Beginning through a friendship between two Wayne State alumnae, the fundraising event Open Doors for Black Lives is helping give back to Black communities in Detroit and organizations in need of support. 

Open Doors for Black Lives will take place on Sept. 12 from 3-7 p.m. at Detroit’s Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum. The outdoor social-distanced event will feature open mic poetry, conversation, painting, food, music, boutique vendors and more.

WSU alumnae Sara Christian, also known as Bootz the Poet, and artist Cara Marie Young curated the event.  

“Detroit is 80% Black. Black businesses should also be in the majority,” Christian said. “This event aims to encourage a spirit of community so that we can do more than pay lip service to equality and justice. We are truly opening doors.”

Christian will be performing poetry at the event and Young, a WSU Master of Fine Arts Dean’s Diversity Fellow Candidate, will be displaying her work. 

In July, Christian put together a Fundraiser for National Expungement Week which helps provide free legal services to people with criminal records, removing their conviction history from public databases. Their week-long event provides legal clinics, new voter registration and other services. 

The fundraiser at Copper House in Detroit led to the idea of creating a larger event to help the local Black community, Christian said. 

Fifty percent of all proceeds from the event will be donated to Detroit Will Breathe, Black Trans Femmes in the Arts and other local organizations. 

“I am looking forward to seeing the beautiful things the vendors bring as well as the smile it will give their patrons,” said Eradejere Oleita, educator at The Patent Collective and communications coordinator at Ecoworks. 

Oleita will be selling Nigerian and Jamaican fusion meals, terrariums, her books of poetry and bookmarks. She will also be sharing poems from the books.

“I wanted to vend because I love to support space curated for Black lives. I wanted to share my creations in a space that would be safe and fostered great energy," Oleita said. 

Other vendors include food by Monroe Sweets and Detroit chef Patricia Lyons. Tarot and oracle readings will be done by Mrs. Vicius and Krown Jewels will sell their handmade jewelry pieces. 

“I know that there are some creative and caring people working on bringing this event together,” Jamario Morris said, also known as DJ Deadphone. “I know this will be something community-based and hopefully will become a moment for conversation and a wonderful showcase for those involved.”

Morris is DJing the event and said you can expect a lot of groove and rhythm. 

“I’m excited to share music and have people dance and really have a good time —fellowship with the community. I think that folks deserve to enjoy and have a good time, especially with the outcome of 2020 so far,” he said. 

This event presents an opportunity for growth in the local art community, Morris said. 

“I think this will have a positive impact,” he said. “Hopefully this will give folks the confidence to get back in fellowship with other artists and folks in the community and healthy environment both physically and mentally.”

More information on Open Doors for Black Lives can be found here.

Marisa Kalil-Barrino is arts and entertainment editor at The South End. She can be reached at

Cover photo by Quinn Banks, multimedia editor at The South End. He can be reached at