Category Archives: Events

Michigan residents to lobby representatives on issues affecting their families

‘The People’s Lobby Day’ Michigan United’s 7th annual Capitol Day gathering

The People’s Lobby Day is a day of direct action and participatory democracy. Residents with shared concerns form into teams to confront lawmakers with issues of Criminal Justice Reform, The Long Term Care Study Bill (HB4674), Universal Family Care, Medicare for All, Water for Flint, and Immigration.

A  rally will be held in the city hall plaza at 12:30 PM when participants in The People’s Lobby Day will welcome pilgrimages for immigrant families that walked from Detroit and Kalamazoo to the capitol.

A 90-mile “Pilgrimage to Keep Families Together” kicked of in Detroit on Monday, May 14th, from the church where Ded Rranxburgaj (RAHNS-bur-guy) has sought sanctuary from deportation.He is the sole caretaker for his wife Flora, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair for mobility. The First Congregational church in Kalamazoo has been walking for Saheeda Perveen Nadeem who has been taking sanctuary in their church. If deported, Saheeda would return to a country where she would face the threat of violence with no family support.

The Rally will conclude with the announcement of a planned direct action to address the Flint Water Crisis. In years past, members have occupied the Governor’s building, the office of the speaker of the house and formed a bucket brigade carrying water out of the Capitol building. This year’s action will address the shutdown of bottled water distribution pods.

 

The People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Future

Candidates challenged with issues by the people they affect

Thousands of people from across Michigan packed the sanctuary of Detroit’s Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church Saturday to hear from four of the candidates vying to lead the state in 2018. Democrats Bill Cobbs, Abdul El-Sayed, Gretchen Whitmer were joined by Republican Patrick Colbeck on stage to explain their positions on criminal justice reform, environmental justice, education, care, immigration and workers rights at the event co-sponsored by more than 70 community organizations.

The People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Future was moderated by Rev. Dee Dee Coleman, President of the Baptist Pastors Council of Detroit and Vicinity, and Detroit Free Press journalist Niraj Warikoo. But as important as the answers they gave were the people who posed the questions.

WENDY KYLES of Detroit asked “What will you do as Governor to reduce air pollution in overburdened communities, like mine, and throughout our state?” Kyles, who lives in the 48217 zip code, suffers from the worst air quality in the state due to the nearby Marathon oil refinery. Her mother died from emphysema even though never smoked a cigarette in her life.

Arthur Howard is a returning citizen who is working hard to be a productive member of the community. He pointed out that Michigan has seen a reduction in spending on post-release services in the past few years while states like California and Colorado are instead are investing in programs like prison diversion and community enrichment to help the formerly incarcerated get on the right path. “These programs pay for themselves because keeping someone out of prison saves a lot of money.” He wanted to know which candidates would consider a similar model in Michigan.

Jason Hackney is a teacher at one of Michigan’s 300 charter schools, 75% of which are “for-profit”. Michigan has also dropped to the bottom ten of states for education in the nation. An estimated $1 billion of Michigan tax money goes into these charters with no transparency, and for results that are no better than public schools. “A people’s governor should not treat Michigan students as commodities that can make the most profit for a management company and the authorizer.” Hackney said. He wanted to know How each of the candidates would address the problem of fully funding our schools, holding authorizers and management companies accountable, and where do you stand on the privatization of our education system?

The People’s Governor Candidate Forum

62 coalition partners announce non-partisan forum for March 3rd in Detroit
Will feature special guest Congressman Luis Gutierrez

An unprecedented coalition of more than 60 organizations so far has announced they will hold the next gubernatorial candidate forum at Detroit’s Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church at 1:00 PM on March 3, 2018. The People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Future will offer voters the opportunity to hear directly from candidates on issues that directly affect their lives.

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“We are going to demand that the politicians come to us early, and that they listen to our community’s needs,” said  Co-chair Rev. Deedee Coleman, President of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit & Vicinity. “We want them to address our bold agenda for a prosperous, healthy future for all.”

Hassan Sheikh, Executive Dir. Emgage
Hassan Sheikh, Executive Dir. Emgage

Co-chair Hassan Sheikh, Executive Director of Emgage announced that the People’s Governor Candidate Forum will feature Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. “Congressman Gutierrez has been a champion for working people, for immigration reform, and a voice for those who have been marginalized and left out.” said Sheikh. “The Congressman will get us fired up, and outline the values we hope that candidates will embody.

The candidates confirmed to attend so far include Democrats Abdul El-Sayed, Gretchen Whitmer Bill Cobbs and Republican Patrick Colbeck. The group has invited candidates from all parties who have submitted 15,000 nominating petition signatures to the Secretary of State or drawn at least 5% support in an independent non-partisan statewide poll by February 19th. They will be challenged to address issues of  poverty, inequality, and racism. Co-chair said the group has decided on 6 topics for the night: criminal justice reform, environmental justice, education, care, immigration and workers rights.

Gov forum announcement from Michigan United on Vimeo.

“We’re going to bring real people, workers, families, people of faith, child care providers and immigrants, to speak truth to power.” Said Co-chair Dr. Louis Forsythe of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church.

The candidate forum’s audience quickly outgrew its first venue and was moved to Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church where the sanctuary holds 2,400 with a quiet room for childcare.

Sanctuary of the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church
Sanctuary of the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church

Buses have already been reserved to bring voters from Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Macomb County. “When we join together, the candidates will know that they have to deal  with us collectively.” Said Co-chair Freddy Polanco of the SEIU.

You can see a list of member organizations and reserve a seat with a free ticket on the Michigan United website. Registration is required.

Translation into Spanish and child supervision are available.

Fighting #9 demands answers from Rep. Levin

Fear proposed cuts to the federal budget and end to critical cost-sharing payments

Members of the Indivisible group known as the “Fighting #9” were outside a Democratic Party Meeting Thursday to demand answers from Rep. Sander Levin. Terrified by recent actions pending in the Senate, including proposed cuts to the federal budget and President Trump’s decision to end critical cost-sharing payments, protesters shouted “We will not quit fighting!”

“We want Rep. Levin to know how important protecting everyone’s healthcare is. No matter how many different ways the GOP and the Trump Administration try to take our health care guarantees away!” Joyce Peralta, spokesperson for the group explained. “The Trump budget is just another way they are trying to kill Medicaid, and next it will be Medicare! I also wanted Levin to strongly oppose Trump’s tax plan that will hurt all but the top 1%, while raising the deficit! We know the GOP plan will not create jobs, but lower funds for our necessary domestic programs!”

The group continues their ongoing protests to be sure their elected officials know they won’t back down. They are paying attention. And they want to work with Levin and other elected officials to give them feedback how their efforts will be most effective.

The Fighting #9 also expressed concerns about the answer they received from Levin about why he voted for a budget that still contained the huge increase in the Pentagon budget. Peralta said, “I felt Rep. Levin agrees wholeheartedly with our values and will fight for us.” However, she is still concerned with his vote to increase military spending.

Education advocates host first annual Kalamazoo schools year end celebration

Food, entertainment and an opportunity for “kids to be kids”

About 100 students and their parents were greeted by community leaders, volunteers and members of Social Economic & Educational (SEE) Change and Justyce Against Bullying in Schools (JABS) at the Kalamazoo Metropolitan Branch NAACP for their 1st Annual Expect Respect And Safe Education (ERASE) End of School Year Celebration. Participants took part in activities such as face painting, table crafts, hula hooping and  a water balloon challenge.

“As we continue to pursue equity and justice for our youth to ensure they are successful and Promise ready,” said Dr. Strick Strickland, Kalamazoo NAACP’s interim President, “we must strive as a community to celebrate the accomplishments of all of our youth completing a year of school. NAACP is proud to support SEE Change and stands in JABS corner as Sponsor of JABS Awareness Month”

“Every year, students in Kalamazoo Public Schools are denied their right to education because of ineffective and harmful school discipline policies.” said Elisheva T Johnson of Michigan United. “When they fail to recognize and address the trauma caused by unjust, biased, and broken social systems, our kids are effectively ‘pushed out’ of public education. That needs to end.”

Community member and environmentalist, Chris Wahmhoff also answered questions as many of the curious youth enjoyed time playing with baby ducks. “For Michigan, for us, I think Environmental Justice is one of the most important struggles we face” Wahmhoff said.

Capitol Day 2017 features grassroots protests around Lansing

Activists demand support for teachers,
clean air for residents of 48217

Senate Majority Leader, Arlan Mekhoff found his office filled with protesters opposed to his plan to take away teachers’ pensions in Michigan. Representatives of Michigan United say the move would not only deter good teachers from coming to the state but students would also suffer a shortage of professionals able to deal with childhood behavior issues and an increase in criminalization of it.

Bazsa Miller credits quality teachers for pushing him to succeed. “I came to a point in my life where I had to choose between success and failure “ said Miller. “My teachers were there to make sure I made the right choice at a time when I couldn’t see the path myself.”

“Teachers have an important influence over children of single family homes.” says Arthur Howard who graduated from 9th grade to juvenile detention to adult prison by the age of 16. They are not just educators,” said Howard. “They are character makers.”

When they left the Capitol building, the crowd of hundreds moved on to the nearby offices of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) where they held a rally outside accusing the watchdog of giving Marathon Petroleum permission to spew toxic pollution into their neighborhood near the refinery in Southwest Detroit.

Wendy Kyles grew up in the 48217 neighborhood, the most polluted in the state. She watched her mother suffer from a cirrhotic liver even though she never drank alcohol and ultimately die of lung cancer even though she never smoked cigarettes. “Countless MDEQ rubber stamp hearings merely let us know what atrocities are on the way.” Kyles was hopeful in 2010 when Marathon announced they would offer relief to their “neighbors”. But sadly her optimism was misplaced. “Imagine my OUTRAGE to learn that they were only buying out the handful of white people who comprised 48217. Our black subdivision, squarely situated in front of and downwind of their facility, was curiously and conveniently left out of that process. We weren’t considered their neighbors;”

Michigan United announces launch of Universal Family Care campaign at Capitol Day

Rep. Jon Hoadley presents Long Term Care Study bill to lay groundwork to support families

With new chapters springing up around the state, Michigan United and the Michigan People’s Campaign welcomed record numbers at their annual Capitol Day Event Tuesday in Lansing. The grassroots organizations scheduled dozens of meetings with state representatives and senators to discuss immigration, the environment and family care.

At a rally held at Central United Methodist Church, they announced plans to work with Caring Across Generations and other coalition partners, holding listening sessions over the summer to build out policy details this fall that will ensure the care of all Michigan family members and to help those who care for them. Benchmarks include:

  • Universal childcare up to age 4
  • Long term in home care for seniors
  • Protections for home care workers
  • A stipend for stay at home family caregivers
  • Paid family leave for workers who need time off to care for loved ones.

Many families are in the “sandwich generation:” providing care for young children at the same time they’re providing care for their parents. Sandwich generation families deal with two unaffordable systems, where the people who require care have significant and rapidly changing needs.

Michelle George, an advanced practice registered nurse is one such person. She has a 97 year old aunt with two broken hips. Although she has good health insurance, she won’t be eligible for a new wheelchair to help her get to much needed appointments. “Many families are stretched thin, have to cut back on work, or quit a job to care for aging family members.” said George. “We need better solutions, and the time is now for us to research and fight for them.

Rep. Jon Hoadley also announced that he would introduce his Long Term Care Study bill later that afternoon as the first step in this campaign.

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.

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

WHO:
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

WHEN:
7PM July 11th, 2016

WHERE:
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.”