By Simon Albaugh – Yemeni American News
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. – A year ago, then organizer Abraham Aiyash was quarantining after a COVID exposure when he heard the news about Rep. Isaac Robinson’s passing. Like so many in the community, Aiyash was distraught about the passing of the person he says introduced him to Detroit politics.
Aiyash knew Isaac Robinson since he was 13. When Aiyash was campaigning to continue Isaac’s work as the State Representative for Michigan’s District Four, he knew he credited Isaac with starting his journey into Detroit’s politics.
“The first thing he tells me was, ‘I’m your Jewish Irish Catholic brother from the hood,’” Aiyash said. “He’’d say ‘it’s Abraham and Isaac, where were the biblical brothers.’ He, you know, immediately engaged me in the hustle and bustle of Detroit politics. And taking what I learned from him, I tried to channel that into my work in Hamtramck.”
Rep. Isaac Robinson was leading Hamtramck and parts of Detroit in the Michigan House of Representatives when he suddenly lost his life to complications related to COVID-19. After being taken to the hospital, he died on Mar. 29, 2020.
The State Representative was a champion of social justice, who some say had a unique ability to cross lines of difference in order to give power to the powerless.
“Isaac spent every waking moment thinking about how he could champion and advocate for the people in his community,” said Rep. Sarah Anthony of Lansing. “Now he didn’t much care about the politicians that were roaming the halls of power because he knew he had a job to do.
“Isaac knew, he recognized that his legacy would be rooted in the lives that he touched not in the halls of power, but at press conferences and rallies, in the neighborhoods, at church basements, barbershops, beauty salons. And he every single day inspired those of us in the capital to be better, to be stronger advocates.”
Isaac Robinson was a strong legislator who championed issues centered on Criminal Justice. A bill he co-sponsored created a system of forgiveness for those who committed certain crimes, allowing people to seek out better jobs and opportunities without their mistakes from long ago affecting them.
While his efforts were noticed in the Capital, his heart stayed in the community he represented. Oftentimes going to even the most minor of events to celebrate the everyday triumphs of those who worked hard for the community, he was just as much a member of the community as he was a leader and champion for his district.
“Our community lost one of its most ardent champions in Representative Isaac Robinson,” said Jaleelah Ahmed, Superintendent of Hamtramck Public Schools. “He was a steadfast and passionate supporter of Hamtramck Public Schools and the City of Hamtramck, and he dedicated his life to ensuring that all members of our community were treated with fairness, justice and equality.
“I was fortunate to have worked closely with Rep. Robinson, and he was an exceptional leader who was committed to making the world a better place. He left a lasting mark on our community, and his impact will be felt for a long time to come.”
Other Representatives have said that Isaac missed the changes over the past year just as much as they miss him. Rep. Tyrone Carter of Detroit talked about the changes, knowing Isaac would be there to celebrate the change and progress with everyone fighting for it.
“We went through a social change with George Floyd, with voting, all the issues in Washington,” Rep. Carter said. “And I know that my good friend would be somewhere with placards and cards every Monday ready to march, protest and bring awareness to issues that meant a lot to people.”
After a year, Abraham Aiyash – the political protégé to Isaac Robinson, became his replacement. Keeping the memory of Isaac alive, Aiyash released a statement remembering his friend and mentor.
“It was one year ago that Michigan District Four lost the people’s Champion,” Rep. Aiyash said. “Isaac Robinson was such an incredible leader. He was someone who was filled with so much humor and compassion and a fight like no other. He loved Hamtramck and Detroit. He had a unique ability to bring people together, reach across divides and keep the fight for greater justice into all the work that he did.”