Six Leelanau County and 31 Detroit black, white and Hispanic high school students were scheduled this morning to board a bus for a two-week trip that retraces the steps of civil rights “Freedom Riders” into the Deep South a half century ago. Organized by the Michigan Coalition of Human Rights, the “2013 Freedom Tour” honors the work of original civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States in 1961 to challenge non-enforcement of a 1960 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregated public buses were unconstitutional. The tour also commemorates the 50th anniversary week of an early “dream” speech Martin Luther King made in Detroit in June 1963, two months before his historic “I Have a Dream Speech” during the March on Washington in August that year. Leelanau students on the tour represent all six of the county’s schools. They are: Alexander Bennett, 16, Glen Lake; Brennan Deckrow, 16, Leland; Olivia Kinker, 16, Northport; Shayna Sumner, 17, Lake Leelanau St. Mary’s High School; Theo Noffsinger, 16, Suttons Bay; and Jackie Zarzycki, 16, Glen Lake. All will be seniors this fall and all were selected through an essay-writing and interview process organized by Dean Robb, 89, a Suttons Bay attorney who raised a total seven $1,500 scholarships for students going on the tour. The essay asked why the students wanted to participate in the tour and what they could bring back to this area from the trip. “It’s not just for us,” Deckrow said of the trip. He and other students will do public presentations about the journey when they return, he said. Jackie Zarzycki, 16, of Glen Lake said she wants to learn as much as she can on the trip. “I think it’s really important to realize that we think of racial inequality as something that happened in history, but it’s still happening today,” she said. Robb was in his 30s in 1961 when he began helping a group called Friends of the South organize 25 civil rights attorneys, mostly from Detroit, to help get Freedom Riders and other civil rights activists out of jail, challenge illegal arrests, and work with southern lawyers and civil rights organizations. In 1963, he organized an inter-racial conference of 10-12 southern lawyers in Atlanta where Martin Luther King Jr. spoke shortly after he was released from a Birmingham Jail. Robb’s biggest civil rights case was a civil lawsuit against the FBI filed by the family of murdered Detroit freedom rider Viola Liuzzo. The Unitarian Universalist civil rights activist from Michigan was murdered by Ku Klux Klan members on the last night of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March in Alabama. She was the first and only white woman killed during the civil rights movement, said Robb, who will be one of the bus chaperones. Another original civil rights activist who will participate in the tour is Diane Nash, 75, a Fisk University student in 1961 who organized students in Nashville, Tenn., to continue the freedom rides after segregationists attacked buses in Alabama and viciously assaulted riders. She also led the first successful civil rights campaign to desegregate lunch counters in Nashville and the Selma Voting Rights Movement campaign and was among the co-founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the student wing of the American civil rights movement. The students’ itinerary includes the following visits: • Mississippi Civil Rights Memorial Service in Meridian, Miss. An annual event honoring slain civil rights workers James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner and other Mississippi civil rights movement participants. Nash organized and will host this. • Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Ga. Freedom Tour participants will go through an intensive, five-day non-violence training program. • National Voting Rights Museum & Institute in Selma, Ala. It is a permanent memorial to the struggle to obtain voting rights for disenfranchised Americans. • Southern Poverty Law Center and Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Ala, which is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. • Koinonia Farm, a Christian community founded in Americus, Ga., in 1942. It has been involved in civil rights, prison ministry, affordable housing, youth and elders programs, racial reconciliation, sustainable agriculture, peace activism and land stewardship. This article originally appeared in the Traverse City Record-Eagle. To see the original article, click here.
Channing Robinson-Holmes was featured in a biographical profile published by the Legal News. Read the full profile of Channing here.
Michael Pitt and Ted Leopold were quoted in coverage by television outlet WJRT/ABC/Flint regarding the process for filing claims in the Flint Water Crisis class action, in which the State of Michigan announced a proposed $600 million settlement....
MIchael Pitt was cited in an article published by the Traverse City Record-Eagle regarding the State of Michigan's proposed $600 million settlement in the Flint Water Crisis class action. Read the full report here.
Michael Pitt and Ted Leopold were quoted in The Hill (daily newsletter covering the federal govt. and national issues) as part of its coverage of the State of Michigan's proposed $600 million settlement in the Flint Water Crisis class action....
Detroit Free Press -- "Flint Water Crisis Legal Settlement Totals $600M, Creates Victim Compensation Fund"
Michael Pitt and Ted Leopold were cited in a Detroit Free Press report on the proposed $600 million settlement in the Flint Water Crisis class action and how the funds will be distributed. Read the entire article here.
Michael Pitt and Ted Leopold were quoted in a Detroit News article reporting on the process to be used for making claims in the Flint Water Crisis class action in which a $600 million settlement has been proposed. Read the entire article...
Michael Pitt and Trachelle Young were quoted in NBC News coverage of the State of Michigan's announcement of a proposed $600 million settlement in the Flint Water Crisis class action. Read the entire report here.
Michael Pitt and Ted Leopold were cited in WNEM/CBS/Saginaw coverage of the announcement by the State of Michigan on a proposed $600M settlement in the Flint Water Crisis class action. Read the entire report here.
Jennifer Lord was quoted in a Law360 "Access to Justice" feature examining problems experienced by thousands of Americans trying to collect unemployment benefits due to COVID-19-related layoffs and ongoing issues with automated...
Michael Pitt was quoted in a Bridge Michigan report on reaction to the announcement of a $600M Settlement in the Flint Water Crisis class action. Read the entire report here.
Michael Pitt was quoted in a Washington Post report on the announcement of a $600 millon settlement in the Flint Water Crisis class action. Read the entire report here.
Legal News -- "Michigan Court of Appeals Affirms $388K Verdict for Jackson Educator in Whistleblower Lawsuit"
Megan Bonanni was quoted in a Legal News report on the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmation of a $388K verdict in the Pennie Davis whistleblower case against Jackson Schools. Read entire article here.
M. Pitt Cited in MLive Report on Midland Area Couple's Claim Filed Against the Federal Energy Resource Commission in Edenville Dam Collapse
Michael Pitt was quoted in MLive coverage of the claim filed against the Federal Energy Commission by a Midland Couple for property and personal damages caused by flooding after the collapse of the Edenville Dam in May 2020. The firm is representing Dan and Cathy Miller and filed a $1.25 million claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Read entire article here.
M. Pitt Cited in Bridge Magazine Report on Lawsuit Firm Filed Against Federal Energy Resource Commission
Michael Pitt was cited in Bridge Magazine coverage of the lawsuit filed by the firm against the Federal Energy Resouce Commission. The plaintiffs are Sanford, Mich. couple Cathy and Dan Allen whose home was severely damaged in mass flooding following the collapse of the Edenville Dam in May 2020.
Mike Pitt, Ted Leopold and Paul Stephen were referenced as plaintiffs' attorneys in a Midland Daily News report on the lawsuit filed June 25 in the Michigan Court of Claims. The coverage notes that the suit's 15 plaintiffs owned property and homes which were damaged or destroyed in the May 19 Midland area flooding caused by the collapse of the Edenville Dam. Read full article here.
Michael Pitt was cited in Detroit News coverage examining the lack of maintenance and repairs at the Edenville Dam and related issues regarding regulation of the dam prior to its collapse and subsequent flooding in the Midland area. Read full article here.
Micheal Pitt was cited in a Bridge Magazine report on the appointment of an independent team of investigators to look into the Edenville Dam failure which resulted in massive flooding and property damage in the Midland, Mich....
Jennifer Lord was cited in an article published by GOVERNING magazine regarding the breakdown in customer service at the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. Read full article here.
Crain's Detroit Business -- "Nonprofit Sues Canton Apartment Complex, Alleging Discrimination of Recovering Substance Abusers"
Robin Wagner and firm client Joseph Paliwoda were quoted in Crain's Detroit Business coverage of the Personalized Nursing LIGHT House vs. Crossings of Canton housing discrimination suit: Read full article here.