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rochelle riley

Rochelle Riley is a self-proclaimed writer by trade, warrior by necessity, who spent a quarter century challenging, encouraging and informing during a long-time career as an award-winning newspaper columnist. Now, she guides the City of Detroit’s investment in the arts as Director of Arts and Culture. She is overseeing transformative change across a city that is soaring through travails that might have leveled someplace else. Her office, the Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship, is commissioning murals across the city, transforming underused alleys into community gathering spaces and re-branding Detroit’s talent as a creative workforce. She says that treating artists like the businesses they are is the best way to embolden a new generation of artists to see the creative arts as a career. Rochelle also is writing her third book and will soon visit her 29th country.

Latest News and Updates

MLK JR. Statue Unveiling in Detroit

July 18, 2023

Hart Plaza Gets a New Statue to Commemorate the Fight for Civil Rights

According to Rebecca Salminen-Witt of the Detroit Historical Society and Detroit Historian, Jamon Jordan, more often than not people are surprised to hear that 60 years ago 125,000 people marched down Woodward Avenue to peacefully advocate for racial justice and equity as part of a Walk to Freedom alongside Martin Luther King Jr. The march took them to what was then called Cobo Hall where King delivered a version of his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech two months before delivering it in Washington, D.C. where it became famous.
Statue of Denmark Vesey

July 2, 2023

Denmark Vesey is honored. His slave revolt was thwarted and he was executed

Tucked away on the edge of a city park, miles from historic homes and carriage tours, a bronze statue of Denmark Vesey stands tall among lush palms and live oaks. A flyer for a celebration pokes out from a potted peace lily placed at Vesey’s feet. The man who planned the most sophisticated rebellion by enslaved people in our nation’s history was remembered this weekend in Charleston on the 200th anniversary of his failed uprising and public hanging.
Rochelle Riley

June 24, 2023

Detroit Arts Director joins VIP guests at opening of nation’s newest AA museum

Rochelle was a VIP guest at the grand opening of the International African American Museum (IAAM), on the site where Gadsden’s Wharf, the disembarkation point of up to 40% of all American enslaved persons, once stood. Construction of the IAAM began in January 2020 after 20 years of planning. It is home to 12 permanent exhibitions that include nine galleries, one Special Exhibitions Gallery and an ongoing series of digital exhibitions. It also explores the transformative impact of enslaved people who labored on plantations in South Carolina and helped build the lucrative rice industry.

Author announces major photo exhibit to celebrate African American greatness in history

In honor of Black History Month All Year, Church Street Media is inviting parents to help their children become icons for a new exhibit featuring selected photos of children embodying the spirit of Black heroes. The exhibit was inspired by “That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed The World” by Rochelle Riley, featuring photographs by Cristi Smith-Jones.

Parents and teachers are encouraged to share with their children and students the history of the African Americans they choose, African Americans that all children should know. Then they are invited to help their children dress as these icons and be photographed for a major exhibit in Detroit.

“If we want to change the way America deals with race, we must teach all children all of American history.” – Rochelle Riley

Send photos shot in black and white – and the photo that served as a model – and a letter granting permission for the photo to be included in a public exhibit – to:

Bankable Marketing

Deadline is September 1, 2022

Please enjoy the National Reading of Excerpts from “The Burden”

Please enjoy the National Reading of Excerpts from “The Burden” celebrating the paperback edition of the book. Presented Nov. 17, 2020 with a 40-second opening that allowed audiences to enter. Get your copy where books are sold.

Welcome to the digital home of force of nature, author, essayist and arts advocate Rochelle Riley. She spent nearly a quarter century as a columnist when she left the Detroit Free Press in 2019 to become Director of Arts and Culture for the City of Detroit. But Rochelle remains a writer by trade, warrior by necessity. She is at work completing her first novel and her third book on race.

Letters To Black Girls

“Black girls are under constant attack from racism and sexism. But they can survive. Better: They can thrive. Black women can help girls be healthy and whole if we approach them with love, honesty and vulnerability. There is no more powerful ally for a black girl than a former black girl.”