• Duggan’s Decisive Win is a Comeback Story

    By Bankole Thompson

    Let’s get this out of the way: if the United States can elect Barack Obama twice as president, Detroit can elect Mike Duggan as mayor. It is not going to be politically impossible any longer because voters in Tuesday’s primary showed that they are more concerned with the policies and plans of the candidates than they are about their skin color. Duggan got over 50 percent of the votes leaving his challenger Benny Napoleon with 30 percent.

    We saw the first race test in the primary when some of the candidates directly or indirectly injected race at some of the debates that were held including one that I moderated (the final debate at Perfecting Church). Clearly that kind of politics once had political capital and sway in Detroit but if Tuesday’s results are anything to go by, not everyone in Detroit is buying into the wells of race and racism.

    For a write-in candidate come out as the top contender in a field with 13 contenders and to pull ahead with almost 20 percentage points is a political comeback story especially for Duggan who has been knocked off the ballot by two courts. Clearly, shows the strength of the Duggan campaign’s not only campaign war chest but also its ground game. Duggan has been visiting personal houses of voters long before the field of candidates became crowded.

    What happened on Tuesday was a payoff for such ground game but it also showed the power of personal politics. Voters take it to heart when you visit their homes personally to share your vision with them. How many candidates running for office take the time to visit more than 40 homes sitting in the living rooms of their constituents talking to them for hours? And to his credit Duggan was the first candidate to begin that kind of dialogue in this mayoral cycle.

    What happened on Tuesday defied conventional political wisdom and now forces Duggan’s ardent critics to rewrite their strategy or reconsider their thinking about the current political race. It also makes the race for Detroit’s next mayor a national contest because the city stands at the crucible of electing a white mayor for the first time in four decades.

    But the race for mayor is not over yet. Napoleon, who finished second surprisingly since he was in the lead until a week before the election, will be forced to mount a stronger campaign and now galvanize the troops while offering his own plan and vision for the city.

    We have a real mayor’s race now because both Duggan and Napoleon have no choice but to speak directly to the issues, and we have to vet their programs as well as their record to see who is best capable to usher Detroit into a new chapter after the city emerges from bankruptcy and in a post-Kevyn Orr era.

    There is a take away lesson for candidates in Tuesday’s election. That the campaign of divisiveness doesn’t work all the time and that voters can sometimes see through the prism of division. We saw it happened on the national stage with Obama’s reelection when some of his opposition started using code words that were directly aimed at creating racial hatred and to scare white voters in crucial states.

    Yet, Obama, won decisively for a second term to the shock of Washington’s conventional wisdom. Duggan, won decisively Tuesday because the majority who voted for him want to see something different. The votes were also a rejection of the racial politics that was the underpinning of the primary campaign.

    I recalled in one debate Tom Barrow directly pointed at Duggan and basically said he doesn’t have a Detroit accent, a direct and callous attack on a candidate who was born in this city. The other candidates had an opportunity at that time to condemn that kind of attack and to show that they were bigger than the lowest points of racial politics but they kept silent. Perhaps their thinking was if Barrow does the dirty job it might just work for them as well.

    Those who are bigger always rise above the divisive and political fray when others want to sink low. At least they should have gone on the record to condemn that level of campaigning. But it was not the case. And Detroit voters paid back with political spanking Tuesday night making it clear which direction they want to head to.

    Duggan v. Napoleon is the race to follow and will give us a lot to look forward to because both candidates know the stakes are high. Neither of them is going to be complacent. Certainly the threshold of performance this time around might weigh heavier on Napoleon because he finished second behind a write-in candidate instead of first place. He has to outperform and to show that he can take this city to a different level of leadership.

    The game is on.

    Bankole Thompson is the editor of the Michigan Chronicle and author of the forthcoming 2014 book on Detroit titled “Rising From the Ashes: Engaging Detroit’s Future with Courage.” His most recent book “Obama and Christian Loyalty,” deals with the politics of the religious right, black theology and politics, the president’s faith posture across a myriad of issues with an epilogue written by former White House spokesman Robert S. Weiner. He is a political analyst at WDET-101.9FM (Detroit Public Radio) and a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” roundtable on WLIB-1190AM New York. Email him at bankole@bankolethompson.com and visit www.bankolethompson.com

  • Can Mike Duggan Make History?

     

    By Bankole Thompson

    In today’s Detroit primary election all eyes are on the write-in mayoral candidate Mike Duggan who has been the target of attacks by critics since he entered the race and after he was knocked off today’s ballot twice by a circuit court and an appeals court. However, Duggan’s supporters especially Strategic Staffing CEO and Chairperson of the Downtown Detroit Partnership Cindy Pasky urged the former Detroit Medical Center CEO to run as a write-in candidate.

    Since then Duggan has basically gone from what was once an impossible task for a write-in campaign to what appears to be a campaign that’s mounting serious challenge to its opponents. Because write-in campaigns have had limited successes in many states including Michigan, Duggan’s campaign stands to make history tonight if the former Wayne County Prosecutor can come in second place to be on the November general election ballot.  Already a poll placed him 10 points ahead of his likely rival Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon going into this primary.

    Several sources have told me that the campaigns of the other candidates are very nervous that Duggan could defy skeptics and make history night becoming the first write-in candidate to win a major victory either by coming second place or first place. But it all remains to be seen and what voters in Detroit will do today.

    The attacks by the other candidates, almost all of them focusing on getting Duggan off the ballot instead of explaining their own programs, plans and visions to Detroiters only helped Duggan to get more attention and to become a household name. His opponents intending to make a candidate who was born in Detroit look like an outsider, they succeeded in helping Duggan’s campaign get all the media attention it needed. Because the write-in campaign became more of a media magnate because of the way the campaign has been teasing their strategies to the press and the public. In fact Duggan’s critics – the other candidates- have only helped to solidify him as the candidate to beat.

    Was this a good strategy by Duggan’s opponents? I don’t think so. To have spent all that energy and legal fees in court to get rid of one candidate clearly shows the potency of the candidate itself and the fact that the other candidates are admitting he could pull this off.

    But regardless of all the polls in the last couple of months the real poll is in what voters will do when they get to the voting booth.

    And if Duggan succeeds tonight his opponents would have succeeded in making him the underdog of the 2014 Detroit mayoral campaign regardless of his campaign war chest, and this would make for the ultimate comeback story. If he doesn’t succeed then it’s speaks to the challenges of write-in campaigns. Because in their eyes he was not supposed to make it, he was an outsider…..and a candidate that doesn’t know Detroit. Those were the themes that came out of the final debate I moderated last Friday at Perfecting Church on the city’s eastside. Nearly all of the five major candidates agreed that on Tuesday voters should support a “Detroiter,” even though that term is vague, but it was a code word for an “outsider” an apparent reference to Duggan and his campaign. I recalled another debate I co-moderated where his chief opponent Tom Barrow basically said Duggan doesn’t have a Detroit accent. Duggan’s campaign manager is Bryan Barnhill, the young Harvard graduate from Detroit who chose to come back to the city when his options were far and wide. All of these personal attacks and negative campaigning instead of explaining plans and programs to salvage Detroit, makes for a more fascinating primary tonight and to see which candidates will run off in November.

    Who will be vindicated? Duggan or his critics?

    But outside of Duggan or Napoleon, Detroit won’t have a real mayor’s race in November. These two are the most formidable. The other candidates have contributed to public service and some are currently serving in office, but what Detroit needs is more than just parading a public service remedy. Again the threshold of leadership in this town must be raised to a higher level than what we saw in last Tuesday’s televised debate at the Charles Wright Museum of African American History which was a clown show beyond redemption.

    Bankole Thompson is the editor of the Michigan Chronicle and author of the forthcoming 2014 book on Detroit titled “Rising From the Ashes: Engaging Detroit’s Future with Courage.” His most recent book “Obama and Christian Loyalty,” deals with the politics of the religious right, black theology and politics, the president’s faith posture across a myriad of issues with an epilogue written by former White House spokesman Robert S. Weiner. He is a political analyst at WDET-101.9FM (Detroit Public Radio) and a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” roundtable on WLIB-1190AM New York. Email him at bankole@bankolethompson.com and visit www.bankolethompson.com

  • Beyond Kevyn Orr, There’s Future for Detroit

    By Bankole Thompson

    The prevailing wisdom is that the appointment of an emergency manager in Detroit would suppress people’s appetite to vote in this coming crucial primary election. I hope not. And the emergency manager Kevyn Orr did not help matters when he described the city once as “dumb, lazy, rich” in a recent full blown Wall Street Journal interview. Because of public pressure resulting from the interview, Orr’s office is now saying he was referring to past leaders of the city not residents. But he never made that distinction in the Wall Street Journal article. I’ve had series of sit-down interviews with Orr since his appointment, and he always came out to me as one who is candid but careful in the words he chose to describe the current state of Detroit.

    That’s why his latest comments totally out of place and unexpected of a man who is still in the crosshairs of those who strongly believe he should not have been here in the first place, is going to further sow seeds of agony, discord, doubt and skepticism in the “good faith” efforts of Gov. Rick Snyder and others who agree that Detroit has a financial crisis that must be tackled.

    From my many interviews with Gov. Snyder, the phrases that Orr used in his overview of Detroit, is contrary to how the governor has described Detroit in the past and up till now. I’ve never heard of the governor speak in those terms. Because it is not appropriate and as a public official whether elected or not once you begin to use words like “dumb, lazy” to describe the city or people you are brought in to serve it raises many character questions about how you feel about the city.

    There is a place and time to do everything. If Orr’s responsibility is to take care of the finances of Detroit he should do just that and leave the rest to the duly elected officials of Detroit. The city is already in bankruptcy where many questions will be raised in Judge Steven Rhodes court. Detroit can’t afford an emergency manager who is telling the Wall Street Journal that the city he’s appointed to serve was once “dumb, lazy……” And Orr should know very well that in the African American community the word “lazy” and “dumb” are code words that have been used numerous times in the past to describe black elected officials or the black community by extreme conservative critics. And to use those very words in an interview with the nation’s leading conservative media organ explains why some critics in Michigan are already calling Orr “Michigan’s Clarence Thomas.” Clearly he has handed a gift to Michigan Democrats who will lay it all at the feet of Snyder.

    The description of Orr as Clarence Thomas-like might be too far but the emergency manager has already created a political albatross that would make it difficult for him to succeed for the entire time he is in Detroit. He has emboldened his critics and proved their skepticism right by using words that no public official should use to describe communities they are serving.

    When former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney described 47 percent of people as “moochers” it sunk his campaign. That was his political albatross he was unable to recover from it because no one was listening to him anymore. We don’t expect public officials to talk down on those they are supposed to serve. Even though Orr isn’t running for office, his interview will further create an uncomfortable atmosphere for him to oversee the city’s financial wellbeing.

    Maybe that is why Orr’s office is now trying to walk back his remarks by saying he was referring to past leaders. But even at that he mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article about the city having an 8th grade education, was happy with it and went to sleep. Which of Detroit’s past leaders had an 8th grade education? It’s hard to comprehend what he is talking about.

    Detroit has a lot of issues and leadership failures but like every other city, it is going through a transition. We can describe the city’s pain in many varied ways but certainly “lazy and dumb” are not the adjectives I would use in my dictionary. Public officials must uplift and inspire hope not insult and talk down on communities no matter what era they are discussing in an interview. I hope Orr recognizes that and take back those words. With those words in the Wall Street Journal, the emergency manager stands to be politically strangled by his critics and the pressure against his appointment will only increase from now on as he’s basically empowered his critics. This is an unnecessary distraction for the entire bankruptcy process.

    And this underscores why Tuesday’s primary election is so important. And the two candidates that will give us a real leadership test in the general election are former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon. The primary challenge has been mostly a political clown show. It is time for a real race and it begins with Duggan v. Napoleon.

    Because there is going to be life after an emergency manager and bankruptcy, and the next chapter of leadership in Detroit cannot bring the city back to this low moment. It should move the city from the current and past doldrums to a new era of political and economic transformation. With all of the developments coming to the city and a booming downtown, the promise of a new Detroit is not unreal. It is here. But first there needs to be a real test of leadership and Duggan and Napoleon should explain how each candidate can steer the leadership ship of Detroit safely to shore.

    Bankole Thompson is the editor of the Michigan Chronicle and author of the forthcoming 2014 book on Detroit titled “Rising From the Ashes: Engaging Detroit’s Future with Courage.” His most recent book “Obama and Christian Loyalty,” deals with the politics of the religious right, black theology and politics, the president’s faith posture across a myriad of issues with an epilogue written by former White House spokesman Robert S. Weiner. He is a political analyst at WDET-101.9FM (Detroit Public Radio) and a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” roundtable on WLIB-1190AM New York. Email him at bankole@bankolethompson.com and visit www.bankolethompson.com

     

     

  • Please, Detroit Needs a Real Mayor’s Race

    By Bankole Thompson

    I watched the mayor’s debate last night at the Charles Wright Museum of African American History and could not help but called it almost a political clown show. Most of the candidates on the stage knew very well that if they were applying for a job they would offer something more substantive than that instead of rambling and treating this important election like it is a baseball game for them.

     Because democracy enjoins everyone to have a voice in the process doesn’t mean we should settle for mediocre candidates who have no clue what it takes to run a city or an understanding of municipal governance. I listened to some of the candidates struggle to make clear their vision for America’s 18th largest city and the home of the auto industry.

    Their sometimes rather inept presentation, unclear mandate and lack of a strategic vision really lowers the leadership threshold in this town. We have capable men and women in this town who could do 100 times better than most of what we saw on television last night. What we saw does not represent the whole of Detroit and it is unfortunate seeking the highest office in the city would attract individuals who know very well that if this was a job classification to run a giant institution, they won’t even show because they can’t pass the interview test.

    Yes, I understand the need to use the mayor’s race as a platform to express anger and frustration in our local government. Candidates do that all the time. But as I painfully watched the debate I just kept getting a flashback to the last presidential campaign and asking myself “how many Ron Pauls do we have in this mayor’s race?” How many Sarah Palins reminders do we need in this mayor’s race?

    Detroit deserves a higher leadership threshold than what we saw last night. Most of the candidates who were doing mostly a political circus show on television, know well that they can’t and are not even prepared to serve as deputy mayor of the city.

    To remotely suggest that they are prepared to be Detroit’s next mayor without any concrete evidence of public service at the highest levels of local government and civic engagement is beyond any comprehension. This is a big JOKE.

    Certainly every voice needs to be heard in a democracy. That is an uncompromised principle. But leadership requires careful demonstration of passion and commitment to uplift the lives of those mostly out of the reach of government and community. And not everyone should walk into that platform claiming their own definition of leadership makes them ready to be Detroit’s next mayor.

    It is sad because I know well what I saw last night does not represent whole of Detroit. The city is bigger than that. Let’s demand a real mayor’s race from the long circus we’ve seen in this primary campaign.

    In my view the real race is between Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon and former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan. Tom Barrow, Lisa Howze, Fred Durhal and Krystal Crittendon have demonstrated public service. But Napoleon and Duggan would give Detroit the race for leadership in the general election.

    Bankole Thompson is the editor of the Michigan Chronicle and author of the forthcoming 2014 book on Detroit titled “Rising From the Ashes: Engaging Detroit’s Future with Courage.” His most recent book “Obama and Christian Loyalty,” deals with the politics of the religious right, black theology and the president’s faith posture across a myriad of issues with an epilogue written by former White House spokesman Robert S. Weiner. He is a political analyst at WDET-101.9FM (Detroit Public Radio) and a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” roundtable on WLIB-1190AM New York. Email him at bankole@bankolethompson.com and visit www.bankolethompson.com

  • Duggan v. Napoleon in November

    By Bankole Thompson

    Detroiters deserve to have a real mayoral race where the candidates can speak to the issues in a more constructive, engaging and realistic way. From the very beginning I have argued that we should not have a mayor by default and that we need to have a race that raises the stakes in this historic election. With the specter of bankruptcy and all of the accompanying issues rising from the state of emergency management, it is crucial that voters put forth a stronger searchlight on the candidates. That means choosing former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon to square off in the general election in November. Notwithstanding, all of the current contenders in the race are all qualified public servants.

    But the seriousness of this moment in Detroit’s history and given the threshold of leadership needed to confront the challenges of leadership the city faces, a Duggan-Napoleon race, would be an epic battle. Detroiters would get a rare opportunity to see two strong candidates make the case for the highest office in the city.

    A Detroiter walked up to me at the newest Whole Foods store in midtown weeks ago and was complaining about the caliber of candidates running for mayor. In his view majority of the candidates did not match the kind of leadership he believes the city needs at this time. Detroit is Michigan’s largest city and the mayor is a significant player in the region.

    That alone should compel voters to want to see a real race for the November general election. We missed the opportunity to see a competitive race in this primary campaign leading up to the election even though it has been an entertaining political season. But all distractions aside it is time for Detroit to have an election where Duggan and Napoleon can be put to the truth test, face the hard questions and show their vision for Detroit.

    Detroit voters should be given a choice in the general election and the primary campaign hasn’t given them a choice. Instead what we have seen has been a political entertainment season that offered nothing but conspiracy theories and subterfuge. The main election will begin the day after the Aug. 6 primary if voters push Duggan and Napoleon to the general election. That is why the primary election is important to select the candidates that will offer two choices of meaningful and real bold vision for Detroit.

    Bankole Thompson is the editor of the Michigan Chronicle and author of the forthcoming 2014 book on Detroit titled “Rising From the Ashes: Engaging Detroit’s Future with Courage.” His most recent book “Obama and Christian Loyalty,” deals with the politics of the religious right, black theology and the president’s faith posture across a myriad of issues with an epilogue written by former White House spokesman Robert S. Weiner. He is a political analyst at WDET-101.9FM (Detroit Public Radio) and a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” roundtable on WLIB-1190AM New York. Email him at bankole@bankolethompson.com and visit www.bankolethompson.com

  • Did Unmarried Mothers Caused Wall Street Collapse?

    By Bankole Thompson

    Conservative ideologue and ABC analyst George Will became the latest right-wing intellectual parading as a self-appointed moralist to link Detroit’s gigantic financial problems on moral failure and collapse of the family system. But of course this narrative is so familiar among Republican Christians – right-wing evangelicals- because whenever these so-called Christians run out of any rational way of thinking, they run to the “moral card” for rescue as if we’ve not had a litany of major right-wing evangelicals who have been exposed for serious moral failures as it relates to their sexual indiscretions and other activities they once denounced.

    During a July 28 taping of ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” Will suggested that “unmarried mothers” are also responsible for Detroit’s bankruptcy, the largest of its kind in U.S. history. And this is how Will explained it on the roundtable interview.

    “You have a city, 139 square miles, you can crave cattle in vast portions of it, dangerous herds of feral dogs roam in there. Three percent of fourth graders reading at the national math standards, 47 percent of Detroit residents are functionally illiterate, 79 percent of Detroit children are born to unmarried mothers. They don’t have a fiscal problem, they have a cultural collapse,” Will said on ABC.

    For a so-called analyst of Will’s own standing to abandon the economic argument facing municipalities across the country with Detroit being the latest litmus test, and instead opt for a moral crusade as the answer to this economic crisis is beyond any form of comprehension. Either it is a lazy job, an elitist approach or a downright racist diatribe because in plain conservative language, whenever “unwed mothers” are used in the argument it is meant to render white liberals as morally bankrupt in their alliance with black voters. And Detroit being a major black city it is no mistake that Will played the moral card in this instance.

    So Will only showed his true color by offering a prognostic about Detroit that won’t pass the smell test. We’ve seen men and others like him before mask under a so-called intellectual debate while the argument that they are making is incoherent.

    Will, could have done better than that. But like many on the national stage he is not only blinded by his own self-righteous rules, but also by the wrong narrative that has long confined Detroit’s image on the national scene.

    Yes, the city has problems that are inexcusable, most of which have to be put at the feet of its leaders even though federal and state policies cannot be excused in this financial reckoning.  But to blame the life style or choices that hard pressed and taxpaying residents make as a major factor for this collapse is insanity, intellectual dishonesty and a fraudulent argument put forth by a purported intellectual.

    Why is it that whenever issues of economic significance are tabled, the masses or the majority poor are always blamed and their lifestyle brought up as the reason?

    Was it unmarried mothers who caused the collapse of Wall Street?

    Was it unwed mothers who caused the collapse of the international economic system that was bailed out by the Obama administration?

    Was it unmarried mothers who forced homeowners out of their homes after buffeting them with subprime lending and incomprehensible loans and interest designed to create a rainy day on Wall Street?

    Was it unwed mothers who were responsible for the economic crisis that greeted the Obama administration?

    But we know why Wall Street collapsed. The greed and fierce competition of elitist white men.

    George Will, and others like him can longer mask under “rational thinking” while offering us code words that we know are not only racist but elitist and downright dishonest. If this is what he has to offer Detroit’s economic crisis on national television maybe the longtime conservative ideologue has run out of ideas for the growing problems facing this nation, and it might just be time to bench him from the ABC roundtable.

    Bankole Thompson is the editor of the Michigan Chronicle and author of the forthcoming 2014 book on Detroit titled “Rising From the Ashes: Engaging Detroit’s Future with Courage.” His most recent book “Obama and Christian Loyalty,” deals with the politics of the religious right, black theology and the president’s faith posture across a myriad of issues with an epilogue written by former White House spokesman Robert S. Weiner. He is a political analyst at WDET-101.9FM (Detroit Public Radio) and a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” roundtable on WLIB-1190AM New York. Email him at bankole@bankolethompson.com and visit www.bankolethompson.com

  • Bankruptcy and the Future of Detroit – July 26 WCCCD First Public Symposium on Largest U.S Municipal Bankruptcy

    NEWS RELEASE

    DETROIT,MI, July 23- Following Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s July 18 filing to put Detroit in chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, many are wondering what will happen to the Motor City. Some national and international reviews have already started writing the city off its potential and future.

    What is the way forward in this largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history that is being closely watched around the globe?

    Wayne County Community College District Global Conversation Series under Chancellor Dr. Curtis Ivery will help to provide different perspectives to that crucial question by presenting the first engaging expert public forum “State of Emergency: Bankruptcy and the Future of Detroit,” July 26, from 12noon-1:30pm at the downtown campus of WCCCD, 1001 West. Fort Street in Multipurpose Room 236.

    The forum which is open to the public will discuss what bankruptcy means, its local and national ramifications and how Detroit can emerge from this dire economic crisis.

    The panel members are the Honorable Ray Reynolds Graves former federal bankruptcy judge, Tom Walsh longtime business columnist at the Detroit Free Press, Faye Nelson, CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and member of the Board of Directors of Compuware, and Sheila Cockrel, former member of the Detroit City Council.

    The forum moderator is Bankole Thompson, a distinguished journalist and editor of the Michigan Chronicle. He is the author of the forthcoming book on Detroit titled “Rising From the Ashes: Engaging Detroit’s Future with Courage,” to be released in 2014.

    The WCCCD forum is the first insightful public conversation and response to news of Detroit filing for bankruptcy. Seating to this event is limited and interested attendees are being encouraged to be seated half hour earlier.

  • Affirmative Action Symposium to Feature Original Debaters in University of Michigan Case at WCCCD Downtown Detroit Campus

    NATIONAL NEWS RELEASE

    DETROIT,MI, July 11- Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the University of Texas-Austin affirmative action case, Wayne Community College District Global Conversation Speaker Series, will present a symposium today open to the public on the issue that continues to define the debate on access to higher education for minorities and the future of diversity in a rapidly expanding global marketplace.

    “Affirmative Action and the Battle for a Diverse Education,” will be the topic of the open forum at the downtown campus of WCCCD, 1001 West. Fort Street beginning at 10am in Multipurpose Room 236 and featuring some of the leading voices who were at the forefront of the University of Michigan affirmative action case that went before the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The panel members are Jennifer Gratz, CEO of the XIV Foundation and lead plaintiff in the University of Michigan affirmative action case, Robert Sedler Wayne State University law professor and one of the leading constitutional experts in the Midwest, Godfrey Dillard lead defense attorney in the University of Michigan Grutter/Gratz affirmative case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, Detroit News conservative columnist Henry Payne and Joshua Bassett director of the Institute for Social Progress.

    The symposium is Bankole Thompson, a distinguished journalist and editor of the Michigan Chronicle.

    The WCCCD forum is the first public conversation and response in metro Detroit since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Fisher V. University of Texas-Austin sending the case back to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Early seating at the July 11 forum is encouraged because seating is limited.

  • In Debate with Anti-Affirmative Action Foe Jennifer Gratz, Journalist Bankole Thompson Dismisses Gratz’s Post-Racial America Remarks

    DETROIT, MI June 28- In a heated exchange on WXYZ-Channel 7 Sunday morning show “Spotlight” hosted by Chuck Stokes, and set to air  June 30, at 9:30am, Bankole Thompson, the distinguished author and journalist dismissed prominent anti-affirmative action foe Jennifer Gratz’s repeated outright remarks during a round table discussion that we are in a post-racial America and race no longer matters in admissions in colleges.

    Thompson, who is editor of the Michigan Chronicle, and one of the most influential writers in media and politics, said race is an ever present reality and unless we are living in utopia, we cannot dismiss race in college admissions given the lingering impact of negative policies on African Americans, people of color and women.

    Gratz has been campaigning in states such as Arizona to end affirmative action programs in colleges. Thompson said the sometimes hateful and racist remarks of Arizona’s repulsive governor Jan Brewer speaking like she’s a governor of the 60s suggest that we are not in a post-racial America.

    Thompson called the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act the most highly misguided decision in two decades, and that the ruling on affirmative action is a blatant legal bait by the nation’s highest court to force the lower court to end the program. Arizona Gov. Brewer is celebrating the ruling on voting rights as win for “Arizona sovereignty.”

    Thompson told Gratz and the round table that often the use of state rights by governors is an “easy route for state sanctioned discrimination,” reminding the panel that Arizona first refused to observe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr holiday until it faced a boycott.
    He cited President Lyndon Johnson’s speech at Howard University where he challenged the government to undo decades of injuries on Blacks saying you cannot take a man in chains to the middle of the road and then ask him to walk free.

    Thompson, and Gratz, who was the plaintiff in the University of Michigan affirmative action case, and Wayne State Constitutional Law Professor Robert Sedler, were part of a heated round table program on WXYZ- Channel 7 “Spotlight” program airing this Sunday at 9:30am. Tune in.

    Thompson will also be part of WDIV-Channel 4 Sunday morning round table program “Flashpoint” broadcasting live at 10am.

    For more information about Bankole Thompson visit http://www.bankolethompson.com

  • L. Brooks Patterson, Bankole Thompson & Denise Ilitch Discuss Detroit Chapter 9 Bankruptcy on CBS “Michigan Matters” Sunday Show

    DETROIT, MI June 14- CBS- TV 62 Sunday morning show “Michigan Matters” hosted by Carol Cain on Sunday June 16 at 11:30am, will feature a round table conversation about the future of Detroit and the possibility of a Chapter 9 bankruptcy for the city.

    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr met with creditors this week to harsh out a plan to save Detroit from a financial calamity.

    The Sunday morning round table with L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County Executive, Bankole Thompson, Editor of the Michigan Chronicle and Denise Ilitch, Member of the University of Michigan Board of Regents will tackle Detroit’s financial crisis and whether bankruptcy is in the works.

    At the center of the discussion is Mike Duggan, whose mayoral candidacy now sits before the Michigan Court of Appeals set to hear the case on Monday.

    The panel also called out Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano’s misguided direction on the Wayne County jail project and its loosing proposition for taxpayers, laying the responsibility squarely at the feet of Ficano.

    Tune in on Sunday at 11:30am.