We Came Here to Work

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Excerpt from “We Came to Work” by Detroit Charter Commission candidate Elena Herrada:

My theory about the Detroit gene pool is this: Everywhere in the country and in the world, people left their beloved homelands to try their luck in this cold, faraway place where all you had to do was be willing to work. Whether one came from the segregated South, post-revolutionary Mexico, Europe, Kentucky or the Virginia mines, everyone who came here was ready to work. And there was plenty of work to go around.

This was an amazing place, a Promised Land, where with nothing but hard work — not political connections, not silver-spoon wealth — one could buy a house, a car, even two, raise a family and take vacations. Anyone could earn an honest day’s pay. The union contract protected every worker from the tyranny of nepotism, favoritism, racism, sexism, and every other evil -ism that has ravaged society since the beginning of time. Of course it was not perfect, but it was a lot better than it would have been without the Battle of the Overpass, the Flint Sit Down, the Ford Hunger March, and countless other battles our parents and grandparents told us as bedtime stories.

We grew up walking every picket line in town, whether my parents worked there or not. We took food to strikers, talked Union at the dinner table, and to hear my family tell it, the working class would save the human race.

Read the full commentary at NYTimes.com.

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