Ann Arbor NAACP and State Reps talk civil rights

State Rep. Ronnie Peterson, Former State Rep. David Rutledge, Ann Arbor NAACP President William Hampton and Political Action Chair Mary Hall-Thiam speak at Eastern Michigan University, Pray Harold Auditorium.

The Eastern Michigan University Chapter of NAACP and the College Democrats collaborated to give a platform for State Representatives and members of the Ann Arbor NAACP Chapter to speak at EMU, Pray Harold Auditorium. 

State Rep. Ronnie Peterson, Former State Rep. David Rutledge, Ann Arbor NAACP President William Hampton and Political Action Chair Mary Hall-Thiam were the speakers in attendance. They shared stories about their experiences during their childhood with segregation and racism with a small audience of college students and teachers, also they answered questions in regards improving society today.

"This event was put together to show correlation between the black community and the NAACP," said President of the College Democrats Organization, Turaj Lucas.

In addition to showing correlation and sharing stories, Lucas explained that the forum was was also about honoring black history month.

"We have some leaders here that came to speak on the impact from civil rights act and their influences on the youth in African American culture," said Lucas.

According to Ann Arbor NAACP Political Action Chair, Mary Hall-Thiam, black history month used to be only one week in Mississippi.

"The NAACP was established February 12th on Abraham Lincolns birthday and from then on, any President associated with civil rights began to get assassinated," said Hall-Thiam.

Hall-Thiam then discusses the lack of progress and vulnerability that exist now after the civil rights era.

"The civil rights has worked in terms of getting us from one point to another as far as invisibility and slavery. But there are still other forms of slavery out there that we haven't addressed yet, including human trafficking," said Hall-Thiam.

Former Rep. David Rutledge also added to the errors that came after the civil rights movement.

"We allowed integration to not give us the best of everything. Black people were still in the ghetto because they could not afford to live, attend certain schools or buy and rent from certain places that were no longer white only," said Rutledge.

Students moved to asks the speakers questions about making more improvements for the Black community, specifically in Ypsilanti.

"The dropout rate is still existing, that's what I'm interested in. And how to get more black people college ready and to graduate," said Peterson.

The state rep. continued on to discuss the the circumstances of single minority mothers in poverty. He discussed the lack of adequate schooling and how people need to be observant of the world around them in order to  make more changes to better the black community.

The forum ended on one last conversation about involvement in one's community and joining the NAACP.

"We need all the volunteers we can get for the NAACP. You can contact us for membership on the website or through email," said President Hampton.

Former Rep. Rutledge concluded the meeting with some encouraging words of wisdom. He said, "Get involved. The ones who are not involved are destined to be controlled by their inferior. Diversity and togetherness makes us better."


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