During the year 2004, the all-volunteer Gray Panthers of Metro Detroit has been making things happen.
With insight, courage, commitment and alliances with other activists, we have made some waves and not a few ripples.
Top notch speakers educated and motivated us to act on many issues during the year 2004: Eyewitness to the Iraqi Tragedy, Father Peter Dougherty, Michigan Peace Team; Fighting Urban Poverty, Tyrone Chapman, Michigan Veterans Foundation; Affirmative Action: A Hard Look At the Realities, Robert Sedler, Constitutional Law Professor; A View for Peace in the Middle East, Henry Herskovitz, Jewish Witness for Peace; The IMF and the World Bank, Harold Stokes; What’s Happening in Columbia?, Rudy Simons; The Real Status of Our Economy and the 2004 Election, Wendy Shields-Jacobs, UAW; How the Progressive Majority Will Affect the 2004 Election, Rep. David Woodward; The Future of Full Funding for Public Schools, Elizabeth Bauer, State Board of Education; National Gray Panthers Convention reports. Whenever feasible, GPMD took ACTION on the issues highlighted by its speakers.
* The Gray Panthers Health Committee, chaired by Randy Block and Flora Hommel, met monthly.
* GPMD participated in a lawsuit vs. State of Michigan to demand that health for all be a right.
* Distributed literature and spoke to local groups on the benefits from a single payer health system and Rep. John Conyers’ single payer legislation (HR 676).
* Post cards and positions were developed and distributed to advocate on behalf of HR 676.
* Distributed literature at local Cover the Uninsured events, including a booth at Ford Field.
* Opposed legislation to create a privatized Medicare prescription drug program.
* Initiated a campaign, involving action alerts, press releases and letters to the editor, to educate the public on where the Presidential candidates stood on health care for all.
* Co-sponsored, with MichUHCAN, training for health activists.
PEACE & SOCIAL JUSTICE:
* Gray Panthers participated in various Martin Luther King marches during January 2004.
* Carl Reinstein represented Gray Panthers on the Detroit Area Peace with Justice Network (DAPJN), which planned many activities including a peace demonstration on June 27.
* Action alerts on SB 1813, the War Profiteering Prevention Act of 2003, were e-mailed to Michigan activists through the Network’s new state-wide Michigan Panther Action Network.
* Sigrid Dale organized a “Peace Train” to Chicago so over 100 activists, including many Gray Panthers could demonstrate against the war in Iraq.
* Panthers protested Pentagon spending boosts in the FY 2005 federal budget, funding for Star Wars and for “Bunker Busting” nuclear weapons. Funds for bunker busters was deleted!
* Six Gray Panthers went to Oakridge, Tennessee to protest building of new nuclear weapons. Ron and Sigrid Dale were arrested and jailed for civil disobedience.
* Panthers urged the public to call on Congress to investigate the U.S. role in the overthrow of Haiti’s elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide.
* Supported H.R. 2239, legislation to require voting machines to provide a paper trail.
* 28 Panthers marched in the Labor Day parade and distributed literature at Laborfest.
* Gray Panther letters sent to all Southeast Michigan legislators and a Panther Action Alert helped defeat legislation to amend Michigan’s Constitution to allow the death penalty.
* Gray Panthers joined Citizens for United Action, a coalition to oppose the anti-affirmative action “Civil Rights Initiative”.
* With Delores Killewald’s leadership, we helped raise funds for a new Macomb County homeless shelter.
* Gray Panthers got two resolutions adopted at the Michigan Democratic Party Convention: one opposing a “pre-emptive” strike policy; another supporting Department of Peace legislation.
* Evelyn Foreman, a Detroit public school teacher, agreed to chair a new GP Education Committee, after many years of hard work by GP education advocate, Evelyn Zeidman.
* Members were alerted to a shift in health insurance costs to retired public school employees.
* Evelyn Zeidman and Evelyn Foreman updated Panthers on State education budget developments as well as federal and State legislation through regular newsletter articles.
* At the Gray Panthers National Convention, Evelyn Foreman took leadership to get support for a resolution addressing the No Child Left Behind Act.
* Letters were sent to State legislators and the State Board of Education urging a comprehensive study of public school funding aimed at meeting and equalizing school district needs
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM:
* Ron Halstead regularly updated Gray Panthers on Campaign Finance Reform issues.
* Provided analysis on campaign financing related to the 2004 Presidential Election.
* Maurice Geary provided able leadership to GP Social Security Committee, which met monthly.
* Gray Panthers worked as leaders of the Michigan Alliance to Strengthen Social Security and Medicare, a Panthers initiated coalition.
* MASSM activities included a workshop on Social Security and Medicare, setting up a speaker’s bureau and buying a Macomb Daily ad highlighting Candice Miller’s position on Social Security
* Provided Social Security issue information at public events, through GP newsletter and flyers.
* Randy Block helped launch a national Gray Panthers campaign to protest proposed privatization of Social Security in coordination with the National Gray Panthers office.
* GPMD organized a demonstration vs. privatization in front of a local Social Security office.
* In January 2004, GPMD launched a State-wide e-mail advocacy group called the Michigan Panther Action Network. About 400 activists received 11 action alerts during the year.
* Co-Convener, Ethel Schwartz, was honored for her achievements at the 6th Annual Frederick Douglass-Eugene V. Debs Awards Dinner of the Demoractic Socialists of America.
* Co-Convener, Randy Block, served on the National Gray Panthers Board of Directors and provided leadership on its Membership and Rapid Response Committees. Six Gray Panthers attended the National Gray Panthers convention in Seattle during November, 2004.
* Published 10 newsletters, mailed press releases to 14 newspapers.
* Maintained a web-site with a Peace With Justice calendar of events which has been viewed by local activists as an indispensable resource for local peace and justice groups.
*Coordinated periodic telephone tree action alerts to mobilize GPMD members on key issues.
*Maintained excellent membership and treasury records.
* Beyond its standard dues contributions to National Gray Panthers, GPMD gave additional contributions to its National Office
* Contributions were made to GPMD special funds: the Vic Schumacher Peace & Social Justice Fund; the George and Alice Pollack Health Funds; and a Travel Fund to help further these specific commitments.