Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity

About the Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity

Launched in February 2018, the Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity was established in partnership by the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity and Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC. In 2021, ADL Michigan and the Detroit Urban League have joined as conveners.

Following an increase in hate crimes and discrimination across the country, the Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity was created to promote solidarity between the Jewish communities and Black communities in metropolitan Detroit. Speaking in a singular voice about issues affecting both groups, the Coalition also educates the public as a tool to combat hatred, cultivate relationships, and develop future leaders in the struggle against racism and antisemitism.

Coalition Mission

  1. Speak out and oppose racism, antisemitism, and other forms of ethnic-based hatred. 

  2. Promote solidarity between the Black community and Jewish community in all their diversity. 

  3. Identify and implement educational and social action advocacy initiatives that serve the cause of fighting racism, antisemitism and ethnic-based hatred. 

  4. Develop programming aimed at younger community members in order to identify and cultivate future leaders of the organization.



In May 2022, JCRC/AJC Detroit ACCESS and the Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity hosted the inaugural Detroit Project Understanding for Emerging Leaders.

Detroit Project Understanding is a unique opportunity for young leaders in the Black and/or Jewish communities to continue the legacy of our historical relationship through meaningful exercises, thoughtful conversation, and professional networking opportunities. Participants were encouraged to have open and honest discussions about issues affecting each of their respective communities, as well as those that affect both. Together, they explored how shared understanding, friendship and allyship, and advocacy between the Black and Jewish communities can create valuable progress in Detroit and beyond. 

Black and/or Jewish professionals residing in the Detroit Metropolitan area, between the ages of 25-39, were eligible to apply.

Meet your Detroit Project Understanding team!


Detroit Project Understanding Co-Chairs


Chinonye Akunne, MPH, is an award-winning entrepreneur, educator, natural skincare expert, and business development leader. She has successfully built, and runs, two companies: ILERA Apothecary, a luxury body and skincare company that uses plant-based ingredients to create a range of practical, gender-neutral products, and ILERA Labs, a contract manufacturing company that works closely with small and medium enterprises to bring their product line to life while delivering exceptional quality that makes their brand stand out. Currently, Chinonye simultaneously holds the position of Board of Director for the Michigan Industrial Hygiene Society and The Stratford Festival. She has been recognized for her service in the community and advanced research in healthcare access. Under her direction, ILERA Apothecary has been recognized as a top sustainable brand, contributing to integrating environmental sustainability and technology in the beauty industry. Chinonye’s hobbies include global travel, reading, visiting art museums, and volunteering to make the world a better place for all. Chinonye has been featured by Vogue, ELLE, Marie Claire, Essence, The Huffington Post, and more.

Aramis Hinds began pastoring in March of 2002, at the age of 22 years old. Being the child of a pastor, he has served in a multitude of ministry positions. Aramis has a well-rounded background in ministry service which has translated into his pastoral commitment to “servant leadership.” He has taken his message of revival to many congregations in the Detroit area and has been requested both nationally and internationally. He has emerged as one the foremost voices of transformational ministry and reconciliation in the metropolitan Detroit area. He serves as a facilitator for “Detroit Regional Interfaith Voice for Equity,” a collaborative effort of over 50 Metro Detroit religious organizations, committed to empowering all citizens and engaging the community in meaningful development. Aramis has been privileged to serve in many leadership positions and currently serves on the Board of Central Detroit Christian, Transformation Breakthrough Ministries International among others. In addition, Pastor Aramis and Breakers Covenant Church International serve as a model for innovation, cross cultural collaboration, and ethnic, economic and denominational reconciliation. In 2015, Beth El Community Transformation Center was launched toward that end.

Jacob Evan Smith is a Detroit-based entrepreneur, tech ecosystem builder, and community organizer. He is a lifelong Michigander who grew up in West Bloomfield, graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and has lived in Detroit since 2012.
In his role as Community Director (Detroit) for Altimetrik, a global software services firm headquartered in Michigan, he runs a community hub for software engineers called The Collider in downtown Detroit. Jacob produces and/or hosts a number of recurring community projects, including The Returning Citizen podcast, a success storytelling platform for the formerly incarcerated; the Coalition Series, a pop-up dinner experience that connects outstanding Black and Jewish Detroiters over delicious food; and various panels and workshops encouraging productively uncomfortable conversations within the Metro-Detroit community. He is also a Board Member of JCRC/AJC and NEXTGen Detroit.

Shane Sperling is a member of the Metro Detroit Jewish community, representing the small minority of Jews of color in West Bloomfield. This is his first year on the executive board for JCRC/AJC. Shane finds himself often trying to find the balance between his racial identity and religious identity. He is excited for this event to help begin the conversation internally and externally, as well as help be a bridge in addition to being a member of the bridge between the Black and Jewish communities.


Leadership – Executive Committee


Rev. Deedee Coleman

Reverend Dr. Deedee Coleman
Russell Street Missionary Baptist Church 

Marla Hornsten

Rabbi Marla Hornsten
Temple Israel 


Mark Jacobs
Reverend Kenneth Flowers

Executive Committee Members

N. Charles Anderson
Reverend Dr. Steven Bland
Pastor Sterling Brewer
Cantor Daniel Gross
Jennifer Lewis
Rabbi Asher Lopatin
Reverend Dr. Robyn Moore
Carolyn Normandin
Dion Williams

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