'The Squad' rallies with Rep. Rashida Tlaib in Detroit

Mackenzie Thompson
The Detroit News

Detroit  — U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib had some heavy help Sunday in her bid for a third term in Congress.

Progressive Democrats known as The Squad, U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, were on hand to rally for one of their own, who opted to run in the 12th Congressional District after representing the 13th District for two terms.

Tlaib, a Detroit Democrat, is facing a primary challenge from three other Democrats in the new 12th District, which covers Dearborn, Southfield and part of Detroit, as well as Livonia, Inkster, Westland, Garden City and Redford Charter Township.

Her opponents on Aug. 2 are Detroit Clerk Janice Winfrey, former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson and Lathrop Village Mayor Kelly Garrett.

U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar join a rally for U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, at Cass Technical High School on Sunday.

The event drew hundreds, who lined up early before the 3 p.m. question-and-answer event.

Hosts Jeynce Poindexter and Rasha Mubarak asked the panel questions during the event at Cass Technical High School about canceling student loan debt, hunger insecurity, Ocasio-Cortez's anti-violence program, reproductive rights, constituent services and health care. 

One question concerned a broader approach: How can ordinary voters help beyond the ballot box?

"When you look at how the Civil Rights Act was passed, or the fact that we were able to unionize in the workplace, and have human dignity for workers, it really wasn't with who was in Congress, or who was in the White House, said Tlaib.

"It was because of the consciousness in the streets and the community, and that’s what the movement was and what is going to get us the the Green New Deal and Medicare for all … you all don't realize what you're doing in the streets." 

The crowd applauds at the rally for U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who is running in the Aug. 2 primary to represent Michigan's 12th Congressional District.

Pressley offered her answer to the question, one that suggested there was a greater goal.

“Another world is possible, one where we choose people over profit, one where we replace trauma with healing, one where we go from a world of mass suppression to mass liberation, a world where you are defined not by your traumas but by joy and possibility another world is possible,” Pressley said. 

Performers took to the stage to warm up the audience ahead of The Squad. Among them were Ber-Henda Williams, founder of the Power of Girlhood, and three of her students recited poems that followed the theme “My superpower is.” 

Thowra Dabke performed a traditional dabke dance and singer/songwriter Super Cool Wicked sang two original songs along with Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman.” 

“The squad is a great group of people, because at the end of the day, they’re fighting for all of us," said Joseph Person, who stood in line for the event in Detroit. "They're not fighting for just the White folk or the 40- and 50- and 60-year-old White women. All of us believe in the squad and the rights that they believe in. I’m a part of the squad. I'm a 'squader' for life.”

Winfrey supporters lined up outside of Cass Technical High School in the city, chanting “Win with Winfrey” holding signs that said “Say no to Rashida.”

U.S. Rep Rashida Tlaib, left, is joined on stage at the rally by her mother, Fatima, for Tlaib’s birthday.

“We’re here to support Winfrey," said Bridgette Dawson, who is an IT product manager at Ford and Winfrey supporter. "We believe in her, she’s local, she’s been a city clerk. She knows the city, people and outline of the new communities."