The Green New Deal for the People Tour kicked off with its first stop in Dearborn, Michigan at the UAW Local 600 on Sunday, Nov. 5, with appearances from climate activists and elected officials.
Prior to the rally, an art build was held. Participants had the opportunity to create posters to be displayed behind the event speakers.
The tour, put on by the Green New Deal Network, UAW representatives, Detroit People’s Platform, Clean Water Action, and Michigan Alliance for Justice in Climate (MAJIC), will travel the state and nation to rally for stronger legislation fighting climate change.
The rally featured a list of demands, including: removing fossil fuel exceptions in Michigan’s recently passed climate package, achieving 80% renewable energy in the state by 2030 and 100% by 2035, enabling widespread community and rooftop solar power utilization, passing campaign finance reform to increase corporate accountability, and demanding President Biden and Congress fight for a Green New Deal for communities in Michigan and across the nation.
A diverse range of speakers were present at the rally, including representatives from the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) at the University of Michigan, the Sunrise Movement, the Michigan House of Representatives, U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell and Rashida Tlaib, and more.
The speakers commended the efforts of the activists in the room, those rallying and lobbying for climate action.
“It is not just a simple thing to talk about the need for climate justice, for real climate action, it is something else entirely to put yourselves out there and do the work day in and day out like your life depends on it,” said Sean McBrearty, the Michigan state director of Clean Water Action. “Because guess what? It does.”
Community members were also present to attest to their experiences of the harms of climate change and environmental racism. Theresa Landrum, a Detroit resident and activist, spoke of her and her family’s health experience.
“Multigenerational families experience health impacts… the Detroit-Dearborn area is number one for asthma hospitalizations in the nation,” Landrum said.
According to a report by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, “the prevalence of current asthma among Detroit adults was 46% higher than in Michigan as a whole.”
Health isn’t the only intersecting area of concern with climate change. William Lawrence from the Rent is Too Damn High Coalition, drew parallels between climate and housing justice for Michiganders.
“We have way too many people literally dying of exposure in our streets… and this is certain to get worse with the extreme weather that we’re only going to keep seeing more of,” said Lawrence.
One of the final speakers of the event was U.S. Congresswoman Tlaib, who spoke about the unique experience of growing up in southwest Detroit.
“After going away to school, I thought, ‘All these trucks ain’t normal,’ … You don’t realize until you see how other communities are living that it isn’t normal,” Tlaib said.