Sunday, November 20, 2005

For Immediate Release

Media Advisory

Sunday, Nov. 20, 2005

Event: Dec. 1 Day of Absence, Thurs. 1:00pm-8:00pm
Honoring Mother Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Central United Methodist Church
Woodward ave. at Adams, Downtown Detroit
Contact: Michigan Emergency Committee Against War
& Injustice (MECAWI)
Tel. (313) 680-5508
E-mail: admin@mecawi.org
URL: http://www.mecawi.org

Dec. 1 Day of Absence Teach-In to be Held at Central United Methodist Church

Dec. 1, 2005 represents the 50th anniversary of the arrest of Mrs. Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Ala. This courageous act of defiance led to a 381-day boycott and the birth of the modern- day civil rights movement.

The Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56 brought a young Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., into the leadership of the mass civil rights struggle that was able to win the abolition of legalized segregation and the acquistion of universal voting rights over a ten year period.(1955-65) Dr. King's latter years (1967-68) saw him take a principled stand against the American war in Vietnam. Today the peace and social justice community is working to end the war in Iraq and to bring the troops home now.

In honor of the legacy of Mother Parks, we are calling for all youth, students, civic organizations, labor unions, clergy, educators, artists, professionals and retirees to take a day off from work, school, shopping, etc., and join us at Central United Methodist Church on Thursday Dec. 1 between 1:00pm-8:00pm for a teach-in on the significance of the continuing work of the civil rights and anti-war movements. We will have films, speakers, panel discussions--1pm-5:00pm-- as well as a public meeting to close the event between 6:00pm- 8:00pm.

At the closing rally starting at 6:00pm a host of community leaders have been invited to speak. These activists include: Rev. Ed Rowe, Pastor at Central United Methodist Church; Maureen Taylor, Chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization; Andrea Hackett of MECAWI; Abayomi Azikiwe, broadcast journalist; a representative of the Gray Panthers organization in addition to other civil rights, social justice and anti-war organizations.

This event is being held in conjunction with other "Day of Absence" actions across the United States including New York, Boston, Oakland and Baltimore where City Councils have passed resolutions supporting commemorative activities in honor of Mrs. Parks. In Detroit the City Council recently passed a resolution recognizing Dec. 1 as a day in recognition of the mother of the civil rights movement.

This program is free and open to the general public.
The article attached below illustrates the national character of the "Day of Absence."
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Dec. 1 Day of Absence: A clarion call for unity

By Monica Moorehead
Published Nov 17, 2005 11:31 PM

The Dec. 1st National Day of Absence mobilization against war, poverty and racism continues to galvanize support in the progressive movement. It will mark the 50th anniversary of the arrest of Rosa Parks, who on Dec. 1, 1955, refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala.

Parks’ heroic action, along with the determination of 40,000 Black people in the city to defeat segregationist restrictions on the buses, helped to launch the modern-day civil rights movement throughout the U.S. South during the 1950s and 1960s. Parks died this Oct. 24, at the age of 92, before she was able to witness this significant milestone in the on-going struggle for the basic democratic rights of Black and other people of color, who are still being treated overall as second-class citizens.

Along with citing the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery bus boycott, the National Day of Absence initiative is an attempt to unite various movements that have been fragmented over a number of decades, particularly the civil rights and the anti- war movements. The initiative calls for no work, no school, no shopping—in other words, no business as usual—to bring more heightened awareness about the connection between the heinous war and racist occupation of Iraq and the deepening cutbacks, wage cuts and steady decline of living standards for workers and the poor at home.

The Hurricane Katrina crisis has helped to shine a special spotlight on the racism and poverty that exist inside the U.S. and the criminal neglect of the government. The main demands to be raised on Dec. 1 are: bring the troops home now; cut the war budget, not health care, housing and education; justice for the Hurricane Katrina survivors, including their right to return; military recruiters out of the schools, and jobs at a living wage and the right to organize in unions.

Over 1,000 organizations and individuals have endorsed nationally coordinated actions around the country. These actions will be taking place in Boston, Washington, D.C., Bremerton in Wash ing ton state, Crawford, Tex., Raleigh, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Buffalo and other cities. NY City Council to hold hearing In New York City, a Dec. 1 march and rally on Wall Street are being planned. March and sound permits have been secured by the organizers. Wall Street is being politically targeted because the central nervous system of U.S. finance capital is Wall Street, home to the Fortune 500.

Whatever political decisions come out of the White House emanate from the economic decisions made on Wall Street, which are driven to make profits and war, not to provide human needs. A youth and student walkout is being organized by the youth group, Fight Imperialism-Stand Together (FIST) on Dec. 1. These young activists plan to march to Wall Street following their rally at Union Square in Manhattan. Charles Barron plus 11 other City Council members announced at an Oct. 27 news conference that they are introducing a resolution to honor Rosa Parks on Dec. 1 . The resolution reads in part, “Be it further resolved that the Council encourages all businesses in the city, both public and private to either close on Dec. 1st, or allow the many workers and students in the city who will want to attend Rosa Parks Commemoration events taking place during normal business hours, to take the day off, or leave work and school early with impunity.” A public hearing on this resolution will take place on Nov. 18 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the City Hall Chambers, followed by a vote by the entire City Council. Speakers will include civil rights veterans, trade unionists, students, anti-war and community activists.

The wording of this resolution is similar to one passed unanimously by the Boston City Council on Oct. 26. The Detroit City Council passed a Day of Absence resolution during a Nov. 11-13 National Conference to Feed the Cities, Starve the Pentagon, held in that majority Black city. A people’s victory was won in Baltimore after activists mounted a campaign for the City Council to hold a public hearing on Nov. 16 and allow testimony to be presented as to why a Day of Absence resolution should be passed there.

That pending bill reads in part, “For the purpose of proclaiming 2005 as Rosa Parks Year in Baltimore City and joining the more than 1,000 national and local organizations sponsoring the Rosa Parks nationwide ‘Day of Absence’ in encouraging all public and private businesses and educational institutions located in Baltimore City on Dec. 1, 2005, to either close or allow their workers or attendees time off to attend Rosa Parks Commemoration events taking place during the normal business hours without sanctions.”

Go to http://www.troopsoutnow.org for more information on Dec. 1 actions in your area or to organize a local action.

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