¡Charity Mahouna Hicks, Presente!

With extreme sadness and rage, we write to share the news that our beloved compañera Charity Mahouna Hicks has joined the ancestors on Tuesday July 8th 2014. As a community we have been sending love to Charity since she suffered traumatic injuries due to a hit and run in NYC on May 31st. We send our heartfelt condolences to her husband Louis, her family, her colleagues and extended political family.

We have had the chance to work with and learn from Charity since meeting her in Detroit through the US Social Forum process, and since then through her participation and leadership on delegations to Dakar, Senegal for the World Social Forum in 2011, to Chicago for the No NATO mobilizations in 2012, to Tunis, Tunisia for the World Social Forum in 2013, and most recently at the GGJ Membership Assembly hosted in Detroit this past April 2014 by East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC). To all of these spaces, Charity always brought a fierce, grounded and visionary revolutionary spirit as she spoke with clarity and passion about the interconnections between faith, healing, militarism, climate change, and the fight for basic human rights. Just before her trip to NYC, Charity was arrested and detained overnight for speaking out against water shutoffs on her block in Detroit. Read below for more about Charity’s extraordinary movement and community contributions.

One of the last times Charity spoke with the Detroit community at a local organizing gathering, she put out a call to Wage Love. We ask you now to heed that call by spreading the word about all of her great work, and by contributing to the Wage Love fundraising campaign to help cover immediate costs of bringing Charity home to Detroit and holding a proper home going service, and sustaining Charity's husband Louis while he takes unpaid family medical leave from work. 

Contribute to the Wage Love Fund: http://www.gofundme.com/wagelove

Watch one of the last interviews filmed with Charity: http://vimeo.com/97235613

Charity’s impact was not only felt in Detroit, but across the globe.  Since Tuesday we have received numerous messages from movement leaders sending condolences, stories and inspiration from their encounters and relationships with Charity.  Please read quotes and reactions from movement leaders below.

We heed Charity’s call to Wage Love, and as the MST (Landless People’s Movement of Brazil) says, we pledge to take up the duty of continuing to water and care for the seeds of struggle that Charity planted in all of us.

Love and courage, 
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

¡Charity Mahouna Hicks, Presente!


Statements and Reactions from Movement Leaders

“The Xukuru indigenous people, from northeast Brazil, says that when we lose a warrior, we do not bury her. We plant her. Because from her seeds will be born many other warriors.  Charity left us the seeds of her dreams and ideals. The seeds of the struggle for a better world, where the land is in the hands of the people who live and work it; where water and all natural resources are a heritage of peoples; where there is healthy food for all people; where there are no exploiters or exploited.  We now have the duty of watering that seed of struggle. Grow it, care for it. In each mobilization; in each march; in each land occupation; in every struggle; the seed and the presence of Charity will be with us.”—Excerpt of statement from Movimento Dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra-MST, Brazil. Scroll to bottom of this page to read full statement from MST

“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 the policy of no plastic water bottles at major events.  We got to work with her closely in the lead up to the first Climate Justice Alliance leadership meeting in Detroit in September 2012, and also through her participation in Grassroots Global Justice national and international delegations, in particular the key role she played in the Climate Space in the World Social Forum-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, and a generous, opinionated, grounded, visionary, brilliant woman who has left us too damn early.”—Cindy Wiesner, GGJ

“We just saw the terribly tragic news of our dear comrade Charity passing away in New York. We are so very sorry for your loss. We remember her with so much fondness at the Climate Space at the WSF and most recently at the GGJ Assembly where she had always been full of energy, inspiration and courage. We cannot imagine how difficult a time this must be now for you all – Charity’s family and dear friends and comrades. We are with all of you in this tragic moment and loss of a great activist and a brave woman. Sending you all our love.”—Pablo Solón and Mary Lou Malig

“Just heard the sad news about the passing of Charity Hicks. As I recall, Charity was part of the GGJ delegation for the WSF in Tunis. My condolences to you and all your colleagues in the GGJ. From the all too brief contact I had with her in Tunis, she sure seemed to be a remarkable person and leader in the struggle!”—Tony Clarke, Polaris Institute

“All of us at Grassroots International were incredibly sad to hear this news.  We just got together for a moment of reflection and gratitude about Charity 's amazing life and spirit.  With eyes full of tears, heavy hearts, and overwhelming love, we recommit ourselves to the struggles that have been so important to Charity.  Ife, Diana, Will, and everyone at EMEAC, we are with you, and please let us know how we can support you in this difficult time. Charity Hicks, Presente!”—Grassroots International


Charity Mahouna Hicks

Charity Hicks was an extraordinary Detroit activist, advocate, and movement weaver. A native Detroiter raised on the lower eastside right off of the Detroit River which contributed to her love for the environment. 

As a founding member of the People’s Water Board, Charity helped co-lead the peoples’ response to the City’s shut-off of thousands of Detroit households for non-payment of water bills. Charity was instrumental in bringing Maude Barlow to Detroit to speak about water as part of the commons. Maude 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." In May 2014 Charity was arrested and detained overnight for speaking out against water shutoffs on her block in Detroit.

She was a Master Gardener through Michigan State University-Extension, a member of Sierra Club, the Great Lakes Water COMMONS group, and several other environmental/ecological groups. She was trained in the New Economy Initiative via The Land Policy Institute of Michigan State University on place making and regional economic development.

She became a fellow of the EAT4HEALTH equitable food & agricultural policy fellowship, and the Policy Director at East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) helping to empower the Detroit community to protect, preserve, and value the land, air and water. In her food system work, she was the lead person on the team which wrote the City of Detroit Food Security Policy (2008) and the articles for the establishment of the Detroit Food Policy Council (2009), and was the initial community engager/facilitator of the Detroit Food Justice Taskforce, a collaborative of 10 community based groups, and local activists in Detroit formed in 2009 to work in the food system and urban agricultural movement to promote a justice centered food system. Charity approached the food & agricultural system from the frames of health/nutrition, environmental/ecological justice, and economic equity.

Her background includes being a Clinical Research Associate- Human Subjects with the Detroit Health Disparities Research Center of the University of Michigan: a multi-faceted longitudinal health disparity study following over 1,200 African American families in Detroit which started in 2002 and was brought to closure in 2008. She worked over 10 years in research, public policy, and community activism in Detroit on health disparities, urban ecology, and African American community organizing. Charity's extensive background in public/community service led her to serve with several boards and committee groups in Detroit including: Detroit Public Schools Health Council, Detroit Grocery Store Coalition Steering Committee, Peoples Water Board Detroit, Future’s Taskforce of the Community Development Advocates of Detroit, Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit, and The Green Taskforce Water Sub-committee. She received leadership development training from the Center for Whole Communities, The Rockwood inaugural group of Upper Midwest Leadership, and the Damu Smith Organizing & Leadership Academy-Institute of the Black World.

Charity often cross-pollinated her work to build more transformation in shifting towards lasting solutions. She held community passions and interests in economic development, environmental justice, food sovereignty, urban agriculture, place making, design-architecture, community based research, health disparities, Africana culture, restorative justice, and growing the Beloved Community.

 


Statement from Landless People's Movement in Brazil (Movimento Dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra - MST)

Click here to download PDF

São Paulo, 09 of July 2014

TO:

FRIENDS OF MST and CHARITY HICKS' FAMILY

Dear Friends,

In our long struggle to build a better world, there are days of accomplishment and days of losses.

July 08, 2014 was a day of loss.

Charity's family and friends lost her joy and companionship; the social organizations and movements of the US and all of the world lost a tireless fighter; We all lost a great “compañera” with whom we share the bread and comrade with whom we share the dream.

The Xukuru indigenous people, from northeast Brazil, says that when we lose a warrior, we do not bury her. We plant her. Because from her seeds will be born many other warriors.

Charity left us the seeds of her dreams and ideals. The seeds of the struggle for a better world, where the land is in the hands of the people who live and work it; where water and all natural resources are a heritage of peoples; where there is healthy food for all people; where there are no exploiters or exploited.

We now have the duty of watering that seed of struggle. Grow it, care for it. In each mobilization; in each march; in each land occupation; in every struggle; the seed and the presence of Charity will be with us.

For her dreams and ideals, which are also ours, we will keep the struggle.

For our dead,

Not a single minute of silence.

But a lifetime of struggle!

A fraternal hug from all MST Landless families.

All our solidarity,

MST National Direction