Local organization honors Krystal Crittendon and other ‘Michigan Heroes’
By Ron Siegel
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — Unity in the Community (UITC) gave special awards Sept. 30 to eight people they’ve named “Michigan heroes,” including Detroit Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon and Gwendolyn Mingo, chair of the Coordinating Council of all Detroit citizen district councils representing the rights of residents in urban renewal areas.
“I felt in my heart that God was using them to make a positive difference,” said evangelist Sarella Johnson, who founded the Unity in the Community. “They were common people like anyone else, but they put themselves out for their community.”
The most prominent of those receiving the awards at the gathering was Crittendon, who filed a lawsuit against the city maintaining its Consent Agreement, which gave power over city agencies to the state, violated the city charter.
Crittendon said the CA violated provisions of the new city charter that forbade the city from entering into agreements with any entity that owed the city money. Crittendon pointed out that Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration failed to live up to an agreement made by former Gov. John Engler to provide financial aid to Detroit in exchange for the city’s refusal to tax local casinos. Some officials maintain Snyder’s failure to live up to Engler’s agreement created the financial crisis the current governor used as a justification for gaining more power over the city of Detroit.
On receiving the UTIC Michigan Heroes award at the end of September, Crittendon noted that because she filed the suit she was in danger of losing her job.
“I knew what I was doing. I knew what the charter said,” Crittendon said.
A rumor surfaced Nov. 1 that Mayor Dave Bing had plans to have Crittendon escorted from the city’s premises, following a local editorial calling for her removal from office.
On a local radio station Crittendon acknowledged she’d heard of the rumor. No action has been taken against the city’s top lawyer as of this publication.
“Defending checks and balances in our government, assuring people we elect do the job they’re elected to do. She faced personal attacks and mockery, but all she was doing was to uphold the law of the land,” Evangelist Johnson said of Crittendon. “She keeps her head up high and says that the law has to be fair to everyone.”
Gwndolyn Mingo was the second most prominent official to receive a UITC award. Mingo heads the Coordinating Council of all Detroit Citizens District Councils that were established in 1968 to represent individuals and businesses affected by urban renewal.
Evangelist Johnson said that Mingo was “defending the civil rights” of those in urban renewal areas “against all odds” maintaining they had “just as much right to a quality place to live.” Because of her stand, Johnson said “she had to deal with a lot of injustice in her own life.”
“We just do what we do, because it’s the right thing to do,” said Mingo. “It’s really serving God (by) what we do. That’s our charge.”
She added, “To me, it’s not only the physical award (that is gratifying), but the spirit in which the award was conceived, the spirit of appreciation and the holy spirit of appreciation. Coming together (for the awards) was like the intersection of gifts. The spirit of appreciation and the spirit of giving can change the spirit of Detroit.”
One month before the gathering an award was given to Grammy-award winning artist Kem of Detroit.
Evangelist Johnson noted that Kem faced obstacles in his early life and after he gained money and fame, he comes back to Detroit, raising money for those who do not have a place to live.
Others awarded for being Michigan Heroes were:
- Marion Harris, head of the Forest Park Citizens District Council, who worked to get the city to block off an area where cars illegally took a shortcut where no proper road existed, endangering children.
- Ernestine Robinson, who Johnson noted “fought for civil rights, human rights and senior rights with dedication, helping people and pour out the love, making an impact on people’s lives, including mine.”
- Minister Craig Dorsey, who labors “to make a difference in other people’s lives.”
- Lisa Cobb, who works to give people information on job opportunities and health care to those who do not have insurance
- This reporter was also an awardee
For more information or to recommend your hero be honored by UITC, call 313.615.0545.