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Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in its first-ever case dealing with transgender rights.

The Michigan transgender woman at the center of it all will be there watching.

via NAACP

Ten presidential candidates, nine Democrats and one Republican, made their cases to voters at the NAACP’s national convention in Detroit Wednesday.

Senators Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Amy Klobuchar took the stage at a voter forum moderated by White House correspondent April Ryan. Former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, and former Texas State Rep. Beto O’Rourke rounded out the Democrats in the field. Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld was the sole Republican there.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit is hosting the national NAACP’s 110th annual convention this week, and Democratic lawmakers are flocking there to address convention-goers ahead of the 2020 election.

This year’s convention motto is “When we fight, we win.” It’s heavily focused on engaging and mobilizing Black voter turnout next year, as well influencing policy on like voting rights, criminal justice reform, and other racial justice issues central to the historic civil rights group’s agenda.

group of 10 African American people holding protest signs and the seal of the NAACP and smiling
Courtesy of Kyra Mitchell

Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People calls itself the “oldest and the boldest” civil rights organization. But some question whether the NAACP is as bold as it could be.

While Black Lives Matter activists are fighting police brutality in the city streets of America, the NAACP is better known for working within the system. But does that strategy resonate with a younger generation of civil rights activists?  

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The ACLU of Michigan is asking a federal judge to toss out a lawsuit filed by parents against the Williamston Community School Board.

The lawsuit claims a board policy that’s supposed to protect LGBTQ students from harassment is unfair to their children – and that it violates their First Amendment rights.

Jay Kaplan is an ACLU attorney. He says the policy protects the rights of LGBTQ students.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

 

Today on Stateside, a Republican proposal to fix Michigan’s roads is circulating in Lansing that wouldn't raise taxes. Plus a look at avian botulism, a disease that’s killing waterfowl across the Great Lakes.

Hosts Rima Fadlallah and Yasmeen Kadouh sit at microphones
David Guralnick

 

 

Today on Stateside, we talk to Democratic congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, from Michigan's 8th congressional district, about the current tensions with Iran and the debate in the Democratic party over impeachment. Plus, two young women from Dearborn talk about the inspiration for their new podcast, which highlights the stories of Arab and Muslim women in the city. 

headshot of brenda lawrence in red blazer
Office of Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence

 

 

Juneteenth is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. For many years, Detroit Congressman John Conyers used the occasion to introduce a proposal for reparations for slavery. 

 

Democratic Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, who represents Michigan's 14th congressional district, is carrying on that tradition.

Wayne State University

Judge Damon J. Keith died Sunday at the age of 96. The Detroit native, one of the nation’s longest-serving federal judges, was a tireless champion of civil rights and civil liberties.

calder plaza in downtown Grand Rapids
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Several Grand Rapids residents spoke in favor of proposed changes to a civil rights ordinance at a public meeting Tuesday night.

One change to the ordinance would make it illegal to call the police on people of color when they aren’t doing anything wrong. Doing so would be a misdemeanor if the city adopts the changes.

downtown Grand Rapids
Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

The city of Grand Rapids is holding a public hearing Tuesday evening to discuss proposed changes to its civil rights ordinance.

One change to the ordinance would make it illegal to call the police on people of color when they aren’t doing anything wrong. Doing so would be a misdemeanor if the city adopts the changes.

WMU Archives

It was four months after he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and only four weeks after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. 

kids at a desk
Mr. Ullman's Class / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Gay rights, Roe v. Wade, climate change and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). These are just a few of the references that state Senator Patrick Colbeck and a group of conservative leaders hope to eliminate from K-12 public school social studies curriculum.

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Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and House Speaker Tom Leonard have asked Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to issue an opinion on a controversial decision by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

The commission said last month it would consider housing, employment and public accommodation  discrimination claims by LGBTQ people under the state's anti-discrimination law (ELCRA) -- because the category of "sex" in the act should be interpreted to include sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as the more traditional understanding of sex.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission defends humanity

May 22, 2018
LGBT Pride Flag
Tyrone Warner / flickr

Let’s say there had been a Michigan Civil Rights Commission in 1961, and it announced that it was going to start investigating claims of discrimination against black people.

Danielle McGuire

It was an electrifying moment at last week's Golden Globes when Oprah Winfrey put the spotlight on a black woman from Alabama named Recy Taylor. In 1944, as she was coming home from church, Recy Taylor was kidnapped and raped by six white men. They left her blindfolded by the side of the road and threatened to kill her if she told anyone what had happened. She did anyway. Nevertheless, justice was never served.

A cell at Alcatraz Prison.
Dave Nakayama / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Next week, the Michigan Court of Appeals will be hearing a case to determine whether prisoners are protected under Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

The Michigan Constitution states, “No person shall be denied the equal protection of the law,” but the Legislature decided that doesn’t apply to prisoners.

The case is a class action suit representing male juveniles who allege they were raped and otherwise sexually assaulted by older prisoners and that guards knew of the assaults. It also alleges that some guards groped the teenage prisoners.

The case was filed in 2013, and the Attorney General’s office has filed dozens of appeals seeking stays, which has dragged the case out.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Latino leaders and others told the Lansing city council during a public hearing last Monday night why the city should rename part of a city street after activist Cesar Chavez. 

The civil rights icon died in 1993. 

In 1994, Lansing officials renamed part of Grand River Avenue street for Chavez. But a public vote reversed the decision the next year.   

Marisol Garcia says the rebuke still stings.

“It does because I have children,” says Garcia. “For them to see that the city of Lansing is not accepting of an important leader to our community…it’s hurtful.”

LBJ Presidential Library

News media around the world are talking about Detroit’s resurgence.

Politicians in the city and the state, such as Gov. Rick Snyder, hype its revitalization.

“New investments have helped fuel a rapid dramatic transformation of Detroit and today it’s America’s comeback city,” he said in a video.

But that’s only part of the story of Detroit.

In the city’s neighborhoods, many people are still struggling.

However, there was a plan released in the 1960s to help end racial discrimination in Detroit and the nation.

Ken Lund / Flickr

Sixteen Muslim men are suing Brose Jefferson auto supplier in Warren for religious discrimination. They say they "involuntarily resigned" after their employer forced them to choose between their religion and their jobs.

The incident took place in May, when the men made a request regarding their daily meal break. The men worked a 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift, and their standard half-hour break was at 7 p.m. During Ramadan, some Muslims choose to fast until sundown, and they asked their employer to push their meal break to 9 p.m.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In a late night vote, the Paw Paw School Board voted to keep the Redskin name and image as its mascot.

Supporters for keeping the mascot say the name is not used in a derogatory way and is a respected identifier for the community.

Paw Paw High School sophomore Morgan Dwyer says changing the name is an issue being pushed by outsiders, who she likened to school bullies.

“Ever since you’re little your parents always tell you, don’t shape who you are to please other people and I mean, I don’t know, I just feel this whole ordeal is a bigger version of that,” she said.

Rainbow flag, often associated with the LGBT movement
User Marlith / Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Jackson City Council has voted 5-2 to expand its non-discrimination ordinance to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.

The new ordinance bars discrimination against LGBT people in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

"There was consensus and agreement that no one should have to live in fear of losing their jobs,  being evicted from their house, or refused service at a restaurant or a store because they happen to be a member of the LBGT community," said Derek Dobies, Jackson's vice-mayor and a city council member. Dobies supports the new ordinance.

“You are our last hope,” Flint resident Tony Palladino told the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission report on the Flint water crisis will likely not recommend a lawsuit to seek remediation for people affected by the city’s lead-tainted tap water.

The commissioners received a draft report yesterday. The final report will not be made public until next month.

The commission held three public hearings in Flint in 2016, taking testimony from city residents and others. Beyond the water crisis, the panel also examined Flint’s housing and other issues.

Wikimedia Commons

A broad group of civil rights advocates is cheering an Obama Administration decision this week to dismantle the National Security Entry-Exit Registration system (NSEERS).

That U.S. Homeland Security program required visiting males from 25 countries—nearly all of them Muslim-majority countries--to register with the U.S. government, providing background and other information beyond what’s normally required for a visa.

Senator Jeff Sessions speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC in 2011.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Some Detroit leaders, clergy, and activists spoke out against Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. Attorney General on Monday, denouncing him as someone who would “take us back to the Jim Crow era.”

They said Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, has a particularly bad history when it comes to African-American voting rights, and other civil rights issues.

But Rev. Paul Perez, with the Detroit conference of the United Methodist Church, says that’s not the only area of concern.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Justice Department will monitor the polls in three Michigan cities tomorrow. 

The federal monitors will be in Detroit, Dearborn Heights and Hamtramck.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division plans to deploy more than 500 personnel to 67 jurisdictions in 28 states.

The monitors will be there to enforce federal voting rights laws.

From left: Michigan NAACP President Yvonne White, national NAACP President Cornell Brooks, and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan chapters of the NAACP met in Detroit for the group’s 80th statewide convention this weekend.

The historic group talked strategies to confront current civil rights challenges, that range from police brutality and criminal justice reform, to state laws that limit voting rights.

National NAACP President Cornell Brooks, who spoke at the Michigan conference, called 2016 a "critical year" for the modern civil rights and racial justice movements, as well as a critical election year.

Flickr user Rich Renomeron/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

A person who wanted to transition from a male to female identity has lost a lawsuit against her former employer.

RG & GR Harris Funeral Home fired Aimee Stephens for planning to dress as a female at work.

The owner said he believes gender is an immutable, God-given gift.

Attorneys for Stephens say the ruling will make it nearly impossible to enforce any civil rights law, if an employer can say the law is against its religious beliefs.

Attorneys for the funeral home say the ruling is a victory for religious liberty, and a check on government intrusion.

Emily Dievendorf, president of the Lansing Association for Human Rights, joined Stateside today and said this ruling could lead to “pretty far-reaching implications” for both transgender people and others in the workplace.

 A mural by Louis Delsarte at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic site.
Flickr user yooperann/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

This week, violence and race have hit us in a way many of us have never seen.

Violence and race, though, are not new. The Detroit Journalism Cooperative has been looking at the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Some of the core issues then are some of the issues we're still struggling with today.

You've got to understand the history to really understand what's happened this week.

Dorothy Aldridge and Sylvia Morgan in front of an exhibit at the National Civil Rights Museum​ in Memphis​ showcasing Detroit activist Viola Liuzzo, who was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan while driving black voting rights activists between Selma and Montgom
Eric L. Hood

How do you get students to really appreciate history?

One powerful way is to get those students out of the classroom and take them to historic sites, bringing that history off the page and making it real.

That's the idea behind the Freedom Tour. 

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