Ingham County’s Chief Judge Donald L. Allen and Maria Starr VanCore, President of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLLA), share common goals for equality and justice.
The UAW Local 652 held their 20th Anniversary Black History Celebration on February 28, 2016. The Civil and Human Rights Committee presented the “Preserving the Past for the Future” event to almost 100 people.
The keynote speaker of the event was the Honorable Judge Donald L. Allen, Jr. of the 55th District Court in Ingham County. He spoke about the legal hurdles that African Americans face in today’s society.
Judge Allen was appointed judge of the 55th District Court by Governor Jennifer Granholm on December 22, 2008. He was elected to the bench in 2010 for a six year term. His current term expires January 1, 2017. Prior to being appointed to the District Court, Judge Allen served as the director of the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP). Judge Allen assumed the directorship of ODCP on June 5, 2006, after serving as deputy legal counsel for the Governor on her legal staff. Judge Allen's duties for the executive office included serving as a member of the Governor's senior staff with responsibilities for emergency management and homeland security, civil rights and criminal justice. He became the Chief Judge as of January 1, 2016.
He served at the Department of Attorney General from February 1988 through September 2005. His assignments included the Social Services, Revenue, Corrections, and Health Care Fraud divisions where he specialized in litigation. While at the Attorney General's Office, he also served as a member on the Attorney General's Litigation Advisory Board. In his last assignment at the Health Care Fraud Division he served as a prosecutor of high profile criminal and civil defendants.
Judge Allen spoke about African American history and lamented that a people who do not know their history are doomed to repeat their mistakes of the past.
“I think it is important that we teach children about ancient and recent history,” said Judge Allen.
During his speech, he mentioned President Barack Obama’s many accomplishments and the many paradoxes of our times. He stated that we have more materialism and we are accomplishing less more often than not.
“People tend to compromise themselves too much. There are good and bad compromises. Two parties should get together and do good. A young person who does drugs, becomes addicted to drugs and or alcohol and does not get a degree is not doing good for our society,” said Judge Allen.
Maria Starr VanCore, the President of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLLA), was a table with information regarding the organization. She said that her group collaborates often with the Black History month programming.
Starr VanCore said, “There are many black/African American citizens that have created a rich history that many more people should be aware of. We need to begin with respect, dignity and equality. And as Hispanics, we want the same actions. With Black History Month, we bond together. We learn from each other.”
This article was printed in the March 6, 2016 - March 19, 2016 edition.