Detroit Farm City 

The Memphis-Detroit comparisons may be apples-to-oranges in many cases, but both cities share their struggles with food insecurity. In many Memphis neighborhoods, fresh produce is nearly impossible to find.

click to enlarge Malik Yakini
  • Malik Yakini

Food deserts abound in Detroit as well, and combating them is the life's work of Malik Yakini, food justice activist and executive director of the Detroit Black Food Community Network. Yakini will be the keynote speaker at this year's Vanderhaar Symposium at Christian Brothers University (CBU) on Thursday, March 27th, from 7 to 9 p.m. The event, titled "Good Food Revolution," is being co-sponsored by Grow Memphis.

Yakini spends his days trying to eliminate food insecurity in inner-city Detroit through D-Town Farm, a seven-acre farm that sells to Detroit farmers markets inside the city limits. His network also runs nutrition programs in Detroit schools and a buyer's co-op that helps impoverished people buy organic food and green cleaning supplies at a discount. He does all this with an emphasis on the black community of Detroit taking care of itself rather than relying on help from white suburbanites or the government.

His viewpoint on self-determination ties in with his larger vision of alleviating the impact of racism and white privilege on the global food system. He's traveled to Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Jamaica, and other areas to help develop a food sovereignty movement that embraces black farmers.

This is the ninth year for the Vanderhaar Symposium, named in honor of peace activist and CBU religion professor Gerard A. Vanderhaar. Each year, the symposium features a lecture by an activist promoting some form of social justice.

Ninth Annual Vanderhaar Symposium featuring Malik Yakini, Thursday, March 27th, 7-9 p.m., Christian Brothers University, University Theater (650 E. Parkway S.). Free.



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