Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed campaigned at Wayne State on July 28. His WSU stop is part of a series of rallies he has held throughout Michigan prior to the primary election, which will be held Aug. 7.
Hundreds of people arrived at the Student Center to support El-Sayed. The building was full of energy throughout the rally; supporters did not shy away from cheering and El-Sayed received a standing ovation after completing his speech.
New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who endorsed El-Sayed earlier this month, joined the rally in Detroit.
“I know this room isn’t just a rally, it’s a movement,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “This movement is like a wave — it can’t be contained.”
“We have a choice in 2018,” El-Sayed said. “We have the choice for the vision of our government by the people, for the people.”
WSU senior and political science major Jasmin Maciel-Gutierrez, who attended the WSU rally, said El-Sayed has her support because he understands the struggles of immigrants living in the U.S. and said the 33-year-old candidate is a "prime example of what it means to strive against all odds being a minority in this country.”
El-Sayed encouraged the crowd to volunteer for his campaign and encouraged students to vote in the upcoming primaries.
“I understand the disparities in health care, education and the criminal justice system,” he said. “I know that our president is wreaking havoc in this country."
Ocasio-Cortez said she was told not to come to Detroit because the city wouldn’t accept her and that “she should stay in the Bronx.”
“But what’s right in one place, is right in all places,” she said. “The reason they don’t want us to connect Le Bronx and Detroit is because they’re afraid. Nothing can stop the truth.”
Seydi Sarr, a candidate for state representative of the eighth district, said WSU students have an advantage being in Detroit due to their ability to engage in the community.
“(WSU) students learn how to be a part of the city and to be organized,” she said.
Sarr said democracy is important and is something El-Sayed wants to preserve.
“It’s not easy being an immigrant, a Muslim, a black woman or even a woman in the U.S.,” she said. “Democracy is all different color, all religion and loving whoever we want. Michigan needs to regain the place it lost.”
“Let’s remember democracy takes work,” El-Sayed said. “People say there is no way to get people like in this room to vote. But if we are willing to take back our democracy, it will be reality for our future.”
El-Sayed said that it’s time to see new blood in Washington and Lansing. He added that democracy is for the people by the people, not by millionaires, for millionaires.
Every child living in the U.S. deserves a dignified life, El-Sayed said.
“We need to build a future that dignifies our kids,” he said. “I realized the work of public health and government ought to be justifying the confidence that any three-year-old should have in the life he or she is going to lead.”
“We need to champion the needs of working-class people because there is hope for the progressive movement in the U.S.,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “Link arms and come together for what’s right. We did it in The Bronx and we are going to do it in Michigan.”
Maciel-Gutierrez said she thought El-Sayed's campaigning at WSU went well.
“I’ve gone to rallies for other candidates and none have touched me in the way Abdul’s campaign has,” she said. “I strongly believe that WSU students should vote for a candidate like Abdul."
Susana Hernandez is a staff writer for The South End. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.