Visionnaire Series: GR-MiFi Filmmaking and Narrative Justice

Thursday, Dec 1, 2022
6:00 pm — 8:45 pm

Join the GRAM Visionnaires for a presentation and discussion led by Grand Rapids Media Initiative and Film Incubator on their documentary adaptation of Todd Robinson’s book A City Within a City: The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids, MI. 

Learn and interact as the producers offer behind-the-scenes insights into the process and historical context behind the film. The presentation will follow with a panel discussing narrative justice and its role in re-writing the history of our city, as well as GR-MiFi’s mission to enhance the skills, assets, and networks of local BIPOC creatives. Meet the GR-MiFi Creators and see what they have been working on, as well as how their productivity has been enhanced by working together. The evening will conclude with a Q & A and an opportunity for networking.

As part of GR-MiFi’s educational mission, the documentary is accompanied by a set of posters with educational content about the historical figures featured in Todd Robinson’s research. The posters, created by Shayna Haynes Heard, Shannon Jammal-Hollemans, and Dave Benoit, and will be for sale at the event, and can be donated to a local GRPS classroom.

This event is free to the public, and registration is encouraged. 


For more information, email



    Rodney Brown is a born and bred Grand Rapidian from Lafayette Ave in Southeast Grand Rapids. Aside from his time in college at Santa Clara University (CA) as a scholarship athlete and a stint as a 7th grade math/​science teacher in East Palo Alto, CA, Mr. Brown has served the Grand Rapids/​West Michigan community as a community organizer and advocate, a non profit executive and for 25 years a leading educator with Grand Rapids Community College and the Grand Rapids Public Schools. Mr. Brown is a social entrepreneur, creator, thought-leader and activist, a founder or cofounder of multiple organizations and movements and he serves as the President of the Grand Rapids Media Initiative & Film Incubator.

    Born and bred in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Victor Williams is a native son who has been around the world and back. He married his high school sweetheart, Kimberley, and together they raised two beautiful children, Victor and Victoria in the Southeast side of Grand Rapids. A natural creative, he found his way early in the music business and established himself as a pioneer in the Michigan HipHop community. He founded The Grand Rapids HipHop Coalition is a organization designed to support and advise budding local artist. The Love Movement Inc, a HipHop Non Profit that focuses on youth education through HipHop arts and culture. Passionate about his city, Victor has demonstrated his leadership skills in many successful arenas from politics to civic engagement In 2019, Victor started and heads the Boston Square Neighborhood Association.

    Jazmyne Fuentes spent much of her career producing a TV interview show about ethical & justice issues. It progressed from community access TV to national PBS on 60+ stations. Inspired by Todd Robinson’s presentation of his book A City Within a City to an eager GR audience, she began a web show called Mixed Reviews GR” to explore the vastly different experiences of Black and white people living in GR. This led to connecting with others to create a documentary of the book and a business incubator to promote narrative justice where people of color have control over their own stories.

    Kimberley Williams was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the daughter of Michael and Frances Fuller. Michael Fuller was a longtime employee of the Grand Rapids Public Schools until his passing in 2010.

    Kimberley and her husband, Victor Williams are 1989 graduates and proud alumni of Creston High School. Kimberly went on to earn her BA Degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Western Michigan University and holds a Master’s Degree from Ferris State University in Criminal Justice Administration and Management. 

    Kimberley is a 20-year employee with the State of Michigan. She has worked in various civil service roles, including Child Protective Services, Probation/​Parole Agent and now as a Civil Rights Investigator.

    Kimberley’s family chooses to reside in Grand Rapids because they love the community.” The family remains active in various civil and social organizations throughout the City of Grand Rapids.

    Kimberley makes time to serve in various leadership positions within her beloved sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. She is currently Vice President of Grand Rapids Public School Board.

    Shayna Haynes Heard, founder of Reaching Beyond Bias and the You Reachin’ ” Podcast, is a creative with a love of poetry, music, and performance art. Shayna is currently pursuing a career in DEI and is dedicated to improving community outcomes in justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Her passion for poetry and performance art underlies her work with Pass the Mic GR, which hosts culturally rich local artist showcases and open mics. As a Production Coordinator, Shayna is working with Grand Stand Pictures to support a documentary film based on the book A City Within A City: the Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids, Michigan” by Todd E. Robinson. In partnership with Grand Rapids Media Initiative and Film Incubator and Grand Stand Pictures, Shayna hopes to empower BIPOC residents in the city to tell their own stories and to increase access to training and resources. Shayna considers herself a lifelong learner, and hopes to share her lessons with the community through media, writing, community engagement, and advocacy. 

    Dave Benoit Slick” is a Haitian American self-made digital artist, videographer, and breakdancer whose passion for creativity, sincere love for others, and dedication to the success of BIPOC people are an unwavering compass for his work. With the example set by his parents, who were refugees in pursuit of the American dream, he strives to become a pillar in the community. In the Summer of 2020 he created Mad Ethnic”, a multimedia company aimed at closing the gap for creatives and entrepreneurs of color by holding space for them to tell their stories unapologetically and in style. His shared love for breaking and hip-hop has also led him into volunteering and teaching kids at Teknique Academy, a local breakdancing school for children and adults in grand rapids Michigan, in order to help foster creativity and safe spaces.

    Rev. Shannon Jammal-Hollemans is a graduate of Grand Valley State University and Calvin Theological Seminary. She served as Racial Justice Leader for the Christian Reformed Church in North America where she was a leader in ecumenical and interfaith and ecumenical relations. She is a historian at heart and enjoys researching history and leading tours of Grand Rapids’ Oakhill Cemetery in her free time. She is married to Kevin and mother to three grown children. She is currently serving as Associate Pastor of Teaching at En Vivo Church in Grand Rapids.

GR-MiFi Team

The GR-MiFi Creators comprise of local filmmakers who honed their craft as apprentices while working on the A City Within A City documentary. These young creatives will present on their experience working on the film, as well as their personal projects related to the theme of narrative justice. 

    GR-MiFi Creators started out as Apprentices on the set of our documentary A City Within a City. Each one was paired with a professional filmmaker in a role they wanted to learn more about. Our pros warmly enveloped them into the process, remembering their own first days on set. This experience launched several Apprentices much closer to their filmmaking goals, while helping the others figure out what their informed goals could be.

    In between shoots, these Apprentices — now called GR-MiFi Creators — are always working on projects to gain practice and confidence, as well as build our community. Recently, they took home a Best Director award for a Microfilm at the Grand Rapids Film Festival! Having found that many heads are better than one, they are ready to begin building a demo reel of work they do and begin attracting clients.

    At the heart of all this effort and collaboration is a desire to learn and promote narrative justice, where stories are lifted up that were too long ignored, or framed by outside observers. They seize every opportunity to highlight the stories and talents of our BIPOC community.