Thank you for joining Detroit Jews for Justice at the 2021 Myra Wolfgang Awards on the evening of Tuesday, May 4th at 7:30pm ET.
This virtual gala is hosted by DJJ Leader Zak Rosen.
Zak is creator of The Best Advice Show Podcast. The Best Advice Show is your daily reminder that there are weird, delightful and effective ways to survive and thrive in this world. In every (very short) episode of the show, a different contributor offers their own personal take on what they do to make their life better, healthier, saner and more livable and it’s likely gonna be something you can try today, if you want!
Zak is the Director of Podcasts at Graham Media Group and editor of WDIV/Graham’s award-winning narrative podcast, Shattered. He’s also the producer/editor of How to Survive the End of the World and the creator of Pregnant Pause with Zak and Shira, which chronicles his and his wife’s decision to bring a child into this strange world of ours.
The virtual gala's program:
- Short film about Myra Wolfgang z"l
- Chace Morris performs an original poem "You're Coming With Me"
- 2021 Myra Wolfgang Honoree Julie Hurwitz is introduced by Tristan Taylor
- 2021 Myra Wolfgang Honoree Detroit Disability Power is introduced by Tova Perlmutter
- Ian Finkelstein performs Thad Jones's "A Child Is Born" on piano
- 2021 Myra Wolfgang Honoree Rudy Simons is introduced by Cary McGehee
- Words from Detroit Jews for Justice Executive Director Rabbi Alana Alpert
MYRA WOLFGANG z”l (she/her/hers)
- Born in 1914 in Montreal to Eastern European Jewish parents, who soon immigrated to Detroit
- At 18 years old out of necessity, Myra dropped out of college and picked up a job as a secretary at the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE)
- Quickly became an organizer, and five years later organized an eight day sit down strike at Woolworth’s department store, a strike so successful that it inspired a wave of strikes at stores across the country
- Later she became International Vice President at HERE, and eventually helped start the Coalition of Labor Union Women
- She was also a leader in the campaign to pass Michigan’s first minimum wage law, in 1966
Chace Morris performs an original poem "You're Coming With Me"
The TETRA is the creative partnership of Detroit artists Sherina Rodriguez Sharpe & Chace Morris. Combining art, performance and Black spiritual technologies, The TETRA is creating a Digital Underground Railroad: a six-year journey full of digital and in-person rituals that decolonize the mind, heal inter-generational trauma and activate the imagination around new concepts of Freedom.
Freedom, as defined by The TETRA, is a life you no longer have to escape from. Sharpe & Morris’ work is designed to disrupt the expected and erode the divide between audience / performer, reality / impossible, survival / thrival.
Sherina Rodriguez Sharpe is a writer, ritualist, performance artist and educator from Detroit. Trained in Haitian healing traditions, she roots her writing in rituals to create sacred spaces, magical enough to explore power, heal wounds and rewrite origin stories that transcend trauma.
Chace Morris (also known as Mic Write) is a poet, emcee, curator and educator from Detroit. His writings have been called “codes”, verses that spin Black myth & Afrofuturism into clever heists of language & culture, rewriting Black & Brown futures around “Americana” & “independence”.
As The TETRA, they have been recipients of the 2020 Lewis Prize, 2018 Art Prize Juror’s Short List Award, 2018 MAP Grant, 2017 Knight Arts Challenge award, a 2016 Alain Locke award & are also both Kresge Arts fellows.
When not performing, The TETRA is relentlessly correcting the word “soda” to “pop” & quietly judging your pound cake.
Tristan Taylor introduces 2021 Myra Wolfgang Honoree Julie Hurwitz
Tristan Taylor is a bisexual, working-class Black man born and raised in Detroit. He became a revolutionary as the result of growing up in a family that had to struggle (and still is) hard to survive. A social justice activist at 17, Tristan was won to Trotskyism at 18 because it embodied a Marxist method that helped explain the inequality and oppressed he faced and how to fight it. He has been involved in struggles that range from defending affirmative action, opposing privatization efforts of public school systems, for immigrant rights, challenging gentrification, and fighting against police brutality. He is one of the co-founders of Detroit Will Breathe (DWB), an organization born in the midst of the struggle for Black and Brown lives that seek to build a militant, integrated, and youth-led movement in Detroit that has been able to play a leading and radical role in the struggle for Black and Brown lives. He is also a recent member of Left Voice, a revolutionary independent news publication that seeks to tell the stories of the working-class and oppressed communities fighting for justice and liberation.
2021 Myra Wolfgang Honoree - Julie Hurwitz
Julie Hurwitz, of Detroit, Michigan, is a partner in the firm of Goodman Hurwitz & James, P.C., where she specializes in civil rights and government misconduct litigation. She is the founding Executive Director of the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice [Sugar Law Center] in Detroit, from 1990-1993 and 1998-2006. She is currently Vice President of the Michigan/Detroit Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and is on the Boards of Directors of the Sugar Law Center, and the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights. She has successfully tried several civil rights cases to verdict, including police misconduct, prisoner rights, malicious prosecution, wrongful conviction, failure to protect and sexual harassment cases. She has represented political activists who engage in civil disobedience since the early 1980’s, including several members of DJJ more recently.
Julie Hurwitz is recognized as a 2021 Myra Wolfgang Honoree for her work representing victims of the Flint MI water crisis and Detroit Black Lives Matter organization, Detroit Will Breathe.
Tova Perlmutter introduces 2021 Myra Wolfgang Honoree Detroit Disability Power
Tova Perlmutter, independent consultant, has 30 years of experience helping progressive initiatives obtain and use resources to advance social change. In 2020, she managed a get-out-the-vote campaign for Detroit Disability Power that reached over a quarter of a million voters in Southeast Michigan. Before that, she was part of the leadership team at nonprofit media outlet Mondoweiss.net. From 2006-2012, she was Executive Director of Detroit's Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, a national nonprofit dedicated to advancing the rights of working people and their communities.
As a consultant, Tova has helped many other organizations become more stable and strategic. A Harvard graduate, Tova earned master’s degrees at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan, and conducted doctoral research on ethnic and racial politics in American cities. She has also completed specialized programs on multicultural leadership and project management.
2021 Myra Wolfgang Honoree - Detroit Disability Power
Detroit Disability Power is a membership organization that works to build the political power of the disability community. DDP organizes people with disabilities and allies to end disparities people with disabilities face in regards to housing, employment, education, transportation, and healthcare.
DDP is recognized as a 2021 Myra Wolfgang Honoree for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure access to care, testing and vaccines for the disability community in Detroit and across the state of Michigan.
Ian Finkelstein performs Thad Jones's "A Child Is Born" on piano
Ian Finkelstein [aka Ian Fink] is a Detroit-based jazz pianist, producer and composer. He has performed with artists such as Marcus Belgrave, Robert Hurst, Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, Karriem Riggins, and tours regularly with the Shigeto Live Ensemble. He has recorded for artists including Black Milk, Omar-S, Scott Grooves, Waajeed, Shigeto, Andrés, and others. Finkelstein is an alumni of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance. In 2018, he was named a Geri Allen Fellow and was a member of the Gathering Orchestra, hosted by the Carr Center. He is the recipient of a 2020 Gilda Award, awarded by Kresge Arts in Detroit, a program of The Kresge Foundation.
Cary McGehee introduces 2021 Myra Wolfgang Honoree Rudy Simons
Cary S. McGehee is a Founding Partner of Pitt, McGehee, Palmer, Bonanni & Rivers
Cary has specialized in employment and civil rights litigation for 25 years, since graduating magna cum laude from the Detroit College of Law in 1989. She has successfully litigated and tried numerous civil rights cases resulting in favorable settlements and verdicts for her clients in the state and federal courts, including discrimination cases based on age, national origin, sex, race and disability, cases alleging retaliation and sexual, racial and national origin harassment, violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act and Whistle Blowers Protection Act, and prisoner rights cases. Cary is also a member of the Flint Water Class Action Litigation team which is currently litigating multiple class action lawsuits in federal and state court.
Cary was selected a 2016 “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers in America; has received the highest rating possible, AV, from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer review national Legal Directory; and, since 2006 has been rated as one of the top employment lawyers in Michigan in Michigan Super Lawyer. In relation to her work as one of the trial attorneys in Neal v. Michigan Department of Corrections- a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of over 500 female prisoners in Michigan who had been sexually assaulted by male prison guards- she was awarded: The prestigious national award of Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Public Justice Foundation (2008) in honor of her outstanding contribution to the public interest; the Lawyers for the People Award by the National Lawyers Guild (2008) in recognition of extraordinary commitment to uphold human, civil, and constitutional rights, and; the Wade Hampton McCree Jr. Award (2009) for the advancement of social justice awarded by the Federal Bar Association.
2021 Myra Wolfgang Honoree - Rudy Simons
Rudy (Ruthven) Simons was a vice president of the Cranbrook Peace Foundation, a former co-chair and longtime board member of the MI Coalition for Human Rights, deeply involved with the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Wayne State University for decades, and a member of over 20 delegations to foreign countries. He has rallied for causes such as opposition to the Vietnam War, anti-South African apartheid, ending U.S. intervention in Central America, Haiti, Iraq, and Iran, human rights and civil rights.
Rudy Simons is recognized as a 2021 Myra Wolfgang Honoree for his life long impact to enable peace and human rights in Detroit and the world.
Detroit Jews for Justice is made possible by:
- Jews of Color Initiative
- The Nathan Cummings Foundation
- Powered by UpStart
- Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Detroit
- Patti Aaron
- Tides: a Force for Social Good
- Fight Back Collaborative Fund, a fund of Tides Foundation
- The Collaborative for Jewish Organizing
- The Buck Dinner & The Fund for Equal Justice
- Hazon: The Jewish Lab for Sustainability
Special Thank you to:
- The Wolfgang Family
- 2021 Myra Wolfgang Planning Committee (Merrill Alpert, Miriam Chesterman, Syma Echeandia, Lora Frankel, Emiko Hayashi, Jane Miller, Roslyn Schindler)
- Matthew Butler, ASL interpreter
- Dan Eggert, Three Lyons Creative
- Olivia Guterson, visual artist for the 2021 Myra Wolfgang Awards
"Primarily through black ink, I create works that are a healing and truth-seeking investigation. In conversation with the materials I am marking, I layer ink as a means of mapping the present conditions and environment through the lens of mylived experience. My interest in pattern as language stems from my multiracial heritage, which inspires how the patterns relate to one another and stand alone. Accentuating the balance of black and white, busy and still, negative and positive, and the valid in-betweens, my linework is embedded in meticulous, instinctive wisdom."
You may have seen Guterson's work "At Our Table" a reimagining of a Passover table constructed from locally sourced, discarded single-use plastics this past spring at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. It's still possible to experience Guterson's collaboration with artist Laura Earle at the 22 North Gallery until April 30th called "Lumenality: Emodying Light" described as an intersection of curiosity and hope, an invitation to experience the presence of light as a source of inspiration and peace.