Wayne State alumna and democratic congressional nominee Rashida Tlaib spoke at WSU Oct. 3 in an event organized by the College Democrats.

The event took place two days after Tlaib was arrested for an act of civil disobedience during a “Fight for $15” rally outside a McDonald’s on Woodward Avenue. She was arrested alongside former democratic gubernatorial candidate, Abdul El-Sayed, and other labor activists.

“I first met Rashida my freshman year when she was organizing around air quality in southwest Detroit,” said Zoe Pidgeon, a political science and economics student and the president of the WSU College Democrats. “I like that she started in grassroots organizing. Southwest needs a lot of love so the fact that she’ll be representing them in Washington is super exciting.”

Tlaib discussed a variety of political issues, both on a local and national level. While speaking about Ford’s recent purchase of the Michigan Central Station, Tlaib said she wants to push back against the millions of dollars in corporate tax breaks Ford wants from the city. 

Currently, it is projected Ford will receive over $100 million in tax breaks, the Free Press reports. 

“Half a mile from there, there’s no clean water for one of my schools,” Tlaib said. “There was a sense of urgency to give Ford millions in breaks for the train station, I’d rather have it stay empty than have a school down the street not have access to clean water.”

Tlaib said she expects democrats to win big this November.

“Some people are talking about a blue wave this November — I want an ocean,” Tlaib said.

Tlaib said it was important for everyone to challenge their own party and demand more accountability from elected officials.

“Most mean well and want to do good, but after they’ve been there a while they start to feel desensitized to certain issues,” Tlaib said. “Not all democrats are the same, some of them are sellouts. I’m relying on your generation to call them out.” 

Naabia Romain, a global supply chain management major, said she liked Tlaib’s speech and message.

“I had heard of her, but had never heard her speak before this,” Romain said. “I like her priorities. You can tell she genuinely cares about the issues.”

Tlaib is running unopposed for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for Michigan’s 13thcongressional district. Upon election, she will be the first Muslim woman elected to Congress, as well as the first woman of Palestinian descent. She graduated from WSU in 1998 with a B.A. in political science.


Sean Taormina is The South End's breaking news and WSUPD beat reporter. He can be reached at sean.taormina@wayne.edu.

Cover photo by Jonathan Deschaine.

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