UDM’s 6 Mile meetups connecting campus and community

Dr. Justin Williams, an associate professor of history and the Director of the African American Studies program at Detroit Mercy, has organized 6 Mile meetups since joining the university last year. 

The community around the University of Detroit Mercy has an abundance of black owned businesses and restaurants waiting to be discovered. This program helps support these businesses and restaurants. The University is a part of this rich, diverse community, and this program highlights the importance of acknowledging and getting to know the culture and the people. 

Williams’ goal was to bring students and the community together to have a nice conversation over a meal.  

There are many interesting businesses and restaurants to visit on the 6 Mile strip. Some of these restaurants include Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles and the Sweet Soul Bistro. . For another one of the meetups, Williams took a couple of students to What’s the Dill, a little pickle sandwich shop right across the street from campus.  

Because the 6 Mile meetups have been a success so far, Williams would like to continue them to support the newer and older businesses around campus. For his next meetup, he is planning on taking some students to the Detroit Sip to have a cup of coffee and engage with those around them. The faculty and students are very receptive to doing things like this at Detroit Mercy.  

Williams said, “It’s cool to learn about the individual businesses, their stories and the diversity of their products.  

He hopes to one day take a trip toBaker’s Keyboard Lounge. Baker’s Keyboard Lounge is “The World’s Oldest Jazz Club” and has been around since 1934. Some wellknown artists have played there like Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald.  

Dr. Sharde’ Chapman, an assistant professor at Detroit Mercy, has attended one of the 6 Mile meetups.Chapman said that it was nice to be able to support a local business like the Detroit Sip while still being close to campus. Detroit is also a heavily rich, artistic area. Chapman stressed how cool it would be to be able to participate in and have conversations about the art and theatre that we experience. She also stressed that it is important as Detroit Mercy students and faculty to be able to see ourselves as in relationship with the community around us, especially since we are a campus that is oriented toward justice.  

For Chapman, these 6 Mile meetups help her students to have “deep and robust conversations” that don’t just have to happen within the classroom walls.  

By bringing something new to campus, Williams is bridging the gap between community and campus. He is also helping to deepen the connection between professor and student and make it more than just receiving a grade.