Kezia Renee Curtis
Kezia Curtis is an aspiring healer and chef, a reiki practitioner, and a lifelong Nonviolence (positive peace) activist from Detroit, Michigan. Curtis' Social Justice passions encompass Black liberation, Black & Palestinian solidarity, feminism, and queer activism.
As a Black Lives Matter (BLM) Detroit Co-Lead Curtis focuses on keeping the organization in alignment with its mission and vision, as well as in harmony with the broader BLM region and network. For the past 15+ years Curtis has had experience in developing, creating, and implementing programs in line with the larger vision of profit and nonprofit organizations (Leaps & Bounds Family Services, Urban Leadership Specialist, Feedom Freedom Growers, and Detroit Area Restorative Justice Center). During this time Curtis has also had the honor of developing and launching collective organizations that center the safety , support and voices of women, women of color, lesbian, queer and trans identities (Fender Bender Detroit and Healing by Choice!). As a member of those collectives she held multiple lead and support roles in fundraising, event planning, volunteer coordination, project development and implementation, and facilitation. Weaved throughout Curtis' commitments to the work are the values of transformation, safety, and connection.
"I am a Living Record of every Black body that has been tried to be erased. Of every stolen and enslaved African. Of every black body that sought freedom and traveled the Underground Railroad. Of each Black body that migrated from the south to Detroit. Of every black person that has dared to be unapologetic and reimagine, create, and take hold of our destiny. I am a Living Record of black beauty, creativity, genius, love, resilience, royalty, strength, and excellence."
- Kezia Curtis
Cmte Chair, Political Education
Rhiannon Chester, Detroit native, has been involved in political organizing and education for nearly 15 years. As a youth, she was involved with Michigan Youth in Government where she was educated on the American political landscape and afforded the opportunity to create bills that would be passed over to the Michigan House of Representatives. As her first glimpse of how the political system works, she began to develop an analysis of power structures and accessibility to government systems. Soon after she joined, The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, where she worked on a multi-state action to educate the public on the deceptive language used to end affirmative action. She also fought against the massive school closings in Detroit.
As an adult, Rhiannon has worked intentionally to educate and advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ community. She was trained in legislative advocacy, public speaking, and more through the LGBT Detroit Leadership Academy. Since being trained she has advocated on the federal, state and local levels for the protection of the LGBTQ community from workplace and housing discrimination. As an the Program Coordinator at LGBT Detroit, she also co-facilitated weekly, monthly and quarterly community dialogue and educational events.
In 2016, Rhiannon obtained her Masters of Arts in Social Justice from Marygrove College; a program that is taught by academics and activists & advocates combining the practical and the intellectual.
Paula “Miz Korona” Smiley
Black Arts Cmte Chair
Miz Korona is a born and raised Detroit hip hop artist, community leader and activist. She comes from Detroit music roots- her father was a member of 70s R&B group The Floaters. He wanted her to sing like him, but instead she decided to rhyme as a way to express her stories and innovate the art form she grew up listening to.
Miz Korona was featured in the blockbuster Film 8 Mile alongside multi platinum recording artists Eminem and Xzibit. In the years since, she has won multiple Detroit Music Awards (Best Hip-Hop Artist) and Detroit Hip-Hop Awards (Best Female Artist three years in a row), She also won the 1st Detroit Hip Hop Lifetime Achievement Award and appeared on albums by Detroit staples and artists around the world. More recently she was hand picked to headline the 8 Mile 15 year Anniversary celebration concert at Saint Andrews Hall and Friday Night Live at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
"As the core leader for BLM Detroit’s Black Arts my mission is to provide a safe performance space and platform for Black artists of all age ranges and creative genres.
John Sloan III
As the grandson of a Tuskegee Airman, John grew up understanding the importance of community organizing and social consciousness. An accomplished actor, musician, director, and producer, John has worked for years to intersect his artistry and activism. As the founder of the non-profit organization, The Helping Hands Campaign for the Arts, he has organized fundraising and outreach events across the country and dedicates the efforts of the organization to increasing access to arts education and programming for underserved communities.
Sloan has written multiple editorials for the Black Lives Matter Global Network and acted as Media Liaison during the Boston “Fight Supremacy” rally. Sloan is also the CEO/Artistic Director of GhostLight Productions, a company dedicated to producing high caliber original film and stage content that centers underrepresented communities.