Honoring Charity Hicks

July 17, 2014

Charity Hicks - a clearing house of knowledge and passionate warrior for justice - joined the ancestors on Tuesday July 8, 2014.  She joined EMEAC's staff as a Fellow for the EAT4Health initiative of the Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation in August 2012. During her tenure, she was a force behind a number of efforts throughout the city, nationally and globally, particularly in the area of food sovereignty and more recently, around water rights. Charity shared with folks around the world the struggles children and families in Detroit faced.  She challenged power structures and institutions for their complicity in conditions that led to disproportionately high health challenges.  And she called on all of us to walk the talk.

Charity brought so much passion, fire and knowledge to her work; many referred to her as a walking encyclopedia.  Further, she brought so much of herself into all the spaces of which she was a part.  She gave of herself selflessly.  Charity's work and powerful spirit remains alive in our hearts and continues to inspire us in ways far beyond words. At EMEAC, we are so grateful to have shared time and space with her during this lifetime.

Detroit Women Speak: Charity Hicks

In this video, Charity gives 3 critical pieces of advice that she would want young people to take with them.  It appears in the Detroit Women Speak footage captured by EMEAC Co-Director Diana Copland.  The three key points include:  
  1. Pay attention to your place and environment
  2. Become wealthy in relationship
  3. Lean into being uncomfortable and being challenged to grow

Staff Reflections

I will always remember Charity as a person who tried to practice what she preached. We had many conversations about how important it is to be a role model - Kim Sherobbi
I really enjoyed filming Charity, for one, the camera loves her, and I have always enjoyed watching her whenever she’s been interviewed or speaking in front of a group of people because of her candidness and sincerity.  She always says something that makes me laugh, makes me cry, shocks me a little and something that I have never thought of before but changes a little of my world view.  In this interview it was what she said around female emotional intelligence that changed me a little: the power of being vulnerable, emotional and unapologetically woman-ly!

It is hard being in the Cass Corridor Commons without her, not only because I never have been in this space without her, but she was such a presence in the space.  She was always there to welcome everyone that came into the space and made sure everyone was taken care of under the Commons roof.  She took her stewardship of the Commons very seriously. - Diana Copeland
Charity had an uncanny way of seeing what was important to new people and connecting with them to build a bridge to communion. She was a woman of great depth socially and spiritually.  We often talked about religions,  different cultural traditions and the metaphysical aspect of activism.   She and I shared conversations about Mother Earth and the ecopsychological need for  transformation and activisim.

She was very generous with her perspective and knowledge and offered it with a motherly touch.  I admired her strong African centered stance. I chuckle as I hear provocative statement, "let's get naked " Or let's be real with each other so we can connect as community.   She embodied the concept of community by being present as the quintessential Commons representative.  Sometimes I didn't want to be seen,  but she saw everyone and invited  them to community. I am just realizing how much she me impacted me and how much I will miss her. - Sanaa Green
It is hard to put into words how much of a great person chatity was, always willing to help. She would always help me with building security,  i loved the way she engaged the youth. I miss her presence very much.- Dee Collins
It is hard to believe that someone with such strength and determination - who seemed to always be at EMEAC, working, protecting, watching over, nurturing, fussing, pushing for better - will no longer grace us with her physical presence.  I value and appreciate Charity in all her nuances and contradictions. Wow. There is much i could say, but words simply don't come. I am deeply saddened and will miss her. - Ife Kilimanjaro

Reflections by Friends and Allies

"Charity taught me a lot about Black Nationalism and its history in Detroit.  She helped me develop my ideals, my culture, and my politics.  Of course she was a constant presence in the Commons and did so much to make it a stable and safe place. She was at the same time a die-hard East Side Detroiter AND a citizen of the world.  She is being honored and remembered in various cities, states, and countries." - William Copeland, Our Power Detroit Coordinator
Charity transitioned just a short time after we met, however she had a profound impact on my work and on my life.  What started as a brief conversation transformed into an exploration of politics, policy, human behavior, compassion, and power structures (among other things!)  In just those few conversations I had with her, I received an education beyond what I could have gotten from anyone else, and for this I am eternally grateful.  I hope to learn more from all the others that Charity has impacted and contribute to her ongoing work. - Todd Ziegler, EMEAC Intern
It is with extreme sadness and rage that our compañera has left us too damn early.  I first met Charity in the us social forum process in Detroit, where she was in charge of setting up water stations for the opening march and was pivotal in introducing so many of us in the movement to no plastic water bottles at major events.  We got to work with her closely in the lead up to the first CJA leadership meeting in Detroit in September 2012, and also through her participation in GGJ national and international delegations, in particular the key role she played in the climate space in the WSF-Tunisia last year.  She presented powerfully on a panel on the role of faith communities/spirituality, the fight against militarism, and climate change.  Charity was fierce revolutionary, a determined fighter for basic human rights, generous, opinionated, grounded, visionary, brilliant woman.  We are sending our heartfelt condolences to Louis, her family, her colleagues and extended political family.   - Cindy Wiesner, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance