Progress for Michigan
Last night, Michigan’s most effective progressive action group, Progress Michigan, held their September fundraiser at the Majestic Cafe in Detroit. Supporting this essential organization is critical for maintaining a positive force for political action in the state of Michigan. The progressive community knows this and their leaders showed up to demonstrate that support both financially and in person.
The event was attended by folks like David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan; Chris Michalakis, President of Metro Detroit AFL-CIO; State House Representative David Rutledge; Tova Perlmutter, Executive Director of Sugar Law; David Holtz, former Executive Director of Progress Michigan; representatives from the Michigan Nurses Association and many more superstars from labor, environmental and other social justice groups.
The “headliners” of the event were State Representatives Lisa Brown, Barb Byrum, and Rashida Tlaib. These three powerhouse lawmakers have been on the front lines fighting for issues Democrats care most about, not the least of which is the War on Women being waged by Michigan Republicans.
L-R: Representatives Barb Byrum, Lisa Brown and Rashida Tlaib
Progress Michigan Executive Director Zack Pohl gave some introductory remarks, highlighting the important work done by Progress Michigan in areas from women’s rights and immigration to demanding political accountability from elected officials. He also introduced the Progress Michigan staff members who made the event (and the organization) possible — Chad Cyrowski, Director of Digital Media; Joshua Pugh, Communications Specialist; Jessica Tramontana, Communications Director; Chong-Anna Canfora, Michigan Summit Director; and Kim Hunter, Social Justice Coordinator.
L-R: Zack Pohl, Jessica Tramontana, Chad Cyrowski, Barb Byrum, Josh Push, Lisa Brown, Rashida Tlaib, Kim Hunter, & Chong-Anna Canfora
Progress Michigan Board Chair Amanda Stitt introduced the evening’s speakers.
Rep. Lisa Brown was silenced on the House floor early this summer by House Speaker Jase Bolger who banned her from speaking for a time. She talked about how she learned of her “punishment” and the effect that had on her. She emphasized the importance of groups like Progress Michigan that help get the word out about the egregious overreach by the House Republicans.
Rep. Barb Byrum talked about how she, too, was prevented from speaking on the House floor because of a Facebook posting. Bolger prevented her from introducing an amendment to abortion legislation that would require the same types of invasive procedures and requirements for men getting vasectomies that women seeking an abortion face. She told the attendees that she got strong support from her father, husband and other family members throughout and the experience has clearly empowered her.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib spoke about her suggestion that women stop having sex with their male spouses and partners until the Michigan male Republicans stopped their continuous attacks on women’s reproductive rights. Tlaib, who was seen frequently on television during the broadcast of the Democratic National Convention due to her exuberant enthusiasm, was equally animated as she spoke about how her colleagues responded to her proposal. She is the first Muslim American woman in the Michigan State House and only the second in the country.
All three women were emphatic that their fights with House Republicans have only made them stronger and more resolved. Progress Michigan plays an important role in the fight for the rights of many in Michigan who are underrepresented and Brown, Byrum, and Tlaib all encouraged the crowd to give their financial support to ensure that they continue to fulfill that role.
David Holtz concluded the evening’s speeches by talking about the history of Progress Michigan and the importance of the work they do. As someone who was there from the start, Holtz’ pride and enthusiasm about this fine group was very evident. Progress Michigan has developed into an effective force for change in Michigan and that is, in large part, because of the leadership of David Holtz.
If you’d like to make a contribution to this invaluable progressive organization to make sure they are able to continue the many things they do, click HERE. It’s money well spent.