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Celebrate Black History MonthBlack history and culture is major a part of the American fabric -- and the school curriculum -- that it's difficult to imagine a time when that wasn't so. Established as Negro History Week in the 1920s by Carter G. Woodson, February was chosen for the celebration because Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were born in this month. Black History month was extended to a month-long celebration in 1976. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history. During the month of February, 89.1 WEMU will feature programs and activities to commemorate, celebrate, and take opportunity to emphasize the history and achievements of African Americans.

Washtenaw United: Family Empowerment Program Steps Up Service To Ypsi Housing Commission Residents

Marquan Jackson
Marquan Jackson

For nearly a decade now, Eastern Michigan University's Family Empowerment Program has helped those living in Ypsilanti Housing Commission facilities in a variety of ways.  The program's work has become even more important through the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for families of color.  The program's executive director, Marquan Jackson, joined WEMU's David Fair on the first day of Black History Month to discuss services offered and why the pandemic has highlighted issues of systemic racism. 

WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw County to explore the people, organizations, and institutions creating opportunity and equity in our area.  And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services.  It is a community voice.  It is 'Washtenaw United.'




Marquan Jackson is the Director of The Family Empowerment program and has been since its inception in 2012.  His responsibilities include developing and refining strategies to sustain resident service coordination for residents of Ypsilanti Housing Commission.  Marquan holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and a Master’s of Social Work, both from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.  Marquan has been successful in securing funding both private and public dollars to support the needs of the community.  He also serves as the homeless liaison for Ypsilanti Community Schools, where he coordinates services for services for students experiencing homelessness.  Before joining FEP, Marquan gained clinical and macro practice experience in juvenile justice, community mental health, schools, and foster care.  Marquan is currently adjunct faculty at The University of Michigan School of Social Work; where he teaches Social Policy and Welfare Courses.  Marquan served 6 years as an Executive board member for the United Way of Washtenaw County and, most recently, joined the board of IHN Alpha House (Family Shelter).

Family Empowerment Program

Impact of COVID-19 in Ypsilanti


The Family Empowerment Program supports individuals and families through resource navigation and community building in order to foster self sufficiency and enhance quality of life.  UWWC and FEP has a long standing partnership.

United Way of Washtenaw County received a Rapid Response Initiative grant from the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities.  Funds received were regranted to human service organizations previously funded through United Way’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, with a focus on people of color-led and serving organizations.  Our goal?  Help providers return their operations to “steady state” and ensure continued support to populations most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Through that initiative, FEP was awarded a $15,000 grant for provision of basic needs supports (e.g. food, clothing, diapers, formula and other essential service resource navigation) through a social worker on site at supportive housing complexes in zip codes 48197/98.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him atdfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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