Vigil held for former DPS teacher on hunger strike to get home back

Amy Lange

Former Detroit Public Schools teacher Baxter Jones is no stranger to adversity. A debilitating car accident cost him his job, which has now cost him his house.

After years of fighting in court and protesting on the streets to keep his home in Jackson - the foreclosure is complete and that was just too much for Jones to bear.

He is now almost two full months into a hunger strike - it's not clear how much weight he's lost but he's hoping these drastic measures will make a difference for the thousands of Detroiters just like him.

"That's all I asked for, a chance to keep my house," Jones said. On Saturday evening, those who care most for Jones and his effort held a prayer vigil for him. 

AncestryHis voice weak, his body becoming frail - Baxter Jones has been on a hunger strike since Sept.13th. After years spent in court trying to keep his home. This former teacher and community activist - is taking a stand.
"He's starving for justice more than food right now," said friend Lottie Spady
"This could happen to anybody," said friend Jennifer Teed. "I don't want this to happen to anybody and nobody's fighting. He's not, he's not giving up."

Baxter's friends are worried; they don't know how much weight he's lost. He's eating only bread crumbs, drinking lots of water, and tea. He's no stranger to adversity - we watched Jones get arrested last year for protesting Detroit's water shut-offs to thousands.

"Water is a need," he said at the time.

All the while he was fighting his own battles including suffering a debilitating car accident in 2005 that eventually left him in a wheelchair. He lost his teaching job in 2010 because of his head injury, and then his home to Fannie Mae - despite so many efforts to keep it.

"I felt really blessed to find that house," he said.  "I had been saving my money and looking for a house like that for a long time."

"Baxter represents tens of thousands of people who have been marginalized," said friend Charles Bell. "Who don't have a voice in our society."

"A community that excludes even one of its members is no community at all," Rich Feldman said. "So Baxter's really talking for everyone."

And to everyone - he really wants to talk - to President Barack Obama.

"I would tell him how hard it is out here and how people are suffering,"

Always the teacher - this is now the classroom for Baxter Jones. The places where he pickets and protests

For human rights against corporate greed - he doesn't know how long the hunger strike will last. But he's hoping to make an impact - even now he's still fighting for his house.

"Baxter is speaking out and if he can do it," Charles Bell. "We all can do it - we all have a voice and we all need to get out. Here and do something about it."

"Baxter is a real fighter," said Kim Hunter. "All the unjust things he's been fighting against he needs some help now."

"I know my body is weak," Jones said. "But my spirit is strong."

For more information online, go to and email

On Twitter: @advocates4B and on Facebook Advocates4Baxter-A4B.

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