By Madeleine Graham
Aiming to draw attention to low wages for essential workers and other economic disparities, about 30 people marched Monday from the Flint Genesee Mall former Sears auto shop to McDonald’s on Linden Road and onto the Michigan State Police Post on Corunna Road.
Darris Thompson of Flint was identified as the “safety marshall and coordinator” of the effort to raise awareness of the need to make change. The rally remained peaceful. Thompson said a variety of organizations were represented.
Some identified as coming from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) an organization representing 1.9 million workers.
Some posters mentioned Detroit-15, a group fighting for $15/hour minimum wage.
Marchers from the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC United) also were there, voicing concerns about low wages for workers. The ROC website states it “stands in soldarity with the Black community.”
Marchers from Black Lives Matter, a movement gathering strength ever since the death of George Floyd, carried a banner stating, “Black Lives Matter Silence = Violence.”
Referencing the push for a $15 per hour wage, marcher Deangelo Price led a chant “Fight for 15, 15 now, shut-it-down, If we don’t get it, shut-it-down, no justice no peace.”
The Flint Democracy Defense League (FDDL) was also represented.
Lisia Williams, also an organizer of the event, spoke about what she lamented were “unfair wages and racial profiling” and asserted low income wage earners are the essential workers.
Keishaun Wade of Flint, a current Cornell University student representing the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan (EJAM), spoke about the disparities. “I feel like this is very necessary–really asking about ‘self value’ in society.”
“Do we see humanity? Do we cherish it?” Wade continued. “So far shown, we don’t cherish the humanity of workers.”
Wade is one of the Flint youths featured in the recent book by Marc Aronson and journalist Candy Cooper, Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint Michigan Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation.
Laura McIntyre, a sociology professor of UM-Flint and member of EJAM, said she serves as Wade’s mentor, and while Wade is off from school because of the coronavirus he is trying to stay connected to the community.
Referring to recent efforts to make change, often in marches and protests, Ariel Mullins, originally from Chicago but now from Detroit, stated, “I love it — and improvement for my city–it’s the best thing happening and we should continue this.”
Bamunda Miller said she has been doing rallies for seven years. “Fifteen dollars is not even a start,” she said, “Somethings shouldn’t even be a conversation–poverty wages, you can’t live off of and children can’t live off of.”
EVM staff writer Madeleine Graham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.