• Organizing against all odds: Abram P.

    As we celebrate African-American history month, we salute the incredible accomplishments of our volunteers here in Michigan. Abram P. of Pontiac is no exception.

    You might not see Abram P. on a list of famous African American leaders this month – but to the countless lives he has touched in his 65 years, he is nothing less than a hero.

    Abram was born deaf in the South. With no educational opportunities for children like him in the region, his mother packed up the car and moved up to Michigan, where he enrolled in the School for the Deaf in Flint.

    At the age of 16, Abram competed in the Deaf Olympics, running the 400 meter dash. This accomplishment, as well as his excellent reputation as the stepson of a General Motors employee landed him a job on the assembly line after he graduated from high school.

    During his career at GM, he only knew of three other deaf employees working in the area. Discouraged by the lack of support for people like himself, he helped establish Deaf C.A.N., an organization that provides advocacy and interpreters for the deaf. In 2006, he fought to pass a piece of legislation that would require the courts and hospitals to provide certified interpreters for their deaf clients – it was signed into law by Governor Granholm later that year.

    Abram is the proud father of seven children and five grandchildren who followed closely in his footsteps. One daughter is currently a social worker for the deaf in the Detroit Public School system, and another daughter, Angela P., is the Director of Operations for the Oakland County Democratic Party and served as interpreter for this interview with Abram.

    Abram may be retired from GM, but he is not ready to rest - especially this year. He is looking forward to organizing the deaf community in Pontiac and Oakland County around voter registration and the accomplishments of President Obama. Want to join Abram? Find an event in Oakland County or near you today.

    MI