Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Yvelette Stines
Three Masterminds and a mission to change a community can truly create a movement. “Run This Town” was started by Shawn Blanchard, Terrence J.L. Thompson and Armond Harris. It is a networking and exercise group (they coined the term “networkingout”) that is transforming lives, connecting people, and creating a grassroots movement that is meant to facilitate networking through fitness and fitness through networking. It is their mission to fight urban obesity by promoting fitness through healthy lifestyles. The idea came as the gentlemen were in the process of sustaining their personal exercise regime.
With busy schedules many people put exercise on the back burner. This was true for Blanchard, a student at Wayne State University Law School. “When I was living in New York and running the math department at a school in the Bronx I noticed my weight got away from me,” he said. He decided to try the P90X exercise program and lost 23 pounds. “This turned my lifestyle of fitness around.” After living in New York for five years, earning his master’s in Secondary Math Education and working in the industry, the Mackenzie High School graduate decided to return home to Detroit. During his first year of law school, with the heavy schedule of studying and involving himself in extracurricular academic activities, he noticed his weight increasing. He started to make exercise a priority again and started running with friends.
It was one day this year during a run that he and Thompson came up with the idea of starting a group. They asked Harris to join and Run This Town was born. What started as a Facebook post by Harris created a group of 30 people the first week, growing to 50 the second week and the numbers grew from there.
Thompson also understood the stress of balancing exercise and the demands of both being a law student and attorney. “I was never a fitness guru, but during my first year of law school I gained 20 pounds,” he said. With the demands of studying and his strong involvement in academic organizations such as being the president of the Black Law Student Association (BLSA) at Wayne State Law School and formerly holding a chair position in the National Mid-West BLSA, he saw his exercise was not a priority. He started to make changes such as running or walking to class and going to the gym on campus. He lost about 30 pounds during his first and third year of law school. After graduating in 2008 he worked at Miller Canfield and then began to work at the U.S Attorney’s Office. “I could see my schedule opening up a bit so I started to create time to exercise,” he said. He has dropped 17 pounds since the beginning of the running season this year.
With understanding the importance of creating a healthy future, Harris works as a grants coordinator. His job is to allocate the proper amount of funds for food departments so students can have a healthy school lunch. Presently he is working with Inkster, Saginaw and Hamtramck. Always having an athletic heart, Harris played on the Wayne State University football team. “Many of my friends asked me how to stay in shape,” he said. The three gentlemen are elated to see Detroiters excited about health and connecting with one another.
Run This Town is a free group that meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. and every Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at the Rivard Plaza on the RiverWalk. “When people show up we are making sure that we are encouraging them to network with others,” said Blanchard. After the networking, the exercise begins. “There are three groups, walkers, joggers, and runners. Within the 20 minutes of networking people are so warm they are already comfortable with each other. After the walk/jog/run, we continue the exercise by running the hill. We also incorporate a circuit workout that includes abs and strength training. Once the workout is over, we network again.” This has created lasting friendships and memories. “There are many members who just met and we think they’ve been friends for years,” said Thompson. “It is great to see all different people and professions merge with different people and projects.” The networking is an important component and businesses are beginning to notice. Due to the heat on a recent Tuesday, Premium Lounge in Detroit allowed the group to conduct their circuit training in the venue. Thompson is presently working on growing the model so the group can continue indoor workouts for the winter.
A run with friends created a vision within the city of Detroit. The date was May 8, 2012 and what humbly started as a group of friends getting together to work out and invite others became a supportive and empowering group of Detroiters wanting to make a change for themselves and their city. “We want to change what people think about Detroit, it was great to hear that one of our members, who previously felt as if there was nothing to do in the city, came to Run This Town, and she was hooked. She told us this was exactly what she was looking for,” said Thompson. Along with this member and many others, all three of the gentlemen have seen transformations in people who have joined.
One member realized that running outside is not as difficult as he thought. “I love Run This Town because it encourages a healthy lifestyle and also gives you a chance to meet some amazing people. I always thought running outdoors would be too difficult for me. However, that first day out I found that it wasn’t so bad,” said Morgan McDonald. “The time seems to go by faster because we run through downtown and there are plenty of visual distractions. Before you know it, you have completed half the route. It helps that you run with others because everyone is very encouraging. We start together and finish together....no one left behind. Shawn, Terrence and Armond make the circuit training fun as well. No matter your fitness level, Run This Town is for everyone and I encourage anyone to come out.”
Along with the mission of fighting urban obesity, each of the gentlemen is well involved with the people in the community. Serving as mentors as well as advocates for education and leadership, they are setting strong examples by living a life of service. “We want to grow the mindsets of people in Detroit. There are many young professionals in this town that get together and work out. We are encouraging greatness throughout the city of Detroit.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 10:23
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Editor’s note: Below are excerpts from the historic speech the nation’s first Black president, Barack Obama, gave Aug. 28, 2013 at the 50th Anniversary March on Washington for Jobs and Justice at the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his immortal “I Have A Dream” speech.
To the King family, who have sacrificed and inspired so much, to President Clinton, President Carter, Vice President Biden, Jill, fellow Americans, five decades ago today, Americans came to this honored place to lay claim to a promise made at our founding.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
In 1963, almost 200 years after those words were set to paper, a full century after a great war was fought and emancipation proclaimed, that promise, those truths remained unmet. And so they came by the thousands, from every corner of our country -- men and women, young and old, blacks who longed for freedom and whites who could no longer accept freedom for themselves while witnessing the subjugation of others. Across the land, congregations sent them off with food and with prayer. In the middle of the night, entire blocks of Harlem came out to wish them well.
With the few dollars they scrimped from their labor, some bought tickets and boarded buses, even if they couldn’t always sit where they wanted to sit. Those with less money hitchhiked, or walked. They were seamstresses, and steelworkers, and students, and teachers, maids and pullman porters. They shared simple meals and bunked together on floors.
And then, on a hot summer day, they assembled here, in our nation’s capital, under the shadow of the great emancipator, to offer testimony of injustice, to petition their government for redress and to awaken America’s long-slumbering conscience.
We rightly and best remember Dr. King’s soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions, how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike. His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time.
But we would do well to recall that day itself also belonged to those ordinary people whose names never appeared in the history books, never got on TV.
Many had gone to segregated schools and sat at segregated lunch counters, had lived in towns where they couldn’t vote, in cities where their votes didn’t matter. There were couples in love who couldn’t marry, soldiers who fought for freedom abroad that they found denied to them at home. They had seen loved ones beaten and children fire- hosed. And they had every reason to lash out in anger or resign themselves to a bitter fate.
And yet they chose a different path. In the face of hatred, they prayed for their tormentors. In the face of violence, they stood up and sat in with the moral force of nonviolence. Willingly, they went to jail to protest unjust laws, their cells swelling with the sound of freedom songs.
A lifetime of indignities had taught them that no man can take away the dignity and grace that God grants us. They had learned through hard experience what Frederick Douglas once taught: that freedom is not given; it must be won through struggle and discipline, persistence and faith.
That was the spirit they brought here that day.
That was the spirit young people like John Lewis brought that day. That was the spirit that they carried with them like a torch back to their cities and their neighborhoods, that steady flame of conscience and courage that would sustain them through the campaigns to come, through boycotts and voter registration drives and smaller marches, far from the spotlight, through the loss of four little girls in Birmingham, the carnage of Edmund Pettus Bridge and the agony of Dallas, California, Memphis.
Through setbacks and heartbreaks and gnawing doubt, that flame of justice flickered and never died.
And because they kept marching, America changed. Because they marched, the civil rights law was passed. Because they marched, the voting rights law was signed. Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else’s laundry or shining somebody else’s shoes. (Applause.)
Because they marched, city councils changed and state legislatures changed and Congress changed and, yes, eventually the White House changed. (Cheers, applause.)
Because they marched, America became more free and more fair, not just for African-Americans but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans, for Catholics, Jews and Muslims, for gays, for Americans with disabilities.
America changed for you and for me.
And the entire world drew strength from that example, whether it be young people who watched from the other side of an Iron Curtain and would eventually tear down that wall, or the young people inside South Africa who would eventually end the scourge of apartheid. (Applause.) Those are the victories they won, with iron wills and hope in their hearts.
That is the transformation that they wrought with each step of their well-worn shoes. That’s the depth that I and millions of Americans owe those maids, those laborers, those porters, those secretaries — folks who could have run a company, maybe, if they had ever had a chance; those white students who put themselves in harm’s way even though they didn’t have to — (applause) — those Japanese- Americans who recalled their own interment, those Jewish Americans who had survived the Holocaust, people who could have given up and given in but kept on keeping on, knowing that weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning — (cheers, applause) — on the battlefield of justice, men and women without rank or wealth or title or fame would liberate us all, in ways that our children now take for granted as people of all colors and creeds live together and learn together and walk together, and fight alongside one another and love one another, and judge one another by the content of our character in this greatest nation on Earth.
To dismiss the magnitude of this progress, to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed — that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years. (Applause.) Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Martin Luther King Jr., they did not die in vain. (Applause.) Their victory was great.
But we would dishonor those heroes as well to suggest that the work of this nation is somehow complete. The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own.
To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency. Whether it’s by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all in the criminal justice system and not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails — (applause) — it requires vigilance.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 10:11
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
The Board of State Canvassers unanimously voted Tuesday to certify Detroit’s primary election results, and yes, Mike Duggan was the winner of the Aug. 6 primary. Again.
In the end, Duggan got 48,716 votes compared to Benny Napoleon's 28,391.
Napoleon issued a statement after the announcement, saying:
"The state board of canvassers certification of Detroit's primary election with a result that is strikingly different than two previous counts by the city clerk and county clerk, respectively, gravely concerns me," said Benny N. Napoleon. "Whether Mr. Duggan receives 4,000 more votes or 10,000 more votes, the issue remains that we have problems with accurately counting the votes. How can we come up with three vote counts that are vastly different and be okay with this? "First and foremost, we must protect the sanctity of the vote. At a historic time when we face challenges to our democracy in this city, Detroit voters need to be assured -- beyond any doubt -- that their vote will be counted and counted accurately. A few weeks ago I called for federal oversight of the November 5thGeneral Election. I continue to stand on that request now more than ever. In the end, no matter who becomes the Mayor, the power of the vote must be honored and respected."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 09:49
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
These days it’s hard to imagine what kind of campaign Michigan Democrats are running right now (if any) or plan to run in 2014 against incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder, who just dissed the Tea Party wing of his party by supporting the expansion of Medicaid for the working poor.
It’s complex to comprehend how Democrats can marshal the right candidate with largesse to challenge Attorney General Bill Schuette, whose out-of-nowhere support for pensioners in Detroit’s bankruptcy crisis puts him in an advantage to disarm charges of public neglect.
It is almost unfathomable that Secretary of State Ruth Johnson can be dethroned at a time when the political calendar doesn’t seem to favor Democrats. The same doubt goes for placing a candidate on the Michigan Supreme Court.
Above all, Congressman Gary Peters’ ongoing campaign to replace outgoing veteran U.S. Senator Carl Levin is all but a sure thing given that Republicans appear to be lining up behind fundraising powerhouse Terri Lynn Land, the formidable former GOP Secretary of State who won re-election twice and obviously has mass appeal, including among women voters.
If you are a die-hard Democrat who believes the party “is always right” and reading this you might be asking what planet I’m living on. But if you are an open-minded Democrat who reads the tea leaves, you know that the party has some serious issues and could be in more trouble trying to claim victory in the 2014 election cycle.
The Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer is nowhere to be found, and don’t bother to look for him in Detroit either, the largest Democratic base but the most ignored that new party chair Lon Johnson now says he wants to change.
I only met Schauer once at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, and it was a chance meeting actually because we bumped into each other at the lobby of the hotel and his aides wanted to do a quick introduction. We spoke briefly. That was it.
At the NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner this year I had a conversation with a prominent African American in the labor movement who at the time was surprised that Schauer, who was introduced at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference, has yet to make any meaningful or significant appearance in Detroit or to even meet with some of the labor officials here.
Well, he concluded like many that it’s almost like the same old story: Democrats jet in the last minute, set up a shop on East Jefferson, make no real investment and get the guaranteed votes at the polls and then disappear till the next election season.
I hope Johnson, the newly elected and energized leader of the Michigan Democratic Party, does not repeat the same old “game” that hoodwinks voters and doesn’t give them anything to look forward to.
Prior to his election, Johnson visited my office for an hour-long conversation about the fate of the Michigan Democratic Party, during which he was bustling with optimism speaking of a new era.
Johnson whose wife is Julianna Smoot, a former top fundraiser for President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, initially raising $880 million in 2008 and a similar amount in the last election, unseated the long-standing two-decades chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, Mark Brewer.
“I think people want a wholesale change. They recognize that what we are doing and how we are organizing ourselves, and how we are putting together our message, our team, there needs to be a change. This is not about any one institution or any one person,” Johnson said. “It’s a recognition that we are not winning and leadership starts at the top and you need to bring in the tools to get that done. And you need to start now. You cannot wait till 2014 or October 2014 to start the process.”
And waiting till 2014 is exactly what the party appears to be doing since there is no indication of a movement to build up a cohesive campaign next year.
In my interview with Johnson, I was impressed by his plans but only if he can implement them.
“Change to me means five things. One, we need to restructure our executive leadership. We need both a chair and an executive director. The role of the chair should be raising money, deliver the message and find others to deliver the message. Keep the table — the constituencies representing the Democratic Party — keep them together and expand that table,” Johnson explained.
“Two, we need to double the amount of money that we are raising. Three, we need to expand our outreach to minorities, women and younger voters. This is not a process we can start in June of 2014. We need to start now. And those programs need to come from the community. If they are coming from Lansing, from the MDP, they are going to fail. They need to come and be driven by the community and those plans have to be accountable. They have to have a budget, they have to be staffed, they need a timeline and we need to start right now.”
Next for him is technology.
“The Obama campaign used technology in three ways that we are now applying,” he continued. “One, they used technology to understand who they should be talking to. Second, they used technology to test what messages do we deliver to those targeted voters because information moves so fast. And lastly, they used technology in a whole new way to deliver that message, to empower the person to put stuff on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter.
“And last but not the least is recruitment. There is nothing more immediate or long-lasting that the MDP could do to recruit good candidates. I want to see a hundred new African American candidates, a hundred new Hispanic candidates, a hundred women candidates, a hundred candidates under the age of 35. Those candidates out of those hundred, 50 would win and 50 would fail. When you have new candidates, you bring them in and they will engage, bring their friends, workers, their families and you bring in new people and donors. But more importantly they bring in new ideas, approaches to the challenges we face.”
Notwithstanding all of these grand visions, the problem right now is that the leadership of the party is finding it difficult to identify winning candidates. If the party is serious about making a realistic stake for next year it should have been looking for candidates last year, not now or waiting toward the end of 2013.
Because there is no realistic pool of candidates from which to draw, an analogy that goes for Detroit as well, lacking a pool of qualified people to run for local office, the Dems are sure to hit a road bump next year or even a pothole.
Given that the chances of winning any major public office is like building a federal case to win, it’s hard to predict what the outcome of 2014 will be in the Democratic fortune column.
When Sen. Levin’s seat became open it was clear that Democratic powerhouse and female leader Debbie Dingell would have been an ideal candidate and one who polls showed had a shot at replacing Levin. But Dingell, who has fundraising prowess and understands Washington and Detroit, steadily initiating many White House projects for this region, withdrew her name from the race.
Congressman Peters is a fine legislator who goes to bat for Democrats and has a track record of doing so, but it would take more than that for him to win statewide against a former Secretary of State who’s won twice. Yes, Peters’ fighting ability is brilliant but there is no guarantee that he could easily win the Senate race. So that race is a gamble fair and square for both Peters and Land.
Yes, right-to-work law is fuel for energizing the base of the party, but it seems like Snyder is trying to put out that fire by pushing for and successfully gaining the expansion of Medicaid for the working poor.
So gubernatorial challenger Schauer will have to offer more than just right-to-work and his campaign of doing so must begin in Detroit.
Johnson, the party chair, promised to set up an office in Detroit. We’ll believe it when it comes to fruition, and if it is a sincere promise it should happen now.
If not, we’ll wait for the sleeping giant to wake up.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 10:08
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
The state board of canvassers will be in Detroit on Tuesday to officially certify the Detroit mayoral primary election.
This follows a motion to the Appeals Court Friday filed by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to have Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Joyce Draganchuk's temporary restraining order reversed.
Draganchuk's order was made Thursday and called for workers with the state Department of Elections to cease tabulations of uncounted write-in ballots from the city's contentious primary. A hearing on the order had been scheduled for Tuesday.
State canvassers will receive a summary report Tuesday on the write-in tabulations and certify the primary results.
Regardless of who the official primary winner is Benny Napoleon and Mike Duggan are still set to face off in the general election in November.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 September 2013 08:44
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