Isiah “Zeek” Williams founded New Era Detroit in 2014 in response to violent crimes against women and children happening in his hometown. He shares with rolling out what New Era is doing to make positive changes in Black communities nationwide.
Talk about your company and everything that you guys are doing.
Our whole goal is to make sure that we have a sense of organization in the Black community. I always tell people, we have thousands upon thousands of Black organizations, but we still can’t truly define what organizations look like in Black communities. That’s where we come in. We’ve developed different strategies, programs and initiatives that we run on a consistent basis, from January to December. We have 16 programs all for the growth and development of Black communities, not just here in Detroit.
Give an example of a program.
We switch up weekly, so I’ll just give you a rundown over the past couple of weeks. Within the past 10 days, we’ve been able to run six of our 16 programs. We have a health and wellness program where we actually teach the community how to cook different vegan meals and healthier meal options. We have our political education program that we run just to get people more in tune with political education, so that we not waiting for November to get out and say, “Well, I’m about to just get out and vote for the most popular person.” We just had our Hoods program Saturday, which is our pillar program in the summertime, where we get out in the community, it’s our community cleanup, resources and engagement program. We get out and we build a relationship with the people in the community, playing football and basketball with the kids, passing on resources, food. We have the toys now in the summer, we’ll have a U-Haul full, and then we’ll direct those to the kids in the community. We just had our free self-defense class, that’s something that’s important as well; the safety and protection of women and children is priority number one for us. So we just had that program this Sunday, out in the community showing people, particularly women and kids, different self-defense techniques, and different ways to defend themselves.
What would you say to children in the Black community?
I feel like these kids nowadays are some of the smartest Black kids of all time because they grew up in the information era. Technology is everywhere, they don’t have to go to libraries or wait for somebody to tell them something, they can look up information, on-demand in the palm of their hands. They are in a position to create the world they want to live in, not just live in the world that’s given to them.