On this day in 1972: Segregationist George Wallace wins Mich. Democratic presidential primary

Former Alabama Gov. George Wallace — who once declared, “I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” — won the Michigan Democratic Presidential Primary on May 16, 1972, with ease.
He outpaced former Vice President Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, U.S. Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota and U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm of New York City, the first African American woman to wage a presidential bid.

Wallace captured 51% of the vote; McGovern had 27%; Humphrey took 16% and Chisholm secured 3%. The Alabama governor won 79 of Michigan 83 counties, including Allegan, Macomb, Mackinac, Monroe, Wayne and Oakland. However, McGovern beat Wallace in Ingham County, where the Michigan State University is located, and Washtenaw County, where Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan are located.

While campaigning in Laurel, Md., on May 15, 1972, Wallace was shot five times by 21-year-old Arthur Bremer, former busboy and janitor from Milwaukee, who had attended Wallace campaign rallies in Lansing and Cadillac in recent days. The wound would leave Wallace paralyzed from the waist down. The Alabama governor also won Maryland’s primary on May 16.

Sander Levin, the 1970 and 1974 Michigan Democratic Party gubernatorial nominee who had once served as state party chair, told the Advance on May 5 that Wallace’s win was “deeply troubling.” Levin, who had backed presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-Maine) until his candidacy ended in late April, later became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Several labor unions, traditional Democratic party allies, organized to thwart Wallace’s Michigan effort. Gov. William Milliken, a moderate Republican, lamented the Alabama governor’s Michigan win.

“I do not approve of Mr. Wallace’s approach, his politics, his position on many, many issues,” according to Detroit Free Press reporting on May 17, 1972.

Doug Fraser, the United Auto Worker political head, was concerned about Wallace’s appeal to American voters.

“It seems to me that in the politics of November, both political parties and politicians of both parties and other establishment people, had better take a hard look at what happened in Michigan Tuesday,” he told the Detroit Free Press at the time.

How did Wallace beat more conventional Dems?

Wallace defied John F. Kennedy administration directives in 1963 and fought to keep African Americans from attending the University of Alabama Several months earlier, he declared during his gubernatorial inauguration speech that year.

“It is very appropriate that from this cradle of the confederacy, this very heart of the great Anglo-Saxon Southland, that today we sound the drum for freedom as have our generations of forebears before us time and again down through history,” Wallace stated. “Let us rise to the call for freedom-loving blood that is in us and send our answer to the tyranny that clanks its chains upon the South. In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Wallace ran as an independent presidential candidate in 1968. During a campaign political rally at Detroit’s Cobo Arena, supporters of Wallace and hecklers physically fought each other. City police charged and clubbed some demonstrators outside of the building.

“The free-for-all broke out near the end of Wallace’s speech,” according to Detroit Free Press reporting on Oct. 30, 1968. “It subsided as Wallace finished talking and the band struck up ‘Dixie.’”

Ultimately, Humphrey, the eventual Democratic Party nominee, defeated GOP nominee former Vice President Richard Nixon in Michigan by 6 percentage points and won the state’s 21 electoral votes in 1968. But Nixon won the presidency.

By the 1972 election, cross-district busing to achieve equality between Blacks, whites and Browns, the aftermath of the 1967 Detroit rebellion, the Equal Rights Amendment and Vietnam War protests angered some white voters. Nixon was running for reelection.

Mark Brewer was a junior at Mount Clemens High School in Macomb County in 1972. The future Michigan Democratic Party chair who served from 1995 and 2013, believes that Democrats and Republicans who had the motivation to crossover and vote for Wallace helped the Alabama governor win the ‘72 Michigan Democratic primary.

Wallace campaigned in Michigan for five days as the primary election approached, continuing delivering his anti-busing position. He attracted 3,000 people during a rally at Halmich Park in Warren and 2,000 people at a Michigan Jaycees State Convention meeting in Lansing on the Saturday before the May 16 primary.

“Nixon was going to be the nominee, so there was nothing going on the Republican side,” said Brewer. “And on our side was this very competitive race. It was a mix. I don’t blame Republicans entirely at all. [Wallace] had appeal to Democratic voters. Some Democratic voters voted for him.”

Horace Sheffield III was a graduating senior at Detroit Cass Technical High School. The son of a union leader who had led efforts to register voters in the South during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, Sheffield was not shocked by the 1972 election results.

“During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, it would not have been popular for some people to express their opinions, so this was a backlash,” said Sheffield.

In 1972, Laura Carter Callow was a founder member of the Northwest Wayne Chapter of the National Organization for Women. Her Southeast Michigan organization had been fighting for Congress to pass the ERA.

She told the Advance this month that Wallace’s Michigan win was centered on Republicans voting to hurt the state Democratic Party.

“There was a deliberate crossover to make Democrats look bad,” said Callow.

Slightly more than 3,000 delegates participated in the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Fla. McGovern secured 1,729 and was the party’s nominee.

Wallace, partially paralyzed from the Maryland shooting, spoke at the Democratic National Convention from his wheelchair on July 11, 1972. He predicted that the Democrats would lose the general election unless they backed his call for a constitutional amendment to ban busing. He said voters are “against the senseless, asinine busing of little schoolchildren,” according to Associated Press reporting.

Wallace died on Sept. 13, 1998, at age 79.

Nixon went on to defeat McGovern in a huge landslide in the general election in November.

Brewer told the Advance that the 1972 Wallace run did have an impact on how the Michigan Democratic Party carried out future nominating processes. In some contests, the MDP has held a caucus so as to better keep out Republican and independent voters.

“It makes raiding a lot harder,” said Brewer.

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Michigan has had a Black member of Congress since 1955. Will that change in 2023?

Michigan’s new independent redistricting commission made waves last month by approving a new congressional map for the next 10 years that likely will force some incumbents to run against one another.
This month, U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), the only African-American member of Michigan’s congressional delegation, announced she won’t seek reelection this fall. U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), who is Palestinian American, holds the other Southeast Michigan seat and has said she will run this year.

Now, as several candidates began to offer their names for the two newly reconfigured metro Detroit-area House districts, some Black leaders are concerned about whether any African Americans will represent Michigan in the U.S. House.

The Rev. Charles Williams II, an African American Detroit pastor, wants to see someone who is Black represent the new 12th and 13th districts.

“The districts are presentable for a Black to win,” said Williams.

Detroit is the largest majority-Black city in the nation. And notably, Michigan has had at least one Black member in its D.C. delegation since 1955 when Democrat Charles C. Diggs Jr. of Detroit was sworn in as a U.S. House member. Detroit Democrat John Conyers joined him in 1965.

The 12th District includes a portion of Detroit and Oakland County, as well as western Wayne County communities such as Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Livonia, Westland, Garden City and Redford Township. The 13th District includes a portion of Detroit, as well as other Wayne County communities of Highland Park, Hamtramck, Harper Woods, the Grosse Pointes, Allen Park, River Rouge, Melvindale and Taylor.

Neither district is majority-Black, even though Detroit has a 79% Black population.

Keith Williams, Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus chair, said Blacks can best represent their community. He has been vocal about the possibility that the newly-constructed 12th and 13th congressional districts will not have an African American seatholder.

“We can’t let these folks who can’t win with their selfish ambition get in the way of Black political progress by splitting the Black vote,” said Keith Williams.

Elections in Detroit, from local to federal office, are often marked by multiple candidates running, especially for open seats. This year’s races for the two deep blue Southeast Michigan congressional seats could feature multiple Black candidates, along with others. Williams and other leaders told the Advance they’re concerned this will dilute the vote and result in non-African Americans winning those districts.

At least one meeting of notable African-American Detroiters has been held and designed to reach consensus on a Black candidate for two districts, according to sources. The candidate filing deadline is April 19 and the statewide primary election is Aug. 3.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who is white, also is concerned about African-American political representation.

“The mayor is working very hard to make sure there is no reduction in African-American representation in Congress, in the state Senate, or in the state House, and is in regular meetings with organizations and candidates working to preserve Black representation,” said John Roach, his spokesman, told the Advance last week.

After new districts were drawn for the 2012 election, Michigan ended up losing a Black member of Congress. Previously, metro Detroit was represented by Conyers, who was Black, and U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-Detroit), who is Asian American and Black.

Conyers won reelection. But with Michigan losing a congressional seat, Clarke was thrown into the 14th District against then-U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.), who is white and won the 2012 Democratic primary.

When Peters declined to run for reelection in 2014 to pursue an open U.S. Senate seat — which he won — Lawrence was elected.

Michigan isn’t alone. With the decennial redistricting process taking place after a years-long Republican effort nationwide that has weakened the Voting Rights Act, people of color throughout the nation are concerned it will hurt Black and Brown representation.

For the first time, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is in charge of the state’s process, not the Legislature and governor. The 13-member commission consisting of four Republicans, four Democrats and five independents in December approved maps for the state House, state Senate and U.S. House.

Experts have argued the maps violate the Voting Rights Act and don’t have enough majority-minority districts. A group of Democratic state lawmakers have filed a lawsuit arguing that the new maps unconstitutionally disenfranchise Black voters.

‘He’s brown-skinned, but he’s not Black’

A number of Democratic candidates have already declared for the 13th District seat.

State Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit,) unsuccessfully ran for Michigan governor in 2018, spending $10 million of his personal fortune. But he did secure more votes in Detroit in the Democratic primary than the other two candidates, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Abdul El-Sayed.

Thanedar, who immigrated to the U.S. from his native India, set his sights on the state House during the next election. He moved to the Motor City from Washtenaw County and self-funded his 2020 campaign with about $400,000, while defeating several Black candidates in the Democratic primary.

He announced in December that he will vie for the newly created 13th District U.S. House seat.

“I will do whatever I can,” Thanedar told the Advance when asked whether he would use his personal fortune to win the election.

State Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit), who is Black, last week announced that he will run for the 13th District seat at Plymouth United Church of Church in Detroit.

“Detroit and Wayne County need a champion in Washington who listens to the needs of our families,” said Hollier. “I’ll fight to secure funding for career readiness, improve our schools, rebuild our roads and bridges, and bring jobs to our communities.”

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a Black former state House member from Detroit, also is running for the 13th District, calling it a “legacy seat” that should be held by an African American. State Sen. Betty Alexander (D-Detroit), Harper Woods Mayor Valarie Kindle, Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens, Detroit City Council member James Tate, and former 36th District Court Judge and T.V. personality Greg Mathis have endorsed her.

Gay-Dagnogo said that Thanedar is offering “expensive spending gimmicks and marketing” aimed toward getting Black residents to support him.

“Our citizens are a lot smarter than many of the members of this crowded field are giving credit for, and this seat is not for sale,” she told the Advance last week.

Thanedar told the Advance he believes that Black voters support his candidacy.

“This is a very diverse district,” said Thanedar. “When I talk with voters across the city and throughout this district, I find they’re concerned about paying for groceries and ensuring their kids have access to clean drinking water. When I speak with them, I share my story, one of growing up in extreme poverty, and connect my long career as an entrepreneur to my ability to fight for policies that will lift others out of poverty.”

Williams calls Thanedar a “carpetbagger.” The Rev. Horace Sheffield III, who backed Thanedar for his state House seat in 2020, wants an African American to represent the northwest Detroit congressional district where he resides. He told the Advance that there is a “big difference” in his support of Thanedar for a state House seat and his congressional bid.

“What we have to tell people is not to support Shri Thanedar,” said Sheffield, who is Black. “He’s brown-skinned, but he’s not Black.”

Donna Givens Davidson, Detroit Eastside Community Network CEO, is optimistic that a field of Black candidates can yield a primary winner who looks like her in the 13th District.

“We have to mobilize Black people to vote. But [candidates] have to be prepared to bring their A-game and have to be able to build coalitions,” the nonprofit leader said.

Lawrence, who has represented a significant portion of the newly created 13th District and has served in Congress for 30 years, said that a successful candidate must be able to raise at least $1 million and understand that dual residency in D.C. and the district is important.

“I will be supporting an African-American candidate that can win. … If we don’t stand up and come together and get behind one candidate, we could lose that seat,” said Lawrence.

We can't let these folks who can't win with their selfish ambition get in the way of Black political progress by splitting the Black vote.

– Keith Williams, Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus chair

Greg Bowens, a veteran political consultant who is advising former Detroit Police chief Ralph Godbee, a 13th District Democratic candidate who is Black, said that the growing political diversity in southeastern Michigan congressional districts makes it more difficult for Black officials to continue to lead metro Detroit districts.

“Asians should be represented in the [state] Legislature and in Congress,” said Bowens, who worked as a consultant to Lawrence during her first run for the U.S. House in 2014. “They should have the same opportunity. Indian-Americans should have the same opportunity. But that opportunity should not be at the expense of the Black community.”

Godbee announced his candidacy at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit last week.

“Too many people are being left behind from Detroit to Downriver,” said Godbee. “Today, we launch a campaign where everyone matters and we all get a seat at the table.”

Other African-Americans who are considering a run for the 13th District are Michigan Civil Rights Commission Chair and Detroit attorney Portia Roberson, former University of Michigan Board of Regent Shawna Diggs, and Detroit attorney and Teach for America-Detroit official Michael Griffie.

‘I’m not against Rashida Tlaib, but she’s not Black’

The Democratic primary for the 12th District is less crowded — for now — as a current member of Congress is running there.

Tlaib, a former state House member and daughter of Palestinian immigrants, lives in the 13th District, but plans to move into the 12th to run in 2022. Under law, candidates don’t have to live in the districts they represent, but it’s considered a disadvantage not to.

Former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson (D-Detroit), who is Black and previously ran for Congress, has said she will vie for the 12th District seat this year.

Another declared candidate is former state Rep. Phil Cavanagh, who is white. Other possible candidates include Westland Mayor Bill Wild, who is white and previously ran for Congress; Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, who is Black; state Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), who is white; and state Rep. Kyra Bolden (D-Southfield), who is Black.

Michigan lost a congressional seat following this year’s census. Rick Blocker chairs the current 14th Congressional District Democratic Party that represents a portion of Detroit, as well as Grosse Pointes and portions of Oakland County.

As a Black man, he believes that African Americans should represent Detroit-area districts.

“We need Black representation,” said Blocker, who is working to meet with Detroit-area leaders to identify a consensus Black candidate for the 12th District. “We are an 80% Black city. To not have somebody Black is bad. This is a time when we should be unapologetic. I’m not against Rashida Tlaib, but she’s not Black.”

A member of “The Squad,” Tlaib has supported a progressive agenda, like her predecessor, Conyers, the former dean of Congress and the Congressional Black Caucus. Although he was revered in the Detroit Black community, Conyers resigned from office in 2017 amid a sex harrassment scandal and died in 2019.

Tlaib defeated a field of Black candidates in 2018 to win a two-year term. Former Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, who is African American, won an election to complete Conyers’ unexpired term. Tlaib successfully defended her seat against Jones and others in 2020.

Lawrence, who resides in the new 12th District, has not endorsed Tlaib for the seat.

Tlaib spokesman Denzel McCampbell pointed out that Tlaib has been supported by Black voters in the past.

“She doesn’t have the specific lens of a Black American,” McCampbell said in a statement, “but serves with an open door and open mind, actively seeking input and partnership with Black residents, leaders, organizations and stakeholders.”

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Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: info@michiganadvance.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.

On this day in 1965: KKK members are convicted of killing civil rights activist

On Dec. 3, 1965, an all-white jury in Alabama convicted three Ku Klux Klansmen in the murder of white civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo, a Detroit activist, mother and part-time Wayne State University student.

The incident came at a time when America was coming to grips with deep-seated racial inequities in education and housing. It culminated in the seminal passage and presidential signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. Whites from across the country helped to support the effort, including Catholic Church clergy from all parts of the country such as James Sheehan.

Liuzzo, a mother of five, heeded the call of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and traveled from Detroit to Selma, Ala., in the wake of the March 1965 Bloody Sunday attempt at marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Liuzzo participated in the successful Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches and helped with coordination and logistics. Driving back from a trip shuttling fellow activists to the Montgomery airport, she was murdered.

She was 39 years old.

A car with four Klan members pulled up alongside Liuzzo’s car: Eugene Thomas, Collie Leroy Wilkins Jr., William Eaton and Gary Thomas Rowe. It was later revealed that Rowe was an FBI informant. They shot directly at Liuzzo, hitting her twice in the head, killing her instantly. Her car veered into a ditch and crashed into a fence. Nineteen-year-old Leroy Moton, an African American, also was in Liuzzo’s car. He survived the incident.

“It changed our family,” her daughter, Sally Liuzzo-Prado, told the Advance in 2020. “I don’t think any of us were the same.”

King, NAACP Executive Director Roy Wilkins; Congress on Racial Equality leader James Farmer; Lt. Gov. William Milliken; Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa; and United Auto Workers President Walter Reuther attended Liuzzo’s funeral, which was held at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church on Detroit’s northwest side.

After a second trial, Wilkins was acquitted. However, he, Thomas and Eaton were later convicted in federal court. Thomas and Wilkins each served five years of 10-year federal sentences. Eaton died in 1966 before entering prison. Rowe was granted immunity from prosecution and went into the witness protection program

In recent years, Wayne State University bestowed posthumously an honorary degree to Liuzzo. In addition, a city park named in her honor has received recreational upgrades and a bronze statue has been placed there. There also has been an effort to rename FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., after her.


Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: info@michiganadvance.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.

Black parents push back against right-wing attacks

Danielle Atkinson recalls being outraged after learning about an incident that took place five years ago at Royal Oak Middle School located in suburban Detroit.
It occurred the day after former President Donald Trump's win in November 2016. A group of Latino children were eating when white students began chanting at them, “Build the wall," a popular anti-immigrant Trump slogan.

The incident resulted in some of the Latino students crying.

Only 4.1% of the Royal Oak School district is Latino, according to U.S. Census data. The racial composition for the district located just north of majority-Black Detroit is 77% white, 10% Black, 2% Asian or Asian/Pacific Islander, .1% Native American or Alaska Native and .1% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

Atkinson, an African-American parent with children in the district, sees a parallel between the “build the wall" incident and the current right-wing attacks on discussions of racism and slavery in school, usually under the banner of “critical race theory" (CRT).

RELATED: 'Psychological warfare': New Hampshire teacher cries foul on state's new anti-CRT snitch law

“CRT [attacks are] all about politics," said Atkinson, who also is founding director of Mothering Justice. “It's the same tool dressed up differently. The goal is to make white people afraid."

What is critical race theory?

CRT is a college-level concept that is more than four decades old and is not part of the K-12 curriculum in most Michigan schools. It centers on the idea that race is a social construct, asserting that racism is not only the product of individual bias or prejudice, but it is also something embedded in legal systems and policies.

It emerged out of a legal analysis framework in the late 1970s and early 1980s and was created by scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado and others. It is generally taught at the college or university level.

Detroit Public Schools Community District General Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told the Detroit Board of Education during a meeting Tuesday that CRT is being used in the 50,000-student school district.

RELATED: Texas GOP's anti-critical race theory war backfires as banned Black author sees a surge in sales

“Our curriculum is deeply using critical race theory especially in social studies, but you'll find it in English language arts and the other disciplines. … Students need to understand the truth of history … understand the history of this country, to better understand who they are and about the injustices that have occurred in this country," said Vitti.

Detroit is 79% Black. The school district has a legacy of being progressive when it comes to educational philosophy. In 1991, it opened several elementary schools named after prominent Blacks including 20th century actor and activist Paul Robeson, Jamaican immigrant and business leader Marcus Garvey and civil rights leader Malcolm X. Two years later, its Board of Education adopted a curriculum policy that infused an African-centered education in lesson plans.

Anti-CRT legislation

While DPSCD is an outlier in teaching CRT at the K-12 level, that hasn't stopped Michigan Republicans from moving to ban the concept statewide.

The attacks started with Trump, who warned about the academic approach during his final months in office, in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder by a Minneapolis police officer. The Trump administration called critical race theory “un-American" and sought to ban its influence from the federal government.

RELATED: This is what conservative opponents of critical race theory don't want you to know

There's been a continued national push against CRT from Republicans and right-wing groups this year, which resonated with some white suburban voters and is credited with helping the party notch key victories in Virginia in this month's statewide election. But there hasn't been much media attention on the impact on Black students and parents.

GOP Michigan lawmakers have introduced legislation that has dominated education committee hearings this fall.

The Michigan House of Representatives on Nov. 2 approved a bill from state Rep. Andrew Beeler (R-Port Huron) that doesn't explicitly ban CRT. But House Bill 5097 would prohibit the State Board of Education or a local school board from including any form of explicit or implicit race or gender stereotyping in core academic curriculum.

“From emancipation to women's suffrage to the civil rights movement, events throughout American history exemplify the ideas that all men are created equal; that content of character — not skin color — defines a person; and that racism and sexism in any form have no place in our society," said Beeler. “My plan will ensure we are training our children to embrace the ideas that have carried our country away from racial and gender-based stereotypes, and toward a more unified and better future."

The bill has advanced to the Senate for consideration.

Senate Bill 460, sponsored by Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton), does seek to ban public schools in Michigan from teaching critical race theory or the New York Times' 1619 Project and penalizes them for doing so.

Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, who has been credited as “inventing" the national CRT controversy, testified in support of her bill.

“It's an ideology that's explicitly opposed to key American principles," Rufo said.

Critics like Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), executive vice chair of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, say the bill is an attempt to censor teachers, school boards and curriculum directors, and stymie student questions about the role of race and the impact of racism in U.S. history.

“It is appalling that this Legislature is even entertaining this shortsighted, inappropriate and corrupt bill," said Geiss who is Afro-Latina, a parent of school-aged children and a former public school educator. “If this legislation gets support and full passage from the Legislature, the ability of Michigan students to pass standardized tests or college entrance exams that touch upon American history or social studies would be in detriment. Furthermore, this bill will have a profoundly chilling effect on education, our ability to foster talent development, and career readiness for today's Michigan youth, which would ultimately — and negatively — impact the state's economic future."

'If the parents would just get out of the way'

In a September House committee hearing on Beeler's bill, Molly Sweeney, who is white and serves as organizing director of 482Forward, a leading nonprofit led by neighborhood organizations, parents, and youth in the Motor City, called the bill “dangerous" and said the public education system already unjustly leaves out critical aspects of American history.

“I'm very confused about when you say banning racial and gender stereotyping and curriculum. You have to teach about those things in order to break down those things," said Sweeney. “This is like burning books."

Longtime Detroit activist Edith Lee-Payne believes that the anti-CRT effort is a political straw man tactic from GOP activists.

“It's not developed enough to be in schools and is basically used as a political ploy by Republicans against Democrats," argued Lee-Payne, a Detroit resident who as a young teen participated in the seminal August 1963 March of Washington, where the Rev. Martin Luther King delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream" speech.

Lacy Dawson, a Detroit African-American education and economic justice activist and parent who currently has nieces and nephews enrolled in area public schools, believes that all students are interested in learning history that teaches the advances of people of color and the race discrimination that has been carried out against them by whites.

Dawson said that there's a lot kids could learn “if the parents would just get out of the way."

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Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: info@michiganadvance.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.

Michigan Republicans announce voting restrictions ballot measure as end-run around Whitmer

After months of hearings on legislation restricting voting rights, Michigan Republicans, as expected, unveiled on Monday a citizen-led ballot measure. The advantage of going this route is that the GOP-controlled Legislature has the power to approve it, thus going around Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has vowed to veto bills that hit her desk.

This article was originally published at Michigan Advance

Michigan is one of 48 states with Republicans introducing bills clamping down on voting following now-President Joe Biden's 2020 defeat of then-President Donald Trump.

Biden beat Trump in Michigan by more than 154,000 votes. In June, the GOP-majority Senate Oversight Committee released a 35-page report concluding that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

The Secure MI Vote initiative, which is expected to be filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections, would:

  • Require the secretary of state and local clerks to send absentee ballot applications only to voters who request them.
  • Ban third-party and private organizations from funding public elections and mandates that voters present photo ID to cast their ballots in person.
  • Require those who choose to use absentee ballots to submit a driver's license number, state personal ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. Under current law, voters can sign an affidavit of identity.
  • Create a $3 million fund to assist eligible state voters secure a government-issued photo ID.

Secure MI Vote spokesman Jamie Rowe, a longtime GOP operative, said that “when crafting this initiative, we sought to find common ground that could be supported across the political spectrum. The success of this initiative will make it easier to vote, harder to cheat, and restore confidence in the electoral system."

In a press release promoting the effort, Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons, a former GOP state House member and 2018 lieutenant governor candidate, and state Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Holly), a former secretary of state, are listed as supporters of the initiative.

No Democrats or independents were included as supporters.

“This initiative gives us the tools we need – and voters deserve – to ensure safe, secure elections and protect the right to vote," said Lyons.

Michigan GOP Chair Ron Weiser, a longtime Republican donor, expressed support for such a ballot measure earlier this year.

State law requires that residents collect 340,047 petition signatures to place a policy proposal before the Michigan Legislature. If lawmakers approve the proposal, the governor cannot block it. This is the technique successfully used by the conservative group Unlock Michigan, which stripped Whitmer of emergency powers she used to issue health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The voting law would be expected to go into effect in time for the 2024 presidential election.

It comes after two-thirds of Michigan voters in 2018 approved a constitutional amendment expanding voting rights, including no-reason absentee voting, same-day voter registration, straight-ticket voting and more.

Sam Inglot, deputy director of the liberal organization Progress Michigan, called the GOP effort “backwards" and an attack on voting rights.

“Republicans in Michigan and across the country have spent nearly a year promoting the Big Lie, and this attempt to place barriers between eligible voters and the ballot box is what they've been building up to," said Inglot. “The 2020 election was the most secure in our state's history, and these policies are nothing more than a flimsy justification for voter suppression. Michiganders will not stand for these attacks. It's on all of us to come together across race, income level, and ZIP code to defend our freedom to vote."

Voters Not Politicians announced Monday that it is mobilizing its “volunteer army to dissuade" voters from supporting the effort. The organization helped lead the Proposal 2 of 2018 state constitutional amendment for an independent redistricting commission.

“A democracy only works when the voice of the people can be heard. No matter what they claim, the purpose of the GOP's petition drive is to make it harder for some voters to vote, plain and simple. Voters Not Politicians will be alerting the public of the facts of this proposal and how it is anti-democratic and unnecessary," said Nancy Wang, Voters Not Politicians executive director. “Now is the time for voters across the state to stand up for our freedom to vote and oppose this package of voter suppression measures."


Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: info@michiganadvance.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.