Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, has written extensively on domestic and international affairs. His articles and interviews are published broadly through the world., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
MCHR Addresses Issues for Today & Tomorrow
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Note: The following statement appeared in the program book for the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR) Annual Dinner which was held on March 24, 2012 at Marygrove College.
Welcome to all of you who are attending our 32nd anniversary annual dinner for the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR). This organization has accomplished much over the more than three decades here in the metropolitan Detroit area.
Nonetheless, we cannot rest on the achievements and victories of the past but build upon them to address the current challenges of the day. In 2012 we have monumental struggles to wage for the elimination of poverty, to ensure the dignity of the individual and community and the maintenance of democracy as well as the realization of peace and social justice.
MCHR has gone on record in opposition to the disenfranchisement of the people of Michigan through Public Act 4. This law is having a disproportionate impact on people living in the most distressed urban areas in our state.
In Detroit, the unemployment rate is well over 25 percent officially and if discouraged and part-time workers are included, it is at least 40 percent. The city lost 237,000 residents over the last 10-year census period and there are plans underway for the further downsizing of the public education system and public sector workforce.
Yet there is no evidence whatsoever which suggests that the imposition of emergency management in various cities will re-build these municipalities, provide full-employment, guarantee healthcare and quality education and strengthen local control of governmental institutions.
The increased attacks on and demonization of the poor coincides with similar assaults on public-sector employees. Public-sector workers throughout the state are facing pay cuts and benefit reduction at best and lay-offs at worst.
People are losing their homes at a phenomenal rate and the drastic reduction in public transportation is making it almost impossible for many workers to get to their jobs. Some 15,000 households including at least 40,000 children were cut off of cash assistance in Michigan on Oct. 1 of 2011.
Overall in the United States the official poverty rate is now 15 percent which amounts to 44 million people or one out of seven. Other studies claim that nearly half of the population is now in poverty or near-poverty.
Wars and threats of war loom over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iran, Palestine and Israel, Somalia, Colombia and other countries. The costs of U.S. involvement in these wars, now approaching $1 trillion annually, is continuing to negatively impact the social fabric of our cities and towns across the nation.
Consequently, MCHR will maintain its vigilance in providing a platform for people to speak out against all forms of inequality and human rights violations. Bringing together people from across the ideological and religious spectrum is an important step in creating the just society under which we aspire to live.
Please continue to support MCHR and we urge everyone here to become of member of this important and relevant organization.