Why Does the Black Vote Matter to Detroit Millennials?

Does voting matter to millennials in Detroit?

It does a whole lot, at least through the eyes of concerned residents who are engaged and activated to create change despite narratives that state otherwise.

A voter millennial roundtable will be held today from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 27 at Wayne County Community College, 8200 W. Outer Drive.

The topic of discussion is, “Why are we cool dying young but not voting?”

E’yandra D.A. Otis, a local community advocate and event organizer, told the Michigan Chronicle that voting is paramount, especially for Black representation.”We want to keep up this momentum … and turn it into a caucus for the Democratic party,” Otis said of potential future happenings of this event.

Otis adds that when the majority of Black Detroit lost its representation in the 12th and 13th districts during the August primary, he knew discussions and change needed to happen.
“For us to have no representation — it is a shame,” Otis said. “It’s unfortunate because we did it to ourselves.”

Hours after the Aug. 2 Primary Election Night 2022 ended, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib won in the 12th Congressional District over second-place finisher Janice Winfrey. In the 13th, State Rep. Shri Thanedar topped a field of eight other candidates with about 35% of precinct votes counted. State lawmaker Adam Hollier and Focus: Hope CEO are second and third, respectively.

Of the nine candidates in the 13th, eight were African Americans:

  • John Conyers III (son of the late and longest-serving Black Congressman in American History)
  • Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (former state representative and current Detroit School Board member)
  • Michael Griffie (a civil rights attorney)
  • Adam Hollier (current Michigan senator)
  • Sharon McPhail (former city council member)
  • Sam Riddle (community advocate and radio host)
  • Portia Roberson (CEO of Focus: Hope and former Obama Administration appointee)
  • Lorrie Rutledge (entrepreneur)

Otis added that “we don’t get out,” he said of scores of Black voters who did not get out during the August election. “A lot of people’s complaints is, ‘We only show up at election time.’ We need people to show up for our communities, not just every two to four years.”
Otis said that the conversation today surrounds young people because many young kids in the city are the ones committing crimes today.

 

“They don’t feel like they have the resources and … they can be better than we were. Those are some of the issues we’re facing now,” he said even if Black representation was lost in those districts, the politicians’ feet still needs to be held to the fire regarding Black-centric concerns. “If we don’t get it together and hold them accountable they have no reason to talk to us.”

For the panel discussion, Otis is most looking forward to spreading positive information about the community because Detroit still is working toward much-needed solutions for its residents, and staying informed politically is how to keep the city on the rebound.

“Politics is a part of our life the moment we wake up,” he said of everything from food and gas prices to benefits. “We all have to understand we do play a part in how we shape our future … that is what we are trying to do today.”
The Westside resident added that he wants his neighborhood to be improved and he wants his children to see Black representation even more stronger.

“I want my neighborhoods changed. I am tired of looking at the same thing and downtown getting better and neighborhoods not,” he said.

For more information on the event call 313-214-8120.

Senior Staff Writer Donald James contributed to this report.

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