Press Statement — TO THE SUPERINTENDENT OF ALMONT SCHOOL DISTRICT: BRINGING CHARGES AGAINST THREE BLACK PLAYERS IS NOT THE ANSWER. FIXING THE PROBLEM IS A BETTER SOLUTION!

Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP

DETROIT – The recent response to the Denby and Almont High School District 5 finals by the Superintendent of the Almont School District is most disappointing. It appears the Superintendent is placing the entire responsibility on the backs of the Denby players. This shows a lack of understanding, sensitivity and creative balance to resolve not only this dispute but to use this incident as a teaching moment. The experience of black youth at this football game in which they were spat upon, called the n-word, pushed and excoriated by adults supporting the Almont team must weigh heavily on any decision made. This is particularly important as it relates to discipline or accountability for any individual involved. Where is the evidence of the Sheriff’s Department, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office, or the Almont School District that this incident was stimulated, motivated and perpetuated by only three black players from Denby High School?

Now is the time for grown folks to act like grown folks. There should be a coming together of both districts to address this unfortunate incident in a manner that precludes any further outrage. The Michigan High School Athletics Association must ensure greater diversity, training and accountability on the field, during the game, and at the conclusion. There has been no coming together of the individuals involved in this incident. It is natural, although it may not be desirable, for young people to respond in this way to defend themselves or to stand up for their rights as demonstrated and reflected at the recent game. We do not support violence or verbal abuse by any individual or groups. However, we call upon the Superintendent of Almont, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, along with the Prosecutor’s office, the Detroit Public School Community District and any others involved to sit down around a common table to resolve this issue. Charging students who clearly were standing up for themselves and protecting their rights should not be condemned but should be understood. This is clearly a case where some have reacted on all sides in the midst of such hostility which involves not only black players but white players and white fans.

Click here — Bringing Charges Against Three Black Players Is Not The Answer — to read the statement in its entirety.

Press Statement — Racial Slurs, Gender Bias, Disrespect For Women is Wrong

Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP

DETROIT  – The Detroit Branch NAACP does not condone, support, or defend discrimination against any person, race, or station. The recent comments made by artist Kid Rock regarding Hollywood mogul and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey, ABC host of the View Joy Behar, and singer/former host of Live with Regis and Kathy Lee, Kathy Lee Gifford, are truly unacceptable. These comments made reportedly during a state of “obvious drunkenness” do not excuse the hurtful xenophobic and misogynistic expressions. Comments such as these are evil and divisive, whether made at a concert in Nashville, Tennessee or at a football game between two high school teams at the Division 5 state semifinals in Walled Lake, Michigan. Some have even called them racist as Oprah Winfrey was called out during the tirade.

Nearly 10 years ago at the Detroit Branch NAACP’s 56th Annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner, May 1, 2011, awards were presented to several community and national individuals. Among them was Detroit native, Robert Ritchie, known as “Kid Rock.” Kid Rock was presented a Great Expectations Award for his advocacy for the city of Detroit, his Made In Detroit brand for Detroit products, and his contributions to Detroit and national charities. While some debated this particular selection, this was not the first time debates over honorees had occurred. The issue at the time was the use of the confederate flag as the backdrop in some of his concerts. The confederate flag still represents a period in our nation’s history of enslavement, terror, and division. We believe it should be taken down and not flown up. Since that time, the confederate flag, as well statues of the old confederacy, have been brought down in many places across the country. This was a well-attended dinner, with over 10,000 persons. It led to further discussion around the issue of the flag. Following the dinner, Kid Rock stopped using the flag during his concerts. We said then as we say today, we were not lifting up the flag. We were recognizing someone who advocated for our city which was being attacked across the country at various levels. For the record, Kid Rock consulted with the mayor of the city of Detroit at that time, Dave Bing, to make financial contributions to non-profit organizations in the city. He provided $10,000 each to five community groups, selected by the mayor. They were the Belle Isle Conservancy, Mosaic Youth Theater, Habitat For Humanity, Youthville Detroit, and the Detroit Recreational Centers. He also gave $50,000 to storm relief efforts in tornado impacted states. The Detroit Branch did not solicit nor receive any funds as a result of these contributions. We hope and pray that these organizations remain viable in these critical times.

Click here — Racial Slurs, Gender Bias, Disrespect For Women Is Wrong — to read the full statement.

Press Statement — ‘The Dean’ Congressman John Conyers Jr.

Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP

DETROIT (October 27, 2019) – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Today, we have lost a giant who helped to bend the inevitable arc towards justice for all.  Congressman John Conyers Jr., who will always be known as ‘The Dean’ has gone on to glory.  He has served 27 terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  One of the original founders of the Congressional Black Caucus, he will be laid to rest.  For many it is the passing of an illustrious and defining political era.  The nation has just celebrated the life of Congressman Elijah Cummings.  We must now turn another page reflecting upon the life of an icon who stood in the gap for freedom and justice.

John Conyers was more than just a Congressman.  He was the ‘Go to Guy.’  He served as the first African American Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.  Anyone who wanted to move issues dealing with labor, human rights, South African Apartheid, civil rights, women’s rights – even before the Me Too movement, federal judges on the bench or presidents in a pinch would see John Conyers.  He was the only politician ever to be endorsed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  He stood in the middle of the street calling for calm during Detroit’s most devastating rebellion in 1967.  He stood in the gap against President Richard Nixon, even making his famous enemies list.  He was not afraid of the Strom Thurmonds and the Jesse Helms.  He made us all proud as he stood with Dr. King in bringing forth the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  John Conyers never lost his commitment to justice and equality.  After the assassination of Dr. King in 1968, four days later he introduced the Martin L. King National Holiday Bill.  For 15 years he labored in the political vineyard to cultivate America’s first national holiday to honor an African American.  Many said it could not and would not be done.  John Conyers did it.  He stood in triumph and victory for this nation.  President Ronald Reagan not known for his kinship to civil rights, signed it into law in 1983. 

Whether it was fighting for Haitian refugees, fair housing, reform in our criminal justice system or national healthcare, John Conyers was always out front.  He had a tirelessness that often put younger and yet to be seasoned politicians to shame.  He was not afraid to stand alone in defense or in advocacy of policy and programs that uplifted the lives of people.  His office in Washington was a repository for assemblies of common people, strategy sessions for political allies, a comfort zone for those needing to refuel their political tanks and a rhythmic getaway for those jazz connoisseurs who just wanted to chill. 

He loved his family and wanted the best for each one of his children.  Perhaps in reviewing his life, from Northwestern High School to the halls of Congress, it lies rooted in the background of his own family.  His father, John Conyers Sr., was a labor leader.  Conyers said, “I was drawn to the struggle because my dad was a labor organizer for the UAW.”  His father was an organizer when it was illegal to be in the unions.  This obviously inspired Conyers to stand up and fight for the rights of others.  It is easy to see how the mother of the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks, found a home in his Detroit office.  John Conyers did not leave here trying to make a difference.  In 1989 he introduced “The Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.”  This was only a bill to study, not to implement.  Conyers said in 2017, “Slavery is a blemish on this nation’s history and until it is formally addressed, our country’s story will remain marked by this blight.”  The words of former President Lyndon B. Johnson are worth remembering, “Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.”  John Conyers worked every day to make it a fact.

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Press Statement — Governor William G. Milliken, A Gentle But Strong Political Leader

Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP

DETROIT (October 21, 2019) – “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” Ecclesiastes 3:1. No, I am not necessarily trying to go biblical, but I am trying to recall a more harmonious time of the political. Former Governor William Milliken served our state and the nation in a season that possessed not just the harsh and cold indifference of winter, where hearts and minds were frozen. He also served as a bit of sunshine. He had the ability to warm the heart and to cause a spring like birth of a different political discourse. He brought new life into an old game. As a teenager, when Governor Milliken took office, I didn’t always understand the nature of the political games. Yet, as an activist student I understood who was for our community and who was against it. Governor Milliken always impressed me as someone who was for the people and the city of Detroit.

It is indeed worth noting that two political giants have passed within one week of the other. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore and Governor William Milliken of Michigan. One was a Democrat and the other was a Republican. One was the son of South Carolina sharecroppers (Cummings) whose parents were poor and according to him “not well educated but yet still brilliant.” The other was the son of northern Michiganders (Milliken) whose parents were wealthy. His father was a mayor and state senator from Traverse City. His mother was a member of the school board. She was the first elected woman to serve public office there. Both Milliken and Cummings reached beyond themselves to work with and to deliver for all of the people. It was not just about party. It was really about principle.

Click here — Press Statement — Governor William G. Milliken, A Gentle But Strong Political Leader — to read the statement in its entirety.

Press Statement – In Memory of Congressman Elijah E. Cummings

Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP

DETROIT (October 18, 2019) – From the words of Congressman Elijah Cummings “From my own life experience, I can attest that we have come a long way toward universal justice in this country, but we are not there yet.” The nation has lost one of its foremost stalwarts for freedom and justice. For over fifty years, Cummings has been a voice for those often overlooked and most assuredly underrepresented.

The son of sharecroppers, he went on to Howard University and then to the University of Maryland School of Law. His passion for civil and human rights was fueled with intensity by a mother who witnessed blacks being denied the right to vote. At age 92, while on her death bed, she told him, “Don’t you dare let them take our votes away from us.” Congressman Cummings has been a voice and a fierce advocate to make certain that our votes would not be taken away. He served in the city of Baltimore as the first African American Speaker Pro-Tempore in the Maryland House of Delegates. He fought for the poor and championed the need for affordable health insurance and pharmaceutical drugs. This speaks to the very character of this gentle but forceful orator for justice. He called for justice in the death of Freddie Gray. He stood up for those in Flint, Michigan, where the water system had been poisoned due to the obvious failure and mismanagement in our own state government. Elijah Cummings even called for the resignation of former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in a public hearing that he chaired on Capitol Hill. As Chairman of the House Oversight Committee he challenged those in the Trump Administration to be held accountable for their policies on immigration, foreign affairs and election interference. He stood in the gap to guarantee checks and balances on elected officials at the highest levels of our national government. He indeed was one who battled for the very soul of our democracy.

As Pastor of Fellowship Chapel in Detroit, it was our pleasure in 2016 to have this civil rights icon to serve as the keynote speaker to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our church at its golden anniversary banquet. He spoke powerfully about the least of these and the promise of a nation to respect all of its people. All of his accolades reflect a great statesman and political leader. Yet the most memorable reflection of Cummings to many was his humility and kindness. This he extended to all people regardless of station or vocation. He was the same from the streets to the suites. He played no favorites, but he loved everyone with favor. Perhaps it lies in the words from his father who said, “The true test of a man is not what he does for himself but what he does to help others.” Certainly, if anyone is now ‘dancing with the angels’, as he said of those who stand up for democracy and freedom, it surely must be Elijah E. Cummings. Let us hope and pray that the angels can keep in step with such a noble master of the dance.

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Click here, Press Statement — In Memory of Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, to download the full statement.

Detroit Branch NAACP Announces Leadership Change!

DETROIT BRANCH NAACP ANNOUNCES LEADERSHIP CHANGE!

DETROIT (July 11, 2018) – The Detroit Branch NAACP congratulates and applauds the selection of former Executive Director Donnell R. White as the new Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Strategic Partnerships for Chemical Bank. Chemical Bank is a subsidiary of the Chemical Financial Corporation. Continuing on in the legacy of his work at the Detroit Branch NAACP, the nation’s largest branch, Mr. White will both establish and lead strategies to attract, engage, and develop a diversity of talent across the organization. He will have an even greater role in developing new relationships with community organizations, businesses, and individuals committed to the growth of this city and region. Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony said, “We are very proud of Donnell and the service he has provided since he was a child. He started off with this organization when his mother, Ms. Yvonne White, Michigan State Conference NAACP President would bring him and his brother to the branch on Saturdays. They started off cleaning up the office and Donnell emerged to serve as the leader of the office, as the youngest Executive Director in the nation. He has demonstrated both a sense of management and activism in both the street and the suite in the quest for civil and human rights. The Chemical Bank family is blessed to have him as one of their own. It is not our loss, but our community’s gain.”

At the same time, the Detroit Branch is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Kamilia Landrum, a 2016 New Leaders Council Fellow, currently the Program & Member Service Director for the Detroit Branch, as the new Executive Deputy Director. Kamilia Landrum has served with Donnell White and former Executive Director Heaster Wheeler in a variety of capacities. Overseeing programming for strategic priorities in the areas of civic engagement, criminal justice, economic sustainability, education, and health, Ms. Landrum recently coordinated the branches visit to Grand Rapids to demonstrate against the separation of children from their families. Ms. Landrum received her Bachelors of Applied Science in Business Administration from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University. She has acquired her Masters in Public Administration in Non-Profit Policy and Management from Wayne State University. Recently named one of the Michigan Chronicles 40 under 40, she serves as a Community Advisory Council member for Health Alliance Plan and the Detroit Sports Zone. She’s a current member of the Southfield Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is a member emeritus of the NAACP National Board of Directors, serving on Audit Finance, Image Awards, and Youth Works committees. According to Rev. Anthony, “Kamilia comes in at a very critical time in our nations history. There are so many issues that we will confront in the days ahead. We are also preparing for our National Convention to be held in Detroit in 2019. I am certain that Kamilia will continue in her new role with both confidence and commitment to the goals and objectives of the NAACP. I have known her since she was President of our Youth Council and a part of our ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics) program here at the branch. She is already doing an excellent job.

The Detroit Branch will begin a local search for an Executive Director following the NAACP National Convention that will be held in San Antonio Texas, July 14-18, 2018.

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Detroit Branch NAACP 2017-2018 Executive Officers and Executive Committee

Congratulations to the Detroit Branch NAACP’s 2017-2018 Executive Officers and Executive Committee.  On Thursday, January 26, at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Executive Committee and Executive Officers were sworn in for the 2017-2018 term.  Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony begins his historic 13th term as head of the largest NAACP branch in the Association.  Click the link below to read the full text from Rev. Anthony’s remarks.

2017-2018 Exec Board

Detroit Branch NAACP 2017-2018 Executive Officers and Executive Committee. (1st row, seated, from left to right) Indira Glass, Treasurer; John E. Johnson, Esq., 1st Vice President; Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President; Alice G. Thompson, 3rd Vice President and LaKeisha Becton, Treasurer. Not pictured — James Settles, Jr., 2nd Vice President. (2nd row, standing, from left to right) Rev. Dr. Jeffery Robinson, Charles Nolen, Atty. Richard Mack, Heaster Wheeler, Katie Riley, Atty. Khalilah Spencer, James Jenkins, Jr. Jessica Care Moore, George Barnes, Jr. Kevin Tolbert, Kenneth Shapiro, Atty. Muddasar Tawakkul and Marvin Beatty. Not pictured — Hiram Jackson, Leon Richardson and the Honorable JoAnn Watson.

Click the link to read the remarks given by Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony Installation-Statement-2017.

What the Hell Do African Americans Have to Lose? Let’s Consider This!

The following press statement was issued by Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony in response to Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s recent visit in Diamondale, Mich in his efforts to recruit African American voters.

“One might wonder if the late great P.T. Barnum, creator of THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, has been born again in Donald J. Trump. Mr. Trump, who arguably seems to be running for the position of the greatest scam artist on earth, is indeed quite the entertainer. Barnum was famous for finding the weirdest and the most distinct, to say the least, individuals and creatures, and placing them in his circus for entertainment purposes. This was done to attract thousands of spectators the world over. He once said “there is a sucker born every minute.” In the race for president, it seems that Donald Trump, like P.T. Barnum, is still in the business of looking for suckers to entertain.”

Click the link to read the statement in its entirety — Official Statement Donald Trump Visits Michigan

White Privilege: An American Reality

Please see an excerpt from an article written by Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony.  Click the link below to read the article in its entirety.

“Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of man; willnot conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.”   Alexander Hamilton

The term privilege is defined as a special right, advantage or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people. The takeover of a government building in Burns, Oregon on January 2, 2016, led by Ammon Dunn is another stark indication of white privilege personified. The failure of our justice system to view all Americans through the same lens of justice, continues to rip at the very core of our nation’s spirit. I felt compelled to write this article based on the countless private conversations I have had within our community on this very critical issue. It generally begins like this: Wendell, can you imagine if these were black people in Oregon, how quickly the law would have come down on them? Can you imagine if there were a group of brothers or Muslims or Mexicans even threatening to take over a federal building, how the government and its agencies would respond? Can you imagine if there were a group of armed black folks talking about they were going to go downtown and takeover the Federal building, how quickly the Man, would have come in and attempted to bust the whole situation wide open? These are the questions which I am certain that many of those who read this article have had and are having with others.

Click the link White Privilege An American Reality to read the
full article.