Black Voters Matter makes stop in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — On Friday evening, the Black Voters Matter tour bus made its last stop in Kalamazoo.

The organization has been on a nine-city tour throughout the state of Michigan, making stops in Benton Harbor, Ypsilanti and Grand Rapids.

In each city, they host a discussion forum to talk about the most important issues in the 2020 election.

Dozens poured into the Mt. Zion Baptist Church to air grievances about issues facing black communities in Kalamazoo.

“Why is it the places where we live are more likely to be segregated? Have crowded houses? Poorer quality houses? Poorer quality air indoor and outdoor?” asked Dr. Cheryl Dickson of Kalamazoo to a crowd.

Dickson says one of her biggest concerns for the local community is lack of access to health care. 

Community members also brought up issues of discrimination against the LGBT community and the environment.

“Water doesn’t just come up as an issue in Flint,” said Black Voters Matter Co-Founder Latosha Brown. “We’ve been hearing it over and over again about people concerned about environmental health.”

Brown says throughout the tour, many were concerned about criminal justice reform.

“Every community we talk to, they’re always concerned about criminal justice and criminal justice reform,” Brown said. “Particularly around over-policing of communities, racial profiling and police brutality.”

Brown says the goal of the tour is to get community members to vote. She says the community needs someone in office with solutions.

“Vote because we can make a change. It’s about time to make a change and change has got to happen. There needs to be health in all policy, there needs to be equality, equity and we have to make them pay attention to us,” Dickson said.

The tour organizers have been to 11 other states. They say they wanted to be here in Michigan because it will be extremely important in the 2020 election.

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