Featured in Next City

In many ways, Sonya Mays’ story is Detroit’s story.

To escape the oppression of Jim Crow, her parents’ families moved to the Motor City from northern Arkansas and northern Mississippi. “They were able to buy their first home here 40 years ago,” she says. Her mother’s sister became a Detroit police officer (now retired).

As the city’s economy began the long decline that eventually led to bankruptcy, like many of her generation, Mays looked elsewhere to keep moving up. “I had a pretty decent thing going in New York, lived in this cool Brooklyn neighborhood,” she says. She spent years working for Deutsche Bank, rising to the level of vice president for a global division handling major mergers and acquisitions — the dirty work of combining giant corporations, deciding which jobs and assets to cut or keep. Read more