Justice Powerhouse- Charity Hicks
The Praxis Project is publishing this appeal by Kolu Zigbi to support our comrade and sister Charity Hicks. Please consider supporting this extraordinary servant leader.
“Your Human Dignity shouldn’t be truncated because you’re priced out of the commodification of an essential resource.“
Charity Hicks on water shut-offs
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Charity Hicks, an extraordinary Detroit activist, advocate, movement weaver, and policy director for the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), has been in a coma in a New York City hospital since May 31st.
She has very serious head and chest injuries resulting from a hit and run accident near Penn Station in NYC as she waited for a bus to go to the Left Forum where she was to present on a panel.
There are two parts to this email: the first describes some of her work, the second describes the need for your support and how to help.
Some of you may have heard Charity speak at the Environmental Grantmakers Association State of the States dinner at Colors restaurant in Detroit last February, or at the EDGE Funders gathering held at EMEAC the next day. I’ve had the honor of working closely with her because Charity is one of four Fellows of the Everybody At the Table for Health (EAT4Health) initiative. Read her EAT4Health bio here.
She has been working to understand and influence federal policies to facilitate food access in low income communities, benefit regional farmers including African American producers, create living wage jobs in food retail and spin-off businesses, while promoting opportunities for cooperative ownership.
Charity always spoke out for the marginalized, affirmed the role of government against privatization, wove deep ecological understanding into her analysis, mentored young leaders and sat at many tables such as the Food Justice Task Force and the People’s Water Board. Charity worked with the US Food Sovereignty Alliance to bring Food Sovereignty Award recipients from Haiti and Brazil to visit urban farmers in Detroit and she later traveled to Brazil to meet with members of the MST (Landless People’s Movement).
Just in the week before the accident Charity:
Hosted other EAT4Health Fellows on a tour of the historic home, the Cass Corridor Commons, which EMEAC owns, manages and shares with other non-profits.
Helped co-lead the peoples’ response to the City’s shut-off of thousands of Detroit households for non-payment of water bills as even just $75. As a member of the People’s Water Board, Charity called attention to the human rights issues involved, bringing Maude Barlow to Detroit to speak about water as part of the commons. Maud declared: But the people of Detroit face another sinister enemy. Every day, thousands of them, in a city that is situated right by a body of water carrying one-fifth of the world’s water supply, are having their water ruthlessly cut off by men working for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Most of the residents are African American and two-thirds of the cut offs involve children, which means that in some cases, child welfare authorities are moving in to remove children from their homes as it is a requirement that there be working utilities in all homes housing children.
Organized a People’s Movement Assembly on Food Justice at EMEAC
Watch this interview with Charity that explains the connections between Climate Change, the polar vortex, poverty, banks and bankruptsy, the need for an alternative approach to sustain infrastructure, and why Detroiter’s are getting their water shut off. (Link not working, alternate speech in Montreal below.)
Charity never shrank from calling out racism, and sharing a vision of justice and opportunity for all, and she used her intellectual gifts to inspire others to work together. She was in demand, perhaps too much so, and rarely turned down an invitation to speak, to create connections and grow the movement, often traveling long distances by bus and train, never complaining of the time and discomfort involved.
Charity’s husband, Louis, came to New York to be with her in the hospital. Ife Kilimanjaro, EMEAC co-director, was in the City at the time of the accident, attending the same conference. She has stayed to care for and advocate for Charity. Both have been by Charity’s side almost continuously, taking turns spending the night in her room. Sadly, Charity has, till today, been unresponsive.
What can we do? What can you do?
- EMEAC has set up a fund to collect donations promising that 100% of the money collected will go to meeting Charity’s needs. Please donate whatever you can to:
(1) Go to www.emeac.org
(2) Click “MAKE A DONATION”
(3) Name your donation and type “For Charity Hicks” under “Dedication or Gift” in the designated box
Or you can just click this button
You may also mail donations to the office, but be sure to write “For Charity Hicks” on the check or money order.
C/o Charity Hicks
4605 Cass Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201
- Forward this appeal to others in your network who may be compassionate and care about justice
- Louis and all of us who love Charity have not stopped hoping for a miracle and praying for her to come back. Please think of her, send her your love and good energy. Do what your spirit moves you to do on her behalf.
- If you know a professional/expert that comes to mind who might provide pro-bono help (an attorney, a brain surgeon, etc.) or have potentially helpful information to share please let me know and I will help connect you with Ife and Charity’s husband.
This is devastating for all of us, and we particularly lift up Louis and Ife for support, but also Charity’s mentors and fellow activists in her home in Detroit, and the many who know and love her throughout the country and even internationally.
Related article with Charity Hicks interview after her arrest for protesting water shut-offs in her neighborhood, shortly before the NYC tragedy. Article says Charity was expected to speak at Call ’em out Gathering that Satuday, but the accident intervened.
Below: video of healing circle for Charity Hicks in Detroit June 5, 2014.