Horace Sheffield III honored as Black History Month Game Changer
Executive director of Detroit Association of Black Organizations recognized for his work to build unity and capacity across the city of Detroit
DETROIT -- Rev. Horace Sheffield III can quickly pinpoint the person who most influenced his life -- his father, Horace Sheffield Jr.
Sheffield’s dad was the president of the Negro American Labor Council, and through his activism, he formed a close relationship with Martin Luther King Jr.
“All of my early childhood was immersed in the civil rights movement,” said Sheffield, a Detroit native. “And then, of course, community organizing and political empowerment in the city of Detroit.”
For Sheffield, watching his father work tirelessly to promote social change taught him that any obstacle can be overcome with the right attitude and work ethic.
“When people make up their mind, organize and stick to it, they can overcome seemingly insurmountable odds,” Sheffield said. “You have to be committed to your cause and see it through. I think that’s applicable today. Whether that’s a personal pursuit or something larger in your community, it really applies to everything.”
Sheffield currently serves as the executive director of the Detroit Association of Black Organizations (DABO), a federation of more than 130 African-American and non-African-American organizations working together to help vulnerable populations while building community unity.
“We keep lights on and feed people,” Sheffield said about DABO. “We are also involved with community development, helping people who may not necessarily work together and creating opportunities for us to do things together.”
Sheffield is the first of four Black History Game Changers whom the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and Comerica Bank are celebrating this year.
“We’re honored to celebrate Horace for his commitment to build bridges within the city of Detroit and his important work that helps uplift community members,” said Kevin Brown, director of community impact for Ilitch Sports + Entertainment. “Horace and his team at DABO play a critical role in creating unity and capacity across the city of Detroit.”
Sheffield said making a difference in the community is a value that runs in his family.
“I love this work,” Sheffield said. “It goes generations. My mother was an elected official, my grandfather was one of the first Black formative forward thinkers and my daughter is president of the city council. We’ve seen the fruit of our labor and what happens when people make a commitment to make things better.”
Established in 1979, DABO provides comprehensive and culturally sensitive services for groups such as low-income families, children and veterans.
“We’ve been able to serve more people and help more people,” Sheffield said. “That’s how I would measure success. We’ve helped people handle their hardships.”
DABO’s programs, ranging from food distribution to suicide prevention education, are all aimed at ensuring people are well-equipped to handle life’s crises.
“I’ve seen and gone through enough to know that you can outlast most of this,” Sheffield said. “If you just keep pushing, you will prevail.”
Sheffield said DABO has expanded over the past few years, nearly quadrupling its staff as the federation focuses on fulfilling the ever-evolving needs of the community.
“There’s a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done,” Sheffield said. “No one group is able to do it all.”
To learn more about DABO, visit dabodetroitinc.net.