In working toward equality and justice, the time for action is now

Published on June 1, 2020 in

A message from our President and CEO, Darienne D. Hudson, Ed.D.:

In the midst of our struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, our region and our nation now face another crisis. Following the horrific death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, communities across the country, overwhelmed with grief and outrage, have flooded the streets in protest. Some of the protests, including those here in Detroit, have tragically turned violent.

As our country continues to grapple with its legacy of inequality, I stand with the protesters demanding justice and change to the systemic racism that permeates our institutions. While I pray and plead for all demonstrations to remain peaceful, I understand the outrage and I feel the pain of this incident very deeply and personally.

I am a proud graduate of Spelman College, a historically Black college for women, located in Atlanta, Georgia. My heart ached as I watched live on air the arrest of CNN journalist Omar Jimenez, the son of one of my Spelman sisters. I’m pained at the images of young people being tased and arrested Saturday night in Atlanta’s protests—one of whom was also my Spelman sister.

They — Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery or George Floyd — could have been me; could have been a member of my family. It’s a terrifying thought shared by African Americans across the nation. Sadly, this isn’t new. But we must not despair. There is too much work to do. As people of every age, race, ethnicity and creed unite to speak out against this atrocity, there is reason to be filled with hope and even greater determination.

Now is the time for action, and at United Way, we’re ready to do our part.

For more than a century, United Way for Southeastern Michigan has made it our mission to bring our community together. That means families, neighborhoods, service organizations, faith leaders, elected officials, and business leaders joining hands and taking real, meaningful action to address our most challenging problems.

In times of crisis, we are resolute in our values: Putting people first, collaborating with community stakeholders, and keeping equity and inclusion at the center of our work while fighting for change where injustice persists. As we come together to make our way through this most recent tragedy, we have opportunities to create that change. We can see the world from someone else’s point of view. We can reach out, listen, and seek to understand each other better. We can contribute for the good of everyone, regardless of whether they look, vote or pray the same way we do.

We all have an opportunity to show we care and a responsibility to make a difference. As we grieve, process and consider where we go from here, there are actions we can take. Even within the confines of a pandemic, we can build a brighter future for our region.

Vote. Our collective power comes from an engaged electorate. Our leaders must know we are watching and that we will hold them accountable.

Fill out your census. Our community’s resources and representation depend on each of us being counted. Click here to take the census and Be Counted.

Use your voice. We must let our elected officials know where we stand, and right now there is no shortage of vital issues to speak out on. You can lend your voice by visiting

As we navigate this very challenging time together, we must remain committed to speaking out for what we believe in and exercising our essential right to peacefully gather and protest. We must remain focused on the ultimate goal of changing the systems that perpetuate injustice, inequality and human suffering. My hope is that even in our pain, we stay the course to leave a better world for our children.