Detroit stands up for affirmative action
Detroit--I attended a Detroit march supporting
affirmative action at the University of Michigan recently. It was a large crowd
of 3,500. (The scab paper states "up to 1,000." Are they still
counting Black people as 3/5 of a person?) The crowd was diverse: older folks
and college students including the African-American fraternities and sororities
who stepped and rapped to the delight of the other marchers.
It completely filled a seven-lane road and it took me a
while to work my way to the front of the march. I saw NAACP ladies in fur coats.
Many in the crowd were sports fans and/or alumni proudly wearing their blue and
gold: one lady said she and her friend had been on campus exactly 30 years ago
when it all started.
Churches marched under their own banners, as did the
Detroit City Council and several Arab-American organizations. SEIU had a sizable
contingent. I saw a hand-made sign "I support U. of M." When I came
close I found a group of young people in green jackets (from arch-rival Michigan
State University) holding the sign.
A large number of Arab Americans, including many college
students, carried signs in English and Arabic "Arab Americans support
affirmative action." A group of Native Americans also participated.
The Left did attend, and were kept busy with people
eagerly buying "No War" signs. The march had been well publicized on
Black radio stations but not on the main TV news channels. I heard conversations
about the need for Detroit to spearhead this campaign; how great it was to see
so many different people, and many discussions about the war stressing Saddam
Husseinís history of crimes against his own people.
It concluded with a rally on the U.S. courthouse
steps where Rev. Charles Adams, former president of the Detroit NAACP chapter,
urged all to "Get on the Bus--with Us" to rally at the Supreme Court
in Washington on April 1.
Though white faces were scattered among the
predominantly African-American marchers, I wondered where were those who had
come out against the war two weeks ago when it was 22 degrees colder? It goes to
show how if the anti-war movement were sensitive to Black issues, both these
movements would gain important strength. A mass outpouring like this creates a
new dimension, both individually and collectively.
--Susan Van Gelder
Published by News and Letters Committees