Making a Difference: Hedieh Briggs, Fighter for American Democracy by Ellen K. Halter

Born in Iran, Hedieh Briggs, a social worker with a full-time job in a department of psychiatry, is on the Executive Committee of the Michigan Democratic Party, Vice Chair of 12th District Democrats, and Vice Chair of Washtenaw County Democratic Party along with Vice Chair of programs of the Ann Arbor Democratic Party.  None could have foreseen her life of American activism, least of all herself.

        Hedieh’s first years were a series of near misses. Orphaned at 21 months in a car accident which killed her parents, raised by grandparents, she was a “blue baby,” who had cardiac surgery at age four. Nine years later, she and her grandfather escaped from Iran to Germany, then Livonia, Michigan during the 1984 war between Iran and Iraq. She stayed in America, living with her paternal aunt.

        For years, Hedieh avoided politics in America, considering it unsafe. When she arrived in Michigan, age thirteen, after the Iranian hostage crisis, classmates asked her if her Uzi was in her locker, making her feel unwelcome. She felt more secure after she became a citizen in 1995, but she still did not participate in politics.

        Then, during Obama’s election in 2012, a friend invited her to go canvassing with him. Though she felt there must be a better way to campaign than going door-to-door, she liked talking to people. Canvassing also gave her insight into American society. She could see the middle class disappear as local communities became divided between the “haves” and “have-nots.” Recalling the killings and riots in the street during the Iranian Revolution, she could almost smell the growing divide and was scared for her new country.

        Fear led her to volunteer with Washtenaw Democrats in the hope of learning as much about American politics as possible. Before long she was involved in the Democratic party at all levels—the Ann Arbor Democrats, the 12th District, the State Central, and the oversight and executive committees of the Democratic party. Her activism, the hours she’d spent driving the back roads of Washtenaw County, led her to anticipate Trump’s victory in Michigan. Too many Trump and Pence signs had made her feel unwelcome once again in her adopted country.

        Hedieh is willing to fight to get what she feels is right for her country. In the last couple of years, she has organized local marches and events to give all people, not just those who can afford to go to DC, an opportunity to resist and be heard. Although she “bleeds blue,” as she puts it, she believes it’s not about Democrats and Republicans, but about people working together to ensure everyone has a chance to get their needs met in a loving society. That is the America worth fighting for.

Below, is a video of Hedieh speaking about the importance of voting and having your voice heard.

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