|AAPAC External VP and Michigan Civil Rights Commissioner Nabih Ayad speaks at the NAACP Western Wayne Cty. Branch’s annual dinner before being honored.|
Ayad, a Canton-based attorney who also serves as the External VP of the Arab American Political Action Committee, expressed his gratitude to the NAACP for the award of appreciation he received.
“It is truly an honor to be awarded by our brothers and sisters from the African American community,” he said.
“We in the Arab American community look up to you and to the NAACP so we know which route to take (to combat discrimination), thanks to you…we look up to you.”
McQuade, who was originally appointed by President Barack Obama and served as the keynote speaker, also thanked the organization and talked about the importance of getting as much done as possible until the end of her four-year term.
“We’ve already handled cases ranging from police misconduct to hate crimes,” she said.
“People ask me whether it’s necessary to have stiffer penalties for those who commit hate crimes; we believe it’s important because it goes against all that we stand for as Americans.”
|NAACP award winners (from left): Robin Michelle Morris, Nabih Ayad, and Barbara McQuade, with Western Wayne Branch President Aaron Sims (far right).PHOTOS: Nick Meyer/TAAN|
“It seems as if people are looking for a scapegoat for all that ails America,” she said.
“Hate crimes are on the rise whether it’s the desecration of a Qur’an or racially-motivated arsons in the city of Taylor and these are the things we won’t tolerate,” she said.
McQuade also highlighted the Department of Justice’s testing practices, which found that apartment landlords have routinely discriminated against minorities, as an example of the type of work her department is engaged in.
The new civil rights unit headed by McQuade that was created under Obama and can be reached at 313.226.9151 for anyone that has concerns.
McQuade also said the problems need to be attacked on multiple fronts.
“We can’t just arrest our way out of problems,” she said, while also highlighting the outreach work being done to address societal problems at their roots.
Also awarded on the evening was Robin Michelle Morris, the executive director of the Josie Odum Morris Literacy Project, a non-profit named after her grandmother that provides books, workshops, and tutors to Inkster residents.
U.S. Congressman John Dingell spoke at the dinner as well on a day in which former president Bill Clinton hosted a rally on his behalf in Ann Arbor. Dingell will go up against Republican Rob Steele in a bid to retain his 15th district House seat in the upcoming Nov. 2 general election.
“We are all richer for what you (the NAACP) have done for us and the benefits have not just been for African Americans but for all Americans,” Dingell said.
He also emphasized the importance of voting in the upcoming election as well, saying that certain candidates could potentially undo years of civil rights work if elected, without mentioning specific names, before leaving the dinner.
Ayad was thanked by Western Wayne County NAACP President Aaron Sims for his service to the community.
“We especially want to thank Nabih, he has really opened doors for us, thank you for standing up and taking charge,” Sims said.
“The struggle for civil rights isn’t over, it’s still just beginning, and the call is urgent.”