which is Blackbottom. So I think that history is important and I would promote to anybody currently living there because I mean that neighborhood has its own story that I think every Detroiter should know, but outside of that I’m still, I need to explore Lafayette Park more there’s a lot going on and so many changes but it seems like a really interesting neighborhood because of its diverse mix-up.

J: Right, so you think its changing quite a bit right now like they’re getting a lot of like is there new buildings or what’s changed?

C: uhh I heard that they’re building I think it was a new Meijer, I don’t know something on the TV a new Meijer in Lafayette Park there’s no need for me to go to the one on 8 mile so that will be nice to have that there. I think theres just the changing like you said, add the new buildings of course they’re always adding new apartments, I think that just trying to capitalize off of the different resources that can be available to the people in the area.

J: Alright is there anything you would like to say in closing about your old or your new neighborhood?

C: I would just say to for anyone in Detroit regardless for how long you’ve been here I would make it a point to at least it’s one of my points to really explore the different neighborhoods because I think what’s great about Detroit really goes beyond just what’s Downtown and what’s in the Midtown area. I think if you really want to experience authenticity and really get to know the people and really be able to support how this city has continued to stand strong in the past decades you find that in the neighborhoods so I strongly recommend just going out exploring the different districts really supporting local businesses and really just taking the time to talk to people and see from their point of view because that’s where I believe that’s where you find Detroit’s stories

J: Nice, Sweet, Thank you very much.

C: No problem, great questions, my bad

End of Interview 30:21

Search Terms

Detroit, Michigan, Northwest, Oral History


“Charnae Sanders,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed December 8, 2023,

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