Through a time capsule, the past speaks to the present

Opened Detroit Century Box reveals hopeful hearts and visions of the 21st century

A HUNDRED YEARS AGO, the mayor of Detroit, Michigan, in the United States, invited 55 prominent citizens, mostly men, to write messages for the future—100 years ahead, in fact. Their comments were to be sealed in a time capsule that wouldn't be opened until early in January 2001. Participants included, among others, James E. Scripps, founder of The Detroit News; Annie Knott of the Christian Science Church; Malcolm J.McLeod, president of Detroit's Trades Council; Sara Skinner, suffragist; D. Augustus Straker, black lawyer, jurist, and social activist; and Detroit Mayor William C. Maybury.

In his greeting to those who would open the "Century Box" a hundred years in the future, the mayor spoke of the wonders of his day—the telegraph and telephone, electricity, and the then-speedy train travel that carried people from Detroit to Chicago in less than eight hours. He asked, "How much faster are you traveling? How much farther have you annihilated time and space and what agencies are you employing to which we are strangers?"

Mayor Maybury concluded his greeting, "May we be permitted to express one supreme hope—that whatever failures the coming century may have in the progress of things material, you may be conscious when the century is over that, as a nation, people and city, you have grown in righteousness, for it is this that exalts a nation."

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March 19, 2001

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