Nashawn Craig, 19, of Romulus, works at the Detroit Bus Company and sees Detroit as a place of opportunity.
Photo courtesy of Nashawn Craig
“What is the city but the people?”
William Shakespeare got it right with his apt description of how a town is made great by its people – a community etching out a place called home for their families while creating traditions rooted in something greater than themselves.
Detroit is indeed its people.
And The Michigan Chronicle recently interviewed several of these Metro Detroiters who are the pulse of the city that they captivate and are captivated by. So, let’s meet them.
“I See Detroit as Flourishing”
Jennifer Hamra, 40, of Sterling Heights, is a lifestyle blogger, Good Life Detroit.
The stay-at-home mother of six started her blog in the fall of 2015 a few months after her family relocated here from Tennessee.
“It originally started out as a hobby because I wanted to share my experiences and photographs with my family and friends,” she said, adding that a year later she attended events and wrote more about the city.
Writing about Detroit connected her with more Detroiters who shared their impactful stories.
One of her favorite interviews was with well-known local artist Judy Bowman, a mother of 10. Hamra said that whenever she gets overwhelmed as a mother (her children range from nine months to 21 years) and wants to quit, she “goes back to that story.”
“[It] inspires me to keep going,” she said.
What inspired her to start the blog was to dispel some of the myths and negativity publicized about the city.
“There is so much going on here — so much culture here, diversity,” she said. “There is a lot of beauty here in Detroit. … I love the city, learning about the history, especially Black history. … I also really wanted to make sure I was uplifting Black voices and Black stories, especially as an African American woman.”
Hamra added that she feels “very connected” to the city even though she is not from here.
How does she see Detroit?
“Through my lens, I see Detroit as a flourishing, innovative and resilient city,” she said. “I try my best to capture my new discoveries and my love for Detroit through my blog.”
For more information visit https://goodlifedetroit.com/.
“I See Detroit as Home of Opportunity”
Nashawn Craig, 19, of Romulus, recently started working at the Detroit Bus Company (DBC), a charter bus service company.
“I really enjoying driving for DBC because since I’ve moved from Detroit to metro Detroit, I haven’t been able to travel and explore around downtown as much as I would’ve liked to,” Craig told The Michigan Chronicle. “My primary job duty currently is ensuring the safety of my passengers and my vehicle at all times when driving the art buses.”
Craig drives the art buses around the city on specified runs for weddings, tours, taking children to school, after-school programs, field trips and more.
Craig said that as a little kid he was interested in big vehicles.
“The one that stuck with me and is still with me is the school bus. I’m what we call a ‘school bus enthusiast,’” he said.
Throughout school he was well-acquainted with the bus drivers at Romulus Community Schools.
“They were and still are my second family and they always cared about me, loved me and looked after me,” he said, adding that later he was hired through Taylor Schools as a bus driver and maintenance staff. “I was going to be able to do what I’ve wanted to do for most of my life.”
Another opportunity arose for him; while scrolling on Facebook he came across an ad for a driving position for the Detroit Bus Company.
“I began working on the weekends and really enjoyed it,” he said.
Craig also owns a bus that he rode back in 2007 when he was an elementary school student through Romulus Schools.
“The bus was retired in February of 2018 and sat for a few years. I purchased it in February of 2020 with plans to do some non-profit work with it along with school bus safety material,” he said, adding that it takes a strong person to be in his profession.
“People should know that we are determined to make Detroit a better place, one ride at a time,” Craig said.
How does he see Detroit?
“Through my lens, I see Detroit as my home. The home of opportunity for all,” he said.
“I See Detroit as the Best Riding Community”
Lakita “Mzztruth” Murphy, 38, of Detroit, is a woman who commands the road.
Murphy turns heads especially when riding her motorcycle, Storm, all roughly 900 pounds of it.
Murphy’s in her element in the city that she loves to ride in more than any other place that she’s been to including Atlanta, Florida and Philadelphia.
“Detroit has the best diverse bike community ever,” she said, adding that there are so many female riders of all races and occupations. “[We have] some of everything.”
Murphy said the city probably has one of the largest female riding communities and annually over 200 women come out to ride to benefit charity. The Detroit Biker Girls presents the annual ride with this year’s event being held Saturday, Aug. 28, at the Meijer parking lot, 1301. W. 8 Mile Road in Detroit.
This year’s seventh annual event brings people together, she said.
“We couldn’t do this without the Detroit bike community,” she added.
For more information visit www.detroitbikergirls.com.
Murphy added that other events like “Blues in the Park” (a Sunday summer afternoon event on Frederick and Chene) add to the camaraderie.
“All the bikers meet every Sunday down there – laugh, talk,” she said. “We all just congregate and have a good time. … It’s such a dope scene.”
One of Murphy’s favorite things about riding her bike is how she inspires others, especially little girls who see her on the road.
“As a Black woman, we get out here and do this,” she said.
Murphy used to be “terrified” of riding motorcycles, but she overcame her fear and was inspired by her mother.
“My mom used to be in a motorcycle club,” she said, adding that her own journey started when she was 27.
“Through my lens, I see Detroit as the best riding community in the country,” she said. “It’s just a dope. I love my city.”
“I See Detroit as a Home Base”
Redford resident and accomplished photographer Tafari K. Stevenson-Howard pulls no punches about the city he loves and describes (tongue in cheek) as an abusive spouse.
“It beats you up and then there is a festival next week, okay, I’m not going to move to D.C.,” Stevenson-Howard said, laughing. “I’m going to stay. Detroit loves to hate you.”
Stevenson-Howard said that Detroit is “complicated” but filled with love and inspiration — coming from the perspective of a working artist, he said that he always feels like he receives more support outside of the city, but when he receives the love from his people, he’s here for it.
Stevenson-Howard started his photography career about 17 years ago and he grew in his craft after landing a position for a fashion magazine in Detroit.
“Everything shifted,” Howard said, adding that he wasn’t previously interested in photography but capturing moments, portraits and more helped him gain momentum and connections which led him to travel the world.
Stevenson-Howard added that when he takes pictures of people he reads their “essence” and uses that energy to capture who they are on camera.
“That helps me to create a narrative,” he said, adding that his love of the city helps him press in. And even on his bad days he can’t help but enjoy the city through his lens.
Which, by the way, how does he see Detroit?
“I see Detroit as a home base,” he said of a city that still backs him up and inspires him.
“If anyone is interested in stepping out into a creative path of their choosing don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” Stevenson-Howard said. “Everything that you do you can recover from and make your art everything you want. Keep creating when it feels good … stay in that lane and challenge yourself to do even more.”