Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Wayne State University designates MCHR Board Member Kim Redigan as Community Peacemaker for 2016

kimlove

Congratulations are in order for MCHR board member and U of D Jesuit High School teacher, Kim Redigan! She has been designated Community Peacemaker for 2016 by the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Wayne State. Here is what U of D Jesuit, where Kim teaches, had to say about Kim’s steadfast commitment to community action and justice:

“Social Justice is ingrained in our school’s mission. Theology teacher and JustPeace moderator Mrs. Kim Redigan has done a fantastic job leading this area here at The High.

In recognition of her great work and leadership, The Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Wayne State University has designated Kim Redigan as their Community Peacemaker for 2016, for her consistent stalwart work for peace and justice in their community, and particularly as related to issues of water rights.

Kim will be presented with the award along with two global peacemakers from Africa at Wayne State University on October 7th.

Congratulations Kim!”

Leave a comment below to congratulate Kim and/or thank her for her work!

MCHR represented by board member Kim Redigan at recent events in solidarity with Muslims and incoming refugees

MCHR was proudly represented by board member Kim Redigan at Monday’s “One Nation, One Voice Against Bigotry and Hate Coalition”; a group of speakers from civil rights organizations, government officials, and religious communities that gathered to speak out against discrimination and xenophobia experienced by our Muslim neighbors and incoming refugees.

There was also a rally in Ferndale on Monday to show solidarity with our Muslim neighbors, incoming refugees, and to defend democracy against voices of hate.

Kim wrote a short letter stating her feelings about both experiences:

 

Dear Friends,

I was honored to represent MCHR in Saeed’s stead yesterday at the Wright. It was a well-organized press conference that allowed me to stand with many in my own community (Dearborn Heights). Osama invited me to promote the Ferndale rally after those of us who were not primary speakers introduced ourselves and spoke a short word. Saeed, you were missed by many.

I should also mention that I represented MCHR at the ICA rally and
conversation hosted by #dearbornstrong on Saturday. Before that
meeting, I was engaged in a teacher-to-teacher talk inside the mosque
when someone took this picture without our knowing it.

kimlove

Finally, thanks for all the support in Ferndale yesterday and for
bringing the MCHR banner. The hatred in response to the Oakland
Press coverage offers a chilling slice of solidarity with what
Muslims and immigrants are dealing with daily.

Here are links to the Oakland Press coverage Kim referenced, as well as coverage of the “One Nation, One Voice Against Bigotry and Hate Coalition” event.

 

MCHR wants to hear from you! What can we do to stand in solidarity with our Muslim and Arab neighbors, incoming refugees, and all those who face hate everyday? Reach out to us on social media, call or email us, or leave a comment below!

Introducing the 2016 Freedom Tour

Over twenty years ago, MCHR organized four historic Freedom Tours for metro-Detroit high school students. We are proud to announce that it is happening again!

We will be traveling from June 19 to June 29 2016 to visit historical sites in the civil rights struggle and meet with people who lived, made, and are still making, history.

The Freedom Tour will be an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the civil rights movement; to learn the history, to study and embody nonviolence, to build community and to engage the learning back here in Michigan.

It is the goal of MCHR to reach out to youth in the local community as we build up to this Tour. We will be hosting town hall meetings in the tri-counties- one in Detroit, one in Warren, and one in Pontiac- to engage youth with local activist artists. At these three events we will introduce the youth to the Freedom Tour and to MCHR. It is our ultimate goal to began to build a local grassroots youth movement in these communities, recruit youth to go on the Freedom Tour, and get input from youth to help steer the outcomes and aftermath of this Freedom Tour. More info on these three town hall events will be posted in the near future.

Our tentative itinerary for the 2016 Freedom Tour is as follows:

The first two days of the trip we will be in Georgia. Our bus will travel first to Atlanta for a one-day core study of Kingian nonviolence at the King Center. We will also visit the Welcome Center and the Historic Black College Education Center. The following day, we will visit MLK’s birth home and neighborhood, and the Ebenezer Church and bookstore.

The bus will then depart for Alabama. In Montgomery, we will visit the Rosa Parks Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center Wall of Tolerance, Dexter Ave. Church, the MLK Parsonage, and the Freedom Ride Museum.

The next day, we will visit Lowndes County, where we will go to the Liuzzo Memorial, the Interpretive Center, and the Freedom House Jail. That same day we will visit the Voting Rights Museum, the Park Memorial, and the Slavery Museum. We will go on a Neighborhood Walk and cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The tour will then visit the Interpretive Center.

The next day, we will arrive in Mississippi and visit Meridian and Philadelphia. We will also visit a Choctaw Native-American reservation. The following day we will depart for Jackson, where we will see Tougaloo College, the Arab Museum, and the Medgar Evers House.

Following that, we will depart for Tennessee where we will arrive in Memphis. In Memphis, we will see the Museum/Lorraine Hotel, the Mason Temple, and the Beale Street music area. We’ll spend the following two days in Henning, at Alex Haley’s birth home.

The following day, we will arrive home in Detroit.

Download student and mentor applications:

Download the 2016 Student Application.

Student applications are due on January 11 and can be mailed to MCHR (9200 Gratiot, Detroit, MI 48213).

Download the 2016 Mentor Application.

Mentor applications are due on December 30 and can also be mailed to MCHR.

If you have any questions, call 313-579-9071 or email 2016freedomtour@gmail.com.

Support the Trip

Support the trip by making a donation to MCHR. It will cost MCHR at least $1,500 per student and we are committed to making it affordable for all students who want to participate.

Can your church, school, or neighborhood association support one student on this trip? Sponsoring a youth is a great way to invest in that youth’s future, plant the seeds of peaceful revolution, and give back to your community.

Download the 2016 Freedom Tour sponsor form

You can write checks to MCHR, designating them to the Freedom Tour in the memo line, and mail them to 9200 Gratiot, Detroit MI, 48213 or call 313-579-9071 for more information.

You can also donate online, through MCHR’s Paypal! Just include Freedom Tour in the description.

We are so excited to embark on this life-changing journey with all of you!

Join us for the Detroit Projects- Oct 13-15

unnamedMCHR is co-hosting readings and discussions of 3 plays revolving around the recent history of Detroit with WSU and other organizations on October 13-15 at the Charles H. Wright Museum in the General Motors Theatre.

 

unnamed(1)PARADISE BLUE

Paradise Blue sets the scene in 1949 in Detroit’s Paradise Valley, now Lafayette Park. Blue, an exceptional trumpeter, contemplates selling his once-vibrant club to rid himself of inner and outer conflicts from his past. The staged reading for Paradise Blue will take place on 7:00 p.m. at Tuesday, October 13. Join us at The Wright Museum!

 

unnamed(2)DETROIT ’67

During the explosion of the lively city of Motown as well as the civil rights movement, Detroit ’67 follows Chelle and Lank through familial and racial tensions that arise in their own backyard. The staged reading for Detroit ’67 will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 14.

Join us at The Wright Museum!

unnamed(3)SKELETON CREW

Skeleton Crew follows four auto workers who stare insecurity in the face as Detroit falls into the 2008 recession. With the announcement of a shutdown by the end of the year, their jobs at the last exporting auto plant in the city are in jeopardy. The staged reading for Skeleton Crew will take place at 7:00 p.m. on
Thursday, October 15.

Join us at The Wright Museum!

Check out the list of panel discussion facilitators, including multiple MCHR board members, below:

unnamed(1)

MCHR to host Jorge Parra, Colombian leader of ASOTRECOL, Oct 4

Jorge Parra, the leader of ASOTRECOL (Association of Injured Workers and Ex-Workers of GM Columbia), is returning to Detroit.

He and his fellow workers just completed 4 years of their encampment at the US embassy in Bogota, protesting GM’s criminal behavior towards its workers.

Kalamazoo College recently selected ASOTRECOL as one of ten finalists for its 2015 Global Prize for Transformative Social Justice Leadership*. The winner, to be announced in Kalamazoo on Saturday, Oct 10, will receive $25,000.

MCHR proudly announces a welcoming reception on Sunday October, 4th from 1:00-3:00 pm at Swords Into Plowshares Peace Center & Gallery (33 E Adams, Detroit- free parking off Woodward).

At our 2013 Annual Dinner,  Jorge Parra received the “International Labor Activist” award. He will report on the successes and challenges of the ex-GM workers’ 4-year encampment at the US Embassy.

HEAR about ASOTRECOL’s enduring struggle that is exposing the epidemic of fired, injured workers all over Colombia and the toothless “labor protections” of the US-Columbia FTA!

SEE 10 minute video documentary (Google: “injured GM workers of ASOTRECOL 2015”)

GIVE a one minute video about what ASOTRECOL has meant to you.

CELEBRATE their just stand for the rights of workers injured on the job

DONATE much needed funds to help sustain the ASOTRECOL encampment! Can’t attend? Please donate online at www.asotrecol.org.

MCHR reception 2.5Download the flyer

* The Kalamazoo College Global Prize awards $25,000 to an innovative and transformative social justice leadership project from around the world. The competition honors and uplifts grassroots work that challenges structural inequality and centers the voices of those most impacted by an injustice.

Detroit to Flint Water Justice Journey media coverage

This article, by MCHR board member Abayomi Azikiwe, was originally posted here.

A week-long, cross-state march, organized under the theme “Clean, Affordable Water for All: Detroit to Flint Water Justice Journey,” ended in Flint, Mich., on July 10.

Organizations sponsoring the walk included the People’s Water Board, the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization in Detroit and others. Activists from Highland Park, Pontiac and Flint joined the march and rallies held in all four cities.

MWRO Co-Chair Marian Kramer, who lives in Highland Park, a small municipality surrounded by Detroit, reported that residents did not receive water bills for three years due to layoffs of meter readers.

The city of Detroit is now claiming huge debts are owed by Highland Park. Massive shutoffs could be imminent.

Under emergency management and bankruptcy, the banks and corporate interests sought to shield the forces responsible for the current crisis in access and safety. In Detroit, $537 million was taken out of the system in order to terminate interest-rate swaps issued by leading financial institutions, including Chase, Bank of America, Loop Financial and Morgan Stanley.

In Flint, where the water situation is perhaps the worst, people marched and gathered at City Hall on July 10.

Although both Flint and Detroit have been removed from emergency management, the state of Michigan is still overseeing the finances of both municipalities. Water shutoffs in each city continue, but in Flint residents are also faced with the extreme deterioration of the quality of their service.

The Flint water system was connected to Detroit’s massive infrastructure until, under emergency management, it was broken off in 2014 as a “cost-cutting measure.”

Water flowing into residential homes is coming directly from the Flint River. Testing by outside experts indicates that the use of high levels of chlorine and ferric chloride could be causing corrosion in the lead and iron piping system. At least half of the homes in Flint were constructed more than 50 years ago when the use of lead was common.

New regulations based on the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act of 1986 are not being enforced in the city. Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality has been criticized for not exercising its authority in response to complaints from Flint residents.

Flint resident holds hair and contaminated water.Today families in Flint are suffering from a number of health issues. Water from the local system has been described as not only undrinkable but unfit for washing and cooking.

Flint resident holding hair and contaminated water

Residents discussed the health problems they are facing due to contaminated water. Melissa Mays of Flint, who chaired the July 10 rally, said that she and her children were diagnosed with copper poisoning in March. The family is now in a detoxification process under medical supervision.

A Michigan American Civil Liberties Union report suggests that the local water department’s testing methods are designed to conceal the level of lead exposure of residents. Before samples are taken, residents are told to run the water in an effort to flush out the toxin build-up near the faucets.

Curt Guyette, of the ACLU of Michigan, reports, “Flint’s water contained corrosion-control chemicals until April 2014, when Flint’s ties to the Detroit water system were severed. … Discontinuing the use of the anti-corrosion chemicals allowed the toxic scale built-up on the insides of pipes over the past decades to be released into water flowing into people’s homes.”

LeeAnne Walters requested two city tests of her water. It revealed dangerously high levels of lead, charting 104 parts per billion and 397 ppb.

Yet Virginia Tech researchers found lead levels in Walters’ water had reached 13,200 ppb — more than twice the amount at which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declares water as hazardous waste. (deadlinedetroit.com, July 9)

An extremely angry Flint resident outside City Hall brought with her a container of brown water run from her tap. She also held a fistfull of her hair, which she said fell out after washing with this water. She blamed the local and state authorities.

Capitalist disinvestment at root of crisis

Flint has been hit over the decades by plant closings and financial ruin caused by the banks and corporations. The birthplace of the United Auto Workers is now a source of underdevelopment and political oppression.

Much like Detroit, the city’s landscape is covered with abandoned factories and commercial structures. The foreclosure rates were extremely high at the height of the Great Recession several years ago.

Local officials are hampered by the constraints placed on politicians under state supervision.

Michigan’s right-wing, multimillionaire Gov. Rick Snyder had presidential aspirations but failed miserably when he placed a statewide referendum on the ballot to raise sales taxes, aimed ostensibly to repair Michigan roads. A corporate media television outlet revealed that most of the money during the first year would go toward paying off bond debt on previous road construction schemes. After the referendum received an 80 percent “no” vote, Snyder announced he would not pursue the presidency.

The water march gained a significant amount of media coverage. Participants submitted a petition to the state Capitol in Lansing demanding clean and affordable water.

However, capitalist interests remain dominant in water management, which includes the global anti-worker firm Veolia. Every effort is being made by the ruling class to privatize the system. It will require vigilance to fight the corporate and financial interests seeking to deny safe water to the people.

 

For more coverage of the Detroit to Flint Water Justice Journey from start to finish, check out the following articles, listed by publication name:

Oakland County 115

Tony Trupiano interview with Lila Cabbil and Marian Kramer before walk

Michigan Radio

Fox 2 Detroit

MyFoxDetroit.com

WXYZ Detroit

Worker’s World

Huffington Post

13abc.com

The Republic (Columbus, Indiana)

WEYI (NBC Flint)

Seattle Pi

Central Michigan Life

SFGATE

Tony Trupiano interview with Kim Redigan during walkMLiveMichigan Radio (post-walk coverage)ABC 12 (Flint rally coverage)The Elkhart TruthMLive (Flint coverage)

Listen to someone who is walking the Detroit to Flint Water Justice Journey on why the journey is important and what is still going on

Yesterday, I got a chance to talk to Nedya Jaber at the Baldwin Center in Pontiac about the Detroit to Flint Water Justice Journey that is currently taking place to lift up the need for clean and affordable water in Michigan.

Nedya is one of the walkers that has been on the journey since Detroit.

Listen to what she had to say about the events that have already taken place and those that are still ahead on the road to Flint:

 

 

Call (313) 520-7465 or (313) 579-9071 to speak directly with the walkers while they’re on their journey!

You can still join the walkers at upcoming events, walk with them on part of their journey, or support them with food donations, media coverage, or good company.

You can always call them to meet up with them and join their journey for part of the walk. Here is a list of upcoming events and walk meetup times:

 

FRIDAY, JULY 10

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM: Rally for clean, affordable water, Flint City Hall, 1101 S. Saginaw Street, Flint, Michigan 48502.

11:00 AM: Bus to Lansing. Arrive in Lansing 1 PM.

 

Tuesday, July 7:

8:00 AM: Grange Hall Public Carpool Lot (exit 93 off I-75), Clarkston

Wednesday, July 8:

8:00 AM: Call 313-579-9071 that morning to arrange meeting place in Holly.

Thursday, July 9:

8:00 AM: Grand Blanc UMC 515 Bush Ave., Grand Blanc, MI 48439

*NOTE: Park on outer edges of lot; senior activity scheduled that day

Friday, July 10:

9:00 AM:  Woodside UCC Church 1509 Court St., Flint MI 48503 (Walk to City Hall begins at 9:30)

11:00 AM: City Hall Rally 1101 S. Saginaw St. Flint, MI 48502

JUST A REMINDER TO BRING SUNSCREEN, A WATER BOTTLE, SNACKS, AND GOOD WALKING SHOES

 

The Detroit to Flint Water Justice Journey is sponsored by:

People’s Water Board Coalition

Highland Park Human Rights Coalition

Flint Coalition for Clean Water

Michigan Coalition for Human Rights

and other orgs listed on PWB website

Vote for new MCHR board members at our Annual Meeting, by email, or by phone

Don’t miss the MCHR Annual Meeting- Thursday, June 18th at 7 pm at Our Lady of Fatima Church (13500 Oak Park Blvd.)

MCHR members: Don’t forget to VOTE to accept or decline the slate of new board member nominees. If you are a member and you cannot attend the meeting, you can vote either accepting or declining the slate by email to support@mchr.org or by calling the office at 313 579 -9071 .

You do NOT need to be a member to attend the talk at the annual meeting that follows the election.

2015 MCHR Board Nominations:

Dina Fattom: Arab youth activist including American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, DC: communications graduate interested in ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard, working to outfit Gaza hospitals with solar panels to ensure consistent power despite shutoffs.

Johanna Gaymer: AmeriCorps member at MSU Extension Macomb County Foreclosure Prevention, experience in immigration law.

Lydia Wylie Kellerman: Word and World, Jeannie Wylie Kellerman community; writer; activist.

Jerry King: UAW Chrysler Local 140, SOA Watch board; Chairperson of SOA Watch Labor Caucus SE Michigan and Co-Chairman of the UAW Local 140 Civil and Human Rights Committee and a coalition member of the Detroit Eviction Defense.

Keandra “Key” Locke: Runs G.L.O.W. (Girls Leaning on Women) mentoring program in Pontiac and Lyrics on Vinyl- a record store in Pontiac that also serves as a youth gathering place and sometimes hosts social justice events

Gloria Lowe: Founder and director of We Need Green Too, longtime community (Jefferson/ Chalmers) and environmental activist, writer.

Lui Francesco Matsuo: Call To Action Youth Rep.  Interests: LBGT rights, Nuclear weapons/energy

Prof. Tom Pedroni: Associate Professor of Curriculum Studies and Policy Sociology and Director of the Leonard Kaplan Education Collaborative for Critical Urban Studies at Wayne State University, directs the Detroit Data and Democracy Project.  His current research examines educational and social inequality in Detroit.

Joel Reinstein: AA activist, Jewish Voice for Peace at U M, BDS and Palestinian Rights; contributor to Socialist newspaper.

Meet The Detroit Residents Fighting Back Against Having Their Water Shut Off

This story, by Bryce Covert, was originally posted on Common Dreams, here.

 

detroitshutoffs

On Wednesday, Michigan lawmakers held a hearing about water affordability and safety. Many of those who came to testify were residents of Detroit who have been dealing with water shutoffs, which resumed last week for thousands of people.

One of them was Annette Parham, who had her water shut off for about a year for owing $645. She’s been out of work for eight years, so at the time she didn’t have any income to pay off her bills. Meanwhile, she claims she was being charged for using more water than she needed to cook and clean for herself. Residents have seen their water bills rise 119 percent over the last decade with another 8.7 percent hike approved last year.

While the water was off, she got by the best that she could. She bought bottled water to use in her home. “I had one neighbor who let me wash clothes, another neighbor let me take a bath,” she said. But even without water flowing from her faucets, her bills kept accumulating because she says she was still being charged for sewage.

The experience wasn’t just difficult, but humiliating. When a house gets its water shutoff, the Water and Sewage Department marks the sidewalk in front in blue. “They went through the whole neighborhood, almost the whole east side,” she said. “When I be out walking, you could see all the blue.” Despite the fact that she had a lot of company, she hated the attention it drew to her. “The kids say, ‘Oh they cut your water off,’” she said. “It just got to the point that it was really embarrassing, hurt my feelings.”

She’s confident that if she had been able to take advantage of a plan based on her ability to pay, she could have kept her water on. “I would have been able to take care of it, to pay it,” she says.

Today, she’s homeless, moving from friend to friend who will take her in. “Now it’s just like, I’m waking up everyday to survive.”

Activists and organizers pushed state lawmakers on an affordability plan at the hearing in front of a packed room with at least seven lawmakers present, according to Sylvia Orduno with the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. The Detroit city council approved a plan in 2006 that would have set water rates between 2 and 3 percent of a resident’s income, rather than a flat rate, but it was never implemented.

Their testimonies on Wednesday also raised the disparities between rates that Detroit residents pay and those paid by people living in the suburbs. While one person testified that her bill had reached $900 a month, a representative of Oakland County, a wealthier area, noted that her own bill is about $160 every three months. Those testifying asked “to get some equity in the rates,” Orduno said.

State Rep. Stephanie Chang (D), who helped organize the hearing, said her plan is to take what got discussed in the hearing and turn it into action. “We’ll be taking that information to hopefully work on some legislation,” she said. No bills have been introduced yet, and she noted that “everything is still in a little bit of an ideas stage.” But she would like to see a bill that would allow municipal water systems and others to create affordability plans, as well as look at shutoff protections. At the end of the hearing, Orduno said lawmakers brought up the possibility of a shutoff moratorium as well as forgiving bills for those who don’t even receive them for a certain amount of time.

Roslyne Walker, another Detroit resident, could really use an affordability plan. The water department had already threatened to shut her water off once for owing $600, but she enrolled in a program meant to help her keep her water on and pay it back. It’s not helping her very much. “The program they put me on, they want me to pay the current and late fees. That’s too much,” she said. Her bill, she says, is now $1,150. “Every month I pay $127 [but] it’s going up and up and up.”

Then on Sunday, she got home to find a shutoff notice on her door saying the last day of service will be June 9. If she loses her water, she’s certain she’ll lose her housing. She lost her job working for the city in 2008 and has since enrolled in Section 8 housing assistance. “When you don’t have a job, they pay your rent but they don’t pay your bills,” she noted. “If you can’t keep up your bills, you’ll get kicked out of Section 8.” She doesn’t have somewhere else to go. “My disabled son…will be out on the street,” she said. “I’m praying to god that doesn’t happen.”

She’s hoping that the hearing will bring her some relief. “If they gave us affordable water and anther contract or deal, we would be able to pay our water bills,” she said. She noted that many in attendance at the hearing were moved to tears by the stories they heard. “So maybe they’ll make a deal for them to stop turning off the water.”