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The Legacy of Dr. Doris Rucks: Coalition for Community Development (CCD) 

 

June 29, 2020: Words and action regarding systemic racism and white supremacy

 

CCD has been a part of Muskegon Heights for nearly sixteen years now, carrying on the legacy of our founder, Dr. Doris Rucks. 

 

Shortly after her death in 2016, Mlive wrote: Rucks' Muskegon activism began early. When she was in her 20s, she helped found the Citizens Recreation Association to provide better housing, living conditions and recreation for the scores of Black southerners who migrated to Muskegon to work in the factories during World War II. In 1949, the association transformed into the Urban League of Greater Muskegon, and equality became its focus. She remained active with the Urban League, the NAACP and Black Women's Political Caucus...In 2005, Rucks founded the Coalition for Community Development, a nonprofit, grass-roots organization that would become her lasting legacy.

 

Some know CCD by name, some may not. We are an organization that always seeks to center neighbors' voices in decision-making. It is what determines our actions, so this quiet persistence of walking steadfastly alongside rather than out front may sometimes result in going unnoticed. 

 

The CCD Board of Trustees, however, feels this moment in time compels us to raise our voice and be heard loud and clear. Since our founding, we have been and will continue to be focused on empowering one another and supporting a thriving community in Muskegon Heights, a city whose population is majority Black/African American. This means we devote our actions in large part to address both cause and effect of systemic racism and white supremacy. Discrimination and bias impacts all facets of life: economics, education, health, lived environment, safety and security, and more. We stand committed and persistent with our Muskegon Heights neighbors - in the words of our wise and wonderful Board Member Ms. Mildred Johnson, "we continue in the struggle for the oneness of humankind."

 

Actions speak louder than words. Here are the ways CCD takes action to mitigate effects and tackle causes - past, present, and plans for the future. We do this while celebrating our city and its culture, and building off our many strengths. All are invited and welcome to join CCD in these community-driven efforts, empowerment grows as we come together in this work. Please see below for list of actions and contact us to learn more. 

 

Systemic racism: Mitigating effects, tackling root causes

 

Here is a brief list of actions. Please follow link to read more details about each.

 

Partnership with Muskegon Heights Schools and Michigan Department of Education

Children deserve to have quality education and learning experiences, it builds a foundation for future successes. CCD:

Staffs (volunteers) and maintains school libraries and media centers

Provides one-on-one mentor program

Organized and supports field trips and external experiences

 

Spencer Norman Scholarship

CCD offers a yearly scholarship for Muskegon Heights students attending Muskegon Community College.

 

"Who Gets to Tell the Story Matters" - Curriculum centered on Black History and Experience added to K-12 education, local museum, and libraries

This past year, CCD partnered with the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (MAISD) and Muskegon NAACP to increase broad historical inclusion of the Black experience and contributions to Muskegon County in general curriculum across the county. Supported with a grant from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County. 

 

Friends of the Muskegon Heights District Library (MADL)

Public libraries are the nation's most democratic institutions. They ensure ALL people have access to information and lifelong learning. CCD supports the local library through the Friends of the Muskegon Heights District Library committee.

 

Access to healthy food and nutrition: School and community gardens

Racial disparities often affect availability of food options in a community. To increase access to healthy food and knowledge about nutrition, CCD partnered with the schools and created gardens at Edgewood Elementary and Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary. 

 

Chef Demonstrations and Tastings

Last year CCD launched the "School Garden to Family Table" initiative that brought the healthy foods out of the gardens and into different neighborhoods across Muskegon Heights with cooking demonstrations and tastings by Chef Edriese Jenkins. Supported with a grant from Sister Simone Courtade fund.

 

Seeds of Hope Community Garden 

Garden beds are available for neighbors and groups to participate, and the produce harvested is offered to members of the community. Location is at Barney & Leahy.

 

Beautification

Prioritized by a neighborhood survey, CCD invested in a trailer full of tools and has been organizing weekend cleanups for several years now.

 

Neighbor Link-Up and Neighborhood Association Support

Neighbors value getting to know each other better, looking out for one another with caring relationships, and feeling a sense of community. Activities include conversations around the table, block parties, and supporting the renewal of Neighborhood Associations (a city initiative). 

 

Partnerships that Empower

CCD is a small organization, but the value of its roots in the Muskegon Heights community is large. When we enter into partnerships and collaborations with larger organizations, we do so with critical evaluation of the ways in which we participate. 

 

Next up: Resident interest in civic engagement and policy change, health disparities/COVID-19, economic empowerment and ownership

Recent conversations/feedback have provided direction for areas of action and support. Learn more about these areas and how you might get involved.

 

YOUR VOICE

Muskegon Heights Neighbors: We need YOUR ongoing feedback and ideas for moving forward in any and all areas, even if you wish to remain anonymous - though do leave your contact information if you want us to respond directly. Please click here to add your voice. 

 

Our Vision

To be an organization that empowers one another

Our Mission

We seek to build relationships with neighbors to support a thriving community in Muskegon Heights

Contact Coalition for Community Development

Get in touch with Coalition for Community Development to learn more about our work and find out how to donate. We appreciate your support!

P.O. Box 4618

Muskegon Heights, MI 49444, USA

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Muskegon Heights, MI 49444, USA

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