5,000 march in downtown Detroit, urge rebuilding nation

BY NAOMI R. PATTON, Detroit Free Press, Aug. 29, 2010

Thousands of people in downtown Detroit made their way from Jefferson Avenue to Grand Circus Park in what was billed as a march to rebuild America for jobs, justice and peace.

On the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington, the event brought out many of state's Democratic politicians -- many of whom were attending the party's convention at Cobo Center. The march and rally were organized by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the UAW.

Along the way, the march grew as convention goers and others joined in. Among the marchers were the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Bob King, UAW president; Detroit Mayor Dave Bing; U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D- Mich.; U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.; state Sen. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and his running mate, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence.

Workers from the UAW, Service Employees International Union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Michigan Council 25, American Federation of Teachers and Detroit Public Schools filled Washington Boulevard and Grand Circus Park, advocating for jobs.

"We're not here to tear anybody down ... to divide anybody. ... We care about all the unemployed in America," King said.

He also asked the crowd to return for the city's annual Labor Day march next week and to vote in the November elections.

"We have to put Americans to work," he said.

"I care about jobs," said Tanya Ball, 44, who works at the Ford Wayne Assembly Plant. She attended the march with her sister, Betty Ball, 55. Both are Inkster residents.

"I just came in the spirit of what was happening to our people 47 years ago. ... There's hardly any change," Betty Ball said.

Tom Hopp, 52, of Lake Orion said he has always been a fan of Jackson and came to the march to support the call for jobs. He has worked for General Motors Lake Orion for 32 years.

"It's never a waste of a day coming out to an event like this," he said.

Though political speeches and slogans nearly dominated the day's event, it was Conyers who reminded the crowd of about 5,000 of the historic significance of the day. It was Martin Luther King's march down Woodward Avenue with then-UAW President Walter Reuther that served as the precursor to the March on Washington, during which King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.

"We're celebrating jobs, foreclosure moratoriums, universal health care -- cheer for that," Conyers said.

"Today's march commemorates one of the most important days in our history," Bing said after the march. "Our greatest challenge is creating jobs, and that's something I will continue to fight to bring to Detroit."

Contact NAOMI R. PATTON: 313-223-4485 or

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