The Tendaji Talks
By: Brogan Eisler, Research Assistant
In 2012, Robert Brown, CCED Associate Director, Tendaji Ganges, and Flint colleagues, formed Neighborhoods Without Borders. Neighborhoods Without Borders was developed as an open network and platform in a grassroots and community in an effort to significantly improve the lives of children, youth, and families in Flint’s most distressed neighborhoods. Facilitated by a core team, which includes CCED Flint community activists and grassroots organizations, Neighborhoods Without Borders has brought people from all sectors together in a grassroots and community effort to significantly improve the overall quality of life in Flint neighborhoods and to dismantle systemic racism. Neighborhoods Without Borders uses Strategic Doing, a process which enables people to form agile collaborations quickly, take action toward measurable outcomes, and make adjustments along the way. To honor Mr. Ganges after his passing in 2015, Brown and colleagues initiated the Tendaji Talks in 2016, which is a community-based diversity, equity, and inclusion effort.
Originally born and raised in Trenton , a New Jersey native, Tendaji W. Ganges (born Henry Ganges) graduated from Trenton Central High School where he then completed the Upward Bound Program at Princeton University. Mr. Ganges earned his Bachelors at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH, and his Masters at Newark State College in Union, New Jersey. Tendaji dedicated over 40 years of his life to pre-college and college level students by serving as a mentor, teacher, consultant, senior level administrator, and vast array of other roles. He served on numerous professional and community boards and committees including, but not limited to the Board of Directors of The Urban League of Greater Flint, membership on the Flint Big Brothers/Big Sisters Mentoring Task Force, the Flint Community Action Group, the Flint Community Leadership Summit and Planning Group, 100 Black Men of Flint, the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce, Vice President of the Board of Trustees for Antioch College and innumerable others. Notably, Tendaji spent nearly 20 years as the Executive Director of the Office of Educational Opportunities Initiatives and the Assistant to the Provost at the University of Michigan-Flint. During his duration, Ganges oversaw Educational Opportunity Initiatives at the University of Michigan-Flint and was a mentor and friend to many students and colleagues during his career. Mr. Ganges helped to support a group of faculty attending a workshop in Ann Arbor to teach inter-group dialogue skills and was the driving force behind the creation of a university course entitled "Intergroup Dialogue." Tendaji was also honored by a school in Nigeria for the funding of his education initiatives. Tendaji Ganges unfortunately passed away April 15th, 2015, at the age of 66. Because of Tendaji’s many accomplishments, achievements and accolades, Neighborhoods Without Borders honored Tendaji’s legacy with the creation of the Tendaji Talks.
The Tendaji Talks, sponsored by Flint’s Neighborhoods Without Borders (NWB), are a multi-year exploration to dismantle racism, white power and privilege in Flint through monthly conversations and dialogues. The conversations, held and led by community leaders, have played a vital role in the unmasking of structural racism and the ways in which we should go forward to address and correct them. The Tendaji Talks have encouraged cultivated and educated conversations around issues of inequality in Flint, ranging from disenfranchisement, racism, social justice, health care inequalities, civil rights and progress made, drugs in the community, the M.A.D.E Institute, blacks and whites as allies, and of course, the Flint water crisis settlement. Th Tendaji Talks have also had the honor of being hosted by individual community members, with a goal mirroring that of Neighborhoods Without Borders. From the likes of Traci Currie, Dr. Joyce Piert, Valdemar L. Washington, Michael Madden, Jeff Bean, Tim Collardey, Dorinda Carter Andrews, Carlton Evans, Hubert Roberts, Erica Britt, Artina Sadler, Traci Kim, Dr. Ruben O. Martinez, Charles Winfrey and others, these community activists have helped move important conversations forward to positively impact those they stand shoulder to shoulder with. Each of these community leaders, as well as open forum discussions hosted by Neighborhoods Without Borders, are available to view on the Tendaji Talks YouTube Channel.
We invite you to view these conversations and stories at our Tendaji Talks webpage, located on the MSU CCED website. Here, you will have access to these impactful and moving discussions, with the hope that you are able to better understand the reason why the Tendaji Talks and Neighborhoods Without Borders are a valuable tool in improving the effort to significantly improve the lives of children, youth, and families in Flint’s most distressed neighborhoods.
Please note that, due to Covid-19, current Tendaji Talks have moved from in person gatherings to the zoom platform.
The Tendaji Talks webpage: https://ced.msu.edu/programs/the-tendaji-talks