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Updated 11:00 AM April 19, 2004
 

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Archer: 'One person can make a difference'


"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."—John F. Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address

Whether it's apathy, a focus on other matters, or lack of time, society isn't embracing Kennedy's message when it comes to public service, said former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer.

He urged audience members—especially students—to seek public service opportunities in his keynote speech April 14 during the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy's 2004 Citigroup Lecture.
Azania Tene Kaduma didn't mind sacrificing a few hours of weekend sleep last summer to improve the lives of Detroit residents.

"One person can make a difference. Everyone has the power to make changes" in the world, he said.

At least one person in the audience already has heeded the call. Azania Tene Kaduma didn't mind sacrificing a few hours of weekend sleep last summer to improve the lives of Detroit residents.

An internship in Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's office kept Kaduma busy with several public service projects, sometimes on Saturdays, such as informing residents about a homeownership program or promoting seatbelt safety among 16- to 30-year-olds.

"I represented the leadership of Detroit, and, as such, my responsibilities did not always fit into a Monday through Friday, nine-to-five schedule," said Kaduma, who graduates next month from the University with a master's degree in public policy.

"The work affirmed my aspirations of being a part of a team that made a difference inside and outside of the office," she said.

Archer spent eight years trying to make a difference in Detroit, serving two four-year terms as mayor from 1994-2001. Since leaving office, he has been chairman of Dickinson Wright PLLC, a Detroit-based law firm with offices in Michigan and Washington, D.C. Archer, who is African American, is president of the American Bar Association—the first person of color elected to that office.

Archer stressed that public service is important in improving the lives of others.

"We don't need a tragedy to mobilize and serve," Archer said, noting the dedication of the armed forces protecting the United States. "We need people like you you can still give back."

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