After eight years with the first African American elected as president, people in the community have to come together to make sure progress isn’t halted and the best cure for complacency in today’s electorate is President Donald Trump, said the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the NAACP’s Detroit chapter.
Speaking to reporters before the NAACP’s 62nd annual Fight for Freedom dinner, Anthony said the actions taken in the first days of the Trump presidency — including trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, appointing Jeff Sessions as attorney general and appointing conservative Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court — should be sufficient to spur opposition, activism and challenges by all justice-seeking Americans.
“If that ain’t incentive enough for you, I’m not sure what else we can do,” he said. “The best ambassador for change is Donald Trump.”
It was a theme repeated again and again by speakers before the dinner, which was expected to draw a crowd of more than, 5,000, and is expected to be a theme from keynote speaker, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts.
“I would say to Donald Trump, we don’t have a king, we have a democracy,” said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing. “When a judge in Hawaii stands up and says no to him, that’s how our government works.”
Leon Russell, chairman of the board of directors of the national NAACP organization, said elections have consequences and without a concerted effort from everyone in the organization, “We won’t change a thing if all we do is a march in the streets. We have to participate in the ballot box because if you don’t participate, that’s how you get a state taking over your city, your schools and how you get bad water in Flint.”
Trump won Michigan by a margin of 10,704 votes, helping him win the necessary electoral college votes to become the 45th president of the United States. African Americans overwhelmingly voted for his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton – 88% to 8% for Trump – in both Michigan and across the country, but it wasn’t enough to change the outcome on election day.
Anthony said that Warren was the perfect choice for the dinner because of her persistence in the face of censure in the U.S. Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cut off Warren during her speech in opposition to the appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. She was reading a letter from Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King Jr., who objected to Sessions’ being appointed a federal judge,
“She is the right person for the right task for right now,” he said.
In addition to Warren. U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, and former Attorney General Sally Yates, who was dismissed by Trump after telling Justice Department attorneys not to defend Trump’s executive order on immigration in court, will receive awards at the dinner.