June 2014, special edition: People Making a Difference: Charity Hicks

Image courtesy of emeac.orgWe’re sending heartfelt well wishes and loving blessings to Charity Hicks, a fearless leader and our sister in the food justice movement, as well as to her family and friends. Charity remains in critical condition after a hit and run accident in New York City in late May, where she was scheduled to present on a panel at the Left Forum. In her honor, we wanted to highlight some of her incredible work and details on how to contribute to her family fund.

Charity Hicks is a Detroit-based food and environmental justice activist. She uses her knowledge of place-making and regional economic development to frame the food and agricultural system from perspectives of health and nutrition, environmental and ecological justice, and economic equality. She has dedicated her life to speaking out and fostering change for marginalized populations like African American farmers, Indigenous women, and low-income families that are disproportionately affected by climate change.

Charity serves as the Policy Director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), a local anchor for the national Climate Justice Alliance, where she weaves her deep ecological understanding and powerful relationship building skills into her work. The EMEAC empowers the Detroit community to protect, preserve, and value the land, air, and water, and sponsors numerous educational events and workshops in the city. Through her work with the EMEAC, Charity help found the Detroit Food Justice Taskforce in 2009, an organization of 12 community-based groups focusing on food sovereignty.

In 2011, Charity was chosen as one of the first four Fellows of the Everybody at the Table for Health (EAT4Health) project created by the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation. She has worked with the foundation to help bridge the gap between grassroots community organizing and national advocacy. Nationally, she works with the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, recently organizing Food Sovereignty Award recipients from Haiti and Brazil to visit urban farms in Detroit. Charity also sits on numerous councils and groups in Detroit, including the Detroit Public Schools Health Council, Future’s Taskforce of the Community Development Advocates of Detroit, the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, and was a leading member of the team that wrote the City of Detroit Food Security Policy in 2008.

Charity never turned down an opportunity to speak and spread her message, advocating for those whose voices are otherwise silenced. Recently, she spoke at the 2013 March against Monsanto in Detroit, the EDGE Funders gathering, and the 2014 Kellogg Foundation Food and Community Conference, where she urged for more grassroots organizing and citizen engagement in the food movement. In the weeks before the accident, Charity had been spearheading the public’s response to the Detroit water shut-offs and practicing civil disobedience in protest of the privatization of Detroit’s water. Charity believed “your human dignity shouldn’t be truncated because you’re priced out of the commodification of an essential resource.” In her work, she eloquently illustrates the connections between climate change, the polar vortex, poverty, and environmental justice, and inspiring citizens to fight against a system where access to water is being used as a weapon.

Working in multiple fields at once, Charity maintains a holistic view of environmental justice and a relentlessly positive attitude. She often speaks of healing relationships between ourselves and others—focusing on lifting up and congratulating each other, and between ourselves and the earth. Most importantly, Charity emphasizes that before we can make positive change in the world, we have to heal our relationship to our own selves—in body and in spirit. In a recent interview, she mused, “I can’t just complain and call for a solution; I have to be it.” Through her work in Detroit and in movement building around the country, we at CFJC believe she is living out that affirmation, and offer our most sincere well wishes to Charity and her family.

Charity remains in a hospital in New York City with her husband by her side. Please contribute whatever you can—100% of donations will go to meeting her needs.

To donate:

(1) Go to www.emeac.org


(3) Name your donation and type “For Charity Hicks” under “Dedication or Gift” in the designated box

You may also mail donations to the EMEAC 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

Thank you for any donations or thoughts.


CFJC promotes the basic human right to healthy food while advancing social, agricultural, environmental and economic justice. Through advocacy, organizing and education, we collaborate with community-based efforts to create a sustainable food supply. We envision a food system in which all activities, from farm to table, are equitable, healthful, regenerative and community-driven.

If you believe in these principles JOIN CFJC NOW.

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