Toss a dart at a map of Detroit, and the bull's-eye, more or less, would be a tiny city called Highland Park. Only three square miles, Highland Park is surrounded by Detroit on nearly all sides, but it remains its own sovereign municipality thanks largely to Henry Ford, who started building Model Ts there in 1910. Ford didn't care for the idea of paying Detroit taxes, so he pressured Highland Park to resist annexation by the larger city. By the end of the decade, his Albert Kahn-designed factory had revolutionized mass production. Five years later, Walter Chrysler started his own car company a few blocks away.
Sylvia Brown lives in the suburbs now, but she still proudly calls herself a Parker, the local term for a Highland Park native. When Brown was a kid, she'd tell people she lived in the capital of Detroit. Her father worked for the city, and her mother taught at the public elementary school. In high school, Brown played on the volleyball and tennis teams and won a scholarship her junior year to study abroad in Japan. She fretted about traveling such a long distance — she never expected the judges to pick a black girl from Highland Park — but her guidance counselor encouraged her not to be afraid to cross 8 Mile Road, the famous divide between city and suburbs.