At least one resident questioned whether the annual Macomb County Martin Luther King commemoration last Monday gave short shrift to two Black politicians in attendance.

Commissioner Michelle Nard, a Democrat, and U.S. Rep. John James, a Republican, were present at the celebration. Still, Nard only received a mention by Macomb County resident Joslyn Howard from the event podium while James wasn’t mentioned at all. Both Nard and James were seated on the dais.

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In an interview with The Midwesterner, Nard said the slight was intentional and politically motivated. She said the policy positions held by both her and James because some of their stances are conservative and do not align with the Macomb County political apparatus’ progressive agenda.

Warren is the largest city in Macomb County and the 3rd largest city in the State of Michigan.

On the community Facebook page, Warren resident Joel Vander Linden posted on Tuesday that the speaker leading the event, Joslyn Howard, failed to mention Nard and James.

“Did Joslyn Howard purposely disrespect Senator John James and Commissioner Michelle Nard at a Martin Luther King celebration at Warren City Hall !!!,” Vander Linden wrote.

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“Yes she did by announcing all past and present elected officials (including [Mayor] Jimmy Fouts),” he added. “Sitting in the Front row and not mentioned was James and Nard. To add insult to injury and Stupidity. Melody McGee was spotlighted as Warrens first African American voted in to office in Warren, Which, of coarse was Ms. Michelle Nard,” he wrote.

“To disrespect two of Warrens Africans Americans is embarrassing,” Vander Linden concluded.

Nard responded to Vander Linden: “To be fair, I did hear her call me, she said and Michelle is here. She then got excited and said Councilwoman Melody Magee is here the first African American to get elected in warren, which was ok but the truth is, Commissioner Michelle Nard is the 1st African American to get elected from Warren in November 2019 to the Macomb County Board of Commissioners representing Warren and Centerline Mi,” she wrote.

“She just failed to mention the African American Officials Properly and since the purpose of the celebration is the dream being realized that Dr Martin Luther King Jr hoped to see, it was noticed by many others in the room. The dream of Black men and women having a fair seat at the governmental table and being respected and treated fairly was all that matter to Dr King it never mattered if they were Democrat or Republican, and you had both Democrat and Republican representatives in the room, he, Dr King Jr., wanted all human beings to be treated fairly, and unfortunately, nowadays the injustices in these matters often come from the very people who look like us.”

Nard added: “The United States Congressman, John James took time out of his busy schedule to celebrate MLK Day with Warren. I am sure he could have went anywhere else but he chose to honor Warren and Mayor Stone with his presence, so political affiliation aside, he should have been properly recognized and introduced to the young African American boys and girls in the audience. We need to do better in this area.”

In her conversation with The Midwesterner, Nard said: “It’s been like this ever since I got elected with the Democrats and I’m a Democrat.”

She said Howard mentioned her by her first name but not her full name.

“Whenever I’m in the room, they either won’t acknowledge that I’m in the room, or they’ll say, ‘Michelle’s here and so people are looking around like who’s Michelle? You probably got nine Michelles in the room, but I am the first African American Macomb County commissioner and the very first Black person that’s been elected,” she said.

“John James is the first black congressman to ever get elected in Macomb County,” she added. “I thought that was big history. There was a lot of young black people there that should know that Macomb County has elected Black people you know and they have a lot of firsts. I just thought it was just disrespectful that this man came all the way to Warren to come to for you not to even mention him or even have his name [mentioned] up there.”

Nard continued: “He’s African American and just because he’s a Republican it should not matter.

She said that she felt disrespected as well.

“If you don’t agree with their way of thinking as a Democrat then they ignore you. I’m a Democrat but I’m just not going to follow what you say just because you said it.”

Nard continued: “I tell everybody MLK never talked about Democrats or Republicans. He really didn’t even talk about just Black people. He talked about human beings having equal rights and so that right there in itself was just a disservice to his memory.”

Nard said her disagreements with the Macomb County Democrats include her stands against late-term abortions, expanding LGBQT rights, and tamping down on illegal immigration.

“I agree with some of the things that Trump did and they didn’t like the fact,” she said. “I was honest and transparent about it. I agree that the border needs to be closed we need to know who’s coming into this country and we need not be giving all of our resources to people who are not American citizens when I’m looking at soldiers walking around hungry with no place to stay and they fought for the freedom of this flag so they don’t like the fact that as a Democrat I feel that way.”

Nard concluded that party divisiveness must be rectified for the Macomb County – and the country – to survive.

“I wish that the Democratic Party would understand that we’re all humans,” Nard said. “They need to understand that what we need to get anything done in this country is that we’re going to have to work with everybody that’s in government whether they’re Democrat or Republican. Going forward to keep America the greatest nation in the land we as Americans are going to have to start there because we all agree that we’re American and we’ll have to walk that line instead of walking party lines cause when you walk party lines you’re excluding people you’re not being inclusive nor are you being transparent.”