Twisted Storytellers: #WageLove

Two parallel stories about Detroiters’ ongoing water struggle and the late activist Charity Hicks.


Charity Hicks was a water prophet.

“I’m telling you. Charity was like the Rosa Parks of water,” said Tawana Honeycomb Petty, a Detroit writer and activist who knew Charity well.

Tawana told this story about Charity live at our monthly Secret Society of Twisted Storyteller Show in Detroit. The theme that night was Love Stories. She described Charity, saying she was always walking around with a jug of water that was ‘the size of a small cooler.’ 

“No matter what we were talking about, Charity always brought it back to water. [She’d say]

‘I’m telling you, Tawana. Them gangster politicians, they’re coming after our water.’

Daymon J Hartley

“‘First it’s going to be Detroit. Then it’s going to be Flint. It’s going to be Benton Harbor. Black folks catching hell all over the globe. I’m telling you. Pay attention.”‘

This was years before the Flint water crisis. Before tens of thousands of Detroit homes had their water shut off for non-payment.

A lot of these folks have since paid their balances and have had their service restored. But there are tens of thousands of Detroiters who can’t pay their bills. They might be on fixed incomes. Maybe they’ve lost their job. Maybe they’re renters and their landlords have failed to fix costly leaks. Regardless, there are neighbors among us whose taps have been shut off. They can’t cook. They can’t clean themselves. They can’t drink.

And Charity Hicks, that water warrior, she found herself at the center of it all.


Daymon J Hartley


Daymon J Hartley

Pastor Bill Wylie-Kellerman also knew Charity Hicks well. He told a story about her at another one of our events. The theme was “Patience.”

“She walked with a kind of dignity that I think was probably one from ancient royalty,” Bill said. “But on the other hand, came from planting her feet barefoot in a D-town garden and feeling history and memory alive in the earth beneath her feet.”

“She summoned all of us in a phrase that’s now become notorious – to ‘wage love,'” said Bill.

“You can hear it in sermons. You can hear it in demonstrations as a chant. Wage Love.”




New episodes of Twisted Storytellers are available every other Wednesday.

Twisted Storytellers is a production of WDET Detroit 101.9 FM

New episodes of Twisted Storytellers are available every other Wednesday.




Twisted Storytellers is produced by WDET 101.9 FM and sponsored by the Henry Ford Health Systems.