If you’re driving around the city, you’re not going to find Six Mile Road in Detroit. A little-known fact for some is that Six Mile actually stops at the Detroit border.
The road in reference becomes McNichols, named after John McNichols, the former president of the University of Detroit, who led the charge to move the institution from downtown to Six Mile on the city’s northwest side. The street name changed in his honor following McNichols’ death in 1932.
And, with mile roads that stretch east and west across the Metro Detroit Area, the mile roads have a belonging or attachment to people who live along or near the route lines in which they cross.
There is a certain connection to the mile road itself. This is true for Eight Mile, a borderline highway separating a predominantly Black Detroit from white suburban communities. The name of the major roadway became the title of the 2002 movie 8 Mile, featuring rapper Eminem.
The movie chronicled elements of his life, a white rapper attempting to launch a music career in a Hip-Hop genre largely dominated by a Black audience. The title name of the movie became a reference for so many people nationally as they connected the title to the city of Detroit.
Just as much as the name of a street has become a movie, just two miles south, the name of the street became the name of a Detroit gang.
Earlier this spring, the leader of the “6 Mile Chedda Grove” was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Edwin Mills, aka “Edboy,” and ten other members of the “6 Mile Chedda Grove” gang were indicted in 2016 for racketeering offenses.
The “guns and drugs take the lives of far too many people in our communities, and Edwin Mills –
as a leader of the ‘6 Mile Chedda Grove’ gang – contributed to the devastating impact of both
on Detroit’s Eastside,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit
The city’s sometimes cold streets are the harsh reality for some people growing up with street culture as a way of life. Street life is so engrained in one much so to form a gang with the area street one resides near as the origin of one’s violent gang and territory.
Some of the realities of that life are what inspired the creators behind a new drama TV series, 6 MILE, a new project by Executive Producer Delano Glass and Filmmaker Big Willow. The series intertwines the city’s music scene with its gritty streets. A special premiere showing chronicled a brother’s ambition to seek revenge for the street perpetrators who murdered his sibling and choosing his “ride-or-die” friends from the block to make a move.
The new 6 MILE series is directed by Daris D. McKinney and led by a Black cast, as well as independent filmmakers who are passionate about showcasing an authentic reality of one of Detroit’s most infamous “miles.”
“In order for it to be authentic, it has to come from us,” Glass says. “A lot of the things that we write about or portray are the things we lived, seen, or know about. In order to make it genuine, it has to come from us.”
An interesting point coming from Glass since he and his business partner on this project, Big Willow, were both raised on 6 Mile. Glass recounts the rough realities mirrored in the film from his time growing up to present-day pockets of the notorious street and how things have evolved and changed over time.
“When I was growing up, it was a little on the rough side, but currently, 2023 Six Mile, there’s a lot of new construction, a lot of new development, which is a god thing to see. Six Mile actually looks gorgeous now, especially in the Livernois/Six Mile area. I really like how the neighborhood has come up since then,” he said.
Again, you won’t find signage of Six Mile in Detroit, but he’s referring to the city of Detroit’s efforts to revive a particular corridor with a new investment dubbed the McNichols Streetscape Project. It’s a completed streetscape stretching from Greenlawn to Livernois. If you drive or take a strolling walk-by, you’ll find new sidewalks, lighting, landscaping, resurfaced street and pavement markings, and new signage.
The show doesn’t yet have a premiere date, but the evolution from a rough road to a bustling epicenter of commerce is what the producers and filmmakers set out to capture with this series, which will ultimately showcase the unbreakable connection to how people view and rep their territory, and, in this case particularly, 6 MILE.