Statement of the Detroit & Michigan Chapter of the NLG on the untimely passing of our brother and comrade, Ron Scott
Published Dec. 9
Ron Scott grew up in the heart of Detroit’s African-American community: born in Black Bottom; his family was pushed out by “urban renewal,” first to the area near Hastings St.; then to the Jeffries Projects. He was immersed from a young age in the struggles, victories and defeats of the people of Detroit. His mother encouraged him to pursue an education, as she attended college and pursued her own career as a teacher.
In 1960, at the age of 13, Ron experienced an event that shaped his life. He and an uncle were stopped on the street by white Detroit cops. One of the cops put a shotgun to Ron’s head and said: “Nigger, if you move I’ll blow your head off.” Little did that cop know he had just motivated the man who would for the next 55 years organize implacable opposition to racist, abusive, and brutal police practices in Detroit. In 1995, Ron founded the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, and he led the organization until the day he passed.
At the age of 16, Ron marched in the June 23, 1963 Walk to Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. previewed his “I Have a Dream” speech, nine weeks before it was delivered in Washington, D.C. A few years later, as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, Ron attended a speech in Detroit by the Black Panther Party Communications Secretary, Kathleen Cleaver. Ron was electrified and inspired; he became one of the founders of the Detroit Chapter of the Black Panther Party.
Ron went on to a successful career as a journalist. He was an early producer of one of the longest-running African-American focused shows in the U.S: “Detroit Black Journal.” He also became the Host/Producer of the popular weekly public affairs television program, “For My People.”
For over 45 years, whenever citizens of southeast Michigan mobilized to demand an end to racist practices; to demand improved working conditions; to demand improved government services; or improved public education, Ron Scott was always there.
Ron became a Board member of the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership. And in 2001, Ron was elected to a position on the Board of Directors of the Detroit/Michigan Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a position which he held until he passed. He played a vital role in our Chapter, always pushing us to learn more about and to address the issues confronting the people at the grassroots level.
Ron Scott’s life demonstrated his keen understanding that we are all in this together. Ron understood that every victory; every citizen he could assist; every social issue he could address; every institution he could pressure to serve human needs; would improve life for the entire community. The great lesson of Ron’s life is that there is no excuse to whimper, moan, and complain about the problems we face as a community. The struggle to obtain social justice is right in front of us–if we dare to struggle, we can dare to win.
John Royal, for the Detroit and Michigan Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
Above: Ron Scott on the relationship between the community and the police. 2009.
Above: WDET – Remembering The People’s Activist: Ron Scott. December 2015