Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Donald James
REV. WENDELL ANTHONY, president of the Detroit Branch NAACP, the largest branch in the nation, speaks to the Michigan Chronicle at his Detroit office.— Andre Smith photo
As president of the Detroit Branch NAACP, Rev. Wendell Anthony has a long track record of fighting against injustices and systems that foster discriminatory practices designed to disempower and disenfranchise African-Americans in Detroit and beyond. Now in his 10th term as president, Anthony and the local branch of the NAACP, the nation’s largest, continue to stand at the vanguard of freedom, ready, willing and able to oppose all entities that threaten the rights of African-Americans.
While Anthony continues to lead epic fights on the battlefields of injustice, he and the Detroit Branch NAACP are vigorously battling to rebuff a law in Michigan that has allowed an emergency manager (EM) to assume full power in Detroit.
A new emergency manager law was pushed through by a Republican-controlled state legislature in 2012, after Michigan voters went to the polls to overwhelmingly voice their opposition to any such law. The hurried-through new law allowed Gov. Rick Snyder to appoint Kevyn Orr as Detroit’s EM. The appointment gave Orr complete control over the city’s executive and legislature branches of government.
The local NAACP, as well as a large contingent of other concerned community, religious and civil rights activists, believe such an appointment is illegal and unconstitutional.
“This emergency manager concept is more than a notion,” said Anthony, from his office. “What’s being done with this emergency manager takeover in Detroit is unfair, undemocratic and is a snatching away of our rights, and it’s not just a Detroit phenomenon, it’s a national strategy that I believe many in the Republican and conservative communities are utilizing to retain and recoup powers from communities of color. They are looking at the growing demographics of Black and Brown people in America and are doing everything they can to hold on to power.”
To add insult to injury, Anthony and other local civil rights and community groups have taken exception to Orr’s condescending words pertaining to Detroit, shortly after announcing that the city was filing for bankruptcy at his behest. Orr was quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal article as saying, “For a long time the city has been dumb, lazy, happy and rich.”
Orr also said, “If you had an eighth-grade education, you’ll get 30 years of a good job and a pension and great health care, but you don’t have to worry about what’s going to come…”
“Mr. Orr’s recent comments strike at the heart and soul of all Detroiters,” Anthony said. “His comments are ones that would be attributed to Rush Limbaugh, Shawn Hannity, George Will…even Clarence Thomas has not said that. Now, we (all Detroiters) have a window into the heart and soul of Kevyn Orr. The fact that he can say this to the Wall Street Journal, America’s premier bastion of conservative rhetoric, ideas, thinking and policies, is untenable.”
Many Detroiters who learned of Orr’s remarks, were reminded of negative comments made by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a fundraiser on last year’s presidential campaign trail.
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president (Obama) no matter what,” Romney said. “All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Anthony said that in addition to Orr, Gov. Snyder must also be held responsible for words, actions, and the disrespect for the people of Detroit.
“Orr is Gov. Rick Snyder’s man; he is his appointment,” Anthony said. “It’s really Rick Snyder who is running Detroit. Kevyn Orr is his operational man, but Gov. Snyder needs to check his operational man.”
Anthony believes an apology from Orr, or from Gov. Snyder, is not enough, even though the EM recently addressed the brewing issue with a local television reporter.
“He didn’t apologize; he tried to justify,” Anthony said. “Mr. Orr just needs to go. We believe that his credibility is gone. How can you manage and reconstruct Detroit when you don’t respect Detroit? How can you come into the community and say that you want to work with the community, as if you respect the people, when we have on record that you think we are ‘dumb, lazy, happy and rich’? The city of Detroit deserves much better than that because we are much better than that.”
The Detroit Branch NAACP has filed lawsuits in federal courts, citing that the EM’s presence in Detroit is illegal and unconstitutional, which is resulting in the disempowerment of the people in Detroit. Anthony, senior pastor at Fellowship Chapel, expects some preliminary rulings on the lawsuits later this month, and is hoping that a final ruling comes sometime in October.
While waiting for the court rulings, Anthony vows to continue to speak out to stop discrimination, prejudice, and injustices when African-Americans in Detroit and across the nation are impacted.
In addition to his leadership role with the Detroit Branch NAACP, Anthony is the founder of the Fannie Lou Hamer Political Action Committee, a grassroots activist organization that supports issues and candidates locally and nationally.
He is also chairman and founder of the Freedom Institute for Economic Social Justice and People Empowerment.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 10:10
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
’ve been fending off surrogates from all sides of the political debate and was lately pulled into a conversation where the topic was the impact of race in this election. I find myself, like a surgeon, struggling to decipher whether this election should be about race or Black empowerment.
Because common sense solutions and approaches in a political climate ought to empower people, any people regardless of who they are or what their background is.
And because Black empowerment is the making of choices whether political, economic, educational or social that advances the quality of life of Blacks in a given environment, the elephant in the political room lately has been race and where it fits in the context of Black empowerment in the hotly contested mayoral showdown where a White candidate Mike Duggan came out of the primary heavily leading Benny Napoleon, his African-American challenger.
So if we go by the above definition, which of these two candidates is prepared to advocate Black empowerment in a majority African-American city like Detroit? Which has a plan that enhances the quality of life of people who live in Detroit and pay high taxes and insurance rates, when a few miles away it’s a different story, beyond Eight Mile, by the change of a zip code?
In this context a superficial response to these questions would limit one to the narrow confines of our collective wellbeing.
Sound political judgment and race-neutral politics, which should be the hallmark of this general election, is not an indictment on Black mayors who have served this city for only four decades.
In Gov. Rick Snyder’s own words, the problems facing Detroit have been brewing for sixty years, long before the advent of Black political leadership.
However, we cannot excuse the failures of those who served this city from Coleman A. Young to Dave Bing. But there were others before them, including Mayor Louis Miriani, who went to jail for federal tax evasion in the 1960s. There is a lot of blame to go around in this election and the state of bankruptcy.
For decades racial politics has been the powder keg for most elections in this town and it is bound to rear its head as we head in early October.
We’ll hear from surrogates of the candidates drumming Black empowerment in the context of strongly expressing racial pride by supporting Napoleon, while others will be arguing that while it is significant to express racial pride, it doesn’t mean that supporting Duggan, a White candidate, in itself is a bad omen if he has the desire and expressed plan to address the crisis in a majority Black city.
On the one hand there is a tendency to use a historical body of evidence — from slavery to Jim Crow to institutional racism that still lurks behind the façade of some institutions today struggling with the notion of diversity — as a criteria for our political choices, which affirms our empowerment. There is nothing wrong with that because we are guided by the dictates of history.
But it would be a serious error for us to ignore pragmatic and contemporary considerations concerning our present social and economic challenges. Blacks have elected White presidents for decades until President Obama came onto the scene in 2008, so the race question should actually not be an issue. It should be about who has the best plan to effectively deal with the problems facing Detroit.
The debate about weighing the historical body of evidence against our current realities and conditions in Detroit, and placing it at the forefront of the mayor’s race played out before with President Obama, where a segment of the Black intelligentsia argued that he must unequivocally demonstrate his “Blackness” by identifying specially targeted Black programs for the Black community.
At the same time, there are those in the Black intelligentsia who argued that Obama should identify programs that benefit not only Blacks but other communities that have suffered similarly to Blacks.
The struggle to balance the scales of justice, economic parity, public safety and full empowerment of Detroiters in this mayor’s race where some critics of Duggan argue that because of his skin color, he can’t define Black empowerment, while some supporters of Napoleon say he can by virtue of his skin color, is nothing sort of a double consciousness.
It will be a dangerous misnomer to solely define candidates and issues through the prism of race. While race rightly remains a subtext of many issues because of history (I don’t believe we live in a post-racial America), we must strive to look at the issues that affect us all through the compass of common sense directives.
The preeminence of common sense beckons us to act with basic good sense in our best interest. And we must ask the question in this mayor’s race: which candidate has the best interest and is prepared to address the difficult needs that Detroit currently has?
To address those needs and produce common sense solutions, we don’t need platitudes and filibusters. We need a program and a plan from Duggan and Napoleon that will move Detroit from its current economic doldrums and the squelchy marshes of despondency and despair to a brand new day of meaningful empowerment.
Because the history of this city is fraught with pain, along with the success, there are many in this town who have suffered and have witnessed the abuse of political power when it was supposed to serve and protect them.
There are many in this town who are cut out of the dream of a fulfilling life and have now been relegated to economic instability. Some of these individuals are pensioners and retirees whose benefits could easily, by the stroke of a pen, disappear in bankruptcy court. And all of this is happening because of decades of failed political power.
So, Detroiters must search deeply for the best candidate. As Thomas Paine rightly put it, “These are times that try the souls of men.” The soul of Detroit is not only been tried but is on trial in this election.
The bottom line is public safety and a depressed economy. Obama got elected largely because voters felt he had a better plan than both Sen. John McCain and Gov. Mitt Romney. He was elected simply on the merit of his vision. But having a Black president is not a cure-all for racism.
The campaigns of Duggan and Napoleon must offer more than just expecting to play to the sentiments of race and racism. These two candidates must show how clearly different each is on the issues and who has the best plan, creative vision and the willingness to listen to many in Detroit whose lives and experiences do not mirror the American Dream.
Let’s deal with the candidates on the merits of their program, the content of their character and their passion for public service.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 10:06
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Yesterday, Detroiters spoke loud and clear, despite the expected low voter turnout, that they want former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon to advance to the general election, thus creating a dramatic and unprecedented political race.
For months we’ve seen a mayoral field that attracted nearly 20 candidates, most of whom were aware of the fact that they were not qualified to become the chief executive of this great city, and knew they had no chance of winning.
These nonentities were edging close to reducing the mayor’s race to a political cartoon or joke when it was, by necessity, an incredibly serious search for leadership of this city in the era of chapter 9 bankruptcy and the presence of an emergency manager.
The last series of debates did not reveal a lot, much to the chagrin of all present, and that includes debate organizers. What was supposed to have been an opportunity for candidate to offer taxpaying residents meaningful dialogue, including laying out real and feasible plans became an anger and frustration conference.
It was an agony to attend some of the primary debates. I felt that Detroit was being cheated out of a real conversation about this city’s future that encompasses all of the issues that have contributed to where the city finds itself today.
And so the decision by voters to select Napoleon and Duggan now allows for a real mayor’s race, one that is expected to be tough because passions will run high and we know there will be ideological, political and even personal clashes. But such is the nature of political races.
The decision by Detroit voters to choose Duggan and Napoleon on Tuesday ought to be respected. Moreover, it ought to be a lesson for political observers. Despite months of polls that have sometimes suggested otherwise, the best polling is on Election Day, and Detroit voters have demonstrated that they want a real race, minus the kind of posturing and toxic dialogue that clouded the mayoral primary.
This city’s future hangs in the balance under an emergency manager who has filed for bankruptcy on behalf the city because of its financial troubles. The future is uncertain for many Detroiters and the results from Tuesday night’s election is not a real comfort for those many who are disturbed about the general state of affairs, including inadequate city services.
Now we have two candidates who would show Detroit that each is capable of captaining the Detroit ship after the exit of an emergency manager or when the city is out of bankruptcy.
These two candidates for the next three months owe Detroit and obligation to not only tell the truth but also present clearly their plans for navigating out of its present situation.
There will much attention paid to this race, as much or more than any other mayor’s race in history because of the uniqueness of the campaign and the fact that one of the two candidates is White in an overwhelmingly Black city.
But beyond that, far more important than race, are issues that Detroit is grappling with, among them public safety, abandoned houses, vacant land, lack of public lighting and more.
Now is the time to see their plans and programs, and then let the voters once again decide. The mayor’s race has in a sense just begun and we must ask hard questions of the candidates. Those who seek to occupy the highest office of this city must first prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that they are worthy.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 10:21
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Steve Holsey
There has never been a more unusual, a more challenging, or even a more scary time to be a Detroiter than right now.
We are a city with an emergency manager who is, in essence, running the show, forcing the mayor and everyone else previously in power to take back seats.
A city that, despite a resilience that has been proven repeatedly, finds itself in chapter 9 bankruptcy. How embarrassing is that! Not many among us could have ever imagined such a thing happening.
How many cities have an incarcerated former mayor?
This is the city that is synonymous with cars and, in fact, put the nation on wheels. Also the city that is world renowned for some of the greatest and most enduring music the world has ever known.
But the Motor/Music City is also famous for its shamefully high crime rate, good neighborhoods gone bad, poorly performing schools, and on it goes.
But something very different is going to develop and emerge from all this. The fact that Mike Duggan, a White man, was the top vote getter in the Primary Election, with the Black favorite coming in second, speaks volumes — and in a city that is approximately 85 percent Black.
What it says is that Detroiters have had enough, they are tired of the same old thing, disgusted with poorly behaving public officials, sick of robberies, infuriated by car theft and through-the-roof insurance rates, angered by gun-toting young hoodlums, disappointed about having so many street lights that don’t work, angered by basic city services lacking, unable to believe why things progress so slowly, and let’s not forget being tired of being the brunt of mean-spirited, most often unfair jokes.
The people are fed up with being fed up!
There are those who will make an issue of Mike Duggan’s race — some will even sarcastically refer to him as “a White savior” — but the truth is, this is not about race. It is about having someone in the city’s top office who can bring about real and lasting change. What worked before will clearly not work now.
In essence, people are more than willing to try something new. The next mayor could be White, Black, Hispanic, Asian or anything else. Just so he is a person of integrity, and someone who has a lot of things to bring to the table that are unprecedented.
At this juncture it cannot be any other way.
Detroit has long been “a tale of two cities.” One is new developments, new hopes, incredible plans for the future, residents who love the city and are determined to see it survive and thrive. The other is beleaguered and sometimes seemingly in danger of not making it.
But Detroit will make it. It always does. And it is the belief of this writer that both of the mayoral candidates — Benny Napoleon and Mike Duggan — care deeply about the city. It is a love that bodes well for Detroit’s future, no matter who the winner is in November.
Despite the challenges, there is excitement in the air.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 10:22
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
DETROIT (WJBK) -
For a man that has been suspended from the bench, Third Circuit Court Judge Wade McCree sure spends a lot of time in court.
Monday, he was in front of the full Judicial Tenure Commission, the last stop before his fate is decided by the Michigan Supreme Court. If the proceedings were any indication, it's not going to end up well for McCree.
"That same type of thing goes on today in kingdoms, at least with rock stars and others, and it also went on with this self-proclaimed king of latex, who walked through his court, selected a woman and made her his mistress," said Paul Fischer, general counsel for the Judicial Tenure Commission.
"Judge McCree testified falsely under oath. He is unfit to sit in judgement of others."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 August 2013 07:17
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the Michigan Chronicle Digital Daily newsletter!