Featured photo: “Malcolm Revisited’ was recorded live on Flint’s north side and featured a socially distanced fireside chat
Black Lives Matter Michigan; an organization whose local chapter leader said sometimes you have to be at shock value, recently hosted a drive-in viewing of “Malcolm Revisited” at the Flint Development Center as part of Black Lives Matter’s Get Out the Vote (GOTV) initiatives. The organization brought the event to a community that has historically been voting at 14%.
“Actually just putting that whole setup on the north side was what I wanted to do,” said DeWaun E. Robinson; Flint’s Black Lives Matter chapter leader.
“The idea is just to put some investment and also some positive activity on the north end,” Robinson added.
The event featured a jumbotron screen depicting public service announcements, various videos and information from individuals around the country, including and Black Lives Matter Michigan and Patrisse Cullors; co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. A stage scene was also built with a border around the fence line of the Flint Development Center. There was an image of Malcolm X towards the back of the building. A fireside chat was set up with couches, scenery, chairs, plants and backdrops and featured American author, women’s rights activist, Black feminist and former executive director of the Ruckus Society Adrienne Maree Brown. The recent water crisis settlement and other relevant matters were discussed during the chat. There was even warming tents for event guests. The space for the drive thru was available for 40 slots.
“It was revisiting somewhat like a 45-minute documentary of Malcolm X with also some get out to vote PSAs from Patrisse Cullors, who was one of the founders of Black Lives Matter,” Robinson said. “It also featured different PSAs from Trap Hills, who is our partner out in California and also Black Lives Michigan-and a number of other folks who had different roles as it relates to getting out to vote. We really put a message out for Black people.”
Robinson said they tried to be very conscious of COVID-19.
“People stayed in their cars,” he said. “To have it at the Flint Development Center on Martin Luther King Street with all the residents in that neighborhood they could just walk up and watch the movie from outside. If they didn’t have their car they could have went into the warming tents and watched the movie from there…It was just a really, really, really great set up for this community.”
One of the most impactful parts of the discussion, to Robinson, was discussing how being locally involved in the community is the most important thing one can do and how residents can write up ordinances to take before city council for them to possibly enact as law if there are things they have problems with.
One of the many PSAs was about the Breathe Act, which involves divesting federal resources from incarceration and policing and ending criminal-legal system harms. The Breathe Act is also about investing in new approaches for community safety, such as healing justice programs, violence and abuse programs and job opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals, as stated in the PSA.
A tour of the Flint Community Water Lab was shown to event guests. Robinson said this was to keep the light on the Flint Water Crisis.
“We’re still are in crisis…That’s why voting matters so much; to put the right leadership in place so we don’t have to be subjected to a water crisis.”
Senator Kamala Harris; candidate for U.S. vice president, presented a message that was shared during the event. She said nobody knows more than Flint the importance of healthcare, clean water & air and good jobs that support families-and also said it is important that every Flint vote counts.
In addition, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib; U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 13th congressional district, spoke during “Malcom Revisited” and has been a supporter of Black Lives Matter.
Robinson said younger people especially do not want to be “bamboozled by the same old political rhetoric.” He said Blacks need to do their homework on officials whose names are on the ballots. Furthermore, he said Blacks “have to have their own.”
“In addition to activating the north side of Flint, I really wanted to send a strong message to our community about getting out to vote-and not just saying we’re looking to vote-but we’re looking to be part of the process. That means developing a system of elections that works in our local community. Everybody can buy into it There are some street strategic methods and metrics that we can all agree to that we’re looking to go and implement in our city.”
To receive text messages on voting and other related matters from Black Lives Matter, text BLM vote to 56525. You can also follow @blmmichigan on social media and take action at https://liberationpac.org/action. To learn about and support the Breathe Act, visit, BreatheAct.org.