Detroiters begin resistance to the Emergency Manager
By Grace Lee Boggs
Special to the Michigan Citizen
Last week, in this column, Attorney Alice Jennings wrote:
“As I watched the 50th anniversary celebration of the 1963 March on Washington last week, I realized that the civil rights movement of the 1950-60s, which changed this country so profoundly, emerged out of resistance to the legislation and practices of the Jim Crow South;
“And I envisioned an equally historic movement that can now be built out of resistance to the escalating counter-revolution of Tea Partiers and state legislatures. This new movement has already begun with the fight-back of North Carolina citizens in the Moral Mondays demonstrations led by the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and the Rev. Nelson Johnson from Greensboro’s Beloved Community.
“Over a thousand people have been arrested at the North Carolina State House in Raleigh N.C., and the marches have now expanded statewide to both urban and rural North Carolina cities. At Mountain Moral Monday over 10,000 people, mainly North Carolina citizens, responded to the roll back of their voting rights, employment rights, criminal justice rights, women’s rights, and food justice. A Resistance movement cannot be built overnight.
“The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950-60s involved years of organizing, arrests, beatings, sit-ins, community meetings, voter registration drives, church sermons, freedom riders, teach-ins, union strikes, marches and courtroom strategy. Many were martyred, both known and unknown: Emmett Till — 1954 in Money, Mississippi; Reverend George Lee — 1955 in Belzoni, Mississippi; Medgar Evers — 1963 in Jackson, Mississippi; Four little girls: Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson — 1963 Birmingham, Alabama; James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner — 1964 in Philadelphia, Mississippi; Viola Gregg Liuzzo — 1965 in Selma, Alabama; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — 1968 in Memphis, Tenn.”
In Detroit, the Resistance movement against the Emergency Manager imposed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has just begun with sit-ins at the Emergency Manager’s office.
These sit-ins make clear the Emergency Manager issue is mainly a moral issue, not a financial one. Detroit’s financial problems began with the racism of whites who abandoned the increasingly black cities at the end of World War II, taking with them taxes, businesses and schools. Then they strip-mined cities by privatizing almost all services, attacking public workers and their unions, while at the same time providing billion dollar tax cuts for large businesses and cutting revenue sharing to the cities, eventually electing right wing state legislatures which passed anti-labor, anti-women, and “stand your ground” laws which encouraged George Zimmerman to murder Trayvon Martin.
Detroiters can’t let the counter-revolutionaries’ numeric distractions confuse the contextual truth about Emergency Manager dictatorship. We have a moral imperative to continue the resistance.