Oral History Interview with Mark Crain on July 18, 2020

Oral History Interview with Mark Crain on July 18, 2020



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Crain, Mark


Cook, Ayesha; Perkins, Dr. Alisa (Research Director)


Oral history interview with Mark Crain conducted by Ayesha Cook on July 18, 2020. Interview written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Ayesha Cook. Mark Crain was born in Detroit, Michigan in July of 1988 into a family that has lived in Detroit for four generations. His maternal grandfather worked for Mayor Coleman Young’s administration, and his paternal grandfather opened Detroit’s first Black-owned locksmith shop, which has stayed in the family for decades. Crain was raised as a Presbyterian, and converted to Islam while he was a student at Northwestern University, where he focused on African-American studies and political science. After graduation, Crain joined the Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) in Chicago where he served as a community organizer. He also worked as a campaign director for MoveOn, an organization combining political and civic advocacy. In 2013, Crain moved back to Detroit with his family and took on a leadership position with the neighborhood revitalization organization Dream of Detroit where he now serves as executive director. In the interview, Crain reflects on his experiences raising a family in an intentional community in close proximity to the Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center. He details Dream of Detroit’s accomplishments in recent years, including their efforts to advocate for all Detroiters while promoting housing accessibility, increasing housing density, and fostering community life in Dream of Detroit’s target area.

Date of Interview


Location of Interview

Detroit, MI (Interview conducted over Zoom)


African-American history, African-American Muslims, African-American Studies, Albanian Islamic Center of Michigan, Arkansas, Artists’ residency, Ashura Board, Baptist Church, Black church, Black labor movement, Black Power, Black Student Affairs, Black Student Union, Black-owned business, Bloomfield Hills, Calvin Presbyterian Church, Campaign director, Cass Mosque, Catholic Church, Catholic school, Chicago, Christianity, Civic engagement, Hillary Clinton, Coalition for Property Tax Justice, Community development, Community organizing, Community organizing workshop, Community partnerships, Conversion to Islam, COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19 testing, Cranbrook Schools, Dar Al-Rahma, Dearborn, Detroit, Digital organizing, Dream of Detroit, Mayor Mike Duggan, East Side Detroit, Economic development, Entrepreneurship training, Evanston, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Generational transition, Great Migration, Habib Umar bin Hafiz, Halal Metropolis, Hamtramck, Hanstein Elementary School, Health Unit on Davison, Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad, Home foreclosures, Housing justice, Housing rehabilitation, Housing segregation, HUDA Clinic, Illinois, Indus Community Action Network (ICAN), Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), Interfaith work, Interfaith Youth Core, Islam, Islam in America, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Job fair, Job training, Khaleel Shaheed Quartet, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lakota people, Locksmith shop, Locksmithery, Longfellow Block Club, Marquette Park, Michigan, Michigan Democratic Party, Millennium Park, Mississippi, Mixed-income multi-ethnic community, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, Mosque governing board, Motown Museum, MoveOn, Multi-generational business ownership, Muslim Americans, Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center, Muslim Student Association, Muslim-led community organizing, Muslims, Rami Nashashibi, Neighborhood clean up, Neighborhood rehabilitation, Neighborhood revitilization, Neighborly Needs, Non-profit organizing, Northwestern University, President Barack Obama, One Be Lo, One Chicago, One Nation, Pakastani-American community, Political activism, Political science, Presbyterian Christianity, Prosperous Detroit, Racism, Religious leadership, Reversion to Islam, School government, Judge Adam Shakoor, Skilled trades, Social justice, Social justice work, South Dakota, Southwest Chicago, Street fair, Street festival, Takin’ It to the Streets, Transitional housing, Tree planting, Volunteering, Wayne State University Islamic Center of Detroit, Web design company, West Side Detroit, White supremacy culture, Woodrow Wilson Street, Jeremiah Wright, Jr., Shaykh AbdulKarim Yayha, Mayor Coleman Young


African American Studies | Africana Studies | American Studies | Civic and Community Engagement | Digital Humanities | Islamic Studies | Nonprofit Administration and Management | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Religion | Urban Studies and Planning


Interview conducted online over Zoom by Ayesha Cook. Written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Ayesha Cook, facilitated by Dr. Alisa Perkins and Ismaeel Dhul-Quranayn. Video Edited by: Mandy Weiss. Transcribed by: Jack Reeves and Dr. Alisa Perkins. Transcription edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins. Metadata by: Sophia Wimberley. Metadata edited by Dr. Alisa Perkins



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Rights Statement

Dream of Detroit Interviews were made possible by funding from the Pillars Grant and Whiting Foundation. Content is for educational purposes only and non-reproducible; interviews are not to be duplicated, but may be linked through ScholarWorks with appropriate attribution. Please direct any questions about copyright to scholarworks@wmich.edu.


Pillars Fund and Whiting Foundation


Dream of Detroit

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Oral History Interview with Mark Crain on July 18, 2020