All Hail Our Heroes

By Dr. John Telford

As our righteous fight to save our public schools approaches the final battle, it is fitting that those unsung heroes who have kept the torch of justice aflame throughout the past decade-and-a-half of DPS’ unwarranted and Jim Crowist state takeover  become lauded in this column.  Foremost among these heroes have been school activist Helen Moore and her grassroots group ‘Keep-the-Vote-No-Takeover’ and the democratically elected former DPS Board–LaMar Lemmons, Juvette Hawkins-Williams, Elena Herrada, Ida Short, Reverend David Murray, Patricia Johnson-Singleton, Wanda Akilah Redmond, Tawana Simpson. and Herman Davis.  It was my privilege to serve pro bono as this rightful Board’s chosen Superintendent until Gov. Snyder’s emergency manager disempowered them and fired me when Public Act 436 took effect and canceled Michiganians’ overwhelmingly successful but ultimately fruitless rejection of PA 4, the Republican-dominated state government’s detested emergency management law which remains unlawfully alive.

Others who have continued to crusade in our righteous cause on behalf of Detroit’s schoolchildren are Attorneys Tom Bleakley, Tracy Peters, Tom Stephens of Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management (D-REM) , Drew Paterson, Ralph Simpson, Herb Sanders, Jerry Goldberg, Paula Johnson, Herman Griffin, Isaac Robinson, Alice Jennings, Buck Davis, George Washington, and Anthony Adams.  Some others are  journalists Keith Owens, Diane Bukowski, Theresa Kelly, Valerie Lockhart, Eloni Wilks, Tim Moore,  R. J. Watkins, Cliff Russell, Greg Thrasher, Zenobia Jeffries, Gina Steward, Curt Guyette, Michael Jackman, Mildred Gaddis, Chastity Pratt-Dawsey, Sherman Eaton, Karen Dumas, Bankole Thompson, Gloria Cunningham, Charlie LeDuff, Steve Hood, Kate Levy, Henry Tyler, and Allie Gross; state legislators Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, Rosemary Robinson, Coleman Young, and former legislators Ellen Cogen Lipton and Hansen Clarke; clergy Bill Wiley-Kellermann, Joan Ross, Edwin Rowe, Arkles C. Brooks, Charles E. Williams II, Gregory Guice, Cedric Banks, David Alexander Bullock, Horace Sheffield, Keenan Knox, and Malik Shabazz; educators Tom Pedroni, Sharon Howell, Aurora harris, Willie Wooten, Yolanda Herbert, Victor B. Gibson, Josh Bassett, Adrienne Lee Telford, Peter Hammer, Eddie Green, Angela Johnson, Gloria House, Christal Bonner, Greg Dunmore, Claude Tiller, Walt Jenkins, the late Irving Petross, Keith Johnson, Carl Taylor, David Snead, Rhoda Stamell, Linda Spight, Ellen Stephens, the late James Lee, the late Charles Lewis, the late Greta Barclay Lipson, N.O.W. official Geraldine Barclay, M. L. Liebler, the late Avery Jackson Jr., Betty Hines, Alvin Ward, john a. powell, Bianca Suarez, Steve Conn, the late Will Robinson, Reginald Kirkland, Reginald Bradford, James Hare, Jason Patton, Terry Truvillion, Karen Twomey, Andy Rio, Stephanie Rivers, Tom Banks, Andre Brooks, James Beasley, and  Bob Thomas.  Also included here are the late great Grace Lee Boggs and her compadres Michael “Doc” Holbrook, Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty, and Richard Feldman; Monica Lewis-Patrick, Valerie Glenn-Simons, Yusef Shakur,  Natasha An’ee, Kimmi Cee, Virginia Starkey, Joe and Darlene Barber, Tom Barrow, Wendy Baxter, Edna Bell, Peter Bernard, Richard Bernstein, Jim Bibbs, Margaret Betts, Stella Boswell, Verna Brocks, Theo Broughton, Ken Brush, Herb Boyd, Tom Choske, Robert Davis, Darrell Dawsey, Dawn DeRose, Bill Dickens, the late Bruce Sullivan Feaster, George Gaines, Jane Garcia, Agnes Hitchcock, Kim Hunter, Orlin Jones, Russ Bellant, Luther Keith, Beverly Kindle-Walker, Stuart Kirschenbaum, Krystal Crittendon, Marianne McGuire, Yvonne McKay, Tony Merritt, Aliya Moore, Robert Muha, Deborah Omokehinde, Pauline Onyango, Yolanda Peoples, Mildred Williams, Charlie Primas, Ann Rall, Sam Riddle,  Shari Rogers, Barry Ross, Satori Shakoor, Wardell Montgomery, Michael Shane, Janet Jones, Kristen Stevens, Donna Stern, Kathleen Straus, Maureen Taylor, Julie Telang, Allan and Gloria Tellis, Jean Vortkamp, Thomas Walker,  Keih McClellan, Marie Thornton, Maulana Tolbert, Demeeko Williams, Keith Williams, Jimmy Womack, R. E. Wollack, Ray Wright, Randy Williams, Rich Samartino, Michael D. Doan, Tommy Sledge, Lila Cabbil, and the late Joe Hudson.

I’m aware that some may not be familiar with or indeed perhaps agree with a few of the names I put on this list, and I could have added more–but they all contributed in some way to our cause. I now need to add the names of latecomers to the cause: the newest (and currently interim) Superintendent Alycia Meriweather, the DFT’s Ivy Bailey, and newly elected  DPSCD Board members Iris Taylor, Misha Stallworth, Sonya Mays, Georgia Lemmons, Angelique Peterson-Mayberry, Deborah Hunter-Harville, and also NON-latecomer LaMar Lemmons (the only new Board member who also served on the old democratically elected Board that the state government unconstitutionally disempowered).  Since Mayor Michael Duggan opposed the takeover recently on my radio show, I’ll add him, too, along with my Council representative Mary Sheffield and her Common Council colleagues who have now finally declared that they recognize the mortal danger to our schoolchildren and therefore to all ordinary Detroiters.  The Free Press’ Stephen Henderson–plus  Wendell Anthony and others among the previously reticent mega-clergy–appear to be totally on board now, too.  It remains now for ALL of us to unite, roll up our sleeves, and prepare to do final battle with those corporacratic charter affiliates and other Schuette, Trump and DeVos minions (or dupes) who are on the brink of snatching (or allowing them to snatch) our precious schools away from us, and ultimately Jim-Crow all of them–and all of us–forever…

Recent Mayoral and School Board candidate and former international track star John Telford was named Wayne State University’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2001 (for civil-rights activism), and he was a 2016 recipient of the State of Michigan’s Defend Public Education Committee’s Lifetime Achievement Award, among several similar awards he received during his six-decade career.  His website is  Hear him Sundays at 3:00 on NewsTalk1200 (the call-in number is 568-1200).  Get his best-selling books at (type in Dr. John Telford).  Read him on this website, in the Detroit Native Sun, and in the Michigan Chronicle.  Contact him at or (313) 460-8272.


1 Comment

  1. Patricia Johnson Singleton

    March 4, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Dr. Telford,

    Thank you for your service and for the recognition!

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