Last week while Donald Trump held a rally in Arizona, Bernie Sanders was halfway across the nation in Detroit, Mich. giving a speech of his own at a town hall meeting. The electric atmosphere at Fellowship Church, 7707 W. Outer Drive felt much like a miniature version of Sanders’ primary visit to Ypsilanti last year that drew over 9,000 people.
Outside, a line curved around the building as people anxiously waited to see and hear from U.S. Rep. John Conyers and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Shortly after taking the photo above, a voice called out from the front of the line. “Women, come this way!”
I admit, I was confused then angry…the way I usually am when unnecessarily separated by gender. I reluctantly followed the Ovarian Trail and found myself suddenly elated. Passing the men that were once in front of me, I realized the symbolism. These were the people who were born with a head start because of an appendage. Whoever let us in first– whether it was Bernie, John, or the Reverend Wendell Anthony– wanted to give us an advantage that night. I was grateful until I saw the face of a man near the front of the line who would now be further and further away from his desired seat. I felt like he was the face of patriarchy…who scowls whenever a woman gets ahead of him, and it felt great to walk past.
The pews filled slowly, but eventually packed with a mosaic of peoples that reflect the diversity of the metro Detroit.
“Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,” the Reverend quoted the song, Lift Every Voice and Sing.
“Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.
John Conyers embodies that spirit,” he said.
“He has been a thorn in the side, a trumpet to call of action, an advocate for the oppressed, a defender of the Constitution,” Rev. Anthony went on before enthusiastically naming a long list of civil rights acts the representative created and voted on.
When Rep. Conyers took the stand, he held the demeanor of an elder of the community. He skimmed over policies and went right into a story about a time he asked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to endorse him.
“He said, ‘John, if I endorse you, there will be 200 people at my door that will say ‘Endorse me, too!’ But he said, ‘What I can do is…I can support you.’ And that’s what he did, and Coretta Scott King after him.”
Sen. Sanders, too, was introduced with a list of civil rights achievements, including: getting arrested for desegregation efforts as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and calling for an end to the ‘War on Drugs’.
After thanking Rep. Conyers and calling him “the most progressive congressman,” Sen. Sanders asked all of the elected officials to stand up. I looked around and this is what I found:
Since Sen. Sanders gave the usual talking points (universal healthcare, $15/hr minimum wage, free college, women’s rights, etc.) I’m not going to give you a break down of his speech. Instead, I’ll leave you with these last few pictures: