Category Archives: Events

Immigrant families at risk if Trump keeps promises

Don’t despair. Organize!

Join Michigan United and our partners as we work to resist deportations.

Michigan Sanctuary Movement 

Are you or your congregation interested in providing sanctuary for immigrants in danger of deportation? CLICK HERE  to become part of the statewide movement to protect immigrant families.

 Michigan United statewide strategy summit-December 10th

We have a lot of work to do, and we need to get organized. Please cjoin our statewide strategy summit, co-sponsored with the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center. CLICK HERE to be part of the discussion on how we can resist the deportations, support families, and develop strategies for how we can stand up for justice and dignity for all. 

Strategy Summit

Saturday, December 10
12:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Trinity Lutheran Church
1400 W. Stadium
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

If we stand together, they cannot divide us.

An evening of prayer and reconciliation with Michigan United’s Detroit Pastoral Alliance for Change

A religious event hosted by the Michigan United group Detroit Pastoral Alliance for Change (DPAC) took on added significance with the shooting of two black men by police and the shooting of five police officers by a black man last week. DPAC had hoped to confront the rising racial tensions brought on by divisive political rhetoric when unresolved issues of systemic racism reared their ugly head yet again.

“If we stand together, they cannot divide us” will feature a performance by the predominantly white Refuge Youth Choir of the First Baptist Church of Jefferson City, MO at the Triumphant Life Christian Church in the predominantly black community of Highland Park, MI. Pastors of both races will directly confront how racism affects us all.

“If we stand together, they cannot divide us” racial reconciliation service

Deacon Charles Thomas,Evangel Ministries
Pastor Harvey Presberry,Canfield Church of God
Rev. Sharon Buttry,Associate Dir., Training and Education International Hope Center
Pastor Kevin Johnson, Calvary Presbyterian Church
Apostle Velma Clopton,Victory In The Truth, Mesa, AZ
Apostle Joseph Hobbs, Triumphant Life Christian Church
Bishop Herman Starks,Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit
Refuge Youth Choir of the First Baptist Church of Jefferson City, MO

7PM July 11th, 2016

Triumphant Life Christian Church
13254 Thompson, Highland Park, MI 48203

Interfaith Vigil for Orlando Victims, Families, Survivors

Diverse gathering of LGBTQ, faith leaders, community leaders and elected leaders

Detroit’s LGBTQ community was joined by a variety of clergy, community leaders and an elected leader at Clark Park Monday evening in the wake of the recent tragedy in Orlando. Islamic and Christian clergy spoke and prayed together along with community leaders from ACCESS, Sugar Law Center and State Representative Stephanie Chang. The theme of the event was to promote unity, love and faith based values to counter bigotry, hatred and extremism. 
The prayer vigil will take place at 6 this evening at the Clark Park Band Shell near the west side of the Park. 


Rashida Tlaib of Sugar Law Center
Rashida Tlaib of Sugar Law Center

“We must embrace one another across divides of faith, gender identity and color to counter violence and extremism,” said Rashida Tlaib of Sugar Law Center. “We gather here today to pray for the victims of the Orlando mass murder and for their loved ones in this very grim hour and we gather to say we will not succumb to bigotry and hatred no matter the source whether it’s from outside or inside our nation.” 

The prayer vigil in Southwest Detroit featured a wide slate of speakers including Rev. Dr. Jill Zundel, Central United Methodist Church Rev. Jack Eggleston, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Southeast, Rev. Marcia Ledford, Episcopal Church of Detroit, Hassan Sheikh, Michigan Muslim Community Council, Rachid Elabed, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services Adonis Flores, Michigan United, State Representative Stephanie Chang and Detroit City Council Member Raquel Castañeda-López


Rev. Juan Perez Latino Missioner for Episcopal Diocese of Michigan
Rev. Juan Perez Latino Missioner for Episcopal Diocese of Michigan

“As a person of faith and a member of the LGBTQ community it’s very heartening to see people from across the spectrum of faith, color and gender identity stand against the type of intolerance and destruction we saw devastate the Orlando community,” said Rev. Juan Perez Latino Missioner for Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. “The intolerant, no matter their ideology or origin, cannot prevail against us as long as we are unified. Americans that are Muslims, Christians, Americans of Asian, Latino, Arab and African descent, we have power when we stand together and speak out to sustain one another beyond the devastation and work to prevent violence and division with unity.”  

Capitol Day 2016

Join hundreds of Michigan United leaders and allies from across the state as we take over Lansing in the name of economic, environmental, and racial justice!

Click here to register for Capitol Day 2016 NOW!

We will meet with our legislators to push for grassroots solutions to injustices our communities face. Following the meetings, we will join with allies from across the state to amplify our voices against those causing pain in our communities by carrying out a DIRECT ACTION.

Michigan United will provide buses for transportation from Detroit and Kalamazoo. Detroit will depart from 6451 Schaefer Rd, Dearborn & Kalamazoo will depart from their office at 1009 E Stockbridge Ave, Kalamazoo. A logistics email will be sent to all registered attendees a week before the event with many details, including depart times and locations.

Please click here to register if you plan to attend. A space to enter attendees’ names will appear once you choose how many places you would like to reserve. Please include the names of everyone for whom you reserve a spot.

A light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Please indicate any dietary restrictions when registering.

Childcare will also be provided. Please indicate if you will require childcare, along with their names and ages. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide childcare for children under the age of 2 years.

This is a FREE event. However, we greatly appreciate donations to help offset the costs. Click here to donate now! A donation of $60 more makes you an official member in good standing!

For additional information about Capitol Day 2016, please contact our office, 877-507-7774, ext 725 or email

Fair Chance for All ‘Tailgate & Takeover’ the Kalamazoo City Commission

Area families tell stories of incarceration, urge City Commission to vote on non-discriminatory hiring policy

While tailgating is nothing new to Kalamazoo, a ‘Tailgate & Takeover’ party held Monday night outside city hall wasn’t to support the Broncos. Rather, residents were there to cheer for their families to have a fair chance at turning their lives around and land good jobs once they’ve paid their debt to society. The event’s host, Michigan United’s ‘Fair Chances for All’ (FC4A) campaign has delved into mass incarceration and the effect that it has on families, specifically, on Kalamazoo families’ access to educational and economic opportunities.

The city of Kalamazoo took a step to address this issue in 2011 with a policy that removed questions about criminal history from municipal employment applications.  FC4A hopes to see it expand to the private sector as well.

IMG_7105“Banning the box in Kalamazoo has been great for low income communities and not just for residents returning from serving their sentences.” Said FC4A member, Katryce Brown.

“It’s time for the City of Kalamazoo to take up our ‘Fair Chance Policy’ and carry that success forward. We’re not the only ones who want to see this expand into the private sector.The private sector does too! Building healthy communities is just good business.”

“Imagine if our community valued people based off the sum total of their accomplishes as opposed to the mistakes that they made during a period of their life when they were broken,” Kalamazoo City Commissioner Erin Knott said, “I am supporting the fair Chance policy, because this the right thing for individuals and families in Kalamazoo.”

“Kalamazoo has a reputation for being a leader in equity.” Brown said. “Let’s continue to be a place where all families have equity and opportunity. That is what Kalamazoo is really all about.”

‘Tailgate & Takeover’ party Monday night at Kalamazoo City Commission

Local families to tell stories of incarceration, seek vote on non-discriminatory hiring policy.

Residents will come together Monday to push for better employment for family members in Kalamazoo who have already repaid their debts to society. Several candidates for City Commission ran with the intention of putting “Fair Chance” legislation on the agenda. The issue has yet to come up since their election.

Those Commissioners and the people they represent will grill and chill before the city’s next meeting. Participants will then go inside to speak during the public comment period and encourage the Commission to take up legislation prohibiting employers who receive city tax benefits from requiring criminal background checks in order to work in most occupations.

Kalamazoo Commission Meeting tailgate party

Kalamazoo residents with local economic concerns.
City Commissioners
Shannon Sykes,
Erin Knott,
Don Cooney,
Jack Urban
Matt Milcarek

Party at 5:30PM, Public Comment at 7PM

Kalamazoo City Hall,
241 W South St
Kalamazoo, MI 49007


Hungry for Racial Justice?

Structural racism impacts all of us at some level. Besides the way we each experience it individually, it affects our family and it attacks our community. And since it is structural, this racism infuses many of the institutions we must interact with on a daily basis. As a result, it has a profound influence in our lives that we are usually not even aware of.

That’s why Michigan United is forming a Racial Justice core team. We want to band together to identify and eliminate the many forms racism takes in our everyday lives.

Please come to the Michigan United office at 4405 Wesson in Southwest Detroit on Tuesday, January 12th at 5:30PM for a potluck dinner. Meet the newest member of the Michigan United team, Dorthea Thomas our Environmental Justice organizer. Elder Leslie Mathews and other members of our Detroit Pastoral Alliance for Change (DPAC) will be there, fresh from their victory to restore the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners and looking for the next structural change to be made.

After the meal, we’ll have a discussion on the topic of Mass Incarceration.  What are the impacts it has on your life? What are the root causes? What can we do to stop the ‘School to Prison Pipeline’?

If you have friends who are interested in seeking racial justice in Detroit, please forward this message on to them. There is also an event on Facebook with all the details there too.

Hope to see you there!
Michigan United team

Michigan makes Christmas wish for justice.

US Supreme Court hears cries from across the state for them to consider case holding up immigration action.

In gatherings across Michigan that were part of an even larger national day of action, families and leaders urged the US Supreme Court to review the  legal challenge standing in the way of President Obama’s reforms intended to keep immigrant families together. Michigan United organized events in Detroit, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids while Action Lansing held theirs in the state’s capitol. Many participants signed giant holiday cards and included messages for the Justices asking them to hear this historic case.

“This Supreme Court must step up and take this case because it is so pivotal to millions of families,” said Vanessa Gutierrez of Grand Rapids, a DACA recipient and immigration reform advocate. “In the end we need comprehensive immigration reform to stop the senseless, anti-immigrant legal attack from Attorney General Bill Schuette and others. For now, we need the High Court to review the challenge to those attacks.”

Michigan’s Attorney General, Bill Schuette joined other attorneys general in court actions that blocked immigrant families from deportation relief. The delays dragged on for months after the reforms were supposed to begin, complicating an already rigorous process designed to keep families together.

“We believe President Obama has the authority to grant temporary relief from deportation to immigrant families. We need the Supreme Court to hear this case and decide,” said Theresa Tran of Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote – Michigan. “These are people who have been working diligently to provide for their families, to support their communities and to stay together as families. There is not a more American value than the right of families to be families and that is what this case is about.”

SAM_7083“Millions of families like mine need the Supreme Court to take up this case,” said Cindy Garcia of Detroit, a UAW member with an immigrant husband. “My husband, the father of our two children is in danger of being taken from us. It’s not an academic question. Our family is one of literally millions that needs the Court to decide this case.”

“The humane thing to do is for the Supreme Court to take this case,” said Celeste Salvador a DACA recipient who is now a social worker in Kalamazoo and whose parents could benefit from Administrative Relief. “The ‘what if?’ questions are always in the back of my mind. The worries that, one day, I won’t be able to visit, hug, or speak to my parents haunts me. I’m thankful to be spending another holiday season with them this year. I sincerely hope it is not the last. That is why I want the Supreme Court to weigh in, to take the case. No one should have to fear that one day they would not be able to see their parents again.”

12370831_1063206550376551_3977986311119718724_o“We sent a card with greetings, but this is completely serious. The fate of millions of families will be affected by the Court’s decision to take this case or not,” said Allison Colberg of Michigan United. “What could be more important than whether or not 5 million people get to stay with their loved ones? This case strikes at the very core of family and community and so it needs to be taken up by the court.”

Click here to listen to speeches made in Detroit. The files can also be downloaded and are suitable for broadcast.

Michigan United puts the power in the hands of the people

Statewide convention brings hundreds of community leaders together with elected officials

Michigan United held its annual statewide convention Saturday in Southwest Detroit. The theatre across from St. Francis D’Assisi church was filled to the rafters with immigrants, faith leaders and union members from the UAW, SEIU, Teamsters and the Michigan Nurses Association. There was also a strong contingent from the Detroit Action Commonwealth, low-income and homeless people fighting for their right to live with dignity.  “
No one else is working to build a statewide multi-racial organization like ours.” said Freddy Polanco, SEIU organizer and Michigan United board member. “No one else is taking on the toughest issues of poverty, racism, and inequality head on. I am so proud to be part of this team.”

They all came together to remember the fights they’ve been through together, like when they stood up to armed, white nationalists who wanted to send refugee children back into the violence they were fleeing. They also celebrated the resulting victories from the past year, like the President’s decision to stop breaking up families by deporting innocent immigrants, getting boarder patrol officers to wear body cameras and restoring the authority of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners.

Alexis Wiley, Chief of Staff for Detroit Mayor, Mike Duggan was on hand at the City Council meeting where they voted unanimously to pass the resolution to restore the board in December to express the Mayor’s support for the move.  She also stood in for the Mayor at the convention where she was able to publicly state Duggan’s position on municipal ID’s.  The identifications would help those with documentation problems, like the homeless and immigrants, to access critical social services. Wiley said “No one in this city should be forced to live in the margins.”

Another battle Michigan United is currently engaged in is the fight to end mass incarceration and keep youth out of the pipeline that leads from school into prison.  “The present prison system destroys families, communities and futures. Mass incarceration is maybe the clearest example of unequal justice in our country.” said Rev. Louis Forsythe II of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church. “People of color, African-Americans and Latinos, receive the short end of thestick on almost every level. The police treat us differently, more aggressively, and profile us more often because of the color of our skin. We get longer sentences than whites for similar crimes. Instead of investing in Job training, opportunities, education and strong communities, our government has built prisons and enacted longer sentences.”

Recently, a bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers introduced a package of bills to do just that.  Most notably, it would prevent 17 year olds from automatically being sentenced as adults. Three of the bill’s sponsors, Martin Howrylack, Leslie Love and Harvey Santana were on stage at the convention.

12068482_1038589792838227_1851017186755628853_o“There’s an attorney general in this state who says ‘To hell with that package’.” Said Santana. “But I do believe there are people in this state that are going to stand up and say ‘You had better listen to what those folks in Lansing are saying because this ain’t right.’ and those people are you!”

Currently, Michigan is one of just nine states that considers 17 year olds adults for sentencing purposes although they are not considered adults for any other legal reason.  At the courts discretion, they can treat ids of any age as grown ups.

“They can not serve in the military, they can not even vote, “Said Howrylak. “and yet, as young as 11 years old, for some reason this country, this state has decided that these kids should be treated like hard criminals and adults.  What kind of Justice is that?”

12068716_1038589052838301_8036211730179485033_o“It’s beyond time we change the way we sentence and punish youth”. Said Love.  “We should give them opportunities to become something in life instead of sentencing them at 17 and making them serve adult time in adult prisons.”

Kendall Campbell of “Fair Chance 4 All” in Kalamazoo described how his organization worked with Michigan United to begin undoing the damage created by mass incarceration in his community by getting the City of Kalamazoo to require all businesses that receive tax breaks and incentives to commit to non-discriminatory hiring practices for people with criminal backgrounds. To do this, they worked with Humans Beyond Boxes, a local storytelling collective of people with criminal backgrounds to tell the stories of families facing incarceration. They also met with Kalamazoo Mayor, Bobby Hopewell to encourage him to endorse their idea.

Michigan United also held a voter forum in conjunction with the League of Women Voters which gave candidates could publicly take a position on the issue.  Majyck D, a popular Kalamazoo radio personality served as moderator. “I have seen too many families torn apart by our incarceration system. “ said Majyck D. “I have seen too many children in my community robbed of their childhood, and treated like they are less than Human. Our government shouldn’t be locking up our children and giving up on their futures.”