'Little people don't have the power to speak': Detroit rally calls for community to take a stand against child abuse

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News
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Speeches and songs filled the air Saturday on Detroit's northwest side as parents, children and activists rallied for the prevention of child abuse.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Mental Health Awareness Rally at the Detroit Service Learning Academy was co-organized by Motherhood Matters Everyday LLC and Nicole Massey, who teaches at the Academy.

Nicole Massey speaks during the Child Abuse Prevention and Mental Health Awareness Rally on Saturday, May 1, 2021.

Massey, who is involved in a child custody matter and an issue regarding medication prescribed to her child, said the rally is one of many she has organized and held at the Academy to highlight issues and topics affecting the community.

"I'm here to stand against child abuse as a teacher," Massey said Saturday at the academy on West Seven Mile near Evergreen. "My message is to keep speaking up and saving lives one day at a time." 

Gwendolyn Thomas, left, the Rev. Damon Dillard, and Alana Dillard raise their fists in unity during the Child Abuse Prevention and Mental Health Awareness Rally on Saturday, May 1, 2021.

The event's co-host, Alana Dillard, told those who attended to stand up and be a "strong advocate" for children.

"It's not fair that the little people don't have the power to speak," said Dillard. "Mental, physical abuse and injustice will not be tolerated. It's time for you to go out and make a difference. Do your bit of advocacy against these matters."

Dawn Floyd, who is a breast cancer survivor and has established a foundation to help struggling women who are undergoing breast cancer treatment, said children and parents alike are sometimes afraid to speak out when abuse is happening.

"Events like these are important because people don't know about (the abuse) and the events are happening right here in the neighborhood," Floyd said.

Lishei Sanford, left, and her daughter Xj’myi Sanford perform a special dance during the Child Abuse Prevention and Mental Health Awareness Rally on Saturday, May 1, 2021.

Noted businesswoman and education consultant Gwendolyn Thomas, who is Massey's aunt, told those who attended the rally, "I want to make sure women and children are treated justly" by court officials and others.

Ten-year-old Franklin Thomas IV, attended Saturday's rally with his dad. 

"I'm here to protest the mental abuse of children," said Thomas as he listened to songs and speakers. "Little children can't protect themselves."

The Rev. Damon Dillard, left, Dawn Floyd and Alana Dillard hold signs during the rally.
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