The Detroit Documenters program trains and pays Detroiters to attend local public meetings and monitor our elected officials, in collaboration with local journalists. Hundreds of residents are active in the program, bringing more transparency to local government through their meeting notes, live tweets and civic participation.
This month, we’re featuring Documenter, native Detroiter and community activist Roshaun Harris:
Roshaun was born in Detroit and grew up moving around the city’s westside and nearby suburbs. As a young adult, Roshaun moved to the Dexter-Linwood neighborhood where he became an activist for economic and social justice, and historical race issues, specifically the legacies of Black people and anybody who considers themselves a part of the African diaspora. He credits his knowledge and passion to his journalism professor and mentor, Charles E. Simmons, and his wife, the late Rev. Sandra Simmons, and their collective project, the Hush House, which Roshaun describes as “a community activist training center in the middle of the hood.”
Roshaun works with the Detroit Tenants Association because he’s passionate about housing being a human right and believes firmly that no one should ever be without a home that meets modern standards.
Roshaun said Detroit Documenters provides a political and professional outlet, and that it’s nice to see other activists in the community who are Documenters.
He describes journalism as a ministry, “like a truth-telling, spreading the gospel of revolution and evolution.” He said humanity can live better than they do, and through reporting facts, we can analyze problems and develop pathways for systems to interact with each other better.
Especially with Documenters notes, Roshaun says you don’t have to make anything up; you can “just tell the truth about this thing and allow that truth to empower the people being impacted, and then those are ultimately the people that are going to come up with the solutions.”
What I do in my spare time:
What I love about being a Detroit Documenter:
Being an advocate for the people of Detroit!
One thing I want to get from the Documenters community:
I wish to sharpen my journalism skills and advance my career in the profession. I also desire to build a network among community journalists who are passionate about issues of justice and equality.
One thing I can give to the Documenters community:
Passion, truth, perspective and clarity is what I have to offer the Documenters community. Being a grassroots Detroit community activist for nearly 20 years has informed my judgment and perspective. Working as an organizer dealing with politicians, business people, community members and youth gives me an understanding of everyday people, their issues and how to communicate with them in public spaces.
What TV show would you choose to live in?:
“Martin.” It’s a sitcom based in Detroit that aired in the ’90s focused on everyday Black folks in the city. All of the characters were identifiable and funny as hell. The ’90s was also my favorite decade, culturally speaking. I’m a blend of Martin, Tommy, and Cole’s characters in many ways. Also big shout out to “Brahman from da fif’ flo’.’”
How you can reach me: