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Rainbow PUSH, creating economic empowerment for 13 years

Yemisi Odetoyinbo and Damya Lumpkin

Yemisi Odetoyinbo of University of Michigan (left) and Damya Lumpkin of Spelman College hold a check for $100,000

By Puakea Olaisha Anderson
Special to the Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund held its 13th Annual Global Automotive & Energy Summit Oct. 3 at the MGM Grand Detroit Hotel. This year’s theme, “Economic Party: One Voice, One Goal,” discussed leveling the playing field for minority firms who do business with automotive and energy companies. In addition to the summit, $100,000 in scholarships were given to 25 college students in pursuit of higher education.

Rainbow PUSH founder Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. hosted the event along with the organization’s executive director Glenda Gill.

“So many of our youth have good minds, good character and good backgrounds (but) just don’t have the money,” Jackson said. “We want to get them in college and get them to study subjects that make a real difference in their lives.”

The goal of Rainbow PUSH is to expand educational, business and employment opportunities for the disadvantaged and people of color to create economic empowerment.

“This is the hub of the automotive industry in Detroit,” Jackson said. “So many of us see a car that we want to drive; it’s so much more to the car than the ride. There are 7-13,000 parts to a car and parts involve engineers, lawyers, ad agencies, designers and all these dimensions of the automotive industry we want our youth to study the industry and not just settle for the ride in the car.”

Gill echoed Jackson’s sentiments.

“I hope (the students) see the greatness of what they can be, that this is inspiring for them, that in this environment they not only have funds for school and to continue their education, but to live their dream,” Gill told the Michigan Citizen.

“Some communities are disjointed and fragmented and for those who come from those types of communities, if their aspirations are there for them to go on to higher education then they can see people who are not in their current local environment.”

The students who attended the summit came from colleges across the country, including Butler University, Kentucky State, University of Michigan and Spelman, and major in programs that vary from education, law, corporate fitness and psychology. They were overwhelmed by the support and aspirations from Jackson and other guests. Many students expressed their gratitude in receiving the individual $2500 scholarship.

“It was unreal to get this scholarship. You always hear that there are scholarships out there and it was like winning the lottery, it was pretty overwhelming,” said Danario Barns, a student at Kentucky State University. “I want to come back to my community and really give back. I feel like I can teach in a classroom in Detroit and help the youth to prepare our next generation.”

Damya Lumpkin is a senior at Spelman College and aspires to be a lawyer. Her scholarship from Rainbow PUSH has helped her fulfill her dreams.

“I was really excited about the award, because it came from nowhere,” Lumpkin said. “I applied and I was not expecting to get anything so I was really blessed.”

Contact Puakea Olaisha Anderson at puakeaa@yahoo.com

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