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Hear The February Conversations

Courtesy of Donna Odom

During February, Earlene McMichael introduced WMUK’s audience to people making a difference in the Kalamazoo area. They are involved in areas such as theater, music, education, health and racial healing. Buddy Hannah is a tireless youth advocate. He is also an actor, director, playwright and poet of six published books. Hannah is a past Irving S. Gilmore Community Medal of Arts recipient.

The national AARP has picked Donna Odom as one of its 2021 Purpose Prize Fellows. The honor is awarded to those over 50 who are tackling tough problems. Odom is retiring as executive director of the Society for History and Racial Equity, also known as SHARE.

Sonya Bernard-Hollins once produced a coloring book about prominent Black graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools, among them former New York Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter. Now she’s created a coloring book of firsts of Kalamazoo African-American women and a similar coloring book of firsts about local African-American men. And she’s involved her all-girls Merze Tate Explorers travel and community-service group in the project.

Kama Tai Mitchell, of Kalamazoo, never set out to create a nonprofit, but says she’s proud that more than five years later her Rootead Enrichment Center devoted to doula training and the healing arts is still around. And, is starting to explore having its own standalone building after sharing spaces.

Monica Washington Padula is a trailblazer in Kalamazoo. The multi-instrument, classically trained musician and music educator of African-American and Indigenous descent operates her own piano studio. She’s on a mission to get more children of color fired up about playing instruments.