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Embracing Dr. King’s Legacy: Neighborhood Defender Service Detroit’s Journey Towards Justice 

January 15th, 2024 Back to Browse Stories

As we reflect on the profound impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we find inspiration in the dedicated individuals and organizations that continue his legacy of justice, equality, and compassion. One such beacon of hope is our valued partner, Neighborhood Defender Service Detroit (NDS Detroit). Together, we celebrate the spirit of Dr. King’s teachings, as NDS Detroit tirelessly works to uphold the principles he championed throughout his life. 

Early Intervention and Holistic Defense: Keys to Systemic Change

Dr. King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” NDS Detroit takes these words to heart by providing pre-arrest services that go beyond traditional defense. By intervening early, NDS Detroit ensures that no Wayne County resident faces the weight of a conviction merely because of economic circumstances. This aligns seamlessly with Dr. King’s call to address injustice at its roots, advocating for fairness from the very beginning of a legal process. 

Beyond legal rights, Dr. King also spoke of a society where individuals were judged not by their circumstances but by their character. NDS Detroit mirrors this sentiment through its holistic defense approach. Each client is represented by a dedicated team that includes not only attorneys but also investigators, social workers, and administrators. This collaborative effort embodies the spirit of community and support that Dr. King envisioned. 

Changing the Game: NDS Detroit’s Lasting Impact on Public Defense 

At the helm of NDS Detroit is Kristine Longstreet, a leader who embodies the commitment to justice that Dr. King exemplified. Longstreet’s dedication to public defense, her extensive experience, and her roots in Detroit echo Dr. King’s call for individuals to take up the mantle of leadership in the pursuit of justice. 

Dr. King once remarked, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability but comes through continuous struggle.” NDS Detroit is changing the game of public defense by challenging systemic delays and disadvantages faced by indigent defendants. Their integrated, holistic approach represents a continuous struggle for justice, aligning with Dr. King’s belief in the necessity of ongoing efforts for societal transformation. 

In supporting NDS Detroit’s initiatives focused on eviction defense, post-incarceration resources, and reentry programs, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is proud of our small contribution to the realization of Dr. King’s vision for a just and equitable society. We have provided grants to support NDS Detroit’s work in eviction defense, expanding resources to clients post incarceration and for the development of a reentry program that offers comprehensive social services and workforce training to formerly incarcerated Michiganders.  In our partnership, we find a shared commitment to creating positive, lasting change in the lives of individuals and communities in southeast Michigan. 

Let us remember Dr. King’s words: “The time is always right to do what is right.” Through our collaboration with NDS Detroit, we reaffirm our dedication to doing what is right and building a future where justice and compassion prevail. Together, we strive to make a lasting impact, echoing the spirit of Dr. King’s dream for a brighter and more just tomorrow. 

Learn more about our Michigan Justice Fund initiative