What: UN Human Rights Day Press Conference
When: 12/10/2012, 4:30 PM
Where: Coleman A. Young Municipal Center (2 Woodward Avenue Detroit, MI 48226)
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Detroit, MI – We the people of Detroit are seeking justice in the international human rights arena because we have no avenue of redress in state courts. Duly elected school board members have been sued by the state attorney general for being elected to our office. The court which has been designated to hear our case continuously delays the hearings. The people of Michigan voted to repeal the unjust emergency manager law (Public Act 4), which strips all Black and Brown communities in the state of our voting rights, and yet the emergency managers remain.
The will of the people is being ignored with impunity. The state has set up a separate and unequal school district (EAA), which relegates the poorest and most vulnerable students into classrooms of despair. We have a responsibility to defend the rights of all children to a fair and equitable public education, and because we find no relief in the courts, we seek relief from the Inter-Hemispheric Commission of Human Rights under the organization of American States and under the Conference on Elimination of Racism and Discrimination (CERD).
The emergency manager has closed the Detroit Day School for the Deaf, which provided opportunity, hope and success to generations of deaf students. The state of Michigan, under Governor Snyder, has set Detroit back to a time before civil rights laws—when Black people, bilingual people, disabled people, had no rights to education—and is creating an opportunity for the rich at the expense of the poor.
Furthermore, the City of Detroit’s right to self-determination has been denied through the “consent agreement” which paves the way for privatization of our water and commodifies the sources of life. Odious debt has been placed upon the people of Detroit, debt created by the state, by a refusal to pay our fair share of revenue, and by seizing our public schools and handing them off to profiteers.
The privatization of our water and the stripping away of our voting rights calls all people to action, to restore dignity and self-determination forDetroit. We call on the international human rights community to focus attention on Michigan, to condemn the actions of institutionalized racism at the hands of the state and the usurpation of community control, transferred into the hands of a few wealthy individuals and corporations.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms “Everyone has the right to education.” In addition, it states “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
We take these struggles as our responsibility to Detroit’s children, with whom we stand to demand the same promise Detroit has always held: that those who work hard will have a good life. For generations this has been true; one did not have to change one’s class to change one’s life. We also seek to destroy the narrative that Detroit cannot govern itself, and that anyone who chooses can take our schools, our children, our property. We demand respect and self-determination. Our human rights demands are our pedagogy. This is the new curriculum.
Maureen Taylor, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization
Malik Yakini, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network
Helen Moore, Keep the Vote No Takeover
Charles Simmons, Hush House
Elena Herrada, DPS Board of Education, District 2
Tolu Olorunda, writer
Teresa Kelly, Michigan Citizen
Russ Bellant, Parent/Investigator
Margaret Collrin, Detroit Day School for the Deaf
Bill Wylie-Kellermann, St. Peter’s Episcopal
Lamar Lemmons III, Chairman, DPS Board Of Education