Detroit pastor says Black people have gone from ‘picking cotton to picking presidents’
A viral clip from Detroit clergyman Dr. Steven Bland illustrates the power of the Black vote
While the fate of the nation hangs in the balance as the presidency of the United States has yet to be definitively decided, protesters in Detroit tried to stop votes from being counted.
They stormed the TCF Center in Detroit to try to challenge the votes that as of this evening had swung Michigan to Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Republican protesters were stopped at the doors as they sought to gain entry at the arena now being used to count votes in the already contested presidential election. Both Democrats and Republicans were denied entry as officials said the venue was over capacity. There were also representatives from the Michigan ACLU, the League of Women Voters, and non-partisan challengers, all of whom are allowed to challenge votes. Michigan election law allows for 134 challenges per organization.
At issue were 25,000 uncounted ballots as of 6 p.m., mostly from Detroiters who are expected to vote Democratic and thus pulling closer to a Biden victory.
That the blue-collar, predominantly Black inner city was likely the area that could help ensure Biden’s arrival in the Oval Office was not lost on Rev. Steve Bland, the senior pastor of Detroit’s Liberty Baptist Church. He was interviewed outside of the venue and what he said immediately went viral.
“We are in the process of getting all the votes counted,” he told an MSNBC reporter on Wednesday. “The road of victory of any side is going to come through Michigan and through Detroit. And to stop the votes is to stop the very democracy that these persons are running to elect to uphold. So we want every vote to count because our vote is our voice and it will be counted, and the election process will be done.”
He continued: “Things are secure on the inside, but of course we have intimidating efforts on the outside but we’re not deterred. As goes Detroit will go Michigan. And Michigan will join the force of others to be able to say we are voting. And if you want to have record turnout and if you want to represent Michigan and Detroit you ought to want every vote counted.”
The interviewer then asked Bland, “Who do you think these people are?”
He answered: “These are persons who are passionate and they are consistent. They’ve been saying all along they’re going to suggest that’s its rigged, it’s flawed or fake, they’ve been saying that before now. We just need to be persistent, to make sure our voice gets counted because as goes Detroit, will be done so. And I will say, the Black vote in Detroit is higher than it’s ever been, and we will determine the outcome because we’ve gone from picking cotton to picking presidents.”
The pastor was part of a group of “poll chaplains” whose presence was to ensure and encourage voters and to help make sure the votes were counted.
As it turned out, Bland was correct as the inner city and close suburbs near Detroit helped carry the state, according to numbers reported by the New York Times. Wayne County, which includes metro Detroit and the close suburbs of Oakland County, combined for almost 2 million largely Democratic votes despite a slew of counties voting Republican in the state.
Despite any protests, as it stands now, the state of Michigan has gone to Biden, swinging the state back to blue after President Donald Trump‘s victory there in 2016. It’s one of three states, with Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, that Biden declared as part of the “blue wall” that would take him to the presidency.
Biden is now inching closer to a victory by winning two of three with the outcome in Pennsylvania still unclear as they complete their count of mail-in ballots. However, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania were still in play as of Wednesday night and could still provide a victory, most likely for Biden, though Trump is already challenging counts in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia.
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