For the New Detroit
If you’ve never heard of me, then I’m honored to introduce myself here. My name is Deon Mixon. I’m 23 years old and I’m a graphic designer, author, and poet from Detroit, MI. I graduated from Western Michigan University with my BFA in Graphic Design and I’m also an alumnus of Cass Technical High School—where I finished as one of the salutatorians and as a Bill Gates Millennium Scholar.
I’m pretty multi-faceted, being skilled at design and writing, and even music and fighting. Besides being a self-published author of three installments of my novel series, the Lethal Creed Saga and a writer of over 100 poems, most which are haiku, the rest free verse-like sonnets, I’m also a violinist, a Krav Maga practitioner, and a Japanese language student.
I have many operations I aim to complete, especially as a creator and altruist who wishes to help others improve their lives by the ideas they want to be realized. One of my recent operations, however, involved improving the life of a city and bringing to fruition an idea I awed about for some time. This operation was to redesign the flag of Detroit and witness its adoption as the new official flag for the city.
Intro: The Flag
This operation dawned as one of my ideas for my BFA Thesis back in 2016. I intended to pursue it anyway; among my ideas, this one was favored and recommended to pursue most. Firstly, I was inspired by a TED Talk on “a scourge of bad city flags that must be stopped!” by designer and podcaster, Roman Mars. Secondly, it didn’t take me long to come to a design that I thought would work best. Finally, after completing my flag design and flag booklet in April 2017, presenting the design, informally, to the City of Council in June 2017, and then gaining considerable press in July 2018, I am now on the verge of probably seeing it meet some official signatures. I have no idea how long it will take and how much more needs to be said and shown to convince the Council to adopt it, but I know I will let up in making sure they and my neighbors are reminded.
The Current Detroit Flag
When designing the new flag, I made sure to extract the most meaningful elements from the current design, deciding to discard the rest because of their low level of significance and relevance. The current flag of Detroit is comprised of the city seal and four quadrants each with symbols representing the nation that once occupied the city. The bottom-left corner holds fleur-de-lis, representing the founding of Detroit on July 24, 1701, by a French explorer, Antoine Cadillac. The top-right corner holds gold lions, representing England’s control of the city in 1760. The top-left and bottom-right corners contain white stars on a blue field and red and white stripes, representing America’s occupation of the city since 1796.
The city seal sits in the center, or charge, of the flag. It contains an illustration of two women beholding a condition of the city and the city’s motto. The woman to the left weeps over a destroyed Detroit, alluding to the accidental fire of 1805 that leveled the town and the woman to the right gestures toward a new Detroit rebuilt stronger than before. The city motto, penned by French priest Gabriel Richard, conveys the message of this depiction, “We hope for better things; it will rise from the ashes.”
Because Detroit has, ultimately, lived up to this comeback city identity, she clearly is best represented by a symbol such as the city seal. But, as one of the five basic principles of good flag design suggests, seals shouldn’t be on flags because they were created to be printed on official documents. They’re too complex anyway and wouldn’t be seen well from a distance if on a flapping of flying flag. The quadrants basically denote European colonialism and this fact doesn’t all resonate with Detroiters today in any meaningful or authentic way. These are just two of several reasons why the current design needs to be replaced.
The Detroit Rise
In my design, the Detroit Rise, there are two essential elements: a path and a star. There are only three colors: black, white, and blue, as opposed to the typical American colors of red, white, and blue, plus the many colors in the city seal. Since Detroit is a city of renaissance, industrialization, and, obviously, resilience, each element in this design easily conveys these attributes and histories.
Black represents resilience. White represents righteousness. Blue represents progression. The five points of, what I call, the industrial star represent the industries Detroit excels in most: the auto industry, music, art and design, life science, and high technology. This star pays homage to industries of Detroit’s past, present, and of her future. The white path is the Rise. It represents the city’s motto (“it will rise from the ashes”) and the Detroit River because Detroit (French, “the strait”) was actually named after the river. Even the Native Americans who originally occupied the Detroit region addressed the area by its river.
The river is also significant because of the many historical and political events and ties that happened and developed there. Slaves would cross over the river to find peace and opportunity in Canada while even some Canadians would come over to find business. As Detroit became more of an industrial powerhouse, it became an international city because of its proximity to Canada, allowing for the US and Canada to execute longtime relations
Simple, clean, and memorable, this design conveys that allude to various critical histories and industries of Detroit—facts that today’s citizen would surely understand and resonate with. Most importantly, Detroit is finally renovating like never before, and so a new flag—and a new flag like this—is so appropriate to include in this grand resurrection. The Detroit Rise is an embodiment of all things to come for Detroit and is a reminder of where Detroit has come from. Detroit is ever rising, always finding new paths to progress on and troubles to ascend above. The Detroit Rise is only flag design that can accurately depict the Spirit of Detroit as we understand it to be. I am grateful Detroit even has a flag, as not all cities have flags, but considering how great Detroit was and how excellent she is now, she truly deserves a new flag to show off her new dignity.
Deon Mixon is a graphic designer, author, and poet from Detroit, MI. He graduated from Western Michigan University with my BFA in Graphic Design and he also is an alumnus of Cass Technical High School—where he finished as one of their salutatorians and as a Bill Gates Millennium Scholar. He has self-published author three installments of his groundbreaking novel series, the Lethal Creed Saga. My nephew Deon is an intelligent young black man who is destined to play a major role in turning around the city of Detroit through his gifts and talents that the Lord has blessed him with.