Dressed in T-shirts bearing slogans ranging from “Rashida’s Got Our Backs” to “Abort Court,” roughly 400 supporters from across the state lined up hours earlier to attend a fundraiser for progressive Democratic congresswomen who understand the self-styled “Team.”
Michigan U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib joined forces with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilham Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts on Sunday afternoon at Cass Technical High School in Detroit to rally supporters and raise money for nine days only. ahead of Michigan’s primary election on August 2.
Tlaib of Detroit will face Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett and former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson of Detroit for the Democratic nomination in the race to keep her seat.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, is also expected to campaign for Tlaib this Friday in Pontiac.
Plus:Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Andy Levin arrested after a protest outside the US Supreme Court.
Artists and community members kicked off the event with a recitation of Sojourner Truth’s speech, “Ain’t IA Woman”; a dabke dance performance; and a rendition of Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman,” which brought the pleasantly excited crowd to their feet, clapping and dancing. As the congresswomen entered the auditorium stage, the audience shouted well wishes for Tlaib’s 46th birthday, which coincided with the event.
Sitting on plush green sofas, lawmakers focused on human rights issues while fostering grassroots community movements. Among the key issues discussed were abortion access policy and the recent reversal of Roe v. Wade by the US Supreme Court.
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Pressley, chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus’s Abortion Rights and Access Working Group, spoke to waves of applause.
“Abortion care is medical care,” he repeated before criticizing the Supreme Court ruling as “unprecedented and inconceivable.”
Citing high maternal mortality rates for black mothers, Pressley said, “Are you talking about a prospect of forced childbirth? In a country where we don’t have paid leave, universal child care, and we just have a shortage of baby formula?”
Tlaib referred to Michigan’s recent petition initiative, which amassed more than 800,000 signatures for Michiganders and aims to repeal a 1931 state law banning abortion. She appealed to the community organization. “It’s not just about planning, it’s about working your blocks.”
The “Squad” also advocated for grassroots movements against the disproportionately damaging effects of student loans, food shortages, violence, and abortion restrictions on Black, Brown, and marginalized communities.
Repeatedly, and alongside Ocasio-Cortez’s emphasis on providing nutrition for all, Tlaib reiterated the need for clean water and food for all, including her Michigan constituents.
“Water is,” he began, “a human right,” the crowd concluded.
It was the congresswomen’s recurring emphasis on human rights for all that drew Joseph Person, 72, of Southfield, Michigan, to the event. Beneath his Army veteran hat, Person wore a black T-shirt with bold white lettering that read “Black Voters Matter.”
“We still have to fight, and they fight for everyone,” Person said. “They fight for black rights, LGBT rights, women’s rights, veterans’ rights, homeless rights; They are fighting for everyone’s rights. I don’t see that in many politicians.”