A broad coalition of faith, labor, community, immigrant and environmental organizations announced plans at a press conference Thursday to organize a major presidential forum in Detroit. The forum is scheduled to take place at Cobo Hall from 5-8 p.m. on Sunday, October 20.
"As the presidential race heats up, it's critical that we don't lose sight of the real people on the ground who policies will harm or benefit," said Founder of Southpaw Michigan Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. "I support Michigan United's efforts to force our politicians to face the people they claim to serve and to talk about the issues that define what it means to be an American."
Leading up to the forum, Michigan United and partnering organizations are organizing meetings across the state where community members can share the issues they care about most. Based on the feedback received from these sessions, the steering committee will develop questions for the candidates ahead of the forum.
The event is being organized by 30 state and national justice organizations, including two of metro-Detroit’s leading faith organizations, the Michigan Muslim Community Council and the Council of Baptist Pastors.
“Politicians come to our churches to ask for our votes, but then we never see them again. We’re tired of being taken for granted,” said Pastor Roderick Richardson of Conventional Missionary Baptist Church. “By standing together, we can have a conversation with candidates on our own terms and then hold them accountable when they get into office.”
Held in conjunction with the National Immigrant Integration Conference, the forum is expected to draw a crowd of 3,000 communities members from across the state. There is no cost to attend, but Michigan United is accepting donations to help fund the forum.
On why the forum is free and open to the public, DACA recipient and Michigan United leader Samad Nadeem said the hosting organizations want people of all backgrounds and financial means to attend.
“It’s important for everyone to have a seat at the table — faith leaders, immigrants, labor and environmental activists — if we want to create a future for our state where everyone has the opportunity to succeed,” Nadeem said.
To ensure that there is enough time for substantial conversation during the forum, only candidates that have consistently polled above 5% will qualify for the stage.
“Every single person — regardless of their faith, gender, race, socioeconomic status, age or sexual orientation — deserves to live with respect and dignity,” said Michigan United Leader Rosa Fraga. “By organizing this presidential forum we can ensure the voices of Michiganders are heard at a national level.”
Community members can now register for the forum or sign up to host a community organizing meeting at miunited.org/presidential-forum
The National Steering Committee for the event includes: National Partnership for New Americans, People’s Action, and Fair Immigration Reform Movement - Action.
The following organizations are local co-sponsors of the forum: SEIU Healthcare Michigan, SEIU Local 1 Detroit, Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit & Vicinity, Michigan Muslim Community Council, Indivisible Huron Valley, Michigan Nurses Association, Good Jobs Now, Genesis Church, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Birmingham Temple, Street Democracy, Emgage, MADE Institute, New American Leaders Project, Fems for Change, Restaurant Opportunity Center, ACTION of Greater Lansing, Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrants Rights, Southpaw Michigan, Congress of Communities, Michigan United, We GP, Righteous Sons, Arab American Civil Rights League, Monroe County Opportunity Project, Michigan Alliance of Latinos Moving Towards Advancement (MI ALMA)