People’s Summit in the Motor City — for the People only


DETROIT, MI: This week, the city of Detroit will have two summits: the National Business Summit that started Monday and The People’s Summit, which started Sunday outside the GM Renaissance Center. So, what’s the difference?

Well, the People’s Summit is in “The Spirit of Dr. King” with the purpose to bail out people, not banks during this financial crunch of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. “We take installations from [Dr. King]” said Abayomi Azikive, journalist for the Pan-African Newswire. “He drew the difference between the war in Vietnam and the racism in the United States. That’s why he was assassinated. People didn’t understand what he was doing: focusing on the war and poverty [in the North], and linking racism to the South.”

This independent summit is a rally for jobs against layoffs and cutbacks. It was developed two years ago, where signs of the economic recession was about to show not only in the United States but the entire world. Both the Moratorium Now Coalition Group and the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice began challenging home foreclosures and performed demonstrations to the state legislature, and pleaded with Gov. Jennifer Granholm to used her “emergency powers” to prevent home foreclosures for an extended period of time: give owners enough time to make their payments, which is one of the main goals for this summit. The only response from Granholm? Things weren’t that bad. But it did, as Granholm called for moratorium, but it never came to fruition.

The National Business Summit, to them, is all about “big business” — where experts, advisors, and the CEOs of corporations discuss plans of rebuilding the economy, and that is through their profits and portfolio. In other words, it is at the expense of the workers while they get richer, and the People’s Summit is the response to this, where people decide it is time step up and get organized; it’ll be at the Grand Circus Park up until Wednesday afternoon.

Like the Poor People’s Campaign, the purpose of the People’s Summit is economic justice: dealing with job loss and unemployment, housing care, poverty, the enforcement of an Economic Bill of Rights, and so forth. Like Dr. King, the summit advocates civil rights for all people — including gays, straight, bisexual, and transsexuals. “If you talk about equality”, said Abayomi, “you have to have diversity.”

Abayomi also explained about President Barack Obama being compared to Dr. King, Jesus Christ, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt — as well as the problems that endured in the late 1960s and the problems we have today. “It’s a little bit different, but it’s the same thing” he states. “These two factors — the war at Iraq and Afghanistan, and the economic crisis — contribute to this. President [Obama] isn’t a civil rights leader. He is a political leader. He supported the war in Iraq, but he was against the war. Dr. King is an anti-war activist. You couldn’t say [Obama] is an anti-war leader in the sense Dr. King was.

“The times are different. But the stimulus package hasn’t created any jobs, so it’s going slow. People are still losing jobs. We want effective methods. We want a real economic recovery.”