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Veteran's Day and Engage Michigan

By Jocelyn Benson
Friday, November 11, 2011

Today, Veterans' Day, is special to me in many ways this year. I hope you will join me in thanking those who have served and are continuing to serve, along with their families, today and every day.

President Kennedy said that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. Consider supporting Team Red White and Blue, an organization devoted to working with returning veterans and providing support for these brave men and women and their families.

And if you are near Lansing, please join me tomorrow, Saturday November 12, for Engage Michigan - the Michigan Democratic Party's fall issues convention.

As the Convention Chair, I've worked with a leadership committee this past year to develop a substantive program and agenda focused on developing a cohesive values-driven vision for Michigan that includes policies that support and employ our veterans and their families. Details are in the message below.

Throughout this past year, I have continued to work to ensure that our democracy remains in the hands of our people. As we see a national effort to increase barriers to the vote, this work is as important now as ever.

The Engage Michigan Convention is one piece of that work. I am also working on improving civics education in our country and increasing citizen involvement in the redistricting process.

Earlier this year I was selected to serve with retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the national board of directors of iCivics, Inc., a nonprofit created by Justice O'Connor to improve civics education throughout the country.

And this Spring, under my direction, the Michigan Center for Election Law, an organization I founded several years ago to promote transparency and integrity in elections, hosted Michigan's first ever "Citizens' Redistricting Competition."

This Competition provided Michigan Citizens with an opportunity to access software and draw their own redistricting maps for the state. We received over 200 entries, and the winning maps were submitted to the legislature for consideration.

And last month, we formally launched the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne Law School. I'm proud to be the Associate Director of the Center, and the Founder of the Center's first major program, the Michigan Allies Project.

The Allies Project seeks to respond to the rise in crimes in Michigan motivated by hate and bigotry through providing information on the incidents and highlighting positive responses from targeted communities.

We also are working with many local organizations to provide resources and support in helping them to respond to these incidents.

I am extremely grateful to you for being a part of this work as well, and for all of your support and words of encouragement. I look forward to continuing our work together in the months and years ahead.

Please feel free to contact me anytime. You can always reach me via email ( or call my cell phone (313-623-9863).

What Will You Do to Engage Michigan?

Why do you believe that Michigan citizens should trust Democrats with our future? What are the Values that drive us? How do we communicate them in a way that resonates with voters?

This Saturday at Engage Michigan, the Michigan Democratic Party’s fall issues convention, you have an opportunity to be a part of answering these questions. The day starts with breakfast and remarks from U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow at 9:00am on Saturday, November 12, 2011 at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Michigan.

As I’ve visited with many of you over the past several months, we’ve shared what we all can do to work together to fight for the future of Michigan.

And many of you have talked about the need to produce a compelling message that can engage our fellow citizens.

That message is your story. That message is your answer to the question: Why are you a Democrat? Why are you engaged? What are your values?

Every policy, proposal, reform, or solution we support is a statement about our values. They reflect who we are, and what we believe Michigan can do to invest in our future.

This Saturday’s convention, Engage Michigan, is an opportunity for us to talk about policies that reflect our values – values like fairness, opportunity, equality, justice, innovation, and solidarity.

Over the course of the day, we’ll explore what we value and why, policies that further our values, and how we best share those ideas for reform with our neighbors. From 17-year-old high school students with new ideas for education reform to senior citizens with ideas to improve Medicare and Social Security, many of your fellow Democrats will offer their solutions for a better tomorrow. You can see the full agenda here.

Don’t miss this unique chance to talk about our future.