Just hours before the start of Black History Month, the nonprofit organization New Era Detroit went viral for their initiative “The Streets Is Looking At.” The video showcased Black male volunteers escorting Black women after dark to ensure their safety, including loading groceries, leaving art work, and even pumping fuel.
The video, which was shared on The Colour Room’s Instagram account, received over 6.4 million views and more than 500,000 likes. While this may have been the first time many people heard of the group, New Era is a well-known name in Detroit, according to co-founder and president Zeek Williams.
Williams stated in a video interview on Friday, January 10th, “It took 8 years for the world to kinda see some of the things we’re doing out in our community.” The organization has been unapologetically serving Black people in Detroit since August 2014, not just during typical giving seasons. Their programming includes providing resources to Black people on a consistent basis, such as city council updates, consultation services, year-round recreational activities for children, food access resources, and advocacy for policy changes. They are making their own history by serving their community in a meaningful and impactful way.
Hood to Hood is a year-round program that New Era Detroit runs, with a particular emphasis on the summer months when underserved communities and children are most in need of resources.
According to Zeek, New Era Detroit is unapologetic about serving the Black community. He explains that if there is one house on a block that is on fire, he would not use the fire hose to water everyone else’s house.
Serving And Protecting Black People Is A Way of living For New Era Nation
New Era Detroit aims to make community-building and providing resources a way of life, rather than something that is viewed as charity, punishment, or limited to seasonal giving.
Our aim is always to be a responsible team. I feel like in our community, in black communities, we’ve gotten so used to clichés like, “okay, we’re going to do something for the community on Thanksgiving. We’re giving out turkeys again. When the kids go back to school, we’re going to provide them with backpacks. We’re giving out toys at Christmas.” “.
We synthesize our artistic work and community involvement with a couple of events a year. It is very similar to the needs of our community when it comes to attention, construction, teamwork and problems like that. For us, we want to be able to make doing for our people, doing for our community, sort of a way of life and make people realize that we’re not just waiting for traditions or holidays to do something for our people.
Co-Founder and Executive Director Kierra Williams and Zeek mirror each other in their passionate talks about the nonprofit. He speaks eloquently about the core of the team – doing ANYTHING to improve the lives of Black children and Black communities.
“Our team is focused on accountability, autonomy, family responsibility, community responsibility, financial and economic responsibility. These are just five of our principles, but it really is a way of life.”
“One thing Brother Malcolm X mentioned that really struck me is, ‘we are not in the minority, we are disorganized.’ So this is also about accountability. Holding ourselves accountable and understanding that as a people, we have the power to take back our communities. We don’t have to wait for a politician to do it, we don’t have to wait for our church to step up. These are issues we can address ourselves if we feel we have a duty to do so. These are duties we have to take on for our community and for our children.”
New Era Isn’t Looking To Police The Staff, Then again To Offer protection to Susceptible Black People
Plus, there’s the element of public policy, an issue Zeek says plagues the black community but often gets overlooked.
“We have so many different aspects of community development and I think one of the issues that always gets swept under the rug is politics. Public policy is a real issue within Black communities, and has been for a long time.”
Since the inception of their ‘Streets Is Watching’ campaign showcased in a viral video, the New Era Detroit initiative has been operational. Recently, they extended their services to the predominantly female-led team at Little Scholars Building Center, which typically closes in the evening after providing child care and education services for infants up to four years and performing arts after-school programs for ages 5-13.
In December, a tragic incident occurred only a few minutes away from the Little Scholars center when 19-year-old Bradley Thurman shot and robbed 53-year-old mother and partner Tracie Golden at a party store. Following the incident, the center’s team reached out to New Era Detroit for support, and the group committed to ensuring the safety of the team and children leaving the center without fear of harm.
Debbie Taylor, Little Scholars’ administrative assistant, expressed her satisfaction with New Era Detroit’s response, stating that they were highly professional and made them feel comfortable from the start. Taylor noted that the group initiated the process immediately, ensuring that they asked about the center’s leaving time and began the protection procedure right away. This quick response made Taylor and the center’s team feel safe and secure, knowing they had someone looking out for them in the community.
Jarrite Jackson, the Human Resources Director, stated that New Era Detroit members took the initiative to approach neighboring businesses, including a gas station and a liquor store, to inquire about outdoor cameras to enhance the safety of the area. However, it’s important to note that New Era Detroit does not promote or encourage violence or carrying weapons. Instead, their focus is on protecting vulnerable individuals, such as women, children, and the elderly.
New Era Detroit’s approach to community safety and policing is centered around de-escalation, conflict resolution, and community engagement. They prioritize promoting peace and love, rather than using force or intimidation tactics. The group’s focus is on being a source of protection for innocent individuals, and they make it clear that their purpose is simple: to leave innocent people alone. Their goal is to ensure that people understand their intentions and feel safe within their communities.
New Era is not here to handle violence, including gang violence. Their goal is to protect those who go about their daily lives, such as Little Scholars employees.
New Era Detroit Co-Founder Credit score Black Women For Its Good fortune
Despite their role in public policy, New Era is heavily dependent on Black women, as Zeek has made clear. It was initially an all-male organization, but according to Zeek, this condition only lasted for a week.
At their first professional meeting, the Black women were there and ready to work alongside co-founder Kierra. Zeek says expanding New Era’s membership was “the best decision ever.” He credits black women with New Era’s continued growth and opening chapters in 18 other cities.
“There is no success without the help of Black women, particularly when it comes to Black movements,” Zeek said. He added, “The reason we got so lucky and moved on is because of Black women.”
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