U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow addresses the summit.Photo courtesy of Ann Savage

Powering Progress Together at Michigan Summit

March Forth: Building a Michigan That Works for All of Us

BY KATE OPALEWSKI

LANSING - More than 700 progressives, both veteran organizers and newcomers to progressive activism, came together on March 4 at the Lansing Center for the Michigan Progressive Summit organized by Progress Michigan.

It was an opportunity to listen to various speeches, attend breakout sessions with community leaders, network with like-minded individuals, and gather resources from progressive organizations throughout the state.

Specific issues discussed during breakout sessions included "Islamophobia: A Threat to All," "How We Repair Michigan's Broken Election System," "Organizing in Economically and Racially Isolated Communities," "Skills for Resisting the Corporate Take Over of Your Public School," and "Introduction to Transparency and Accountability in Government," to name a few.

"We are determined to make a difference, determined to stand up and fight back and say enough is enough. We're taking our country and our state back," said Lonnie Scott, executive director at Progress Michigan.

"We are here to learn from each other and to move forward together. We have no time in the next four years to be fighting amongst ourselves. We have real enemies to stand up against and policies to advance."

The summit, welcome to everyone, featured keynote addresses from Charlene Carruthers, national director of Black Youth Project 100 and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha who exposed elevated lead levels in the blood of Flint children. There was a "Progressive Soapbox" talk given by Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily's List, and also a panel discussion on "Journalism in Trump's America" featuring Michael Cohen from the Boston Globe and Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza from the Center for American Progress, moderated by Nancy Kaffer from the Detroit Free Press.

Hanna-Attisha, a Flint pediatrician, asked the audience to think about the city of Flint when they hear Republicans talking about deregulation.

"We need an active government, a responsive government, a strong government to help keep us safe. Government should not be run like a business," she said. "This is such an important gathering at a most critical time. We need your voice, we need your advocacy, we need all of you."

As a 31-year-old Black, queer feminist who is the national director of the BYP 100, Carruthers said she knows what it means to be in Detroit, "a post-industrial city that is a black city that is slowly becoming not a black city."

While traveling the world, Carruthers is encouraging people and communities across the globe to transform themselves.

"We have a duty to replicate ourselves, but make ourselves better. To make better leaders than who we are right now. In doing that, we can actually transform this place into somewhere we want to live and want to see. Someplace our children can make even better and bigger than what we imagined it to be."

Carruthers reminds attendees that, "It's not just enough to dismantle a system without imagining what's possible. We need to have something to replace it with."

To be progressive, she said, we have to support solutions that work for everybody, even those we consider "the least" in society. That means, "if you're discussing how to solve problems and you're surrounded by people that look like you, have the same background as you, have the same experiences as you, that's a problem."

The audience erupted when U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow unexpectedly entered the room to encourage attendees to continue mobilizing.

"We have to be loud and organized and push back," she said, pointing to the number of healthcare, airport and women's rallies she has witnessed over the last few months.

"I tell you nothing makes me feel better than to see a pink hat. It's phenomenal, this kind of engagement, speaking out against racism and sexism and homophobia. What you are doing is making an incredible difference."

Progressive Resources

AFT Michigan

2661 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit

313-393-2200

http://www.aftmichigan.org/

America Votes

http://www.americavotes.org

Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan

104 W. Fourth St., Suite 306, Royal Oak

231-631-4469, info@mieconomicjustice.org

http://www.mieconomicjustice.org/

Global Detroit

4444 2nd Ave., Detroit

primary@globaldetroit.com

http://www.globaldetroit.com/

AFL CIO Michigan

419 S. Washington Square, Lansing

517-587-5966

http://www.miaflcio.org/

Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights

http://www.facebook.com/MRCCUnion/

EMERGE Michigan

PO Box 250661, Franklin

contact@emergemi.org

http://www.emergemi.org

Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association

28342 Dartmouth St., Madison Heights

313-655-7945

http://www.2glrea.org/

ACLU of Michigan

2966 Woodward Ave., Detroit

313-578-6800

http://www.acluofmich.org

Planned Parenthood of Michigan

PO Box 3673, Ann Arbor

734-926-4800, contact@ppmi.org

http://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-michigan

Mothering Justice

248-607-0879, info@motheringjustice.org

http://www.motheringjustice.org

Michigan Education Association

1216 Kendale Blvd., East Lansing

800-292-1934, webmaster@mea.org

http://www.mea.org

Michigan League for Public Policy

1223 Turner St., Lansing

517-487-5436

http://www.mlpp.org/

For more information about Progress Michigan, visit the organization's website.
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