Sister Simone Campbell, SSS (Sisters of Social Service), one of the nation’s leading anti-poverty crusaders and a leading authority for tax justice, will deliver the keynote address at a national symposium on the $600 million over-taxation of Detroit homeowners. The symposium which will be held on Thursday, March 26, 6pm at the downtown campus of Wayne County Community College District, is the third in a series of major public forums organized by The PuLSE Institute, Detroit’s anti-poverty think tank, to explore the various dimensions to the largest economic scandal facing the city in the modern era. The forum will explore how the tax scandal under the administration of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is a national crisis that reflects the mistreatment and neglectful attitudes for equitable remedies concerning disadvantaged and vulnerable communities in America’s largest black city.
Sister Campbell, a courageous force for holding political power accountable, is one of the most prominent Catholic voices for social justice on the national stage. Her indelible work towards economic justice once warranted negative attention from the Vatican and led to an investigation authorized in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. The current Pope Francis, whose views on poverty align with Sister Campbell’s and have also attracted criticisms from within the Catholic hierarchy, affirmed the work of Campbell and her other female colleagues in the ministry by ending the investigation.
In Detroit, Campbell, who is the executive director of NETWORK, a leading Catholic social justice advocacy group in Washington D.C., will speak about the challenges of economic inequality as exemplified by the current tax scandal in the city. A member of The PuLSE Institute National Advisory Panel, Campbell, worked for almost two decades in Oakland, California as an attorney fighting for poor people where she was inspired by the work of the late Congressman Ron Dellums, an international anti-apartheid activist. She is a leader of the Nuns on the Bus Campaign as well as the National Tour for Tax Justice.
“As a Nun on the Bus who travels the nation demanding tax justice, the theft of $600 million from Detroiters through over-taxation shakes me to the core,” Sister Campbell said. “This robbery is an attack on the common good. It undermines faith in government and further exploits people of color already being hurt by this unjust system. The PuLSE Institute’s forum provides an opportunity for the community to come together to shine a light on this corruption and work for systemic change.”
The forum series moderator is Bankole Thompson, the editor-in-chief of The PuLSE Institute. Thompson is a twice-a-week opinion columnist at The Detroit News and the host of REDLINE, a news magazine and commentary show on 910AM Super Station-Detroit, which airs Monday through Friday from 11am-1pm EST.
Campbell’s work is viewed by many as continuing the transcending legacy of Mother Teresa, and her life offers a powerful example of how faith can be a redeeming force for inclusive public policy as well as defend the rights of the disenfranchised and dispossessed.
“Sister Simone Campbell lending her voice as the leading tax justice advocate in the country shines a national spotlight on the gross injustice of the $600 million over taxation of Detroit residents, who are primarily African American. Sister Campbell understands that not only is this a crisis of a broken system resulting in a serious breach of trust in government, but a moral dilemma of conscience against the largely African American community in Detroit,” said Attorney Tina M. Patterson, the president of The PuLSE Institute. “We are honored to host Sister Campbell in this continuing fight for basic dignity, respect, and fairness to the in Detroit, as well as the fight for complete restoration of everything lost to the residents in the inequitable and unjustified $600 million over taxation.”
Patterson said the issue must remain at the forefront of the recovery of the city.
“The $600 Million over-taxation of Detroit residents continues to be the indicting factor of the inequitable economic recovery of Detroit since the bankruptcy. It is a political and moral failure to not only allow this flagrant over taxation to occur, but to allow it to go unresolved. Thousands of Detroit homeowners, who kept the city afloat financially, have suffered one of the most egregious violations of the public trust this city has ever seen,” Patterson said. “As the leading independent and anti-poverty organization in this region, The PuLSE Institute has vowed to keep this $600 million over taxation issue at the forefront of the problems plaguing Detroit and trapping its residents in the depths of poverty and economic inequality. That is why we have expressly voiced our firm position on the matter and have included a wide range of opinions from thought leaders in the political, legal, and civic sectors as allies in the fight against this extreme injustice.”
When she joined The PuLSE Institute in August of 2018, Campbell emphasized the need to focus on economic justice.
“Income and wealth disparity is one of the biggest crises of our day. I am excited to join a group that’s working on addressing the real-life implications for this crisis. May we make progress,” Campbell said at the time.
Leading members of The PuLSE Institute include the National Advisory Panel consisting of Dr. Arun Gandhi, global justice advocate and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi; Dr. Bernard Lafayette, a top aide of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and National Coordinator of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign; Robert Weiner, former White House spokesman; Herb Boyd, historian, journalist and author of consequential books on James Baldwin and Malcolm X; Luba Lukova, an internationally visual artist for social justice; Rev. Lawrence T. Foster, Harvard-trained theologian and mentee of Martin Luther King Sr.; and Janis F. Kearney, first presidential diarist under former President Bill Clinton.