Thursday, May 22, 2014

Statement by Abayomi Azikiwe to the MCHR Annual Dinner: 'Continue the Struggle for Dignity, Social Justice and Peace'

Abayomi Azikiwe is also President of the Michigan
Coalition for Human Rights.
By Abayomi Azikiwe
President, MCHR

Welcome to all of you who are attending our 34th anniversary annual dinner for the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR). This organization has made tremendous strides over the last three-and-a-half 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 emerging and continuing struggles of the day. In 2014 we have monumental challenges to address in the efforts to eliminate poverty, to recognize and enhance the dignity of the individual and community and to achieve the restoration of democracy in the state of Michigan. These efforts are essential in the realization of genuine socio-economic justice both inside the state and nationally.

MCHR has maintained its opposition to the disenfranchisement and dis-empowerment of the people of Michigan through the imposition of emergency management and right-to-work laws. These draconian measures are attempting to erase our historical legacy in the areas of civil rights and organized labor.

In Detroit, municipal retirees and their families have had healthcare programs eliminated and face the possibility of steep cuts in their pensions. While at the same time the corporate institutions which have done so much to erode the standard of living and quality of life in the city are given priority over those who have sacrificed decades in public service.

There is no evidence whatsoever which suggests that the enactment of emergency management, right-to-work laws and other forms of austerity will re-build our cities, suburbs and rural areas, or provide full-employment, guaranteed healthcare, quality education and the strengthening of local control over governmental institutions.

The increased attacks on working families and the poor coincides with similar assaults all across the United States specifically targeting public-sector employees. This is why Detroit has once again become a focal point in the movement for human rights that others across the country, and indeed the world, are closely watching.

People are still losing their homes at a phenomenal rate due to both tax and mortgage foreclosures while the drastic reduction in funding for public transportation is making it almost impossible for many workers to get to their jobs. On a national level, the Congressional gridlock has impacted hundreds of thousands of federal employees and slashed programs that benefit public safety, human services and education.

Overall in the U.S. 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 are continuing in Ukraine, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iran, Palestine and Israel, Somalia, Korea, 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 philosophical 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.

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