Living, working, and raising a family in Highland Park has committed Shimekia Nichols to a mission larger than just her own. The Executive Director of Souladarity has rich roots grounded from her family’s background in Detroit’s Southwest neighborhood 48217, known for being the most environmentally polluted zip code in Michigan. After that, in keeping pace with her creative, African-centered, and knowledge-seeking mother, Shimekia followed suit. An Aisha Shule & W.E.B. DuBois Preparatory Academy graduate Shimekia’s African-centered orientation to the world is put to the test as she and her organization work to restore the streetlights that were repossessed by DTE Energy in 2011. In this interview, she shares stories of her experience at Aisha Shule, one of the first African-centered institutions in the state; and the instruction there assisting in her confidence and journey. Shimekia shares how traditional 9-5 work left her disinterested and unfulfilled. The void led her to volunteer at D Town Farms, Detroit Food Security Network, and We The People Detroit. Witnessing the unified effort, peopled pace and strategic brilliance of Baba Malik Yakini and Monica Lewis Patrick inspired the path Shimekia walks today. Today she leads Souladarity, a small but mighty non-profit housed in Highland Park that has become a locally and nationally recognized leader in energy democracy that aims to be a model of energy resilience and Just-transition toward clean and community-owned solar. This movement in red, black, and Green environmental justice is a journey she shares as a Black woman with the goal of liberating divested communities and empowering them to become self-determining and subject matter experts in the solutions that address their own needs. Shimekia remains humble as she provides an understanding and balances style when it comes to the Black community and the Green Justice movement.
Faniz Bites is the brainchild of Jefani Edison. The daughter of one of Detroit’s premier attorneys (Jeff Edison) has a business in meal prep, seasonings, and catering. Jefani opens up about her upbringing with parents centered in Pan-Africanism. Jefani talks about her love for Nataki Talibah and Howard University. Learn about her perspective on the similarities and differences between the chocolate city of Washington DC and Detroit. Jefani shares about her time working and managing LePetit Zinc as a Black woman operating a French restaurant in Detroit owned by a Black woman (Karima Sorel). Finally, Jefani talks about her business and how to connect with www.fanizbites.com and her seasonings. Get a better understanding of how she personalizes meals for diets, taste, people that don’t cook, and people that can’t cook.
Michigan is a mid-western heartland welcoming people worldwide for beautiful Autumns, rich apples & cherries, and American tradition. The essence of the state through the lens of a Black Man magnifies the dual consciousness highlighted in literature by Ralph Ellison, Amiri Baraka, Richard Wright, Yusef Shakur, and many more. Deolis Allen III joined Detroit is Different to share his story giving an insightful perspective to this all. Allen was born in Ann Arbor as his parents finished their collegiate journeys at the University of Michigan. Allen’s parents eventually settled in the Highland Park community to stand as a presence of intellect, value, and success inside a Black community. Allen opens up about Cass Tech, Eastern Michigan University, and the role of Black men in the community. He provides a grand historical overview of the relationship between young men and older men. A member, facilitator, and teacher of the Better Men Outreach program, Allen shares how basketball has been a key in developing relationships and instilling value into young Black men of Detroit.
January 1, 2022, Yusef Bunchy Shakur delivered the State of Black Detroit 2022 Address and it was impactful. Initially, Yusef defined Black Detroit and its importance. The depth of the relationship between the Great Migration, legacies of revolutionaries, history of resilience, and the bonds between families were prominently addressed in Yusef’s message. The interactive dynamic from Detroit is Different’s live stream was a success as well. Rev. Teferi Brent, Brandon Jessup, Nadia Love, Prostell Thomas, Alfonso Pugh, and many others all joined in providing perspective and insight.